Session III: Foundational Numeracy: Importance and Challenges in the light of NEP 2020 

Speaker Profile

Prof. Anup Kumar Rajput

Professor and Head, Department of Elementary
Education, NCERT

Anup sir is currently working with NCERT. He’s is a professor of mathematics and head of the dept. of elementary education in NCERT and has done his masters and M.phil in mathematics and phd in Fluid Mechanics. As a mathematics professor, he specializes not only in mathematics but also in mathematics education and technology in education. He has published 9 books,8 research papers on mathematics and 3 papers on media education. He has developed many programs for students and teachers. He is also an award winner for a video program on multimedia and conducted many innovative projects. He said, ”In the present scenario, most of the children are confused as they don’t know how whatever being is taught to us or written in textbooks is related to our life ahead. Is it only relevant to pass the examination or it will be helpful for my life”

Session Summary

3rd September 2020, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM


In session III, Prof. Anup Kumar Rajput explained about why Foundational Numeracy is fundamental for any mathematical education or any logical fields. And also, he explained some of the issues related to the foundational numeracy and it has been given an important place in the NEP 2020 and why we should worry about this and what type of activities are done. For discussing Numeracy first, we have to know about literacy. Because literacy is very important when we are talking about numeracy. Literacy and numeracy help people gain the fundamental skills necessary to achieve success in life.

“Literacy is the ability to understand, critically analyze and create a variety of forms of communication, including oral, written, visual, digital and multimedia to accomplish ones goals. Literacy helps students apply reading, writing, speaking and listening skills across a variety of subject areas.”

“Math skills, or numeracy is the ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts, processes and skills to solve problems and make decisions in a variety of situations, including real life scenarios.”

According to prof. Rajput Literacy is particularly for communicating for our ideas or a ligament or communicate ideas in mathematical terminology. The thinking, the reasoning these all are the part of communication also. So that’s why we can’t isolate mathematics or numeracy from language learning or literacy.

Importance of foundational literacy and numeracy:

  • Reading, writing and numeracy are always believed to be the foundational skills.

  •  Without being able to read, write well and do basic mathematical understanding a child cannot progress in the education system and eventually in life.

  • The major policy documents have always pointed towards the need to consider early language, literacy and numeracy more seriously.

About previous policies:

There are three National Education Policies in India. The first was promulgated by the Government of India by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1968, the second by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. The NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was prime Minister. The third by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2020. These policies highlighted the primacy and importance of early mathematics and language leaning. There are a lot of things that these policies say.

In our life we have to focused on context and calculations equally. But in reality there’s nothing happen. For example students learn first about 2+3=? But practically we never used this in our life first i.e how can solve problems etc. we should learn about context first to calculate problems. For example if there are 2 apples in a basket and there are 3 apples in an another basket. How many total no. of apples in both the baskets? Answer is 2+3=5. Therefore in our day to day life we should take this problem solving issues first than code/decode issues. That’s why language development should equally occur with technology.

New Education Policy 2020:

  1. Developing the basic understanding and competencies related to numeracy and its related concepts among young learners till grade 2
  2. Developing skills among the learners to amalgamate their outside school experiences in their classroom learning to attain foundational literacy and numeracy in a better way.
  3. Making learners competent in doing meaningful reading and writing by the time they enter grade 3.

    After talking about Previous policies, NEP 2020, the focus of discussion was on Strategies of Universal Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, Curriculum Revamping, Pedagogy, Restructuring of Teacher Education Programs, ECCE, and Foundational Structure Etc. discussing the following details:


Strategies of Universal Foundational Literacy and Numeracy:

  • Curriculum Revamping 

  • Pedagogical Innovations 

  • Restructuring of teacher Education programs 

  • Revisiting Assessments 

  • Administrative Support

Curriculum Revamping:

  • In early grades learners interact in a formal setup, i.e school so the curriculum needs to makes the students comfortable and develop curiosity among them to learn.

  • Develop innovative and inclusive curriculum for developing foundational literacy and numeracy among learners of India.

  • Development of age and developmentally appropriate learning outcomes.


  • Continuum in Pre-school and primary grade curriculum.

  • Development of multiple resource materials.

  • Development of E-content.

  • More space for children in the curriculum.

  • Development of contextualized curriculum.

Curriculum: Foundational Mathematical Skills:

  •  pre-number concepts

  • play based learning with development of affective, psychomotor and cognitive abilities

  • playing with numbers

  • preparation for measurement

  • developing ideas about shapes around the child

  • spatial vocabulary development



Details of key points from the Q and A session:

  • Just because of passing every single kid till 8th grade examination kids are not even focusing on studies, so how will not conducting any exam till 10th be helpful in innovative learning?

    • Response: The problem lies in the ideology of a system that is to pass an exam of a particular grade. Whereas, the focus should be on the assessment of the learning gap, so that teachers can take remedial measures accordingly. If we promote a child with proper competencies then passing the exam wouldn't be our concern. It’s important that the teacher continuously assesses the child and work on developing life competencies. We should not be dependent on the end term examination.

  • What are challenges in teaching students at elementary level who are first generation learners?

    • Response: We categories children as first-generation learners because their parents are not literate however first-generation learners are also competent enough, they know how to use technology, they can do other things just like children who are not first-generation learners because they learn these things from society not just with parents. Its school responsibility to focus on the holistic development of the child by integrating their experiences. So, this is the Systems responsibility not of parents. Also, schools should try to involve parents in a child’s learning process by adopting different strategies.

  • What are provisions in NEP 2020 for students with special need in the light of Foundational Numeracy?

    • Response: The policy has mentioned that we should have inclusive classrooms not only in the foundational stage but also at every level. If I expect every child to perform in the same way then these expectations are wrong. We should have different assessment parameters. We should use appropriate tools and strategies for the physical needs of the child, infrastructure plays a major role. Concerning numeracy skills, if a child is not able to solve math problems we say the child has a dyscalculia problem however dyscalculia is not a big problem this will disappear later stage but in the early-stage, teachers should work with different atmosphere and strategies. An inclusive classroom is better than an isolated setup however some student needs a counselor. We should use multiple resources as audiobooks, appropriate teaching-learning materials according to the child's needs.

  • Are we or NCERT is ready to change the methodology of rote memorization which hash been a huge part of the curriculum?

    • Response: Yes, Right now NCERT, SCERT, and other state governments are working towards a curriculum that would help teachers to understand children's needs, and for that, we are developing useful resources.

This session was moderated by Rishabh Tiwari and Sakeena Zehra Kazmi while Shavnam Sultana and Nida Hashmi were the rapporteurs.

Total attendees: 40.