The largest democracy in the world is looking for a vibrant higher education to fulfil the aspirations of youth. National Education Policy 2020 is the most recent attempt to reform higher education. The country has witnessed transformation of education from Gurukul system to Macaulay system. Poor outcomes in Indian higher education have manifested in poor employability and outflow of students to universities abroad. The new policy seeks rectification of poor literacy and numeracy outcomes associated with primary schools, reduction in dropout levels in middle and secondary schools and adoption of the multi-disciplinary approach in the higher education system.
Apart from this, the policy also focuses on early childhood care, restructuring curriculum and pedagogy, reforming assessments and exams, investing to abolish rote learning. It also invests in teacher training and broad-basing their appraisal. Through the NEP, it is expected to bring a holistic change in education system of India This is the third educational policy of India released effectively after a gap of 34 years of the previous policy of 1986.
Significance of National Education Policy 2020
- Recognising importance of formative years: - In adopting a 5+3+3+4 model for school education starting at age 3, the policy recognizes the primacy of formative years from ages 3 to 8 in shaping child’s future.
- Departure from Silos mentality: - Another key aspect of school education in the new policy is the breaking of the strict division of arts, commerce and science streams in higher schools. This can lay the foundation for a multi-disciplinary approach in higher education.
- The confluence of education and skills: - Another laudable aspect of this scheme is the introduction of vocational courses with an internship. This may nudge the vulnerable sections of society to send their children to school. Also it would help in realisation of the goal of Skill India Mission.
- Making education more inclusive: - The NEP proposes the extension of the Right to Education (RTE) to all children up to the age of 18. Further policy seeks to leverage the huge potential of online pedagogy and learning technologies/ methodologies for increasing gross enrolment in higher education.
- Light but tight oversight: - According to the policy, in spite of periodic inspection, transparency, maintain quality standards and a favourable public perception will become a 24*7 pursuit for the institutions leading to all round improvement in their standard. The policy also seeks to establish a super-regulator for education which will be responsible for standard-setting, funding, accreditation and regulation of higher education India.
- Allowing foreign universities: - The document states that universities from among the top 100 in the world will be able to set up campuses in India. This will lead to infusion of international perspective and innovation, which will make Indian education system more efficient and competitive.
- Ending Hindi vs English debate: - Most crucially, NEP, once for all. Buries strident Hindi vs English language debate instead it emphasizes on making mother tongue, local language or the regional language the medium of instruction at least till grade 5, which is considered best medium of teaching.
The premiere key concept of the Nep-2020 is to integrate various disciplines by promoting interdisciplinary studies and research which could prove a boon to the youngsters who are free to choose their respective subjects of interest without any burden. This would release the academic pressure and stress the children face on choosing their particular stream after high school. With this idea, Higher Education Institutions and professional education institutions will evolve into holistic organizations providing opportunities to learn diverse fields, through various interdisciplinary and optional courses, thus demarking the rigid boundaries between the so called streams. It is an essential step to promote application based studies and exploring new avenues in interdisciplinary/exotic fields.
The current degree programs are long durations, especially professional courses and many students drop out midway due to financial or personal reasons. The new guidelines propose a novel solution to encourage students to complete their degrees by allowing academic gaps and credit allocation. Every UG course would now be of 4 years and candidates would be provided certificates on passing each year of their course. The due credits would be awarded for the time devoted by a student to a degree course.
The setting up of the National Research Foundation, ramping up degree courses to provide research experience and guidelines to set up research facilities in all Higher Education Institutions can prove to be steps that can provide a major boost to research and contribute towards creating research and innovation based learning ecosystem. The middle stage school education will have 10 days allotted in every academic session as bag less days during which every student would learn and have practical hands-on training and vocational like Pottery, Carpentry etc. conducted by practitioners, thus encouraging internship during school and helping in the all-round development of students. School students will also be trained in basic coding skills as it is the demand of the era.
The future of work would require a diverse skill set from the aspirants. Thus, multidisciplinary education, internship and vocational training can help in narrowing the industry-academia skill gap. The setting up of the National Educational Technology Forum could boost the efforts to leverage technology in improving various aspects of education.
The new National Education Policy(NEP) 2020 is a good policy as it aims at making the education system holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary and available to all without gender disparity and aligned towards the need of 21st century and 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The policy is intended towards providing the youth with a lot of opportunities to explore themselves and become persons and professionals through their education.
By Rishabh Upadhyay