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Taking pedagogy beyond textbooks

This year at Difficult Dialogues 2019, the focus is on is on Education- ‘Illuminating Myriad Facets’. Dean, School of Education at Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai, Disha Nawani will be moderating a session on Saturday, February 2 on Curriculum and Pedagogy. She talks to NT BUZZ ahead of the session about the need to revolutionise education in India for the better

Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ

Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are the three pillars of all formal education systems and are inextricably linked to each other. Disha Nawani has extensive experience in the field of education, besides serving on various boards and committees; she has been vociferous through her writings and research of reforms that are needed within the ambit of education in the country.



  1. How flawed is our education system?

From equity and social justice point of view, our education system is pretty flawed as there is a perfect match between an unequal social fabric and a layered education system. There are internal hierarchies both within public and private school system so a child’s social location decides which school s/he goes to.


  1. What are the issues within the system that need immediate attention?

Creating and providing for equal educational experiences for all children across social locations, both in terms of infrastructure and pedagogic transactions in the classroom is what needs to be looked into. One should not be looking for quick-fix solutions. Here, there is a need to work systematically towards improving the quality of education for everyone.

  1. Our students are being made to focus more on exams than on learning. Is this the right approach? What’s the way out?

No, it is a serious problem. The Right to Education (RtE), 2009 had mandated three meaningful provisions related to assessment (no board exams till class 8, continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) and non-detention of children till class 8) but one of them, non-detention of children was recently rolled back. There was so much anxiety around testing students and penalising them on their failure that we are back to square one. Rather than fixing the system, the reasons for non/poor learning, we looked for scapegoats in children.

Q.Textbooks are relied upon heavily for learning. Your views on this? How can learning be made more interesting and symbolic for students?

Textbooks are just one of the resources. The National Curriculum Framework, 2005 talks about moving beyond textbooks and enabling the child to construct knowledge by integrating his/her own experiences with what is happening in the school.


  1. Though Right to Education means that every child is entitled to elementary schooling, it is undeniable that higher education today remains to be a privilege. Comment.

Yes absolutely! RtE also, unfortunately talks about just till class 8, there’s still a long way to go before college. There’s a gradual elimination of students as you attempt the climb up the academic ladder.


  1. While the children in primary school complain of being over-burdened, those in college complain that the curriculum is most often outdated or irrelevant. Your comments.

Not really, it depends on which higher education institution one is talking about; there is a huge range here as well.


  1. How much importance should value education and sex education is given in schools?

Both are important, but I believe that the Constitution should provide us with the relevant framework for values. Sex education should also not be restricted to basic biology classes but deal with issues of gender and multiple gender identities.


(The panel discussion with educational consultant Andy Gray; director of Butterfly Fields, K Sharat Chandra; faculty of National Council of Educational Research and Training, Department of education and social sciences, Srinivasan Vadivel; and educator, social entrepreneur and feminist activist, Urvashi Sahni will be held at 1.45 p.m. on Saturday, February 2 at Abolim, ICG, Dona Paula.

THE NAVHIND TIMES is the media partner)


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