“NCERT is in the process of becoming the Institution of National Importance, which will empower it to be more flexible and offer degree courses,” says Prof Parvin Sinclair, Director, National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT).
How successful has NCERT been in reflecting the pluralist character of India?
NCERT was formed in 1961 by merging seven bodies that already existed, so our agenda was determined largely by the objectives of those seven bodies.Initially, we were called the research and training body. Our job from the beginning was to look at all aspects of school education,from inside activity of classrooms to outside implicationsof it. So there have been four curriculum frameworks formed over the years as part of meeting these objectives.
Over the years we were supporting the government in providing the universal education which was always there as universalised elementary education scheme but without it being formalised or pushed through like in RTE. However, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and before that DPE, we were all working towards this.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision was that everyone should have a scientific tempo.So accordingly all curriculars were meant for bringing everybody to classroom. However, we agree that ground realities are different. Since we are National Advisory Body under Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the centralbody can only advice the state government as educationis the concurrent subject. So what we proposed can be taken with a complete spirit or partly ormay be not at all by states, that is why the RTE came into being and you can see the great changes it has brought in the last three years. Moreover, now under the act, everyone has to deliver,although we havenot reached 100 percent access,but we are much nearer there than three years ago and a short way to go still in terms of access.
Creation of climate of acceptance is important. Does that also get reflected in the NCERT vision?
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 absolutely ensures that each individual level is going to each child which is given opportunity to grow based on her experience. That is what, it is about and that is why it is difficult to bring to the classroom because each has a different back ground. Curriculum is not about reading writing and assessment that is an old colonial view. It’s about rowing as a person, how to care about others and bringing values to people,building the health mental as well as physical, allowing them to ork on cultural and social front, making people learn how to share with others and being included and including others. Be it a girl child or the boy child, they should get equal opportunities and should be confident about it and that is my NCF 2005 vision, so definitely diversity gets reflected in our vision.
What should be the role of ICT in education?
Precisely, what you have mentioned that it should be enabler. ICT is not just power point presentation, it is beyond that. We have started a project called NROER (The National Repository of Open Education Resources)and the idea is to allow children to see from the repository of NROER.People can add to these resources which will be review before being put to NROER, so by that way teachers are enabled to create what is actually needed.That is what the role of ICT should be.
What NCERT is doing currently and what are the future plans?
At present we are in the process of becoming the Institution of National Importance which requires the Parliament clearance so we are in the process of getting that bill drafted. The reason for that there are so many plans that requires flexibility. NCERT is a club of eight big institutes like National Institute of Education,Central Institute of Education and Technology and apart from these wehave five regional institute of education plus we have the Central Institute of Vocational Education so totally we are eight.NCERT is the council overarching body which looks after these institutes. So if this conglomerate becomes the intuition of national importance, you can imagine the kind of empowerment which all the regions will get. So this is one plan we are working on right and there are other areas also where we are focusing and hope to do bring good results.