Educationists, scholars and experts in teaching are unanimous that the new education curriculum is quite appropriate for acquiring knowledge ---both theoretical and practical---and skills by young learners. But at the very outset, the controversy over two books' contents involving the progressive theory of evolution, anthropological findings and history as well as chapters of plagiarism has come as a setback. The withdrawal of the books, critics claim, is nothing but appeasement of some conservative religious quarters. There is uncertainty about the books that will substitute those two reaching the learners within any reasonable time.
As if it was not enough, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) had to issue a circular directing schools not to hold any kind of examination or model test for students of class VI and VII. This the DSHE did when reports of arrangement of monthly and model tests by some school authorities came to its notice. The new education curriculum has devised a radical system, in complete departure from the traditional marking method, of evaluation of students' merit and performance. This latest directive has reiterated that the evaluation will have to be made following the guideline it will prepare.
However, the question is, after two and a half months of the new academic year, teachers so long habituated to marking students' examination scripts are still in the darkness how they will assess their students. All books are yet to reach students everywhere and the guideline for student evaluation is not available. What is the impression! Are not the authorities making a hotchpotch of everything? The endemic problem of putting the cart before the horse has once again staged a comeback apparently to discredit a sound system with tremendous prospect if, of course, it could be introduced in a planned and smooth manner.
What is particularly concerning is that teachers inquisitive of knowing about the 60 per cent continuous evaluation of students through schooling did not reportedly receive any answer from their teaching instructors. Understandably, the instructors themselves have no idea of how this will be done.
Notably, there is no provision for any examination up to class III. From class IV to VIII, 60 per cent of the evaluation for subjects like Bangla, English, mathematics, social science and science will be through continuous assessment and the rest 40 per cent through overall evaluation meaning two exams---one after six months and another at the end of the academic year. How the exams will be conducted is still not clear. Although the introduction of the new curriculum has been on a piloting basis, much of the enterprise is too opaque to be congenial for carrying out a challenging system ---one that is supposed to lay the foundation of education for millions of learners.
Now young learners may not quite appreciate the virtue or realise the problems encountering them. That no examinations or model tests will be held is music to their ears but teachers cannot but be extremely worried how they will perform their duty. Even parents and guardians of students are keeping their fingers crossed. A shift from an education system dependent on private tuition, technically developed coaching centres, guides and notebooks to one based on continuous assessment and overall assessment overnight is indeed fraught with many risks.
Under the new system, as far as could be gathered, students will have no home work but will have projects---personal or group, practical assignments which they will have to complete following more or less the way university students accomplish. They will be required to talk to parents or people in particular occupation and even take note and interview, collect evidence of what they are dealing with. Then they will enter those in a format under a rubric.
Thousands times better than learning by rote, no doubt. But the fundamental question is, are the teachers who have never in their life done anything even remotely similar capable of guiding their students? There is apprehension that like the teachers who failed to prepare structured questions in the previous so-called creative system, the majority of teachers will now not only fumble but lose their ways in the wilderness.
Teachers who received orientation did so reportedly only for three to five days, of which two days were spent for introduction and conclusion. The least said about those teachers who are yet to receive any such teaching orientation. If the question-answer pro forma is totally done away with, how will students develop writing skill. Acquiring writing skill is no less important. Here is a coordination between the perceived world and imagination that demands logical analysis of things seen or unseen, known or unknown.
Well, mathematics may do without writing capability but even science demands coherent and logical description of the process of doing experiment in the laboratory. When a young learner is asked to write an essay on the cow, s/he has to be a keen observer to know about this domestic animal and put into words his or her observation. An excellent teacher can help stoke the inquisitiveness, ready-to-learn mentality and guide his or her charges to express their minds with clarity. Evaluation of students' creativity should not, therefore, be confined to a limited boundary. The bottom line is to develop a whole new set of teachers and orient the capable among the existing batch who together can take up the challenge. To make it happen the profession has to be financially rewarding enough.