NIPUN Bharat: An initiative to help children attain foundation literacy 

On July 05, 2021, the union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' launched the NIPUN Bharat initiative under the auspicious presence of Minister of State Shri Sanjay Dhotre's Smt. Anita Karwal, Secretary (SE&L), senior officers from the Ministry, all States and UTs, Senior Policy Makers and Heads of Institutions. On this occasion, a short video, anthem and NIPUN Bharat Guidelines were also launched.

NIPUN stands for National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat). The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education (MoE) is the implementing agency at the national level and headed by a Mission Director.

The major objective of NIPUN Bharat is to ensure that each child in the country must attain foundational literacy and numeracy by the end of grade 3 by 2026-27.

The mission planned as per the new National Education Policy (NEP) has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.

Samagra Shiksha Misson

It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been, therefore, prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes. It subsumes the three Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).

The focus of NIPUN Bharat

To give access and retain children in foundational years of schooling, teacher capacity building, development of high quality and diversified student and teacher resources and tracking each child's progress in achieving learning outcomes.

Details of the NIPUN Bharat Initiative

The union education minister said, "NIPUN Bharat aims to cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years. Teachers need to focus on every child for developing basic language, literacy and numeracy skills which will help them develop into better readers and writers. Thus, NIPUN Bharat envisages making the experience of learning at the foundational stage Holistic, Integrated, Inclusive, Enjoyable, and Engaging."

In addition, he highlighted that the 2020 National Education Policy states that literacy and numeracy fundamental to all children must become an immediate national mission.

"With this in mind, the Department has developed a comprehensive guidance document under the NIPUN Bharat, through a series of intensive consultations with its implementing partners, experts aiming to make it much flexible and collaborative. It covers 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."

"An approval of Rs 2,688.18 crore has already been given under Samagra Shiksha scheme to the states/UTs for implementation of the various interventions for the foundational stage in 2021-22," he added.

The mission will have a special foundational literacy and numeracy package (FLN) under NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement). Nearly 25 lakh teachers teaching at pre-primary to primary grade will be trained this year on FLN.

NISHTHA is a capacity building programme for "Improving Quality of School Education through Integrated Teacher Training".

What are the unique features of NIPUN Bharat?

The unique features of the initiative include the goals of the mission being set in the form of "Lakshya Soochi" or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.

"Although the overall aim is to achieve the desired learning outcomes by the end of grade 3, however, in order to generate greater awareness among the parents, community, volunteers, etc., the Lakshyas have been developed from Balvatika to grade 3." Said, Pokhriyal.

He also stated that Laskhyas are based on the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT and international research and ORF studies. "For example, a child should be able to read 45 to 60 words per minute and at least 60 words per minute correctly by the end of grade II and III respectively from an age-appropriate unknown text with comprehension and clarity." He added.

What are the Expected Outcomes?

  • Foundational skills enable to keep children in the class, thereby reducing the dropouts and improve transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
  • Activity-based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
  • Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning will be used in classroom transactions, making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
  • Intensive capacity building of teachers will make them empowered and provide greater autonomy for choosing the pedagogy.
  • Holistic development of the child by focusing on different domains of development like physical and motor development, socio-emotional development, literacy and numeracy development, cognitive development, life skills, etc. These are interrelated and interdependent, which will be reflected in a Holistic Progress Card.
  • Children to achieve a steeper learning trajectory that may positively impact later life outcomes and employment.
  • Since almost every child attends early grades, therefore, focus at that stage will also benefit the disadvantaged socio-economic group, thus ensuring access to equitable and inclusive quality education.

Why NIPUN scheme?

According to a report released by education non-profit Pratham, foundational learning has been a constant drawback in Indian schools. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) states that elementary level students are unable to read, understand or perform basic arithmetics. Foundational learning was also highlighted in the new National Education Policy, approved last July but has yet to be implemented.

ASER Findings

  • 25% of school-going children in the four to eight age group do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills. Thus, there is a considerable learning deficit at a very early stage.
  • 4% of children below the age of six can recognize at least letters.
  • 6% can make additions.
  • 8% of children in Class II can read a text of classes below them.
  • 8% of students in Class III can read texts meant for students two levels below them.

What is Foundational Literacy and Numeracy?

Foundational literacy 

The pre-existing knowledge of the language helps in building literacy skills in languages. The key components in Foundational Language and Literacy are:

  • Oral Language: Development Includes improved listening comprehension, oral vocabulary and extended conversation skills. The experiences in oral language are essential for developing skills in reading and writing.
  • Decoding: Involves deciphering written words based on understanding the relationship between symbols and their sounds. 
  • Reading Fluency: Refers to reading a text with accuracy, speed (automaticity), expression (prosody), and comprehension that allows children to make meaning from the text. Many children recognize aksharas but read them laboriously, one-by-one.
  • Reading Comprehension: Involves constructing meaning from a text and thinking critically about it. This domain covers the competencies of understanding texts and retrieving information from them, and interpreting texts.
  • Writing: This domain includes the competencies of writing aksharas and words as well as writing for expression. 

Foundational Numeracy

Foundational Numeracy means the ability to reason and to apply simple numerical concepts in daily life problem-solving. The significant aspects and components of early mathematics are: 

  • Pre-number concepts: Count and understand the number system.
  • Numbers and operations on numbers: Learn conventions needed for mastery of Mathematical techniques such as the use of a base-ten system to represent numbers. 
  • Shapes and Spatial Understanding: Perform simple computations in her/his way up to three-digit numbers and apply these to their day to life activities in different contexts. 
  • Measurement: Understand and use standard algorithms to perform operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division on numbers up to three digits. 
  • Data Handling: Identify and extend simple patterns starting from repeating shapes to patterns in numbers, interpret simple data/information in his/her daily life activities.

Video support:

To know more, Click on NIPUN BHARAT

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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