Saturday, March 25th, 2023 03:04:16

New Education Policy-2020 Envisioning a Massive Transformation

By Prof. Rama Shanker Dubey
Updated: August 12, 2020 3:52 pm

To meet the knowledge challenges of the 21st century, to transform India into a vibrant knowledge-based society, a radical change was much awaited in the education sector through a proper vision of education, where students could acquire expertise in diverse disciplines of knowledge and skills, imbibing the long cherished cultural and human values of Indian civilization. Education has seen an important new perspective from the new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020. This new perspective renders a much-needed and important platform which will  help to witness the beginning of a new chapter in terms of knowledge-sharing and learning. The result of a mammoth task towards a firm commitment, The NEP, 2020 addresses the perception of a new beginning of learning through a holistic outlook.

Through history, education has always occupied a very important platform in India. In ancient period India was an advanced knowledge society due to its glorious tradition of education in the form of Gurukul system since the Vedic and the Upanishad periods. This tradition was built by Gurus and Rishis possessing knowledge of highest level with perfection. The idea of knowledge-sharing was key component of the Guru-shishya parampara, especially through the processes of ‘sruti’ and ‘smriti’. As these have provided an important platform for our education system from time immemorial, the family system in India has also long been associated with imparting value education. Thus, through centuries, generations of young minds have received important knowledge to highlight innate values like love, peace, happiness, mercy and compassion as well as the positive moral qualities such as respect, humility, tolerance, responsibility, cooperation, honesty and simplicity and truthfulness. It is the role of educational institutions to provide sense of morality, values, character and patriotism in students.  Along with value education, the traditional system of learning in India has also focussed on important skill-sharing ideas and ideologies to train the young minds towards various concepts of intangible cultural heritage. Above all, it is also important to witness how such knowledge-sharing always benefitted from the simplest of communication tools of the language of the mother tongue. This made education always important to comprehend as one is exposed to the mother tongue from the very childhood years.

Finally, the NEP looks into redefining the system of higher education in India to make new roads open up for the youngsters to be placed at par with global challenges. The new policy of education takes into account all these valuable insights through thousands of years of learning and also looks into the rich heritage of ancient Indian knowledge as its guiding policy. The NEP also attempts the mammoth task of overhauling of the education system – right from terminologies and institutional frameworks to functionality and includes a transformation in the concept and delivery of education.

By 2025, the NEP aims to universalise the pre-primary education and it proposes new curricular and pedagogical structure, with 5+3+3+4 design covering the children in the age group 3-18 years. An important feature is significant focus on mother tongue as a language of instruction, the importance of vocational training, moral education, higher education. The new policy aims at equitable and inclusive education for every child in the country, with a special focus on under-represented groups (URGs) and also Universal Access and Retention with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio for all school education by 2030. An important focus of the NEP is the long overdue highlight on innovation, design and creative thinking and also most importantly- logical decision-making. It is also an important aspect how the NEP has given a focus on moving away with marks-oriented and examination-based form of education and assessment. Under the new format, there is a focus on bringing relevance to education, keeping in mind the enhancement of skills and also build up the capacity. This will also make the students suitable for various sectors and for jobs. Thus, another focus that comes into the limelight is that of technology. It is important to add here that coding as a language from middle school will be extremely helpful to many students in later life and will also help to unleash job prospects and help in exploring the creative potential as well. This will also alter the young minds to help make a technologically-advanced nation in the modern global world.

Relating to higher education, the NEP proposes three types of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs): Research Universities, Teaching Universities and Autonomous degree-granting colleges. Realising the importance of research as foundation for the discovery and creation of new knowledge and as a prominent indicator of the quality of higher education, special impetus will be provided to research and innovation in universities and colleges across the country, It is proposed to set up a National Research Foundation (NRF) that will catalyse, energize and strengthen the research ecosystem of the country. The NEP also tries to bring in as much flexibility as possible to higher education institutions and aims to provide them autonomy and these institutions would be governed by independent boards with complete academic and administrative autonomy. Most significantly, there is much desirable factor accorded to these institutions of higher education and learning as more platforms have been provided for their expressions. Teachers will also have more expressions to explore their thoughts and ideas. The focus will be on a discovery-based approach and an experience-based learning- along with blended learning tools. This will also help to make education more participative, as compared to the theory-based ideas that was prevalent so far, along with the ideas of memorising content. Just like the changes in introducing these concepts, the end-result will also witness a remarkable transformation as through a holistic report card, the self-assessment will lead to deeper introspection and a lasting impact for students. One of the most important insights is to encourage students through technology, e.g. inclusion of videos of luminaries to inspire students and to encourage them in various walks of life.

Higher education will now have a new umbrella for itself, a single regulator named Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) with separate verticals for regulation, standard setting, accreditation and funding. The HECI will take up within its fold arts and science as well as technical and also teacher education replacing several existing regulatory bodies. A comprehensive framework setup by HECI will help the universities to create their own governance structures. NEP envisages to have a sense of level of giving importance to both private as well as public sector educational institutions. It is also important to understand that a platform has also been provided to encourage top foreign universities to set up campuses in India. There is an important aspect to highlight about the introduction of the four-year undergraduate degrees, however, this will also have options for entry and exit at various stages and a credit transfer system. The higher education system will also witness the abolition of the M Phil programme.

Though the policy has recently been introduced, there are various aspects of its implementation. As a result, the entire system will witness to be rolled out gradually. “There are over 100 action points from the Policy. Implementation will be done in phases, based on time, region and types of institutions with Institutes of Eminence (IoEs) and Central Universities taking the lead,” said Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare. To help in this elaboration, it can be mentioned that the four-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry-exit options will be introduced in the 20 IoEs from the 2020-21 academic year, while others will continue with the existing three-year degree courses. To bring forth an important beginning into the introduction and in-take of students, now the National Testing Agency will introduce a pilot version of the common entrance test by December 2020. This will be used for admission to all IoEs and Central Universities in 2021. Many other changes will also be seen by December, 2020, including the Academic Credit Bank, on which some Indian Institutes of Technology are working on. This will be applicable to all new students joining central universities next year. Furthermore, the National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission is to be implemented by 2025 and will be launched by the end of this year. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will introduce the curricular framework for the new school structure, including early childhood care, by the next academic year.

With a holistic system of education, assessment and learning to be the basis of function and delivery, it is important to note that the government funding of education would be to the tune of 6% of GDP. Keeping this in mind, the NEP stands as an important bacon towards helping in guiding students as the future of the nation. NEP envisages to provide inclusive access to quality education  to all segments of the society,  to promote innovations in teaching learning process,  to offer most relevant and skill oriented programmes of studies, acquiring new capabilities, to produce highly competent and skilled human resource pool, to shape up new generation of students who could serve as multifaceted leaders to accept the global challenges, but with devotion to human values, imbibing our glorious Indian traditions, culture and ethos. The new policy has in true sense a much forward thinking of laying a platform for future growth and development of the nation making India Vishwaguru amongst the important global knowledge powers of the world.

By Prof. Rama Shanker Dubey

(The writer is Vice Chancellor, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar)

Comments are closed here.