Much-needed education reforms closer to reality
On Monday, Education Minister Dipu Moni unveiled the revised National Curriculum Framework, which, in its current form, looks set to bring major positive changes to our education system. According to the draft new curriculum, there will be no public exams before Class 10, and no exams of any kind for students up to Class 3. Students will be introduced to the stream system—science, humanities and business studies—from Class 11 instead of Class 9. And the evaluation process in schools will also significantly change.
It is important to mention that educationists and experts have been demanding most of these changes for a long time now. Although it was disappointing to see the government take so long to act on their recommendations concerning such a critical matter, we commend the authorities for finally acknowledging the ground realities and being open to changing things.
As educationists have long been saying, exams such as the PECE and the JSC do nothing but put immense mental and physical pressure on students. The present national obsession with tests has steered students' focus more towards memorisation and rote learning, and away from critical thinking and problem solving. Education has become mostly centred on guide books and coaching centres. As a result, students are losing out on the chance to obtain the benefits of a wholesome academic experience. Therefore, scrapping these exams is an excellent first step. Additionally, the new curriculum proposes greater emphasis on continuous assessment—i.e. regular school work—over the overall assessment, meaning exams.
While we are delighted with the changes proposed in the new curriculum, we must highlight that the teachers will have a much more important role to play now. Under the new evaluation process, teachers will be required to evaluate the performance of their students throughout the year. For that, they need to have proper training. Moreover, the way students are given lessons under the new system will also have to change. The government should set up training programmes for teachers to familiarise themselves with these new teaching techniques and evaluation methods.
In order to have a smooth transition from the current curriculum to the new one, the government will begin implementation of the new plan from 2023, in phases. That should give the authorities ample time to train the teachers and formulate a step-by-step guide for the transition. We urge the government to keep academics and experts in the loop of things during this process, to make the switch quick and effective.