Instructional guidelines to be developed soon  

Yangchen C Rinzin

In an attempt to transform education from the teaching of “what” to the learning of “how” and to continue learning in 2021, the Royal Education Council (REC) will come up with New Normal Curriculum 2021.

According to the REC, the NNC 2021 would be different from the adapted curriculum and prioritised curriculum developed for education in an emergency due to Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Amidst confusion among teachers on which curriculum to continue for the 2021 academic session, REC’s Dean and Curriculum Specialist II, Wangpo Tenzin, said that REC had developed, adapted and prioritised curriculums for an emergency like last year where the schools remained closed.

“These curriculums were mainly to engage students and continue learning during school closure based on thematic issues,” he said.

The new normal curriculum 2021 will be developed for each subject and designed for any situation, whether there is lockdown or not.

He claimed that the NNC would ensure no disruption in the learning this year, unlike last year. “In simple terms, NNC would make students how to learn, to do, and to value based on competency-based learning. In the current conventional education, teachers teach what to learn, what to do and what to value, which is a perspective learning.”

The NNC would allow children to explore and go beyond what is in the textbook to get information on their learning. Today, children are taught or made to stick to information given only in the textbook for each chapter and topics.

Perceiving it as a paradigm shift, REC’s NNC aims to shift from academic-based “factory model” of education to a “humanised model,” which would emphasise the discovery of a student’s inner values and their potential to learn themselves.

For instance, REC is exploring to have a block period instead of having eight periods with about 45-minute class in a day so that children would get dedicated time to explore other measures to pursue information beyond the textbook.    

Wangpo Tenzin said that competency-based approach would allow students to contextualise learning to physical, social, political, economic, spiritual, and cultural settings.

“It would also mandate the active engagement of students and learn themselves during such an emergency. Therefore, NNC is unique to our context,” he said.

The NNC would result in the development of foundational and fundamental concepts and ideas by reducing content to allow time and space for learning instead of only focusing on completing the syllabus.

The current learning experience and purpose of school education is based on what is there in the national school curriculum a framework that only tells what the student needs to learn.

But in the NNC, it aspires students to learn “more” through the digital technologies to make students enjoy what they are learning, be aware of ground realities of the content they are learning in the textbook.

The NNC also aims to allow flexible teaching and learning to adopt diverse approaches, namely blended learning, flip classroom, face-to-face interaction, inquiry and project-based learning, including emerging teaching and strategies.

“Assessment will be competency-based that emphasises the assessment of student’s intellectual, social and behavioural competencies through objective assessment technique and tools,” Wangpo Tenzin said. “This will help keep data and design timely, need-based interventions.”


NNC Framework and instruction guide

In gearing towards implementing the NNC from 2021 academic session, the REC jointly with education ministry has developed “New Normal Curriculum Framework” in all subjects for all classes that would act as a blueprint.

The framework would inform the design, content, pedagogical approaches, and assessment system of the NNC instruction guide for all subjects.

However, Wangpo Tenzin said that the lockdown had hampered the development of NNC instruction guide.

“The instruction guide would instruct teachers on how to go about with the NNC 2021 where it looks into bringing the change in teaching,” he said. “But we would upload the NNC framework before the schools reopen and instruct schools to teach as per the NNC for each subject.”

With only about five days left for schools to reopen, REC is currently working to complete guide before formal teaching begins.

“We should be able to complete the guide and distribute through online as soon as possible. The ministry should facilitate to reach the guide to remote schools that have limited access,” Wangpo Tenzin said.

The schools would also be involved in conducting remedial classes to cover the lessons lost during school closure last year whereby the REC targets to ready the guide by then and distribute to implement the NNC.

Depending on the Covid-19 situation, the ministry would be also required to orient teachers on the NNC.

The instruction guide for respective subjects is aligned with the subject’s curriculum framework that articulates competency-based learning through elements like facilitating learning anywhere, anytime.

The guide will also strengthen blended learning with multimedia, digital pedagogies, ICT devices, and websites as tools and learning content.

It will also guide parents in facilitating their children’s learning and prioritising learning content to create time and space for learners’ active engagement.

However, the successful implementation of NNC would depend on the efficiency of the education ministry.

Wangpo Tenzin said that the hallmark of NNC is the ICT as the means and ends of education towards the digital-driven, so the accessibility and equity of ICT device quintessential.

“Further, the ministry should look into the policy and administrative provisions in terms of institutionalising block period, deployment of teacher aide, rigorous teachers’ professional development, and decentralisation of curriculum to dzongkhag level,” he said. “The ministry should pull their socks up because if ICT accessibility fails, NNC would be difficult to implement.”