The 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 Formula: Decoding the Pros & Cons of the Suggested Structure
Issue 8 | August 08, 2020
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
- Derek Bok
A robust education policy determines the quality of human resource of a country. Of all involved domains, pedagogy is often misinterpreted and consequentially undermined, paving the way for serious repercussions on the future of human capital. The pedagogical shift to a 5+3+3+4 structure in the New Education Policy, is expected to fill the voids we have had so far, that is, learning to be, to do, to know and to live, in a multicultural society like ours. Shifting from the previous 10+2 structure involving secondary and higher secondary levels, the new pattern bifurcates the structure into four levels each catering to specific age based pedagogical needs. Speaking of which brings us to the first five years or Foundational Stage for age groups 3-8 which brings in playschools within the ambit of formal education with an aim to ensure early development of cognitive skills in the first three years out of the five. The remaining two years in this stage will be utilised for discovery and activity-based learning. The second stage, over three years would build on the discovery & play based curriculum apart from inducting textbooks, with an aim of laying a structure for multiple disciplines to be covered over the next two phases of three and four years respectively. At the outset of the next phase emphasis has been laid on dealing with abstract concepts of subsequent disciplines along with experimental learning. The final stage introduces a flexible syllabus, something completely new to the Indian ecosystem, in order to promote multiple career pathways for individuals and allowing them to tailor a curriculum which suits them, including the core set of modules.
Speaking of the ambitious curriculum which is in consonance with SDG4 and other recommendations of the UNICEF, World Bank and the IMF, what needs to be seen is whether the same qualifies to be the policy India needs at the moment. That brings us to the amalgamation of playschools into the mainstream education system. An important step to give due importance to the brain development stage and laying a foundation for cognitive abilities the policy has missed out on the planning aspect for implementing the same. Followed by the same is the three-language formula suggested by the policymaker which is expected to create linguistic problems owing to vast multilingual identities in India. Though, the states have been given the discretion to select the set of languages, it undermines the interests of linguistic minorities by drawing watertight compartments, rather, creating a pool of language courses and allowing the students to select three languages of their choice conforms to the values of the SDG4 and the multitude of linguistic groups in India.
However, the policy has made crucial inroads into the importance of early stages of brain development, by inducing a policy for having foundational literacy and numeracy, something which has been neglected so far, only to haunt students and professionals at a later stage of their careers. Ensuring this an at early stage would ensure the development of abilities to read, write and conduct numerical operations, which would prove to be an incentive for higher education.
“The difference between school and life? In school you’re taught a lesson then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
- Tom Bodett
Our efforts at learning diverse disciplines and skills are futile if we cannot apply them to real-life situations. Keeping this in mind, the curriculum has made a shift from rote learning to experimental, evidence based and reasoning which will allow the students to develop scientific and critical temper. To crystallise the same, the policy suggests a shift in the pattern of board examinations, apart from preparing the students from early stages. This leads us to the provision for vocational training by means of internships from 6th Grade onwards wherein the students are expected to have multiple skill building workshops of 10 days each, but the same has raised concerns over unpaid internships, which is contrary to the education policies of industrialised countries. This, on a longer run, tends to decrease the efficiency, as students become reluctant to work hard owing to the missing incentive. Though the policy appears to be progressive, ambitious, and one having a clear vision, all of it depends on the implementation of the same. Education being a state subject, the implementation has been left to the states which raises genuine concerns owing to the disparity between the existing system between the states. Rather, a policy shift after four decades, should have been dealt with by the centre, in consultation with the states to reach a consensus before initiating the changes various levels. The policy has the potency to transform India and make it a cradle of knowledge once again but previous instances will have to be considered. With a lot of aspects of the previous policy still not implemented, it only raises concerns whether this benign and progressive plan on paper will be a reality and bear the fruits in years to come, or will it be a burden in disguise owing to the failure of state machinery.