UGC’s new Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) -Explained, Pointwise

Introduction

The UGC (University Grants Commission) recently released a new document on the undergraduate history curriculum. It is named “Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), 2021″.

The LOCF aims to change the syllabus for the undergraduate history curriculum in India. Further, it aims to provide a focused, outcome-based syllabus at the undergraduate level. Further, the LOCF  also has an agenda to restructure the teaching-learning experiences in a more student-centric manner. However, the changed syllabus of the undergraduate history curriculum falls short to meet its desired objectives and requires reconsideration.

Key provisions of Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF)

The Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), 2021 for undergraduate education in history begins with the declaration: “History, as we all know, is a vital source to obtain knowledge about a nation’s soul”.

  • Firstly, the document seeks to create a student body that will compete globally and be aware of its glorious past.
  • Secondly, under the LOCF, the Undergraduate education qualification will be awarded on the basis of demonstrated achievement of outcomes.
  • Thirdly, these outcomes are expressed in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values.
  • Further, it also specifies the expected known, understandable to do things for graduates completing a particular programme of study.

Overall the document is a policy directive to mould the entire undergraduate history education in India.

About New Curriculum for History under LOCF
  • To acquire a degree in BA History a student must study
    1. Fourteen Core Courses (CC)  
    2. Four Discipline Specific Elective Courses (DSE)
    3. Four interdisciplinary General Elective Courses (GE)
    4. Two discipline centred Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC)
    5. Two Ability Enhancement Courses (AEC)
  • The new curriculum is based on a choice based credit system. Under this, a student has the flexibility to choose their course from a list of elective, core, and soft skill courses.
  • The first paper of course is titled ‘Idea of Bharat.’ It seeks to study the primitive life and cultural status of the people of ancient India.
  • The five units of this paper cover: 
    1. The concept of Bharatvarsha 
    2. Indian knowledge traditions, art and culture
    3. Indian economic traditions
    4. Dharma, philosophy and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’
    5. Science, environment and medical sciences
  • The third paper includes features of the “Indus-Saraswati Civilisation” and its continuity, fall and survival.
  • Similarly, there are other changes in other papers as well.
Intended objectives the LOCF

The LOCF aims to achieve the following objectives. Such as,

  1. Use history as a vital source to obtain knowledge about a nation’s soul.
  2. Create a conscious student body that is aware of India’s glorious past and can compete at the global level.
  3. Build a new narrative about the nation through a dialogue between past and present.
  4. Bring out the best intellect of the student and also allow him/her to keep pace with the contemporary development.
Benefits of LOCF

If implemented the LOCF will yield the following benefits. Such as, 

  • The curriculum will break the stereotypes of History learning and also creates interest amongst students to study History.
  • It provides great flexibility to students. As the curriculum offering a large amount of choice. So the students can tailor their education on the basis of their interests.
  • Further, the LOCF enables a student of History to be well versed with other complementary subjects. As it offers a balanced combination of Core, Discipline Specific Electives and Skill Enhancement Courses.
  • Moreover, its interdisciplinary nature would open multiple career paths for students like:
    • Administrative Assignments
    • Foreign Assignments for building International Relations
    • Journalism and Media
    • Policy Making and Governance
    • Public Life and People’s Representation
Concerning Issues of LOCF
  1. Improper representation of Bharatvarsha: Under the unit of ‘ The concept of Bharatvarsha’, little focus is paid towards the contributions of the south, east and northeast people. 
    • Further, the struggle of the masses in the freedom movement is also not given its due space in the creation of Bharat. 
  2. Regional Bias: The curriculum is biased towards the history of North India. The rich sociocultural, economic and political changes of other regions has not provided adequately. Further, some regions introduced only as political formations.
  3. Weakens the social fabric: The paper on medieval and the early modern India (History of India, 1206-1707) shows that Hindus and Muslims as two separate entities. This would strengthen the belief in separate nations for Hindus and Muslims which led to the country’s partition in the past.
  4. Violence as a Major Driver of change: The use of force is projected as the main driver of change in society. For example, the case of Aryan, Mughal or any other invasion in new curriculum. This kind of narrative portrays violence as the sole reason for the change.
  5. Disputed Findings: The Saraswati (a mythological river) is mentioned in the Vedas, but its existence is disputed amongst historians.
  6. Ignoring Multilayered Explanations: The new curriculum adopts the categorization methods of colonial historians. It ties the history to the story of dynasties and rulers who mainly operate under the force of religion.
    • This undermines the Multilayered Explanations that state social, economic and cultural changes occur as long-term processes. These are hard to pin down to specific dates or years or dynasties.
Pedagogical challenges with the LOCF
  1. The style of pedagogy is more textbook-oriented. The book is less emphasised towards the archaeological artefacts, coins, visits to monuments and museums etc. Further, this hinders the better understanding of the subject.
  2. The new framework does not encourage reading a diversity of opinion. This will restrict the students only to limited sources. 
  3. The curriculum ignores the finest writings in Indian history. The bulk of readings span from the 1900s to the 1980s, with a heavy dependence on the work of Indologists. This curtails their resource base.
  4. The linkage of critical 21st-century issues like climate change, democracy, social justice etc. with the historical framework is also missing.
Suggestions to improve the LOCF
  • Firstly, the UGC should re-include the works by prominent historians in the curriculum. As it would ensure a better understanding of the history by the students.
    • This includes R.S. Sharma’s book on ancient India and Irfan Habib’s book on medieval India.
  • Secondly, the LOCF also has to include New modes of thinking especially about Big Data, digital mapping and visualisations, critical study of the environment etc.
  • Thirdly, apart from that, there should be a re-adoption of inclusive and secular texts like Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the poems of Kalidas, Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita etc.
  • fourthly, apart from that, the UGC can arrange a meeting with eminent persons (representing diverse sections) in order to re-examine the proposed syllabus. 
Conclusion

The shortcomings of the curriculum have to address efficiently through cautious discussion. In conclusion, the LOCF should make it more rational, objective and comprehensive in order to deliver optimum outcomes. 

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