English, Marathi Must In Pre-school: Maharashtra Draft Curriculum

English, Marathi Must In Pre-school: Maharashtra Draft Curriculum

Children in Maharashtra may soon start learning English and Marathi languages, along with their mother tongue, right from pre-school years.

Musab QaziUpdated: Sunday, February 18, 2024, 12:45 PM IST
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English, Marathi Must In Pre-school: Maharashtra Draft Curriculum | Sourced Photo

The State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has released a draft curriculum for the foundational stage, which constitutes three years of pre-primary for children aged 3-6 years and classes 1 and 2 for those aged 6-8, in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The document, which is now open for public feedback, recommends the two languages as mandatory subjects. For the students who speak a home language other than Marathi, their mother tongue will be taught as the first language. Other subjects include mathematics, art, work experience and health and physical education.

Development of foundational stage curriculum in Maharashtra

This is the first time the Maharashtra government has come out with a formal curriculum for the pre-primary classes, which are yet to be included in the formal schooling system. The draft curriculum has categorised five learning stages for foundational years - Balvatika 1, 2 and 3 and Grades 1 and 2. It's in accordance with the NEP's new 5+3+3+4 school education system - five years of the foundation stage, three years of the preparatory stage, three years of the middle stage and the remaining four years of the secondary stage.

The six/seven-subject plan in the document is similar to the one provided in the state's previous curriculum framework, which has been in force since 2010. In fact, Maharashtra was one of the first states in the country to make English a mandatory language from class 1, the current entry point in schools. Until then, the language wasn't introduced till the fifth grade. The aspirations of people, changing socio-economic situation and globalisation were some of the reasons cited for giving primacy of English.

However, as provided in the new State Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage (SCF-FS), the precursor for the draft syllabus, children's mother tongue has been recommended as the language of classroom instruction. While the current document offers detailed syllabus of Marathi and English, for the foundational years, SCERT will soon release curriculum for eight other languages used as medium of instruction across the state, said an official from the council.

Optimal allocation of classroom time for Language and Mathematics

The document recommends more than one third, 36%, of the classroom time to be devoted for the development of the children's first language, with 12% time allocated to English, while mathematics gets 24%.

The educationists have welcomed the new curriculum for early years. "It covers seven areas of learning which will lead to holistic development. The learning outcomes and development domains outlined in the curriculum give the teacher guidance not only about lesson planning but also about assessment 4. The examples outlined are comprehensive and give teachers an overview of how and what should be done in foundational years," said Swati Popat Vats, President, Early Childhood Association.

However, some educationists believe that parents and schools shouldn't rush to teach children to read and write languages from early on and instead focus on oral communication. "While the introduction of English in pre-school is a good thing, it should be taught gradually. The distribution of timing for various subjects is also good," said Dhanavanti Hardikar, a former official at Balbharti, the state textbook publisher.

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