Science Education in Post-Independence Period
In our nation, educational pattern of science got influenced to considerable extent by the incidents which took place in European nations, and especially in England. However, in comparison to England, things happened with slower pace in our nation. Various steps were taken by Indian government to analyse the state of science education in the nation, and all of them represented a sorry state of this area.
In the beginning of nineteenth century, various people with varying degrees of scientific background began to arrive in India from various European nations. In the beginning, they used to do it for the search of services under local princes and chieftains while later they began to do it to get engaged with the persons of scientific servers and to establish set up by the government.
These men got training in institutions and laboratories established in European nations, who spent considerable period of time in India and left an excellent record of their work in various branches of science in our nation.
Despite such long contacts, introduction of modern science in our nation took place with slower pace. It is surprising that no important place was provided to the science in school curriculum even in the beginning of twentieth century. It was only in the universities that education of science was being imparted.
For developing the level of imparting science education on school levels, Indian Science Congress was set up however; no considerable support was obtained from such step. It was in the year 1953 that it was made compulsory to include science as an independent subject in the school curriculum for all the students getting education at higher levels.
To discuss various problems which was being faced by the educationists at that time to develop the level of science education? All India Seminar was being organised in the year 1956. This seminar was first of its kind in which almost all the aspects concerning the teaching of science in educational institutions was being discussed or touched upon. Discussion held in this seminar suggested a unique and uniform system of science teaching for the whole nation, by which needs and requirements of the nation could be fulfilled.
It was said that to formulate new policies and procedures in accordance with the scientific developments, persons engaged in scientific research and concerned in politics should have to play important roles. It was required as society was getting influenced to maximum extent by the developments taking place in the field of science and technology.
It was also recognised that government policies were also relying too great extent on the scientific developments. It was this ideology that led to establishment of Indian Parliamentary arid Scientific Committee in the year 1961. Late Shri Lai Bahadur Shastri was appointed its chairman.
The main objective of establishment of this committee was to study the problem of Science Education in Indian Schools. Members of the committee were intended to find out the relationship existing in between the policies and decisions of central and state governments in the matters concerning with the science courses offered in the schools and other educational institutions.
Other problems which were being considered by the members of the committee included non-availability of qualified teachers in desired number, slow pace with which science was getting popular in the nation, growing significance of science in the affairs of mankind, changes taking place in the processes and objectives of science and demand for increase in technically trained man powers.
To study the implementation of technical assistance projects in the nation, U.S.S.R. experts of the UNESCO Planning Mission visited India in the year 1963. They provided their recommendations on different issues of science education in secondary schools. Team prepared three reports by which real and total picture of the position of science and mathematics education in the nation got highlighted.
Important suggestions were also put forwarded by the experts with the help of which position of these subjects could be improved in the nation. Pilot projects of preparing new curriculum, text books, teacher’s guides were being took up by the Department of Science Education in National Council. These functions were took up as follow up programme of the Report of UNESCO Planning Mission of Experts. These experimental projects were started at a lower scale in the beginning, as it was only in the twenty schools existed in Delhi that such experimental projects were launched in the beginning.
Under the chairmanship of Dr. Kothari, Indian Education Commission was being set up in the year 1964. Generally, this commission is known as Indian Education Commission. During this period, there was marked influence of science on the progress, welfare and security of nation. Every ten to fifteen years, knowledge of science was doubling and benefits accruing from such knowledge got universal in nature.
It was pointed out by the Indian Education Commission that condition of science education in the nation was pathetic and if Indians fail to reckon with the explosion of knowledge, its condition would get more worse. In order to meet this immediate threat, it was recommended by the commission that research works should be conducted to upgrade school curricula for bringing improvement in curriculum and to revise text books and in improving quality of teaching learning material. Various recommendations were provided by the Commission, some of which are as follows:
i. Subjects of Science and Mathematics should be included in the curriculum and these should be recognised as compulsory subjects. This provision should be made in such a manner that these subjects become part of general education during the ten years of schooling.
ii. For the science education imparting to the students of lower primary standard, information of such facts and concepts should be provided which can be related to their immediate environment. It is on fourth standard that information of Roman alphabets should be provided to the students as it facilitate understanding of internationally accepted symbols of scientific measurement and use of maps, statistical tests and charts.
iii. Nature of science education for the students of higher primary stage should be such in which emphasis should be laid on the acquisition of knowledge. Through such information, students should become able to think logically and to draw conclusions on rational basis in different situations. For such level students, disciplinary approach to the teaching of science should be used as it would prove to be more effective than the general science approach.
iv. In higher primary schools, a laboratory-cum-lecture room while a science corner in lower primary schools are essential requirements of teaching science in schools and educational institutions.
v. Science should be developed as a discipline of the mind at the lower secondary stage. Newer concepts of physics, chemistry and biology and experimental approach to learning of science should be stressed out.
vi. In rural areas, science teaching should be linked to agriculture sector while in the urban areas; it should be associated with technological field.
vii. Modern methods of teaching science should be employed, by which investigatory approach and the understanding of fundamental principles got stressed out. To help teachers by which they can adopt scientific approaches, proper guiding materials should be made available to them. Considerable improvement should be provided for different laboratory works.
viii. In order to cater to the needs of special students, flexible curriculum should be designed by which they do not find any problem in understanding the subject and can make use of gained knowledge in their life.
ix. It is from our cultural and spiritual heritage that development of science should derive it’s nourishment. For such nourishment, cultural and spiritual heritages should not be bypass in any way.
x. All facilities should be provided to the students getting education at university level by which they can indulge themselves in research works.
As a follow up of the Kothari commission, an expert group was being appointed by the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare in the year 1973. The main objective of establishing this group was to design or develop curriculum for the students of twelfth standard.
After a period of two years, an approach paper was being drafted by this group. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) issued a publication entitled The Curriculum for the Ten-Year School-A Framework, which included syllabi, text books and materials in a well-organised manner. Some books were also published by NCERT for the students of ninth and tenth standards, which were being adopted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
This was done for the first time in the year 1977 for first batch of students which got appeared in public examination for tenth standard. However, experts found such books full of drawbacks and limitations, because of which they remained centre point of criticism by majority of experts. Number of people were of the view that scheme of examination consisted of large number of subjects, because of which students did not take interest in the studies.
They were also of the view that number of text books was more than required as a result of which students found studies bore some. An important consequence of such a huge number of books was that students did not find any time for self-study. Not only this, as a result of shortage of time, they did not get involved in the physical activities. On various grounds, new pattern of learning was criticised by experts, as it also gave undue importance to the bookish learning.
As a result of these criticisms, a Review Committee was being appointed by Union Minister of Education and Social Welfare in the year 1977. This committee was known as Ishwarbhai Patel Committee. Shri Ishwarbhai J. Patel was appointed its chairman.
There were total thirty members in the committee. It was in November 1977 that report was being submitted by this committee, which was entitled Report of the Review Committee on the Curriculum for Ten-Year School. Some recommendations were being provided by the committee to eradicate drawbacks found in the existing educational system, by which educational pattern was improvised to considerable extent and played an important role in developing level of science in the nation.