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Still libraries are not considered as essential provisioning of a school and classroom as a blackboard, textbooks and girl’s toilet

Report of the committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy “Some inputs for draft NEP 2016” quote Swami Vivekanand, “Education is not the amount of information that we put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library……. If education is identical with information, the libraries are the greatest sages of the world and encyclopaedia are the greatest Rishis.” The statement of Swami Vivekananda assumes much greater significance with the advent of internet and ever expanding digital connectivity when we do not even need to visit libraries and information are available at the click of a button. There is therefore a need to shift from the information-based education system to a value-based education system imparting life skills which can contribute to man-making and nation-building. Here I am arguing the role of libraries cannot be reduced even after the advent of internet and ever expanding digital connectivity.

I am arguing libraries are not only the source of information, but the place of intellectual enrichment at all levels of education especially in the primary stage which helps in achieving the aims of language education and ultimately the aims of education. Hence adequate proportion of fund allocation should be recommended for full-fledged libraries. Libraries are not only the collection of information rather its place where one can broaden knowledge base. Library is the place where one gets comparable information to draw some patterns or conclusions. Library is the place where one sharpens the cognitively advanced skills. Exposure 1to well established library with trained library educator in the beginning of school years will definitely make a difference. NEP 2016 document says “the biggest challenge facing school education relates to the unsatisfactory level of student learning in Grades III, V, VIII and X. Poor quality of learning at the primary and upper primary stages affects student learning at the secondary. Secondary stage spills over to the college/university years, leading to poor learning outcomes in the higher education sector”. Resulting in creating the pool of unemployable youths. In school education learning achievement are low in literacy and numeracy due to inadequate exposure of students to quality children literature and several other problems. Which are fundamental to acquire the skills in higher education. Fundamental skills are not achieved in primary and it has effect thereon.

Since independence the role of library in education is being emphasised in various documents such as Commission on University Education-1948, Secondary Education Commission-Mudliyar Commission 1952, Kothari Commission 1968, NPE 1986. In NCF 2005 “School library is visualised as an intellectual space where teacher, children and members of the community can expect to find the means where they can deepen their knowledge and imagination”. Where children can develop and improve reading habits from the young age itself. Where school staff whether maths, geography or science gets opportunities to refer the various books and it became an open source of information for every teacher and not only language teacher. However, still libraries are not considered as essential provisioning of a school and classroom as a blackboard, textbooks and girl’s toilet.

Aims of education are broader and it encompasses aims of language education and then need of the library in the school to fulfil the objectives of language education and ultimately aims of education. In Indian scenario aims of education are mentioned in various policy documents such as National Policy on Education 1968, 1986 and National Curriculum Framework 2005 seeking guidance from the Constitutional vision of India as a secular, egalitarian and pluralistic society, founded on the values of social justice and equality. Certain broad aims of education have been identified in the NEP 2016. “The aim of education is to inculcate awareness among learners of India’s rich heritage, glorious past, great traditions and heterogeneous culture. It also promotes acquisition by the learners at all levels of values that promote responsible citizenship, peace, tolerance, secularism, national integration, social cohesion and mutual respect for all religions, as well as universal values that help develop global citizenship and sustainable development.”

It is evident that reaching to these goals can be possible only through the process of teaching and learning. Children can adopt those attitudes, skills and knowledge only through the process of learning. Aims of education incorporate aims of language learning. Aims of language education as developing a competence to understand what one hears, developing the ability to read with comprehension and not merely decode the text, developing the ability of effortless expression and developing the cognitively advance language proficiency skills such as prediction, Imagination, empathisation, reasoning, comparison and analysis. Library enables a teacher to conduct a class in the library by drawing upon its resources and generate and hold the discussion on stories read to children. For example, imagine a teacher is reading the Story- Titli, Pankho ki kitab or Kachkach in School library, during the read aloud session teacher will generate a discussion on story by gauging the previous knowledge of the children, by telling them background information and showing them illustrations of certain scenes of the story and ask them to imagine what will be the content of the story thereby invoking curiosity in them. Teacher is guiding the discussion by allowing children to interpret the story in their own way as the story proceed. These multiple interpretations within and between groups gives the children the idea that people can have different reactions, opinions and views of the story Titli, Pankho ki kitab or Kachkach. When children will relate the story they will able to see with the help of text, background illustrations and their own reflections same characters and themes can be manifested in several ways.

In the above scenario school library is helping achieving the aims of language education such as developing a competence to understand what one hears, developing the ability to read with comprehension and not merely decode the text, developing the ability of effortless expression and not only this but developing the cognitively advance language proficiency skills such as prediction, Imagination, empathisation, reasoning, comparison and analysis. This will ultimately help achieving the aims of education of inculcating values, providing skills and competencies to citizens, and enabling them to contribute to the nation’s wellbeing.

Wrong Equation-Detention vs Learning Achievements

Report of the committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy which was headed by TSR Subramanian “Some inputs for draft NEP 2016” is now put on MHRDs website after much speculations. The committee was expected to submit the report not later than 31st December 2015 However, It has got two extensions for completing the task (1st extension till 29th Feb 2016 and 2nd Extension till 30th April 2016).  Before the draft was submitted highlights of the policy were discussed in the media on few themes in bits and pieces. Now it is put on the website for inviting the suggestion from the public before it takes the form of policy.

Draft policy says “the present provisions of no-detention policy will be amended, as it has seriously affected the academic performance of students. The no detention policy will be limited up to class V and the system of detention will be restored at the upper primary stage” despite the guideline in Right To Education Act  Chapter 4 section 16 which says “No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education”.

It is assumed that when there was detention policy everything was good, children’s were learning basic skills without having any problem. Fear of failure motivate them to learn.  Which is absolutely not true and can be verified.   Pass/Fail system already damaged education system at all levels.  If that system would have been working we would not have dearth of employable youths, which we are crying every now and then. The system of detention damaged many lives. Who are detained is very clear children from marginalized section, those who are first generation learners. When system provides different inputs to different children however standards of academic performance are same for everyone.  How can children from first generation compared with the one who is from well to do class and has a very good literate environment in families.  How can a children learning in Delhi, Bombay, Bengalore, and Pune can be compared with remote villages in hilly area where nobody wants to go.  Onus is put on the children for not learning when it is clear that there are several other problems which are responsible for the failure of the child. For example poor pedagogy of language and mathematics, inadequate exposure of books and reading material to comprehend the language, focus of language teaching on only teaching BICS (Basic inter personal communication skills) rather engage children to acquire cognitively advanced language proficiency skills) such as prediction, analysis, reasoning, imagination, comparison.  Absence of adequately trained teachers, assumption that everybody can teach with minimum instruction and it does not require any special knowledge to teach language and mathematics at primary schools, teaching profession as last choice so demotivated teachers the list is long…so children are not responsible for their failure but the system. Why not system is held accountable, policy should make a provision of making system accountable if the desirable performance standards are not achieved.  It should also recommend those who are working for bringing quality in education should admit their children in the government schools.  This will help the school education improve very fast.

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