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The Union Education Ministry has decided to include Class V in primary schools, and, stretch elementary schooling till Class VIII instead of closing at Class VII. This means more than just an internal re-jig within primary and secondary schools.
For one, social studies will now be introduced in class VI, ditto with science and environmental sciences. School subjects have evolved through their own complicated histories. However, educationists the world over believe that learning in the first five years of schooling should be integrated without subject-specific compartmentalisation, and teaching children to study concepts at earlier and earlier ages in an attempt to prepare them to compete in the world is counterproductive, said a note from the HRD ministry. Education Ministers have been asked to shift from a seven (4+3) to an eight year (5+3) elementary education cycle by the next academic year. It is important to provide age-relevant curricula and learning systems to our children, said ministry officials. Several states also have entry age admission in Class I at age 5, rather than at age 6. Children in these states thus face the double burden of heavy curriculum on account of early entry into the schooling system, and introduction of upper primary subjects at Class V itself. The ministry feels it affects the quality of learning. The faulty curriculum structure often leads to a high failure rate adding to the number of drop-outs. Most teachers felt that the government was dumbing down education in the guise of easing pressure. We introduce social studies at Class III. In the current method, the system is running smoothly. Children need to have their bearings in place, they need to know the north and the south and the local history, said a principal of a private Mumbai school. For state governments, an additional class in the elementary cycle will mean expanding their overall infrastructure. Just as in Maharashtra, state governments have invested heavily on elementary schools (currently till class VII); there are not as many public schools at the secondary level, forcing many children to join private institutes. Close to 90% of the madhyamik schools are in the private sector. Bringing class VIII to the elementary system will mean not just adding classroom, but recruiting teachers and providing mid-day meals, said V Radha, Maharashtra's acting school education secretary.
Courtesy: Times of India
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