Dr A Arun Kumar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Management Studies, ICFAI Law School

Dr A. Arun Kumar is Assistant Professor at Centre for Management Studies, ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, Hyderabad. He has eight years of experience in teaching and Industry. His area of interest is Knowledge Management and Operations Management. He has published several papers in Scopus, Social Sciences Citation Index and ABDC ranked journals to his credit. He has presented research papers in various international and national conferences organized in India, Nepal and Thailand. He is the associate member from India in International Association for Knowledge Management.

 

Education is elemental for realizing full human potential, developing an impartial and unbiased society and advancing national development. Providing comprehensive access to quality education is the key to India’s continued rise and command on the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific progress, national integration, and cultural safeguarding. Universal high-quality education is the most propitious way forward for developing and maximizing our country’s ample amount of talents and resources for the good of the individual, the society, the nation and the world. India will have the highest population of youngsters in the world over the next decade, and our ability to provide elevated educational opportunities to them will determine the destiny of our country.

The new National Educational Policy 2020 revealed on Wednesday, 29 July, solicits to introduce and implement a sea of changes across all levels of education in India, including the basic apprehension of education in the country. It also seeks to effectuate changes in the way the instructors of such education, schools, colleges and teachers are trained and how they approach education.

The purpose of the education system is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought and action, possessing compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper and creative imagination, with sound ethical moorings and values. It aims at producing engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society as envisaged by our Constitution.

A good education institution is one in which every student feels welcomed and cared for, where a safe and stimulating learning environment exists, where a wide range of learning experiences are offered. However, at the same time, there must also be seamless integration and coordination across institutions and across all stages of education.

The cardinal precept that will mentor both the individual and education institutions at large, are accepting, associating, and nurturing the distinctive potential of each student, by sensitizing teachers as well as parents to promote each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres.

Pliability, so that learners have the ability to choose their learning trajectories and programmes, and thereby choose their own paths in life according to their talents and interests.

There is no strictly imposed divisions between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. in order to eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between different areas of learning.

Interdisciplinary and a comprehensive education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports for a multidisciplinary world in order to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge.

Prominence on notional understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-exams; Innovative and evaluative thought process to encourage logical decision-making and innovation; Morality, individual and fundamental standards like empathy, respect for others, cleanliness, courtesy, democratic spirit, spirit of service, respect for public property, scientific temper, liberty, responsibility, pluralism, equality, and justice.

Encouraging multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning. Life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience; precisely defined developmental analysis for learning rather than the summative assessment that encourages today’s ‘coaching culture’. Large-scale operation of applied science in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for Divyang students, and educational planning and management. High regard for diversity and respect for the provincial context in all curriculum, pedagogy, and policy, always keeping in mind that education is a concurrent subject; complete fair play and incorporation as the cornerstone of all educational decisions to ensure that all students are able to thrive in the education system. Collaboration in curriculum covering all levels of education from early childhood care and education to school education to higher education. Teachers and faculty as the core of the learning excersie of their recruitment, continuous professional development, positive working environments and service conditions. A ‘light but tight’ normative structure to ensure integrity, transparency, and resource efficiency of the educational system through audit and public disclosure while encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box ideas through autonomy, good governance, and empowerment. Magnificent research as a corequisite for outstanding education and development. Steady exploration of progress based on sustained research and regular assessment by educational experts; Considerable speculation in a strong, spiriteds public education system as well as the encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation.

Amelioration in Structure and Curriculum of School Education

Among various other things, the NEP 2020 suggests a set of reforms to school education, with a focus on pliability of subjects and eliminating the gap between streams of learning. Another goal of the NEP is to achieve 100 percent Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool to secondary level by 2030.

Firstly, the NEP changes the existing 10+2 structure of school education to a 5+3+3+4, covering children between the ages of 3-18.

This structure, when split up into corresponding grades, is:

Three years of anganwadi or preschool + two years in primary school in grades 1-2 covering ages 3 to 8 years.

  1. The ‘preparatory stage’ covering ages 8 to 11 years or grades 3-5
  2. The ‘middle stage’ covering ages 11 to 14 years or grades 6-8
  3. The ‘secondary stage’ covering ages 14 to 18 years in two phases – grades 9-10 in the first and grades 11-12 in the second

The New Education Policy 2020 focus to reduce the curriculum content to its core essentials, focussing on key concepts and ideas in order that children are able to practice more critical thinking and among other things, more analysis-based learning.

The NEP also states that there will be no rigid separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extra-curricular’, or ‘co-curricular’ areas, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams. During grades 6-8, students will be required to take a course which will provide hands-on experience of numerous amount of important vocational crafts as well. In fact, children will also be given increased flexibility in the choices of subjects they wish to study, especially in the secondary stage.

Reforms to Examinations & Spotlight on Multilingualism in Schools

The policy also aims to promote multilingualism and a learning of native languages. According to the policy, board exams will be made ‘easier’, testing ‘primarily core capacities/competencies’ rather than rote learning. There will also be the possibility of taking the board exams twice in a year, once for the main exam and once for improvement, if a student so wishes.

In addition, the NEP will implement standardised school exams to be taken in grades 3, 5 and 8 in order to track progress of education throughout school years rather than just at the end. The policy will also implement the three-language formula, but with some flexibility and without imposing any language on a state. Essentially, it means that students will learn three languages, based on the states, regions and the choice of the students themselves, as long as at least two of the three languages are native to India. The reference to Hindi and English in this regard in the draft NEP has been dropped after a protest from political parties.

One of the languages offered in this three-language formula will be Sanskrit. The latter will be offered at all levels of school and higher education, as will other classical languages such as Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Pali, Odia, Prakrit and Persian. Foreign languages such as French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Thai, German, Russian and Portuguese will also be offered at the secondary level, the policy states.

Reforming Training of Teachers

The policy not only aims to transform education but also to improve the skills of those facilitating that education who are none other than teachers.

In order to ensure that, the policy seeks to institute a large number of merit-based scholarships across the country for studying quality four-year integrated B. Ed programmes. It also states that TET will be strengthened to inculcate better test material and the scores of the same will be taken into account for recruitment purposes.

Teachers will also be offered local, regional, state, national, and international workshops as well as online teacher development modules so that they are able to improve their skills and knowledge and will be expected to participate in at least 50 hours of such continuous professional development opportunities in a year.

The policy states that by 2030, teacher education will be moved into multidisciplinary universities, and by the same year, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a four-year integrated B.Ed. It was stated that the rule will, however, not include those who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree or a masters degree, for whom there will be different requirements. Additionally, teachers will be expected to avoid participating in activities such as campaigning, so that they are able to better devote their time to teaching.

Reforms in the Higher Education System

The NEP naturally brings about a sea of changes in the system of higher education as well, aiming to improve it with the goal of “creation of greater opportunities for individual employment.” A goal of the NEP is also to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education, including vocational education from 26.3 percent as of 2018 to 50 percent by 2035. One of the main aims of NEP is to rebuild the fragmented nature of India’s existing higher education system and instead bring together higher education institutions (HEIs) into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and HEI clusters/knowledge hubs. The policy states that, single-stream HEIs will be eliminated over time.

One revision that the NEP brings about is that the undergraduate degree will be of either a three or four-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications for those dropping out at a certain point in the course. HEIs will also be able to offer masters courses of different designs, based on the undergraduate degree of the student.

Interestingly, in keeping with the multidisciplinary approach to education, a new system that the NEP is seeking to implement is an “Academic Bank of Credit (ABC)”, which will be able to digitally store academic credits earned from various recognised HEIs. As of now, while the NEP states that a system of granting graded autonomy based on accreditation will be adopted for colleges, eventually, the aim is to transform them into an autonomous degree-granting college, or a constituent college of a university.

A change has also been made to the regulatory system, with the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) set to serve as one single regulator for the higher education sector, including teacher education, but excluding medical and legal education.

Benefits of New Education Policy 2020
  • The New Education Policy will give prominence to students’ pragmatic knowledge instead of just impelling them towards rote learning.
  • It will support students to develop scientific character from a young age.
  • The NEP aims to make it easier to set up brand new quality of higher educational institutes which will be on par with the global standards.
  • Since NEP will make it easier for foreign colleges to set up their campuses here, many students who are unable to go abroad due to multiple reasons will be able to experience it and get global exposure.
  • This will glorify and promote value-based education.

The new education policy has a laudable vision, but its influence will depend on whether it is able to effectively merge with the government’s other policy initiatives digital India, Skill India and the New Industrial Policy to name a few in order to affect a coherent reconstruction. For instance, policy linkages can ensure that education policy speaks to and learns from Skill India’s experience in engaging more dynamically with the private sector to shape vocational education curricula in order to make it a success. There is also a need for more evidence-based decision-making, to adapt to rapidly evolving shifts and disruption. NEP has encouragingly provisioned for real-time evaluation systems and a consultative monitoring framework. This shall enable the education system to constantly reform itself, instead of waiting for a new education policy every decade for a shift in curriculum. This, in itself, will be a remarkable achievement.

The National Education Policy, 2020 aims to shift towards more scientific approach to education. It will help to cater ability of the child in different stages of development. This includes cognitive development, social and physical development. Learning systems like online learning and digital courses are also being encouraged. Lastly, it also lies emphasis on learning and preserving traditional languages like Sanskrit in India which are losing fast.

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It is an exemplary policy as it targets at making the education system flexible, multidisciplinary, aggregate and aligned to the needs of the 21st century and the 2030 sustainable development goals. The intent of the policy seems to be ideal in many ways but it is the implementation process where the key to success ultimately lies.

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