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Home > Student First! Dialogue Series

September 2010 Dialogue

Panel Discussion on National Curriculum: Does one size fit all?

Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All
National Curriculum: Does one size fit all?

The HRD Minister has approved a national core curriculum for Science and Mathematics in classes XI and XII. A similar curriculum for the Commerce stream is also on the anvil. Does the prescription of a core curriculum bring uniformity in the course content in all school boards, giving a level-playing field to students from different states? Does it facilitate holding of common entrance tests for colleges? Is it an unnecessary fetter on the independence of states to prescribe curricula in tune with local circumstances and requirements?

School Choice Campaign and India Habitat Centre

invites you to an open forum discussion on
Wednesday, 8 September 2010 | 6 - 8 PM
Casuarina Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India
Ms Janaki Rajan, Professor in Education, Jamia Millia Islamia University
Mr Kenneth Jones
, Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor, University of Southern Maine
Ms Manisha Chaudhry
, Head of Content Development, Pratham Books
Ms Payal Mahajan, Education Consultant, Art of Learning

About the School Choice Campaign
School Choice Campaign (SCC) advocates policy reform ideas to improve quality and access to education especially for the poor. STUDENT FIRST! Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All is a monthly forum for debate in collaboration with India Habitat Centre by the nation’s foremost experts on national education policies and solutions to problems of quality in the education sector.

India Habitat Centre
To confirm participation:
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +91-9953059097

An open forum discussion was organised on National Curriculum: Does one size fit all? on 8 September at the India Habitat Centre. Ms Janaki Rajan, Professor in Education, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Ms Manisha Chaudhry, Head of Content Development, Pratham Books and Ms Payal Mahajan, Education Consultant, Art of Learning were the panelists of the program. Moderating the discussion was Mr Kenneth Jones, Fulbright Scholar and Associate Professor, University of Southern Maine.

Ms Rajan emphasized on how the past 20 years has seen a strong effort on part of the government to roll out programs across the states and cited the example of the Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan (SSA) and District Primary Education Program (DPEP). She said that the same centralization now comes into the development of curriculum. We do not have comparable parameters in the education sector across India: be it infrastructure, student backgrounds, teacher quality, schooling systems are highly stratified. For examples Kendriya Vidyalaya’s per child annual expenditure is INR 10000 but the SSA per child allocation is INR 800. Therefore how can we expect a core curriculum to work across such diversity? This policy will only favour the privileged who can afford to pay for tuitions.

Ms Mahajan said that it is still not clear whether Mr Sibal is talking about core syllabus or curriculum (standards) and added that if the reason for a uniform curriculum is to ensure that all children can appear for a single entrance test, then that reason should not be considered the driving engine for good schooling.

Ms Chaudhry gave a parent’s perspective and said there is nothing flawed in the logic of core curriculum but efficient systems and infrastructures are necessary prerequisites. According to her, ideally, parents should have an array of options for quality education but a core curriculum would limit such options and only encourage more coaching and tuition centers.

Prof Jones said that this is a debate not unique to India as the problems are same everywhere in the world. We have to realize that what is important is the contextualization of content and not content alone while delivering education. While discussing such issues he cautioned us to remember that equity does not mean equality.

A lively discussion followed which manifested the audience’s deep interest in the issue of a core curriculum. The audience brought to the discussion issues like education of migrant and underprivileged children, pupil teacher ratio, and teacher support systems.

SFD SF Dialogue
(L-R) Prof Kenneth Jones, Prof Janaki Rajan, Ms Payal Mahajan & Ms Manisha Chaudhry Ms Payal Mahajan responds to a question from the audience
SF Dialogue SF Dialogue
Prof Kenneth Jones moderating the open forum discussion Literacy India representative poses a question to the panel
SF Dialogue SF Dialogue
Open forum discussion


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