In Focus: National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat Programme

In Focus: National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat Programme

  • About:
    • The programme was launched by the Department of School Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India.
      • Central Square Foundation, a non-governmental organisation with a focus on foundational literacy and numeracy, has provided inputs and technical support to the Centre in the development of this mission.

    • The programme has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha and it will be funded through Samagra Shiksha itself.
      • Samagra Shiksha – an overarching programme extending from pre-school to class 12, has been prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness (equal opportunities and equitable learning outcomes).

    • Objective: It aims to cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years and will ensure that every child in this age group necessarily attains foundational literacy and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27. 
      • It will also focus on teacher capacity building, development of high quality and diversified Student and Teacher Resources or Learning Materials and tracking the progress of each child in achieving learning outcomes.

    • Need: Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) found that less than 30% of Class 3 students could read at Class 2 level or do double digit subtraction in 2018.
    • Outcomes envisaged from implementation of the goals and objectives of NIPUN Bharat Mission: The unique feature is that the goals of the Mission are set in the form of Targets (based on the NCERT’s and international research and studies) for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy. Outcomes –
      • Reducing the dropouts and improving transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
      • Activity based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
      • Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning, thereby making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
      • Intensive capacity building of teachers will make them empowered and provide greater autonomy for choosing the pedagogy.
      • Holistic development of the child by focusing on different domains of development like physical and motor development, socio-emotional development, literacy and numeracy development, etc.
      • Children to achieve a steeper learning trajectory which may have positive impacts on later life outcomes and employment.
      • Since almost every child attends early grades, therefore it will also benefit the socio-economic disadvantageous group thus ensuring access to equitable and inclusive quality education.

    • Significance:
      • Break from the past: Unlike, simply enrolling children in school and then ensuring that they finish Class 10, the mission specifies stage-wise learning goals to ensure that students are acquiring the necessary building blocks.
      • Foundational education is the core component of quality education: Quality education is the bedrock of strong Nation building and foundational education in literacy and numeracy skills is its core component.
      • Making students globally competitive: NIPUN Bharat will not only help Indian students to take a big leap in their higher classes, but it will also have a major impact in making our students globally competitive.
      • Flexible and collaborative implementation: The mission also covers key administrative aspects for effectively setting up an implementation mechanism at the National, State, District, Block and School level.

    • Concerns:
      • Pushed back the target: Although the NEP had included a 2025 deadline to achieve the goal, the Centre has pushed back the target date to 2026-27, given that COVID-19 has already disrupted two academic years.
      • No additional funding is being allocated: For the NIPUN Bharat programme money is being allocated from the flagship Samagra Shiksha scheme, which actually saw a 20% drop in its budget this year.

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Way ahead:

  • The success of NIPUN Bharat will primarily depend on teachers. Hence, a special emphasis on capacity building of teachers is required.
    • National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA): NISHTHA is a capacity building programme for improving Quality of School Education through Integrated Teacher Training. A special package for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy under NISHTHA is being developed to train teachers (pre-primary to primary grade).

  • With the NIPUN Bharat programme, there is the need to follow the NEP recommendation to see early childhood education as a continuum, with a focus on the Anganwadi and pre-school systems as well. 

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