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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 3 August 2021

Content:

  1. We need more creators

We need more creators

Context:

  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has rightfully identified 21st century skills as fundamental to developing creators.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural interactions, and productivity and accountability all strengthen the individuals’ abilities at the workplace.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Mains Questions:

  1. Educators must upgrade their engagement strategies while integrating technology into their approach. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • Vision of the New Education Policy 2020
  • Significance of the Policy
  • Implementation Challenges & Issues with the NEP 2020
  • Implementing NEP 2020- Way Forward

Vision of the New Education Policy 2020

  • An education system that contributes to an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all.
  • Develops a deep sense of respect towards the fundamental rights, duties and Constitutional values, bonding with one’s country, and a conscious awareness of one’s role and responsibilities in a changing world.
  • Instils skills, values, and dispositions that support responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global well-being, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen.

Significance of the Policy

  • More focus on vocational studies and skill education even in school level: According to Indian Labour Report, in India only 4 % of the young labour force receives formal vocational education and 6 % in the informal sector. Skill capabilities of the people will help the country to keep more competitive and developed. Propagating vocational education with special recognition will make our youths more employable and create opportunities for self-employment too.
  • Allocation of 6% of the GDP in Education sector: Indian education is far behind the global standard. India spends 4.6% of its total GDP on education and ranks 62nd in total public expenditure on education per student. At this crucial juncture, the NEP’s 6% target is a welcome move. It is also in sync with NITI Aayog’s target to improve education quality in the country.
  • Restructuring of School education:
    • Provisions such as including Anganwadi/pre-school, the ECCE within the ambit of formal schooling and extension of Mid-day meals and the breakfast facilities to ECCE segment etc. would help achieve a nutritious and educated India.
    • Internships and experiential learning opportunity provided in the curriculum will give a flip in harnessing the critical thinking, creativity and innovativeness of the learners.
    • Examination reforms shall be brought in laying weightages not much on the rote learning but on application of knowledge as a part of holistic development of the learners.
  • The three language formula for school education: The learning of the students in mother tongue or local language will become faster and it will provide avenues to familiarize the various cultural diversities of the country and at the same time these Indian languages shall remain relevant and vibrant.
    • In fact, all the languages are closely linked with the arts and culture of the speaking community and as such, NEP-2020 spells various activities for preserving the local arts and culture associated with the languages. It is an opportunity for the proper preservation of the endangered languages too.
  • Transformation of regulatory system of the higher education in India: With the establishment of a single regulatory body called HECI, there shall no longer be multiple regulatory body for running courses in HEIs. Special focus is also given to curb the commercialization of education by formulating multiple mechanism with checks and balances.
  • Multiple Entry and Exit at undergraduate level: This flexibility could be good motivation to the students to pursue the course and complete it conveniently without the issues of dropouts and at the same time the GER in tertiary education may also be improved. Such an option is quite suitable for vocational studies too as they have various job roles at different levels of the course enhancing the avenues for employability at multiple levels.
  • Campuses of Indian Universities in Foreign Countries: Collaborations among the institutions shall bring quality and excellence in higher learning. Indians now shall be getting global level quality education at affordable cost. However, Government needs to formulate stringent rules and regulation for better quality and price and overall check and balances on the operation of foreign universities in India.

Implementation Challenges & Issues with the NEP 2020

  • Funding: NEP talks about spending 6% of GDP on education. However, such an increase in funding has been proposed earlier but not achieved. This policy also does not elaborate how to raise this fund.
  • Multilingualism: NEP recommending mother tongue/regional language the medium of instruction till Grade 5—even beyond if this can be done—ignores several realities. With inter-state migration for employment, and India’s large diversity of languages, regional language will hobble some students’ learning. It is particularly problematic in light of the right of the people to move from one state to another since the inter-state movement shall result in the change of the local language and the mode of education.
  • Vocational Education: Stress on vocational training from the preparatory stage, many fear, would lead to students from marginalised backgrounds dropping out early to take up jobs. This may also impede a more holistic learning.
  • Legal complexities: The policy has also been criticised due to the legal complexities surrounding the applicability of two operative policies namely The Right to Education Act, 2009 and the New Education Policy, 2020. Certain provisions such as the age of starting schooling will need to be deliberated upon, in order to resolve any conundrum between the statute and the recently introduced policy in the longer run.
  • Federal Setup: In a federal system like India, where education is a concurrent subject, any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the States, and the Centre has the giant task of building a consensus on the many ambitious plans. As an example, the proposed national assessment body or PARAKH and its realization requires active cooperation of as many as 60 education boards across the country.
  • Fear of Commercialisation and privatisation of education:
    • Fear of Privatisation: Many experts argue that NEP, in the name of philanthropic schools and PPP, is laying the roadmap for entry of private players in education, which will further commercialise education and the existing inequalities will be exacerbated.
    • The NEP suggests that admission to all higher education programmes should be based on standardised test scores conducted by the National Testing Authority. This encourages coaching classes and rote memorisation, further eroding the value of examinations and assessments conducted by the schools, colleges, and universities.
  • Lack of detailed thinking may affect the NEP’s vision. For instance, it has proposed a four-year undergraduate programme. A similar experiment in Delhi university failed a few years ago. The then HRD minister had to withdraw the four- year course, which was implemented without proper thinking, leading to much confusion among students and teachers.
  • Ground realities: Experiential learning, for instance, through project work requires significant financial resources for procuring project materials and setting up tinkering labs. A pedagogy that ingrains critical thinking requires the assessment of answers to long-form questions. Such activities simply need more teachers, while the reality on the ground is that school systems face chronic and persistent teacher shortages. The bulk of schools pay salaries which are unlikely to attract too many good applicants, and most will certainly worry about the cost of acquiring the 4-year B.Ed. degree for a job that may not be remunerative enough.

Implementing NEP 2020- Way Forward

NEP is multi-faceted and multi-levelled. Policies often fall short of getting implemented due to several pitfalls Therefore, we need to look into what approaches we should consider making NEP operational.

  • Policies often fail due to conflicting goals and a complete disconnect with previous policies. The new NEP is a major departure from the previous education policies and addresses their most critical limitations and fault lines. But there is visible continuity in terms of realising universal access to quality education to enable citizens to make India a developed country and a major economy in the world. This continuity, built into the new NEP, is certainly a great advantage for its successful execution.
  • Setting the right priorities is another important step of successful implementation of any policy. There are two key players in the implementation of NEP – the Ministry of Education at the Centre and the stakeholders, which includes state governments, schools and academic institutions.
    • Ministry of Education will play a pivotal role in the implementation of NEP from the point of providing direction, funding, governance, regulation, and review.
    • Both the players have to set the priorities right and these priorities should be based on both the short-term and long-term needs of educational institutes, funding requirements and realistic deadlines for achieving the set goals.
  • The Ministry of Education and HECI need to work in tandem withthe states and the educational institutes by collaboratively setting realistic and achievable targets and by tracking progress against critical policy priorities.
  • Attitudinal changes: Many of the changes that NEP sets out to achieve require attitudinal changes by adopting effective teaching-learning processes, academic and administrative procedures. Educational institutes have ample autonomy in NEP to make the education holistic and multi-disciplinary by merely incorporating changes in the institutional functioning without a nudge from anyone.
  • Distinctly outlining the chain of command for implementation to avoid duplication and overlap of efforts. The leadership role is paramount here as they should also be good team players and risk-takers. These leaders need to be self-driven with enthusiasm and high integrity. Absence of such people in policy implementation will lead to a sure policy failure.
  • Define the key performance indicators, both for the officials in the Ministry of Education mandated to work on NEP implementation and also the stakeholders. It is vital that there is a periodic review of their performance indicators with a view to plug inefficient processes that impede the policy from being turned into results in a time-bound manner.
  • The need to have a well-thought-out plan with well laid out long-term goals, its stepwise implementation through short-term goals and periodic evaluation, data-driven review and also legislative reforms cannot be undervalued in the effective implementation of NEP.
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