Speaking to Prothom Alo, NCTB member (curriculum) Md Moshiuzzaman said new textbooks will be ready by next June in keeping with the new curriculum. The books will then be distributed in phases from 2022.

Curriculum experts, however, said that many elements of the education policy of 2010 have still not be implemented. That is why, they said, the capacity of the educational institutions, the competence of the teachers and other matters must be taken into consideration when changing the curriculum.

Many within the education ministry feel that it will be a challenge to implement the new curriculum. A senior level official of the education ministry's secondary and higher secondary division, on condition of anonymity, told Prothom Alo that the curriculum had been prepared in keeping with present times, information and technology and various other matters. It will be a challenge to implement it, but they want to go ahead and tackle this challenge with the cooperation of all concerned.

The last time that the curriculum from the primary to the secondary level was revised, was in 2012 and that is being followed at present. Generally, the curriculum is revised every five years. NCTB is preparing the curriculum in consultation with experts and teachers from Dhaka University and other universities of the country.

Differences between the present and the new curriculum

The new curriculum places importance on students acquiring competence. It is generally said that a student's competence is built up by acquiring knowledge, skills, values and ethics. NCTB, as an example, points out that when a student reads or hears about how a car is driven, that is knowledge. When the student learns hands-on how to operate the various parts of the car, being able to steer left, right, front and back and use the brakes to halt the car, that is skill. And if the student can drive to a particular destination in the car, ensuring his own safety and that of the people, animals and other things along the way, that is competence.

An NCTB official said that the present curriculum is basically based on goals. Exams are given more importance. The new curriculum will give more importance to continuous evaluation.

Former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Choudhury sees the change in curriculum as positive. She told Prothom Alo that it is congruent with the national education policy. However, the challenge will be in the regular evaluation. The teachers must be made more qualified for this and institutional capacity will have to be enhanced.

Two pre-primary years

In the new curriculum, the pre-primary level will comprise two years, starting when the child is four up till when he or she is six. There will be two classes in the pre-primary level -- pre-primary class one and pre-primary class two. Presently, a five-year-old starts with one year pre-primary education. A child over 6 is admitted to Class 1. According to sources in the primary and mass education ministry, approval in this regard has been given from a high level in the government.

Subjects to decrease

In the new curriculum, 10 types of learning areas have been fixed for the pre-primary to Class 10 level. These include language and communication, math and logic, life and livelihood, social and global citizenship, environment and climate, science and technology, information and communication technology, physical and mental health and protection, values and ethics, and art and culture.

There will be no separate books for pre-primary children. The teachers will teach them. Eight subjects have been selected for primary students. These are Bangla, English, math, science, social science, religion, well-being, and art and culture. There will be no separate books for 'well-being' and 'art and culture'. The teachers will be given instruction books on teaching these subjects.

At present it takes 32 working days to complete the SSC exam. If the new decision comes into effect, the exam will be complete in just five days

Students from Class 8 till Class 10 will be taught from 10 common books. These will be on Bangla, English, math, life and livelihood, science, social science, digital technology, religious education, well-being, and art and culture. Presently 12 to 14 books are taught at a secondary level. In Class 8 there are common books, but from Class 9, the classes are divided into groups. In the new curriculum, the different groups will be from Class 11.

New books

According to NCTB, in the first year (2022), students of pre-primary class one, primary Class 1 and 2, and secondary Class 6 and 7, will receive books of the new curriculum. The next year (2023), students of Class 8 and in 2024, students of Class 9 will be given books of the new curriculum. In 2026, higher secondary students are scheduled receive the new books.

Exams and evaluation

According to the proposed curriculum, there will be no school exams before Class 3. There will be a regular assessment in the educational institutions. In Class 3 and 4, the ongoing evaluation will be 70 per cent and the remaining 30 per cent will be the annual exam. In Class 6, the ongoing evaluation will be 60 per cent and 40 per cent will be the annual exam. In Class 9 and Class 10 this will be 50 per cent ongoing and 50 per cent annual exam.

The public exam will be held in Class 10 and the SSC exam will be based only on the syllabus of Class 10. In SSC, the exam will be held on 5 subjects of the 10 subjects of Class 10. These will be Bangla, English, math, science and social science. The evaluation of the other 5 subjects will be done in the educational institution. Presently the SSC exam is based on the Class 9 and 10 syllabus.

At present it takes 32 working days to complete the SSC exam. If the new decision comes into effect, the exam will be complete in just five days.

According to the outline of the curriculum, there will be 12 papers or 6 subjects of higher secondary (Class 11 and 12). In Class 11, alongside the compulsory subjects of Bangla, English and digital technology, the student will have exams in the first paper of all the subjects of that particular group (three in all). That means, the Class 11 public exam will be of six subjects in total. In Class 12 there will also be six subjects in the public exam, including the second and third papers of the three subjects of the respective groups. In the new curriculum, there will be three papers per subject in the three subjects of each group. The HSC final results will be based on the combined results of the two exams.

At present, other than the SSC and HSC exams, there is the primary exam at the end of Class 5 and the final exam in the ibtedayi system, and the Junior School Certificate (JSC) at the end of class 8 and the Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC). The new curriculum has no mention of these exams. An official of NCTB told Prothom Alo that they have discussed not having any exam before Class 10. That was decided in the last curriculum too, but under executive order of the government, the primary education final exam and JSC-JDC exams are being held.

An education act is required to implement the education policy, but the government has been unable to do that too. Only discussions have been held on the draft of the law over the past 10 years

Former chairman of the Jashore education board, Amirul Alam Khan, speaking to Prothom Alo said, the decision to study common subjects up till Class 10 is correct. At the higher secondary level is exams are held in Class 11 and Class 12, then the students will face less pressure. But the most important factor is selection of subjects and preparing books that are understandable by the students and all concerned. The books at present are written in such a matter that even many teachers do not understand these.

Two-day weekly holiday, open on national days

The educational institutions at present generally have a one-day weekly holiday on Friday. Some institutions remain closed two days a week, on their own initiative. In the new curriculum, the educations institutions will remain closed on Friday and Saturday every week, like government offices. However, schools will remain open on national days such as Shaheed Dibash and International Language Day, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birthday, Independence Day, National Mourning Day, and Victory Day. The students will have to come to school on those days, but no classes will be held. Various programmes will be held on those days and evaluation will be attached to this too.

Curriculum expert and former director of Dhaka University's Institute of Education and Research, Siddiqur Rahman, told Prothom Alo that the present curriculum must certainly be updated. But it would be of no use to create an unrealistic curriculum. If even half the teachers do not have the competence to implement the curriculum, what will be the use in changing it? He said, an assessment must be made on what has been implemented of the earlier curriculum and what has not.

Education policy not fully implemented

The government had earlier determined the country's education system in the national education policy of 2010. But it has not implemented many of the important decisions of the policy, including extending primary education up till Class 8. On the contrary, the primary education final exams are being held, sidestepping the education policy. The decision to extend secondary education from Class 9 up till Class 12 has also not been implemented. The education policy called for the secondary and higher secondary directorate to be divided into the secondary education directorate and the higher education and research directorate. That has not been done. A madrassa education directorate, though, has been created. An education act is required to implement the education policy, but the government has been unable to do that too. Only discussions have been held on the draft of the law over the past 10 years.

In these circumstances, the new curriculum is bringing about many changes. When asked about the matter, co-chairman of the national education policy formulation committee, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, told Prothom Alo that the proposed curriculum includes many issues of the education policy. That is positive. But the problem is in its implementation. An education act is needed to implement the education policy. But that has not come about. As to how far the new education curriculum will be implemented, time will tell.

This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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