In the past few months and years, there have been rising concerns on two seemingly disparate things – the weight of school bags and the realization that we don’t have a quality curriculum, basically that our children are still waiting for a respite from the inefficiencies of the present curriculum.
So the Delhi government also decides (along with the Tamil Nadu government) to have no homework for children of classes 1 and 2 and only two hours a week for students of class 3-5. They recommend two books for Classes 1 and 2 (English and Maths) and three books for Classes 3-5 (English, Maths and EVS). Accordingly, schools could design flexible timetables basis the reduced syllabus loads and increase activity based learning.
This is, they say, as per what was suggested 13 years ago by the National Curriculum Framework 2005.
In fact the NCF, 2005 (p. 96) suggests no homework “upto” Class 2, 2 hours per week from Class 3-5, one hour per day for middle school, and two hours a day for classes 9-12. This recommendation, however amazing it might sound, is contemporaneously produced through pre-election demagoguery and judicial pronouncements today.
It is like someone forgot to read the NCF when it was produced, and now it’s bad form to contest it when it has been conjured up from the dead after 13 years.
For who can explain these homework time restrictions with any modicum of clarity? Who will implement it? How will it be implemented? Do all students do homework at the same speed? How will all subject teachers coordinate to ensure this? What about remedial homework? What about the time students spend in completing classwork they have missed at home? Don’t students need reinforcement at home anymore? Shouldn’t they be spending time in remediation?
Turning to weight. Precisely how do you go about weighing curricular needs so that they fit inside 1.5 kilograms that is the limit for class 1 and 2? Do you reduce paper quality/paper thickness to allow for larger amount of content or vice versa, so that the net effect is below 1.5 kg? Why not simply leave textbooks in school for younger children – no schoolbags at all!
If there are so many problems, why not start school at 7 instead of at 4 or 5 years of age, like (say) Finland does? We could amend RTE to include 2 more years up to age 16 in that case, which may be much more useful?
At the very least, it seems the emphasis on weight will further prolong the wait our students have to face for a quality education.