12 July 2012

Quality in K-12 textbooks

Large textbooks with not much of quality have been a matter of concern to K-12 professionals in our country for the past 30 years.

In the '80s and '90s, Central and many State Government Departments of Education produced National Curriculum Framework and other such regional level documents respectively with elaborate proposals on the importance of reducing quantity in textbooks,  making the school bag lighter, need for child nutrition and health etc. But the problem was that many of these proposals were assumption based and not practically possible in actual classrooms.

At the NGO level, Organisations such as  M S Swaminathan Research Foundation produced far more meaningful evidence based multimedia supported reports such as  `Kuzhanndaikku inda bharam  tevaiah?' (with English versions as well) and public awareness products such as this this one. But still, as education administration professionals and teachers would know, impact of these publicity campaigns was marginal mainly due to absense of an effective monitoring agency. (In fact in spite of viable proposals, Syllabus Boards and textbook publishers added more quantity at the cost of quality and many schools began replacing value education periods into Maths or English periods in their time tables, thereby violating mandatory requirements for affiliation).

Very recently, things seem to  have improved in this direction: for example, Tamilnadu Government's implementation of Activity Based Curriculum and Trimester system in its Primary schools. Such a move can make children's school bag lighter with enjoyable lesson materials.   Naturally, the move seems to have received overwhelmingly positive response from stakeholders, particularly parents and teachers. (This afternoon I happened to look at an activity based textbook for Standard 1 published by Tamilnadu Government. It looks very good and child friendly).

Hope such improvements are implemented effectively and the impact monitored closely using an effective watchdog mechanism which places values at its core.     

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a K-12 Education Management Professional turned freelance Education writer. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.