Value Based Education in India | Practice v Preach

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We’ve heard the two words ‘value education‘ in the educational context much too frequently. What do these words really mean when looked at in reality?

Is it a moral science text book followed by the teachers as part of the curriculum? A set of values put up in a classroom for the students to read every day? Or just another subject for the students to pass?

Value education today, on the face of it, should be much more than any of the above mentioned scenarios. The need for insertion of value education in the school syllabus was recognized by the National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986 through the adoption of which, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) revised the entire school syllabus for classes I-XII in 1988.

The State Governments were expected to undertake similar measures to introduce value education in the syllabi and school system. The NCERT has also compiled a Value Education Framework ( Education for Values in Schools – A Framework) which provides systemic guidelines for the schools to identify the areas where values need to be integrated and implement actions accordingly.

Today, value education has come a long way and is much more than just a moral science lesson. However, the question remains as to whether it is being practiced as much as it is preached.

Values are what shape a human conscience thereby allowing and assisting an individual to form a sense of right and wrong. It is the fundamental base which builds an individual’s attitude and behavior. Values are internalized through experiences, either good or bad. In the educational context, value based curriculum is a means to teach students that knowledge is complementary with life skills.

The key responsibility of assisting the students in internalizing values/ life skills lies with the teachers who are often the subject teachers of a classroom. In a classroom of 30-40 students (the number being much more in government schools), the teachers do not have the right amount of time or capacity to observe, impart and assess the way in which students behave, act and manifest a certain value or life skill.

According to the ‘Scheme of Financial Assistance for Strengthening Education in Human Values‘ compiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), financial assistance is provided for training in-service teachers at Value Education Centres towards building skills in inculcating values in every day lessons. Moreover, the’ Value Education Framework’ stipulates a checklist to be maintained by the teachers for every child based on the values/life skills/behavior demonstrated by him/her.

The reality of a teacher in any school, be it public or private, is far from being just an educator in a classroom. There is lot of administration work which needs to submitted given the tight deadlines. Based on all the information, the big question one must ask is whether the teachers are well equipped with the right kind of skill set to be made accountable for a subject which is of utmost importance currently – values/life skills/character building. Is putting a tick across a range of values for each child enough to validate his/her value system?

If financial assistance is provided towards teacher training, why not utilize the finances towards bringing in specialists in the field of value education as well as mental health and well being and conduct exclusive sessions for students of each grade. The students are taught how to read, write and learn all of which focuses on cognitive learning. Given the current circumstances in which our students live and gain experiences, they need to be taught ‘how to think’ – how to think harmoniously, how to assess each thought and make a calculated decision on their actions.

The inclusion of value education in academics is a very important and necessary step taken by the government and indeed, it has come a long way since its inception. However, character building is something which cannot be compromised on and hence, the question still remains – are the steps taken by the value education reform satisfactory in the current reality?

Puja Mehta

Puja is currently a Teach for India fellow in Mumbai where she teacher 35 second grade students in a government school. She has completed my B.Sc in Applied Accounting from the Oxford Brookes University and pursued Chartered Accountancy as my professional qualification. 

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