In this article, we will discuss Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN). So, let’s get started.
Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN)
- FLN is broadly conceptualised as a child’s ability to read basic texts and solve basic maths problems (such as addition and subtraction).
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is one of the major themes of the NEP 2020.
- In 2021, the NIPUN-Bharat programme was launched with a vision to ensure universal literacy and numeracy for Class 3 children by 2026-27.
- It envisaged a five-tier implementation mechanism, set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha.
- Arguments in the favour of FLN say that the ability to read and write, and perform basic operations with numbers i.e., FLN, is a necessary foundation and an indispensable prerequisite for all future schooling and lifelong learning.
- The Foundational Learning study will enable to establish benchmarks in reading with comprehension in different Indian languages for children at Grade 3 level.
- It will assess the ability to read age-appropriate texts (known as well as unknown) at a certain pace, accurately, and with comprehension and also the foundational numeracy skills.
Issues Associated with FLN
- Encourages Rote-Learning: Since long, rote-learning has been seen as the core problem in the Indian education system – de-contextualised repetition of facts, reciting without questioning, and a general lack of critical thinking are the impediments to holistic forms of learning.
- A monitoring system that judges performance based on FLN mastery will likely lead to states and schools intensifying rote-learning to avoid bad results.
- It is exactly this fear of failing in standardised assessments that perpetuates rote-learning and paves the way for “teaching to the test” — where teaching, resources, and time are all redirected away from learning towards mere assessment mastery.
- A False Framing: The word foundational implies that certain aspects of numeracy and literacy must come first before any other learning can happen. A good education system ensures numeracy and literacy, but without making them its single or primary purpose.
- A single-minded focus on these basics not only creates a risk of decontextualized and rote learning but also implies that richer learning and critical thinking only come afterwards.
- Reading without questioning and calculating without understanding its relevance are not quite the foundations for any possible critical thinking but might even lead away from it.
- Creates a Division: Despite claims of how FLN is a goal for all children, its prioritisation is almost exclusively meant to be for children from rural and marginalised backgrounds, thus creating two separate tracks within Indian education —
- One with children in elite and high-fee private schools getting to focus on rich and holistic content and the other with marginalised children in low-fee private/public schools, who will not be able to go much beyond these foundational skills.
- This presents significant long-term implications with some children being highly skilled and more suited for elite professions, and others relegated to being just literate and thus facing a limited pool of low-earning professions to be eligible for.