NIPUN Bharat Program: An initiative for addressing foundational literacy

On July 5, 2021, Education Minister for India, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched the NIPUN Bharat programme. The programme name stands for National initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy. The initiative aims to make any 3rd grader student proficient in foundational learning by 2026-27. The centrally sponsored scheme under Samagra Sikhsha (an integrated scheme for school education covering the entire gamut from pre-school to class XII) will facilitate schooling, retention of students during foundational years, training of teachers for capacity building, development and availability of resources or learning materials, and tracking the progress of each child in achieving desirable outcomes. The NIPUN Bharat is singularly focused on addressing the basic foundation of kids aged from 3-9 years. Teachers will be tasked with developing basic language, literacy and numeracy of every child. The programme also envisages making the experience of learning “Holistic, Integrated, Inclusive, Enjoyable, and Engaging.”

The National Education Policy released last year had considered attaining the goals of foundational literacy and numeracy as a national mission. Addressing the inauguration meeting, the Indian Education Minister added that the programme involved “key technical aspects of foundational literacy and numeracy as well as the administrative aspects for effectively setting up an implementation mechanism at the National, State, District, Block and School level.” The Minister also added that the central government has allotted Rs 2688.18 crore for Samagra Sikhsha scheme to states.
The NIPUN Bharat programme will have specific Lakshya Soochi or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, which makes it a unique result-oriented qualitative education policy. The targets have been divided into various levels from pre-schooling to grade 3 in order to raise the level of awareness and effort among teachers, parents and others. The outcome of the programme will be greater efficiency in reading and writing by students resulting in better career and skill outcomes too.

Teachers will play a crucial role in the success of the programme. In fact, the training of primary school teachers to make their teachings more receptive for the students and stick to individual based results is an immediate necessity. Addressing this issue, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has devised a special package called “Nishtha” for foundational learning. The Indian Government aims to train 25 lakh pre-primary and primary school teachers in 2021 through this package.

Successful implementation of NIPUN Bharat will have many benefits for India. The use of practical based learning or aided learning through toys, activities, etc will improve understanding among the kids. The increased ratio of foundational literacy and numeracy will directly increase the capabilities of the Indian workforce. In turn, this will have a rewarding return of investment for the economy and intellectual landscape as better performance will lead to lower dropouts and a greater selection of higher education opportunities. Intensive training of teachers will create innovative learning techniques and contribute to development of average pedagogy in Indian schools.

Another important aspect will be better performance in international competitions which will improve the standings and perceptions about Indian educational institutions and teaching environment. Previously, Indian rankings have been worrying in mid-school performances. An overall and apt development of a kid’s mind will encourage deeper understandings to grasp fundamentals. The programme is one of a kind and if successful, will set up a role model for poorer developing and highly populated countries to improve their foundational educations in schools. The training packages developed by NCERT for teachers will be an asset As India moves from quantitative education to qualitative teaching and learning outcomes, there is no better place to start than the foundational stage of children.

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