According to educationists, in active learning a student is given the opportunity to practice self-control over the learning process, and this is just a method of experience-based learning. But in the experience-based learning a student needs to follow many steps and processes to acquire knowledge, and develop efficiency and point of view and values, which they could apply and gain experience through practice.

As a result of this decision in the primary level, the step taken to implement the new curriculum in a coordinated way has actually fallen flat, the experts say.

People involved with the composition of curriculum themselves have said because of this decision in the primary education level, the main objectives of implementing new curriculum from the primary to higher secondary level will not be fulfilled. Instead, this will create some problems. Students will face difficulties to cope with high school learning process after learning things in the primary level in one way.

However, speaking to Prothom Alo, acting National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) chairman Md. Mashiuzzaman said that the primary education authorities have told them that they will implement the primary education curriculum as per the new curriculum.

The government has taken an initiative to implement a new curriculum, with some major changes including in the evaluation process, from the pre-primary to high secondary level in a coordinated manner. Though there was a “tension” among the education ministry and primary and mass education ministry, especially the NCTB and primary and high school department over the process of teaching since the outset. Amid this, a decision was taken to pilot the new curriculum at the first and sixth grades at a certain number of schools this year. Later, the new curriculum would be implemented at different grades from the next year. In this way, the new curriculum would be fully implemented in all classes from class-I to class-XII by 2027.

The piloting of the new curriculum started among the sixth graders at 62 schools from 22 February. Though the piloting of new curriculum was to be started among the first graders at 100 schools from the same date, NCTB sources said this is not going to be started before the Eid-ul-Fitr as books are yet to be written.

Meanwhile, this, the National Curriculum Coordination Committee led by the primary and mass education ministry secretary gave an approval to the new curriculum for the primary school level on 23 March. However, no inter-ministerial meeting has so far given approval to the curriculum. Even the NCTB has not given approval to the new curriculum for the primary education due to absence of its regular chairman.

Persons involved with preparing the curriculum said giving approval to a detailed curriculum even before any piloting was not a right approach. That’s because, changes might be required following the piloting results. Secondly, the primary curriculum puts emphasis on active learning whereas experience-based learning method is the most adopted global method. This will create differences in the learning methods of primary and high school students which will create problems to follow the learning properly. Thirdly, there is no Primary Education Completion (PEC) exam in the new curriculum but the primary and mass education ministry is yet to take any decision in this regard.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, NCTB member (primary curriculum) Professor AKM Riazul Hasan said it was discussed in the NCCC meeting that corrections would be made if required. And, they were not preparing any new curriculum, rather bringing minor changes to the previous curriculum.

He further said though the curriculum follows active learning, opportunities of experience-based learning have been kept where it will be required. Now books will be written after giving approval to the detailed curriculum and piloting will begin.

NCTB sources said primary education administration decided some work of the curriculum, including fixing capacities in the primary level, under the Primary Education Development Project-4 (PEDP), ran by primary education ministry. That is being implemented with some minor changes.

M Tariq Ahsan, Professor of Institute of Education and Research (IER), Dhaka University, and member of the Curriculum Development and Revision Core Committee (CDRCC), told Prothom Alo that in this situation they are not sure whether the vision of implementing an uninterrupted curriculum would actually materialise.

* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza