The NCERT syllabus (followed by CBSE affiliated schools) is more than that of BA and B.Com courses, and so needs to be reduced by half to give students time for other activities necessary for their all-round development, so believes Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar. “At the stage of development of cognitive skills, students need to be given full freedom. I have asked NCERT to reduce the syllabus by half and it will be effective from the 2019 academic session,” he has said in a TV interview. Clearly, the Central government is seized of the state of education in schools, with a reform bill soon to be placed in Parliament. Javadekar has blamed the poor quality of teachers for dismal learning outcomes in schools, and has emphasised that the prime responsibility of teachers is “to assess the strengths and weaknesses of students and mentor them accordingly.” To improve learning outcomes, there is no altertive to setting targets and competing, he has said. This is why the forthcoming bill will re-introduce the provision to detain students in primary level classes too, if they fail to clear the annual exams (held at March) also in their second chance in May. The focus is thus rightly on a ratiol school curriculum and ensuring quality learning outcome, but whether it helps rid the examition system of rote memorisation and stereotyped answers will be watched keenly.