After nearly two months of uncertainty, students finally got to know from Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict that they will, indeed, learn as per the syllabus of the Uniform System of School Education (Samacheer Kalvi) initiative.
From a postponed reopening date (June 15 as against first week of June) to an indefinite curriculum for the first two months, this academic year has clearly been rather challenging for students and teachers.
When the verdict was out on Tuesday, it brought relief to teachers, students and parents. Though a section of private school managements, teachers and parents were disappointed, the focus immediately shifted to “What next?” With considerable learning time lost in the last two months, schools, government, aided or private unaided had to quickly get on to sourcing necessary textbooks.
According to sources in the School Education Department, textbooks printed by the Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation were stocked at different points in each district. The books were to be handed over to the heads of schools in the next few days, said a senior official. “Objectionable content” would be appropriately deleted at these nodal points before the textbooks are distributed.
On how the department intended to make up for the lost time, the official said it would evolve an effective arrangement very soon. On whether an academic authority will be constituted, he said: “First, we need to go through the judgment copy in detail. We will take all the necessary steps very soon.”
Private schools, on the other hand, were trying to place orders for textbooks approved by the government. Siddhartha Jagannathan, joint secretary, Federation of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu, said: “We need to abide by the syllabus, but we could even use NCERT textbooks, as some schools have been in the last two months. Once an academic authority is constituted, schools can get the list of textbooks they cleared by it.” N. Vijayan, general secretary, Federation of Matriculation Schools’ Associations in Tamil Nadu, expressed doubts whether the new textbooks would be printed by approved publishers soon enough.
“All the private schools will place orders and I think it will take about a month for the entire set to be ready. However, we can download the textbooks brought out by the government and use them in the meantime,” he said. Some schools, he said, intended to “supplement” the syllabus with additional learning tools such as smart classrooms and technology aids.
Soon after the textbooks are distributed, the department should help schools adapt to the change, note experts. Senior educationist S.S. Rajagopalan said it should evolve strategies to address other aspects of Samacheer Kalvi in consultation with teachers. “The Department should also design model questions papers, particularly for class X, and circulate them soon so that students get a sense of evaluation as per the new syllabus,” he said. Filling up vacant teacher posts and infrastructure of government schools is crucial to realise the spirit of equitable standard of education, he added.