Pre-draft of the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) prepared by the committee appointed by the Ministry of Education has recently announced the removal of Environmental Studies (EVS) from the school curriculum. Following the directive, the EVS subject will be removed in classes III to V in all the schools. Instead, the subject will be replaced with informal activities under the subject ‘World Around Us’. Academicians are concerned about the move, as EVS plays a prominent role in making students aware of environmental issues, helping them learn about climate and pollution control. Since new textbooks are being printed as per the guidelines of NCFSE, the new directive is likely to be introduced by next session.
Speaking to Education Times, Anita Rampal, dean, Faculty (education), University of Delhi and former chairperson of the Primary Textbook Development Committee, NCERT, says, “The pre-draft of NCF has removed the full-fledged subject of Environmental Studies (EVS) and has decided that students would only be made to do some informal activities under ‘World Around Us’. This would deprive students of a major component of primary schooling, which made them sensitive towards the environment. ‘World Around Us’ is a set of activities to familiarise students with the natural and social environment through outdoor visits, narratives, and stories.”
Involving the students in some informal activities without offering them sound formal understanding that EVS provides, will devoid them of critical thinking and burning problems related to pollution. “EVS is a well-established and researched learning area, which forms one-third of the primary school curriculum. Students in primary classes need to be taught EVS as it first introduces them to the understanding of Primary Science, Social Science and Environmental education in an integrated interdisciplinary manner,” says Rampal.
“The removal of an established subject like EVS would create learning gaps as they move to higher classes because their basic knowledge and understanding would remain inadequate. EVS enables the students to develop concepts about things that are present in natural ambience and in their social surroundings. This prompts them to question, reflect, experiment, observe and reform the intuitive theories they build even as early as they begin to speak, and hence its academic significance is unquestionable,” says Rampal.
“The pre-draft of NCF has effectively reduced the significance of learning Science and Social Studies by placing informal activities such as ‘World Around Us’ along with Arts and Physical Education in the curriculum, which is not advisable. At an early stage, all the processes of observing, doing, thinking and questioning must go together,” adds Rampal.
Kulbhushan Sharma, national president, National Independent Schools Alliance, which is the largest congregation of budget private schools in India, says, “The decision to remove EVS from the syllabus is not advisable as it is equally important to teach the subject along with involving students in a set of activities. By studying EVS, students get real purpose in environment activities in which they are being involved.”