Gentleman promises in New Education Policy 2020? Only future can tell

The education policy is essentially concerned to perform holistic development of students by fostering high-order ‘cognitive capacities’ along with ‘social, ethical and emotional capacities.’ These educational objectives are not entirely new, these were mentioned in the previous policies also but the point is that how strong minded the government is in attainment of these high goals writes, Komal Kapoor

Our economy has undergone transformation and eventually the role and focus of education has also explored new arenas shifting the paradigm from national to global. In order to fulfil the demands of youths of the 21st century, and to attain maximum outcomes from the education system, the present educational edifice has been restructured and remodelled in the form of NEP 2020. Attention has been drawn towards Indianisation of education system in the recent policy by inculcating a sense of rootedness to the traditions, ethics, social and individual values as well Constitutional values. This is what was required immediately after independence to develop a national system of education, totally Indian in character and to do away with the non-Indian nature of the education steadily, but unfortunately it was not achieved even after the policy of 1986. The NEP 2020 envisions education system which shall be able to create a vibrant knowledge society and at the same time gives due respect to deep rooted Indian ethos and values.

Despite so much efforts and investment in primary education in previous policies, the students enrolled in government schools in India lack basic reading, writing and simple arithmetic skills. The reasons could be their background which is non-academic, non-stimulating and poverty stricken but we cannot ignore the fact that there is scarcity of teachers in government schools,and those who are there, they are engaged in other works instead of teaching. NEP 2020 has some promising recommendations regardingrecruitment and deployment of trained teachers in primary schools but if the same trend of engaging teachers in non-teaching task continues then it will be very hard to attain the goals of foundational literacy and numeracy set by the new policy.The attainment of foundational literacy and numeracy in children by Grade 3 as set by NEP 2020 will reduce drop-out rate in later years of schooling as many children dropout due to disinterest created by lagging behind in the class. The idea of including the unorganized pre-school education into an organized mainstream will be a boon as now mid-day meal scheme will be extended to children right from the age of 3 years and also it will improve and supervise the ‘readiness’ of children to receive primary education.

The concept of primary education in local and regional language till class 5 is a good move to encourage regional languages but introducing English after class 5 in government schools does not appear to be a great move. English has global advantage and learning English is essential because overnight we cannot replace English completely with Indian languages inhigher education, and majority of content in technical and higher education is available in English. So, those students who will learn this language from beginning will have an advantage over other students who learn it late because learning English from class 6 will be a difficult task for Indian children. This may widen the rift between English speaking and non-English speaking students just as it was created long ago during the British period.

The education policy is essentially concerned to perform holistic development of students by fostering high-order ‘cognitive capacities’ along with ‘social, ethical and emotional capacities.’ These educational objectives are not entirely new, these were mentioned in the previous policies also but the point is that how strongminded the government is in attainment of these high goals. The decentralisation of regulation and monitoring of school education system is another step towards improvement in quality school education.Presently, the Department of School Education is charged with theall the functions of governance and regulation of the school education system which results in ineffective management. The new policy has proposed only ‘monitoring and policy making’ in school education to come under the ambit of Department of School Education, rest functions will be handled by Directorate of School Education.

In the recent years the soaring percentage of unemployment has compelled us to think that our higher education system is unable to produce employable candidates as demanded by the industries. The multidisciplinary approach in education will give ample opportunities to students to master the skills of their choice in different streams thus enlarging their canvas of learning and enhancing their chances of employment. In higher education the students will be able to customize their learning option by having flexibility in choosing their course options from a multidisciplinary education system and they will be allowed to have multiple exit points within the course duration with appropriate certifications.  The provisions in the NEP 2020 are more inclined towards practicum, training and internship to improve the employability skills of students.

The system of affiliation of colleges in higher education has deteriorated the quality in higher education. The policy has dealt with the problem of ‘large affiliating universities’ by proposing graded autonomy to colleges so that these would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university. Another revolutionary step proposed in the policy is ‘light but tight’ regulatory framework carrying out the essential functions like regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard within one apex body. This was also pointed out in ‘Yashpal Committee Report’ that an over regulated educational system curbs innovation and experimentation.All higher education will come under the ambit of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). The functions of regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting will be performed by distinct, independent, and empowered bodies under the canopy of HECI.

The policy is liberal towards privatisation of education, encouraging ‘philanthropic’ investment in education, it is a concept quite common in other economies of the world. But this may cause education to become expensive and out of reach for economically weaker sections of society as educational assets and management will be handled by buyers or non-state profit-making bodies. However, government has planned to fix upper fee limits in all institutions and encourage private institutions to offer free-ships and scholarships in sufficient numbers but the impact of privatisation can only be assessed once the laws regarding it will be passed and implemented.

Finally, the new education policy considers all aspects of education i.e. the student, the teacher and the learning environment, it encourages experimentation, innovation and out-of-box thinking but to attain the novelties the government needs to take strong steps of implementation. It will require determination, political will, repudiation of any individual or group interest in the path of implementation.

Komal Kapoor, Assistant Professor, Department of B.Ed., SDPG College, Deoria U.P