The Delhi Arts Curriculum which was introduced as a pilot in nine Sarvodaya School under the Directorate of Education of the Delhi government in July 2022, after nine-months in implementation until March this year, is next on the list of school education innovative initiatives in Delhi government schools. Findings from the Delhi Arts Curriculum Pilot Study released in Delhi on April 18 say, the initiative could be scaled up and may be introduced in all government schools in the national capital.
Based on the findings of the study, recommendations have been made by the authors of the report for structured and integrated arts curriculum through Art exhibition program for primary grades (class1-5); an art-integrted language learning programme for primary grade student (class 3-5); Musical thatre approach for middle school (class 6-8); Art education training programme; Organizing yearly art exhibition day; and ensuring availability and accessibility of art resources, technological resources and school infrastructure.
A MoU signed by the Directorate of Education, GNCTD and Chennai-based NalandWay Foundaion in September 2021 gave way to the development of the arts curriculum and a pilot to test its effectiveness. Consequently nine Sarvodaya Schools (Sarojini Nagar, No.1-SKV, Moti Bagh I-SKV, Mehram Nagar-S (Co-ed)V, Janakpuri, Block D, No 1 SKV, Inderpuri, Budh Nagar, F-Block-SKV, Pusa, IARI-SKV, Naraina- SKV, Mahipal Pur-Amar Shaheed Major Sehrawat SKV, Ghitorni-SKV) were identified for piloting the curriculum designed and developed by NalandWay Foundaion. This project aims to enable children to gain specific art-based competencies across five art forms (visual arts, music, dance, theatre and media arts), gain exposure to local and global art and develop important social-emotional skills that can be applied to other areas of their life, by including art in the mainstream education system in the schools under the DoE. The project is designed to reach all 1040 Government schools in Delhi that fall under the Directorate of Education. These schools have a reach of approximately 10 lakh children and 25,000 teachers.
The findings of six-month long pilot programme are encouraging and demonstrate a strong relation with improved confidence, teamwork, learning and raising sensitivity about worrying issues like rampant bullying in schools. Out of five approaches adopted for the implementation process for children aged 3 to 14, three were students specific (Art Exhibition for Nursery to class 5, Musical Poetry for class 3-5 and Musical Theatre for class 8) and showed a positive change from baseline to end line.
Musical theatre showed the most increase of 42.95% followed by Art Exhibition 19.9% and Musical Poetry 9.23%. In case of Art Exhibition, art appreciation skills grew by 25.9%, art-based competencies 25.85% and social emotional learning skills by 14.78%. In case of Musical poetry these indicators increased by Art-based competencies 15.5%, SEL skills 7.1% and art apperception 5.7%. For Musical theatre the percentage was art appreciation skills 48.9%, art-based competencies 60%, SEL 31.75%.
In order to implement the pilot, teachers were taken onboard under the Teacher transformation approach. In this teacher capacity for facilitation was around building creative confidence in primary school teachers and reduce their hesitation towards the arts through workshops and training sessions with experts. They were familiarized with art-based facilitation, social-emotional learning and sensitive and inclusive facilitation skill and about artful joyous sessions. Similarly schools were transformed under artful school transformation approach.
“We researched global and local art curricula, reviewed learning frameworks, built on our decade long experience ad developed age-wise content that was suitable for the context of Delhi. Tying it to SDGs and naturally the NEP and NCF, the content for each grade was designed keeping in the mind the multidisciplinary, contextual and inclusiveness,’ said Sameen Almas, Director-projects, NalandaWay Foundation.
“We are now working towards exploring next steps of intervention to ensure the inclusion of arts education in all Delhi government schools,” wrote Himanshu Gupta, Director Education & Sports, Govt of Delhi in a foreword letter in the report. Delhi Education Minister Atishi who was present at the launch event called upon her officials to work towards the forward movement of this initiative. She also wondered why the confidence on arts is progressively lost with increasing school years and called upon ways to bring back excitement about arts and performances in classrooms.
In words of Sriram V, Founder NalandaWay Foundation, the Delhi pilot programme has has also broken gender stereotypes like boys can’t cry or dance or sing. It has added confidence and reduced hesitation. It has shown potential to disrupt behavior that often leads to substance use by creating a habit of pro-social behavior and appreciation for art and life. “Two art education sessions a week, art labs, annual carnivals, musical theatre as production and giving agency to the children is the broader learning from this pilot,’ he adds.