Published: 19th February 2019
How Anita Karwal is getting CBSE to integrate art with education
Chairperson of CBSE Anita Karwal speaks about what is unique about their curriculum and the challenges she faces, as Seema Rajpal listens in
Right before lakhs of students in India were about to appear for the Board exams, Anita Karwal, Chairperson of the Central Board of Secondary Education, put out a letter to boost their spirits and spoke in a language they'd get. The letter was resplendent with tech lingo. For example, one of the lines of the letter goes, “School is the place where you let your mind's Web Browser loose and driven by your inquisitiveness, hard work and hunger for knowledge, knowingly or unknowingly, you download several competencies and life skills.” And just like that, she won hearts. We stole a few moments to talk to the 1988-batch Gujarat cadre officer about her vision for CBSE and what they want to accomplish in the coming years. Excerpt:
What do you think sets our education system apart?
The rigour of the education and exam system sets us apart. The students who pass out, for example from CBSE, the rigour that they go through stands them in good stead globally. Because when they go outside India, they are head and shoulders above the rest. And by rigour I mean not just examination process but the way it is taught. We have a certain thrust on recall-based teaching, but also have a thrust on looking at the analytical aspects. Because our children get into arts and sports and all kinds of extracurricular and co-curricular activities, the wholesome learning they gain helps. Even culturally, I feel our children are better as they work in teams, learn to be together and learn the idea of being able to accept and tolerate cultural diversity.
On the panel: Chairperson of CBSE Anita Karwal (in the middle) was a part of the panel called Can you crack UPSC with just your school curriculum and without your friendly neighbourhood coaching centre? | (Pic: P Jawahar)
What about introducing more subjects?
We keep on looking at subjects which are required for the future and introduce them as skill subjects. For example, Artifical Intelligence is being introduced in classes VIII, IX and X as a skill subject. We are also partnering with other organisations like the Atal Tinkering Lab.
Personally, what has been one of the biggest challenges for you?
One is the scale of operations, that is a very huge challenge. Then there is the safe and secure delivery of the question papers. We faced a huge issue last year and we realise that because our stakeholders are private schools and they are the ones who participate in the actual delivery of question papers and the actual conduct of examinations. Ethics becomes a very big issue. This year, we are trying to address the issue, repeatedly training and messaging our stakeholders, including parents, students, principals, centre supervisors and principals. Also, tightening up the whole system.
In CBSE we are actually looking at integrating art and sport in education. With such a rich cultural diversity in the country, if we are not able to integrate the arts and use it as a tool for pedagogy, I think we are missing out
Anita Karwal, Chairperson, CBSE | (Pic: Ashwin Prasath)
And what can we expect from CBSE in the future?
We are very keen to integrate art with education, and are developing a policy document on that and we will be doing some handholding and we feel that the school experiential learning methodology can be art, sport and ICT-based. This, aside from actual experiential learning, going outdoors and learning from the environment. We are going to focus on learning methodologies, build capacities on how teachers can do this for their students. Our mandate is conducting board exams and as a part of that mandate, whatever we do like affiliating schools, prescribing the curriculum, looking at the quality of education — all this is a part of the exam conducting process. We have already revamped our affiliation bylaws, but what we are looking at right now is exam reforms. We want to use examination and assessment as a tool for learning. Whatever the child has learnt for the last two years, they should be able to reflect on their learnings and analyse it. We are working hard on it and you will hear about it shortly.
This is what we can learn from Western education, as per Karwal
- Capacity-building of teachers
It is a constant process in countries where education is the focus. To expect our teachers to teach years together in the same manner without being given any new tools for pedagogy is asking too much.
- Multi-disciplinary approach
We have a very subject-orientated approach, and we leave it to the child to connect one subject to the other, but I think we should teach in such a manner that every subject is connected to the other and the outside world.