[Burning issue] The Pre-draft National Curriculum Framework 2023



  • The Ministry of Education has released a pre-draft version of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for School Education. It will be the second in the series of 4 curriculum frameworks to be launched.
  • In this context, this edition of The Burning issue will elaborate on this new Curriculum framework.


  • The Union Education Ministry launched the National Curriculum Framework for the foundational stage of education of children in the three to eight years age group in October 2022.
  • The NCF has four sections –
    • National Curriculum Framework for School Education,
    • National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education,
    • National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Educatio
    • National Curriculum Framework for Adult Education.

What is the NCF 2023?

  • It is a comprehensive framework for school education in India. It provides guidelines for the development of curricula and syllabi, textbooks, and teaching practices for schools in India.
  • It is developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Education.
  • It AIMS to promote a child-centred, activity-based approach to learning that focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, and values.
  • The first NCF was developed in 1986 and subsequently revised in 2000 and 2005.
  • The latest pre-draft version of NCF for School Education was released by the Ministry of Education in April 2023. It will cover age groups 3 to 18 years.
  • The framework has been developed by the National Steering Committee set up by the Ministry to undertake and develop NCFs under the chairmanship of K. Kasturirangan.
  • The NCF says its five parts are based on the ‘PANCHAKOSHA’ CONCEPT’, these are:
    • Physical development (sharirik vikas),
    • Development of life energy (pranik vikas),
    • Emotional and mental development (manasik vikas),
    • Intellectual development (bauddhik vikas) and
    • Spiritual development (chaitsik vikas).
  • The NCF (National Curriculum Framework) is an important step taken to implement the New Education Policy 2020.

Some issues with the Indian education system

  • Poor learning outcomes: According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019, only 26.8% of Class 3 students in rural India can read a Class 2 level text, and only 41.1% of Class 5 students can do basic arithmetic. These figures highlight the poor learning outcomes in many schools.
  • High dropout rates: The dropout rate at the primary level (Class 1-5) is 4.3%, while at the upper primary level (Class 6-8) it is 17.1%. This suggests that a significant number of students are not completing their basic education.
  • Shortage of teachers: The Right to Education Act mandates a pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1, but as of 2020, many states have failed to meet this requirement. For instance, Bihar has a ratio of 38:1, Uttar Pradesh has a ratio of 41:1, and Jharkhand has a ratio of 42:1. This shortage of teachers can affect the quality of education.
  • Inadequate infrastructure: Many schools in rural areas lack basic facilities such as clean drinking water, toilets, and playgrounds. According to ASER 2019, only 71.9% of schools in rural areas have usable toilets, and only 54.3% have access to drinking water.
  • Rote learning: The National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2017 found that only 33% of Class 8 students could solve a real-life mathematical problem, and only 43% of Class 10 students could understand a concept in science. This suggests that rote learning is still prevalent in many schools.
  • Lack of ethical education: The science and commerce-focused education system lacks ethical education leading to the creation of a good ‘workforce’ rather good human beings and citizens.
  • Archaic curriculum and textbooks: The NCERT textbooks were majorly revamped almost half and a decade ago. The NCF calls for a revamping of the curriculum as well as the school textbooks to ease the burden on students and make them up to date.

Key features of the Draft NCF 2023


Values and Roots

  • A key part of the document is the inclusion of values and their “rootedness” in India.
  • The pre-draft says that the framework is deeply rooted in India in content and learning of languages, in the pedagogical approaches including tools and resources, and in philosophical basis — in the aims and the epistemic approach.
  • The document further says that it leans towards making students acquainted with true sources of knowledge, which have been a philosophical preoccupation of ancient Indians.
  • These sources focus on SIX PRAMANAS: pratyaksa, anumana, upamana, arthapatti, anupalabdhi, and sabda.

Moral Development

  • A part of the document focuses on the moral development of a child through PANCHAKOSHA VIKAS or five-fold development.
  • The pre-draft recommends DEVELOPING MORAL VALUES for the child through a balanced diet, traditional games, yoga asanas, as well as a wide variety of stories, songs, lullabies, poems, and prayers to develop a love for cultural context.

Curriculum revamp

  • The pre-draft says that for Grade 10 certification, students will have to take two essential courses from humanities, maths and computing, vocational education, physical education, arts education, social science, science, and interdisciplinary areas.
  • In Grades 11 and 12, students will be offered CHOICE-BASED COURSES in the same disciplines for more rigorous engagement.
  • Arts education will include music, dance, theatre, sculpture, painting, set design, and scriptwriting, while interdisciplinary areas will include knowledge of India, traditions, and practices of Indian knowledge systems.
  • For Class 11 and 12, the document states that “MODULAR BOARD EXAMS” will be offered as opposed to a single exam at the end of the year, and the final result will be based on the cumulative result of each exam.”

Social Science Curriculum

  • The pre-draft emphasizes understanding and appreciating the Feeling Of Indianess, “Bhartiyata,” by valuing the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the country.
  • The pre-draft also stresses identifying and explaining important phases of the Indian national movement against British rule, with special reference to Gandhian and other subaltern movements.
  • It also recommends teaching concepts of Buddhism, Jainism, and Vedic and Confucian philosophies.

Possible positive outcomes: How does NCF’23 solve the challenges of the Indian Education system?

  • Inter-disciplinary education: the provision of choice to students of different streams to choose subjects of other streams (science students taking up humanities subjects and visa versa) will help in building interdisciplinary knowledge of students rather than just one stream.
  • Inculcation of Values and Roots: The framework emphasizes the importance of values and their “rootedness” in India. This can help students develop a strong sense of identity and cultural pride.
  • Moral Development of Students: The pre-draft focuses on the moral development of a child through various activities such as a balanced diet, traditional games, yoga, and exposure to cultural context through stories, songs, and prayers. This can help students develop a well-rounded personality.
  • Better designed and updated curriculum: The framework offers a more flexible and diverse curriculum for students, allowing them to choose essential courses from various disciplines such as humanities, maths, computing, vocational education, physical education, arts education, social science, science, and interdisciplinary areas. The modular board exams and the stress on interdisciplinary areas can also promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students.
  • Expand the horizon of thinking of students: The framework emphasizes the understanding and appreciation of Indian culture and heritage, as well as important phases of the Indian national movement against British rule, including subaltern movements. It also recommends teaching concepts of Buddhism, Jainism, and Vedic and Confucian philosophies, which can broaden students’ perspectives and enhance their understanding of the world.

Some Issues with the Policy

  • The NCF falls short of telling anything about technical education and how the schools, textbooks and teachers will adjust in the era of rising disruptive technologies like Artificial intelligence specially Chat-GPT.
  • With 8 small board examinations over the year rather than one, the burden and fear of board examinations will increase, putting students under the pressure to study and perform throughout the year.
  • The issue with the change in curriculum: several opposition parties have raised their voices against the changes being proposed in school textbooks.

Controversy over curriculum revamp

  • The latest round of textbook rationalization has resulted in some of the most sweeping changes in the curriculum since the NDA government came to power.
  • These changes include removing all references to the 2002 Gujarat riots, reducing content related to the Mughal era and the caste system, and dropping chapters on protests and social movements.
  • Many of these changes are seen as ‘political’, however, their earlier introduction into the curriculum was also a political move.

Furore over Mughal History

  • While some of the content on the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire has indeed been removed from the history textbook for Class 7, the Mughals have not entirely disappeared.
  • For instance, the chapter ‘The Mughal Empire’ in the Class 7 history textbook, Our Pasts – II, has undergone deletions — including a two-page table on the milestones and achievements of the reigns of the emperors Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb. However, the chapter itself has not been removed.
  • Students of Class 7 will continue to learn about the Mughals, though in lesser detail.


  • In conclusion, the National Curriculum Framework 2023 provides a comprehensive approach to education that emphasizes the importance of values, rootedness in Indian culture, and the moral development of students.
  • But it still falls short on several parameters. Thus, the draft needs to be thoroughly revisited by opening to its public comments and suggestions to incorporate other important things like learning new technologies, so as to make Indian students updated, educated and technically sound.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch