NIPUN BHARAT: A Mission to be announced and not to be denounced

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By: Dr Rabia Mukhtar

Children learn through the natural inquiry process of fun and play. Anthropologists, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists have studied and documented this phenomenon extensively.  Play based activities are hugely influential on child development in fostering speech development, cognitive processes, self-awareness and self-regulation. Neuroscientists have discovered that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is refined by play. Play stimulates the production of a protein that is responsible for the differentiation and growth of new neurons and synapses. Play and fun interventions are widely used as a treatment for children who struggle to develop various foundational skills. The perennial interest in these ideas is reflected in current global Education Policies.

India has recently placed, in the public domain, the draft of National Education Policy (NEP 2020) covering various aspects of large educational scenario to ensure holistic development. Aligned with NEP 2020, Union Education Ministry launched NIPUN BHARAT Educational   Scheme (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy). The Scheme ensures that every child in India receives foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) by the end of grade 3. In order to garner foundational literacy and numeracy, the scheme is committed to focus on transforming monotonous education system into an integrated, inclusive, enjoyable and engaging education system by  adopting experiential teaching and unique pedagogies like toy based, play based, activity based, art integrated and ICT integrated  and other such fun based teaching learning processes. Learning through fun ways has always emerged as an important strategy to promote student engagement, inclusion and holistic skill development.

There are however significant challenges to embedding learning through play in practice. The first hurdle is semantics. ‘Play’ a complex phenomenon is difficult to define. The reputation of the word ‘Play’ as a non-serious, non-work related pursuit is problematic especially at school particularly in some developing countries including India. The problem is that teachers as well as parents are accustomed to more rigid curricula structures and attainment of targets. This custom has set a rigid dichotomy between play and learning that is blindly accepted by society.

In J&K, as per directions of SCERT, Various DIETs (District Institutions of Education and Trainings), started trainings of Head of the institutions, mentors/ Resource persons, teachers in a phased and successful manner. These trainings are imparted to deliberate on NIPUN BHARAT guidelines on achieving foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) and in turn transform and change the existing teaching learning pedagogies.  The trainings are imparted keeping in view that playful learning and activity based learning is promising pedagogy.

The trainers make every effort to train teachers to make children develop holistic skills by role plays, model presentations through objects and representations, play way, joyful, iterative, meaningful and socially interactive actions. The trainers and teachers enthusiastically are using essential strategies to understand their learners, scaffold learning, adjust their new approach to meet the needs of their learners and in turn try to make them  befit in the contemporary world. No doubt that at this stage, teachers are warming up and trying to implement new strategies. It is very unfortunate that in spite of acknowledging and felicitating trainers and teachers for their new noble role, some miscreants through social media are trolling teachers to the extent that it has become a trending topic across all media outlets. Teachers by way of adopting new methodology are trying to throw a line well as in case of fly-fishing. Throwing well the line is an indispensable fly-fishing qualification.  They are beginners, new comers to handle the fishing rod, holding it for the novice cause, so they need to be supported and believed upon.

My dear critics and trolls, you may hook a fish well, play a fish well, land a fish well, but you will not often have an opportunity of doing so unless you throw a line well- A word to the wise. So don’t declare teachers tyro for trivial and petty things without proper investigations. Encourage teachers to commence on the proper principle that is ‘persevere and you will become proficient’. The videos uploaded on social media are edited ones, hiding the portions which complete them. Practical observation is far more cogent than precept. Be thankful to these volunteers, encourage their perseverance and attend always to a multitude of corroborating, intelligent and quintessential witnesses.

It is requested upon all to observe the methodologies with good eyes and good heart and follow it and allow your young generations to follow it and we will together surely overcome what had hitherto been a difficulty for many of us.

Author is a teacher and can be reached at: [email protected]

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