Cambridge University Proposes Primary Level Programme

BANGALORE: The ills plaguing the Indian education system are often blamed on the British and their legacy. Now, a department of the University of Cambridge is seeking to rectify this by offering a modern, more ‘up-to-date’ system of education, right from the primary stage.

University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) is now extending its programme to the primary school level for children in the age group 6-11. Till now CIE has run its programme from the seventh to the 12 th standard in many schools across the country.

The CIE programme aims to bring the best practices in international primary education to India. At the same time, it is trying to take away some of the long-established ways of learning at the primary school level which may shock many traditionalists.

Students even at the primary level will be able to choose from a wide range of subjects and will be tested on their likings and aptitude. Grades will replace marks in examinations.

The primary school being the formative years, students will get the freedom to think independently and can choose to do what they like, says Sarah Maughan, group leader, CIE’s Assessment Development Unit.

But the exams and tests are not being done away with. Teachers will conduct tests but they will be aimed at assessing the students to see if they can go to higher classes. “Nothing will be thrust down the students’ throats,” asserts Maughan.

But the much-suffering primary school education system in the country may not get much help from CIE as it is only a “drop in the ocean”, said Mark Batholomew, regional manager, South Asia, University of Cambridge International Examinations.

The CIE programmes are right now being offered by schools catering to the “upper-middle and upper classes,” with one school charging a monthly fee of Rs 70,000 at the top end.

With India being a signatory to the WTO agreement on trade in services, the education sector has seen its doors being opened to foreign education programmes. CIE is on an aggressive drive to promote its curriculum in India. By the end of the year it will have some 100 schools using its curriculum.

“Using Cambridge’s primary programme, schools will develop a mathematics, English and science skills curriculum,” said Maughan. CIE promises that their curriculum will do away with the ‘weighty matter’ of children having to carry a huge load of books to school every day.

CIE will periodically conduct workshops and provide support to teachers through online training to update teachers’ skills. For this affiliated schools will have to pay Rs 85,000 a year.

Experts from CIE will come down to conduct training and workshops for the teachers which “will have to be paid for by the schools,” says Bartholomew.

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