The road is not the destination

G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, communicative approach to language teaching, Information Technology, alternatives to homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over. This article has been taken from G. Balasubramanian’s offi­cial website


Often, I see serious misgivings about the curriculum in some educational platforms and organisations. Such misgivings are likely to impact their policy perspectives and methods of administering education. In turn, this would impact how our learners learn and how they would shape to meet the challenges of the future.

While most countries have their own policies with regard to administration of education which are based on their socio-political concerns and cultural and geographical environments including their heritage, the derivatives of the policy result in the design of the curriculum. In a country like ours, with multi-lingual and multi-cultural dimensions, a curricular framework designed at the center facilitates fl­exibility and freedom to use the framework in the local context with marginal interventions at the local level.

The curriculum acts as the source and fountain-head for the design of the syllabus in various disciplines of learning. To put it differently, the syllabus draws its strength from the curriculum. The transaction of the curriculum through the various instruments of the syllabi leads to the enrichment and empowerment of the learners. The role of pedagogy as the instrument of effective transaction has always been recognised.

The textbooks draw their strength from the syllabus and the curriculum and act as tools for effective learning to achieve the curricular ends. But it must be understood that the role of the textbook is only as a facilitation tool for effective learning to achieve the curricular ends. The textbooks, by themselves, do not de‑ne the curriculum in totality, as there are several formal and informal instruments of learning that help to enrich the curricular objectives. The learner has both freedom and access to such portal of learning which cannot be and should not be restrained. ‘Freedom to Learn’ is the right of every informed learner and this freedom covers even the instruments of learning one uses to achieve the goals in an easy, effective and productive manner. Any attempt to limit learning only to a specified textbook may help in administering an examination but not in empowering learning or achieving the curricular objectives.

With technology making a powerful intervention as a ‘carrier of knowledge and skills’, the print models are increasingly becoming irrelevant, though they cannot be written off for the next few decades at least. Hence, the volume of resources for learning gets enlarged for the learners and it would be improper to restrict such domains of knowledge intervention with a limited objective in mind. To close our eyes to explosion of knowledge and methods of access to knowledge portal for the younger generation, would, indeed be a retrograde step.

Our educational systems, be it at the school level or at the university level, should wake up to such challenges and be realistic in formulation of their present policies of curriculum administration, rather than hanging to traditional modes exclusively and shun the ‘ivory tower’ approach in knowledge management and administration.

The learners, be assured, will learn through all these modern interventions, in spite of all road blocks.

It is time that we understand that ‘the road is not the destination’.

This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine December 2020 edition.