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The Invisible Barriers to India’s Educational Reforms

Why have three decades of pedagogical reforms failed to translate the learner-centred vision of national documents into reality? This paper presents empirical research that corroborates what Indian educationists are increasingly noting, that there are entrenched cultural mindsets restricting a shift in India’s education system. The research finds three central worldview beliefs widespread among government teachers that contradict the assumptions of policy documents and in fact of the Constitution: a belief in inequality vs equality, knowledge transmission vs liberty of thought, and purpose as individual advancement vs fraternity. In turn, teachers simply reflect the worldviews they themselves experience, creating a vicious cycle.

For over three decades, India has had a dream—to provide learner-centred inclusive education for every child—that continues to remain just that, a dream.

How is this so, when the vision has reached our policies, curricula, government schemes, and even training programmes? From as long ago as 1986, we have had a national education policy that mandates that every teacher provide “a child-centred and activity-based process of learning” (GoI 1992). This was reiterated two decades later by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), which emphasised the importance of giving “primacy to children’s experiences, their voices, and their active participation” (NCF 2005: 13). Four years later, this vision became law with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which, in its Section 29.2, prescribes “learning through activities, discovery and exploration” in an environment “free from fear, trauma and anxiety” and “guided by Constitutional values.” Meanwhile, since 2001, the government has spent crores under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme to train teachers every year to implement this vision.

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Updated On : 12th Feb, 2020

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