and well-being for all. Ever since 1986 when the National Policy on
Education was approved by Parliament, efforts to redesign the
curriculum have been focused on the creation of a national system
of education. Given the enormity and importance of the task of
educating the country’s children, it is necessary that, from time to
time, we create occasions to collectively sit back and ask ourselves,
“What is it that we are doing in our engagement with this task? Is it
time for us to refresh what we provide to our children in the name
If we look at what the system of education has accomplished
since Independence, perhaps we have much to be satisfied with.
Today, our country engages nearly 55 lakh teachers spread over
around 10 lakh schools to educate about 2,025 lakh children. While
82 per cent of habitations have a primary school within a radius of
one kilometre, there is an upper primary school within unreasonable stress on children, and thus distorts
3 kilometres for 75 per cent of habitations. At least 50 values. It also makes learning from each other a matter
per cent of our children who appear at the of little consequence. Education must be able to
school-leaving examinations pass out of the promote values that foster peace, humaneness and
secondary school system. Despite these trends, 37 tolerance in a multicultural society.
per cent people in India lack literacy skills, about 53 This document seeks to provide a framework
per cent children drop out at the elementary stage, and within which teachers and schools can choose and plan
over 75 per cent of our rural schools are multigrade. experiences that they think children should have. In
Further, there is a deep disquiet about several aspects order to realise educational objectives, the curriculum
of our educational practice: (a) the school system is should be conceptualised as a structure that articulates
characterised by an inflexibility that makes it resistant required experiences. For this, it should address some
to change; (b) learning has become an isolated activity, basic questions:
which does not encourage children to link knowledge (a) What educational purposes should the schools
with their lives in any organic or vital way; (c) schools seek to achieve?
promote a regime of thought that discourages creative (b) What educational experiences can be provided
thinking and insights; (d) what is presented and that are likely to achieve these purposes?
transmitted in the name of learning in schools bypasses (c) How can these educational experiences be
vital dimensions of the human capacity to create new meaningfully organised?
knowledge; (e) the “future” of the child has taken (d) How do we ensure that these educational
centre stage to the near exclusion of the child’s purposes are indeed being accomplished?
“present”, which is detrimental to the well-being of The review of the National Curriculum
the child as well as the society and the nation. Framework, 2000 was initiated specifically to address
The basic concerns of education—to enable the problem of curriculum load on children. A
children to make sense of life and develop their committee appointed by the Ministry of Human
potential, to define and pursue a purpose and recognise Resource Development in the early 1990s had analysed
the right of others to do the same—stand uncontested this problem, tracing its roots to the system’s tendency
and valid even today. If anything, we need to reiterate to treat information as knowledge. In its report,
the mutual interdependence of humans, and, as Tagore Learning Without Burden, the committee pointed out
that learning at schoo
says, we achieve our greatest happiness when we realise
ourselves through others. Equally, we need to reaffirm