India first country to launch design thinking and innovation course in schools

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is all set to roll out books from class seven onwards.
The module will explore students’ sensory abilities, cognitive abilities and social abilities through a fun exercise. (Express Illustrations)
The module will explore students’ sensory abilities, cognitive abilities and social abilities through a fun exercise. (Express Illustrations)

NEW DELHI: India will be the first country to expand design thinking and innovation courses in schools, with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) all set to roll out books from class seven onwards.

While the design thinking and innovation course have already been introduced for students of Class 6 in many schools this academic year as a skill development curriculum, the CBSE is now planning to launch books for classes 7 to 12.

The elective course jointly developed by CBSE, the Innovation Cell of the Education Ministry and IIT-Bombay aims to provide students with the tools and exposure that help them address problems using the design thinking process.

Speaking with The New Indian Express, Biswajit Saha, director of CBSE (Skill Education and Training), said that CBSE will launch the books soon.

Dr Abhay Jere, the Chief Innovation Officer of the Innovation Cell, Education Ministry, said, “This year, along with CBSE, we have already introduced a design thinking course from Class 6. India is the only country, as per the best of our knowledge, to have a design thinking elective module starting from Class 6 standard.”

“Introducing design thinking at 6th standard is very, very unique. We will be rolling out the books on the topic for Class 7 onwards very soon. They are at the final stages of clearance,” said Jere, who has been instrumental in introducing innovation-related initiatives in higher education institutions.

He said in India, many institutes are giving training in design thinking. Corporates are inviting design-thinking experts to help them ideate. International educational institutes like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford offer design thinking programmes, Jere told TNIE.

“Through this programme, we will be able to train a large number of youngsters, which will eventually help them move forward towards innovation and entrepreneurship,” added Jere, who conceptualised the Smart India Hackathon initiative, claimed as the world’s biggest open innovation model, which teaches the culture of product innovation and problem-solving among students.

The current module, which has been conceptualised, is at par with international standards and has been designed and supported by IIT-Bombay. The skill module is an optional subject but will not be a criterion for passing.

Students will be awarded grades according to their achievement from – ‘beginning’, ‘developing’, ‘promising’, ‘proficient’ to ‘excellent’.

Jere said it was observed that the innovation quotient and problem-solving ability of Indian students were below par. “The reason was due to the rote learning system of education. Our students are not trained to identify a problem and then ideate to solve that problem,” he said.

According to Prof. Ravi Poovaiah, Emeritus Fellow, Industrial Design Centre (IDC) School of Design, Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and who is the chairman of the team that firmed up the design thinking and innovation syllabus, the curriculum till Class 12 is ready. “We are giving the draft the final touch. We will be submitting it to CBSE in a couple of weeks. Then they will take some time before they launch it.”

Elaborating on the module, he said, “It is a very good initiative, which is not there anywhere in the world. The design thinking process in schools has not been done. Now, we will have children who come out of school with their mindsets changed.”

The intention is that in the long run, we want our children to be very creative, Poovaiah told TNIE.

He said the background is the NEP 2020 mandate which says that we need to have sensory skills inbuilt into our children.

For students from Classes 6 to 8, it will be an exposure programme. And if they get interested, they can take it up from Class 9 onwards.

“From Class 9th onwards, they have to spend 160 hours, which is the same amount they spend on any other subject,” he said, adding that at the moment, the skill course will be taught in CBSE schools, but hopefully, soon, other state boards will also start teaching them.

The module will explore students’ sensory abilities, cognitive abilities and social abilities through a fun exercise. It will create awareness in the students through observation, discovery, analysis, experience, collaboration and reflection.

It also aims to nurture their curiosity and enhance their explorative abilities, foster creativity and innovation in students, identify problems and find solutions by applying design thinking processes and methods to solve various problems.

The course will also help students - who will learn to collaborate, cooperate and work together to find solutions to solve - derive a culturally rooted understanding of design from information documented under the Indian Knowledge Systems, Poovaiah said, adding that they also trained teachers in how to impart the course in various centres, including Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Mumbai, Jaipur and Kolkata.

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