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Do we need a new curriculum for schools in India?

Knowledge and education are considered among the major factors contributing to
sustainable development and economic growth of a society. UNESCO views that a school’s
curriculum is foundational to education that has high quality learning outcomes. The school
curriculum represents a conscious and systematic selection of knowledge, skills and values: a
selection that shapes the way teaching, learning and assessment processes are organized by
addressing questions such as what, why, when and how students should learn.

A school curriculum ideally should contain components which relate to

- Literacy i.e. subjects or content


- Activities i.e. application of knowledge and/or developing skills
- Sports / Games that help physical growth
- Value based behavior development of the student
“Curriculum Design” refers to the structure or arrangement of components of a curriculum.
Curriculum designs can be broadly classified into these major groups:
a) Traditional / Subject centered design
b) Learner centered design
c) Society centered design

a) The emphasis is on making learners absorb as much content (knowledge). Most, if not
all, schools follow this method. They have mastered the process / method of delivering
this design. The major problem with this design in the current scenario is that content
(knowledge) is free and widely accessible by all through internet.
This method also ignores the differential needs and interests of learners.
b) This design is usually built upon normal activities that children do / engage. the content
is not organized by subjects but is integrated into course work or projects. Languages
(Reading & Working) and Arithmetic are all integrated. The Weakness of this design is
the Risk of neglecting the Intellectual Development. Most western Schools in Europe
and US adopt this design.

c) This design is centered around Societal concerns, problems and issues. This is aimed at
making the school, the teachers and the students, agents of social change this is not
usually followed in many schools around the world. Finland as an example has widely
adopted this in combination with learner - centric design the core though is “changing
at a rapid pace, requires skills that will remain relevant in an uncertain Global
Environment”.

A core challenge for all countries / communities and schools, however, is to make the right
design that can adapt to the changes in an era of rapid and diverse social and global change.
Never before has humankind experienced such rapid change or had to deal with such a range
of practical and ethical risks as a consequence of this change. Never before have educators
been challenged to prepare young people for lives in such an unpredictable and challenging
global context.

In confronting these challenges, curriculum developers need to answer many fundamental


questions, including:

• Which knowledge, skills and values should we include in our curriculum?


• Would the acquisition and development of such knowledge, skills and values
enable our young people develop the capabilities and competencies, needed to
lead sustainable, meaningful and productive lives?
• Is our current paradigm of a set of ‘subjects’ constituting a curriculum adequate?
• How can we make learning relevant and interesting to students? 


At the moment, in our country, we see that the curriculum followed by schools is archaic and
does not address the needs of the future. It is heavily content focused and in an ever-changing
world a content focused curriculum will be rendered irrelevant, very soon.

We have a dire need to make changes to the curriculum designs.

To be able to think of what changes we need, let us look at a framework and try and answer
the questions that arise

The Framework to make Curriculum Design Changes


Summary of criteria in categories

Category Description
ü Systematic and Long-Term
Development of the Curriculum ü Sustainable for the future
(what should it address) ü Led by curriculum professionals
ü Cyclical in nature – adapts to changes
ü Values children and holds that they matter equally and
collectively
ü Comprises high quality, relevant and appropriate
The Curriculum Itself
‘content’ and contributes to developing competence
(what should it contain)
ü Is well organized and structured
ü Is underpinned by a set of experiences about how
children learn
Envision and Explain the new expectations from:
ü Students & Parents
Implementing the Curriculum
ü Teachers and School Management
ü Schools / Learning environments
ü Education boards and authorities
ü Systematic and Regular
Evaluation ü Focused on Learning and not Testing
ü Conducted by qualified and experienced people

How can we deliver “Quality” through a good curriculum?

At Tatva, we listed some of the criteria. While the list is not all inclusive – it serves as a starting
point for us to think of how to address the changes/improvements in curriculum.

1) Are there clear aims (Vision) for the curriculum? Do schools know what they want their
students to be when they grow up?
2) Is the Vision and the Curriculum well-articulated and well understood by all?
3) Is the curriculum relevant to students’ current and future lives, experiences, environments
and aspirations?
4) Does it create a socially and economically prosperous future while respecting the local
cultural history and traditions?
5) Is the curriculum equitable and inclusive? (i.e. does it take into account the diversity of
learners and the different learner needs)
6) Is the curriculum learner-centered and learner-friendly? (i.e. is it meaningful for learners;
does it avoid overloading learners) 

7) Is the curriculum open and flexible, so that it can address new challenges and opportunities
by integrating new/emerging issues?
8) Is the curriculum coherent and consistent across different education
stages/grades/streams and learning areas/subjects?
To conclude, education and curriculum should focus

1) To transfer the unchanging ideas / knowledge i.e. Logic / Philosophy


2) To help and support Human Development
3) To encourage Linguistic / Artistic aspects
4) To create a better society.
With this understanding we would argue that we should move away from the Traditional
knowledge and content-based design to a more Societal Design peppered with Learner -
Centric aspects in schools. We are also aware that the curriculum will be evolving and the rate
of change of curriculum will only increase.
Tatva is working with its teachers’ team, to design a curriculum that is more futuristic. It may
seem less focused on scores and grades – but we believe that it is focused on the long term
and in creating a sustainable future for our young ones.

Vish Sivaswamy
Tatva Global School