Explained: The National Curriculum Framework For Foundational Stage
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), a key component of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, is the first ever integrated Curriculum Framework for children between ages 3-8 in India.
With the government unveiling the first NCF for the foundational stage, pre-primary school children have entered the formal schooling system in India for the first time.
Background for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):
Implicit in the NCF is recognition of the fact that the first eight years of a human life are most critical for future learning and health. Learning delays can be greatly reduced with the help of intervention in the early years.
The importance of an idea like the ECCE for the children’s all-round development has been integral to Indian society.
In that context, the new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure, which integrates ECCE for all children aged 3 to 8, was included in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The Ministry of Education had constituted the National Steering Committee (chaired by K Kasturirangan) in 2021, for the development of NCF.
The NCF for the foundational stage will be followed (in future) by its editions for higher classes, as well as teacher and adult education.
Recommendations/Observations Made In The New NCF:
Currently there is a learning crisis in India, as children are enrolled in primary school but are failing to attain basic skills such as Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN).
Only 50.9% of the 19,344,199 students admitted to Grade 1 in 2020-21 had prior pre-school experience.
A natural, communication-focused approach, supporting their primary medium of instruction is required for young children to acquire skills of speaking fluently in other languages
The new framework has mentioned the “panchakosha” concept for education for children aged 3-8 years. The concept lists 5 parts which are physical development (sharirik vikas), development of life energy (pranik vikas), emotional and mental development (manasik vikas), intellectual development (bauddhik vikas) and spiritual development (chaitsik vikas).
It provides for the holistic overall transformation of the curriculum of the ECCE and so it uses ‘play’ or activities at the core of the approaches to curriculum organisation, as children learn best through play.
Foundational Stage framework will also guide the preparation of the teachers for this Stage of education. The NCF is designed with the teacher as the primary focus - the reason being that the teacher is at the heart of the practice of education.
NCF does not just refer to curricular content and pedagogy, but also includes school environment and culture. It is not so much about revision of textbooks, but about changes in teaching and learning process.
In simple words, the NCF aims to help change practices in education and not just ideas; in the NCF, the word ‘curriculum’ encapsulates the overall experiences that a student has in school.
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