Education minister advocates 50% syllabus cut, educationists differ

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At the recently concluded 65th Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia suggested that the CBSE, NCERT and other state education bodies should reduce the syllabus by 50% so that teachers can shift their attention to learning outcomes. However, educationists say more than syllabus reduction, the need is to change the teaching methodology and improve student-teacher ratio.

Dr Usha Ram, Educationist

Syllabus has been prepared systematically. There is a link between one class and another. I do not agree with reducing the syllabus by 50 per cent, but we can relook into the course and shorten the lengthy topics. Since the objective is to reduce students’ burden, that can be achieved by merging some chapters and focusing more on practical than theory. What we need is a change in the teaching methodology. A teacher should not be given any other work. They should get enough time for preparation. Give them weekly goals, specify learning outcomes for each week, and give them the liberty and independence to decide how to teach. They should only be concentrating on teaching.

Also, student-teacher ratio needs to be taken care of. How can a teacher concentrate on learning outcomes if she has more than 60 students in a class?

If we are not going to bring other changes in the system, then nothing will change even if we reduce the syllabus. Teachers would even then be only interested in finishing their syllabus.

Harvinder Bhatnagar, Career Advisor, Managing Partner, GIE Consultants

I do agree with his suggestion for syllabus reduction. At present, we are only looking at the academic development of students and not their overall growth. It is easier to grasp a subject if it is taught through an activity.

We should introduce sports as a full-fledged subject. Why should a student have to choose only among three streams? Not all children are made for curriculum studies. Why not develop sports as a separate course and introduce subjects, besides outdoor sports, more relevant to these students like health studies or management (since sports involve playing in teams)? We should try to provide specialisation, develop degree course in sports.

We may not be able to reduce the syllabus by 50%, but we must reduce it. After all, we need to understand why is stress caused? It is because parents’ fear about their child’s future in case they do not score good marks. But if there are other avenues, parents wouldn’t burden their wards with studies.

Education is like food. We need to give it to students as per their requirements – neither less nor more.

Goldy Malhotra, Director – Academic Staff College and Administration, Manav Rachna International School

Syllabus is very vast, well-designed. It is a graded curriculum, providing a link between one class and another. We can’t reduce it. We need to expose our children to different subjects, and that’s what is done till class X. If we are not going to teach all these subjects to students, how will they come to know about it?

What we need is a change in the methodology of teaching. Teachers should be able to ignite the imagination of students, make them inquisitive. The current syllabus can be taught in half-a-time if our teaching methods are improved. Nowadays, we can take help of technology.

Today’s children are smart, and there’s a need to match the changing times. We need proper time management and improved student-teacher ratio. One teacher can’t handle so many students. Plus, when students are more, there is no one-to-one connection between them and their teachers.

Chetna Sabharwal, Educationist

I don’t agree that only syllabus reduction will contribute to better learning outcomes among students. Other areas also need to be looked into. After all, how does syllabus reduction matter when there is lack of teachers in schools? We also need to take into account other parameters like student motivation, improving student-teacher ratio and not burdening teachers with non-teaching/administrative work.

Another area that needs to be worked on is teacher competency and regular upgradation of their qualifications/skill sets.

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