Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday launched the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for the foundation stage for children aged three to eight years. This is the first time that the NCF has been prepared for the basic stage and children at the age of three will be included in the formal schooling system as proposed in the National Education Policy-2020 (NEP).

Apart from the Curriculum for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the first of the four NCFs being developed, Pradhan also launched Balvatikas (pre-primary classes) in Kendriya Vidyalayas. ECCE within the anganwadi system has so far primarily focused on child nutrition and health in a private space, the play school system has not been regulated.

The most important aspect of the NEP was the development of the national school curriculum because it is futuristic, according to Pradhan. “Preparing the curriculum for the three to eight age group was the most important and challenging because experts and scientists have proven that 85 percent of brain development occurs between the ages of seven and eight. Therefore, curriculum development for the foundation stage is the most important aspect of NCF,” he said.

“I am optimistic that NCERT will release the syllabus and textbooks and other required methodologies by the next Basant Panchami. I also hope that NCERT will share them with SCERT on a priority basis so that experts from the states can be consulted and start designing the curriculum and developing textbooks based on these guidelines,” Pradhan said.

While NCERT is the National Council of Educational Research and Training, SCERTs are the State Councils of Educational Research and Training.

NCF-2022 consists of four sections — National Curriculum Framework for School Education, National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care, National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education and National Curriculum Framework for Adult Education.

Research in education, neuroscience, and economics around the world clearly demonstrates that providing free, accessible, and quality early childhood care and education is perhaps the best investment any country can make in its future, in accordance with the NCF for the foundation stage.

It said that “brain development is most rapid in the first eight years of a child’s life, indicating the critical importance of cognitive and social-emotional stimulation in the early years.”

Focusing on cognitive development and social-emotional stimulation in the early years of a child’s life, the new framework outlined the “panchakosha” concept for teaching children aged three to eight.

The concept consists of five parts: physical development (sharirik vikas), life energy development (pranik vikas), emotional and mental development (manasik vikas), intellectual development (bauddhik vikas) and spiritual development (chaitik vikas). “The Panchakosha is an ancient explication of the importance of the body-mind complex in human experience and understanding. This non-dichotomous approach to human development provides clear pathways and direction toward a more holistic education,” NCF reports.

Ramka noted that although the state of anganwadi is not complete, it is at a high level. “There is no data on private institutions. The number of institutions offering relevant pedagogical programs is small and insufficient. “Vidya pravesh has been developed by NCERT for students entering Class 1,” it said.

It will run for three months, with four hours a day dedicated to familiarizing children with the school environment and providing them with experiences to support well-being, the NCF said. “Vidya pravesh” (primary level education) will enable learning of ethical values ​​and cultural diversity, as well as interaction with the physical, social and natural environment, it said. The Union Ministry of Education has also initiated the inclusion of pre-primary classes in the formal schooling system through Balvatikas in Kendriya Vidyalayas, the pedagogy for which is based on NCF guidelines.

“For the first time in the 50 Kendriya Vidyalayas on a pilot basis, we are running play schools in an institutionalized manner with targeted learning outcomes on pedagogy based on this NCF. Here I would like to congratulate the Uttarakhand state government, which has already included pre-primary school in the formal school system,” said Pradhan. As part of the implementation of NEP-2020, the NCEPD and the Ministry of Education initiated the process of developing four NCFs in 2021 in the areas of early childhood education and training, school education, teacher education and adult education.

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