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Discussion on making school education meaningful to vulnerable communities

ActionAid note on workshop to boost National Curriculum Framework operations:

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Leading educationists and activists striving to make education meaningful to vulnerable communities gathered in Delhi to discuss the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE). Acting in response to the call of the NCF Steering Committee appointed by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, ActionAid Association had organised the meeting to gather feedback on the draft NCFSE. This is part of ActionAid Association’s commitment to promote inclusive and gender-responsive education.
The two-day national workshop titled ‘NCF Perspectives: Seeking Feedback on National Curriculum Framework (NCF)’ on May 30 and 31, 2023, was held at India International Centre, New Delhi. The workshop aimed to ensure a structured approach to gathering feedback from key stakeholders and enhancing their active participation in shaping the response sought by the Government of India. Stakeholders representing eight states were present at the event, together with experts from reputed organisations working on child rights and education, including UNICEF, Save the Children, CRY, Reach to Teach, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti and Nirantar Trust.
Dipali Sharma, Director, Organisational Effectiveness, ActionAid Association, in her welcome address, outlined the continued efforts of ActionAid Association across 28 states in India to ensure voices of the most marginalised communities are incorporated in national processes, including in the feedback on NCF. Additionally, a comprehensive field study has been carried out, involving communities, children and teachers, with a sample size of nearly 600 participants. The findings from these studies, along with the insights presented in this paper, will contribute to the ongoing discussions on making the NCFSE more gender-equitable and inclusive. Additionally, Ms Sharma highlighted the efforts of the organisation towards eradicating child marriage and child labour, promoting education of the girl child and reviewing textbooks and curriculum with a view to making it gender sensitive.
While sharing insights from her vast experience, Prof. Poonam Agarwal, Professor and Former Joint Director, NCERT, stressed on the need to consider the importance of working with young boys to attain a gender-just society whereby curriculum has a crucial role to play. Rashmi Sinha, Education and Gender Specialist, and Member of NCF 2005, shared instances from western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to elucidate the intersectional nature of gender relations. She stated that the NCF needs to consider the intersectional and contextual nature of gender relations. Ms. Madhuri Das, Gender Programme Specialist, UNICEF, highlighted the importance of engendering the curriculum rather than making it gender neutral. She emphasised on the need to include psycho-social support, counselling and social-emotional learning as critical elements of the curriculum. Geeta Menon, Gender Expert and Subir Shukla, Principal Coordinator, Group IGNUS, also shared valuable inputs.
The proceedings on the second day attempted to consolidate subject and section-specific recommendations to NCF pertaining to diversity and inclusion, gender equity and gender sensitivity. Culminating the meeting, Sudatta Khuntia, National Lead on Education, ActionAid Association, stated that the valuable feedback gathered here will be carefully drafted and shared with expert members for their input and review. “The final document will subsequently be submitted to the NCF Steering Committee, together with state reports that highlight regional perspectives. Meetings with the committee members will also be arranged to push the recommendations at different levels,” she said, adding that “Through this process, we aim to ensure that the feedback is well-informed, widely shared, and receives the attention it deserves.”
The national workshop in New Delhi served as a platform for educators, policymakers, parents, students and community representatives to share their perspectives and recommendations on the pre-draft of the NCF. The interactive sessions enabled participants to engage in constructive discussions on the various aspects of education, including curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment methods and inclusivity.

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