During a special session of Parliament, the Parliament Standing Committee on Education presented a comprehensive report on the “Implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in Higher Education.” The report assessed the advancements and obstacles encountered in the execution of this substantial policy change within India’s higher education sector.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Major Highlights of the Report
- Recommendations for Higher Education Reform
- National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020)
Major Highlights of the Report
Dominance of State Acts:
- The report highlighted that a significant portion of India’s higher education system operates under State Acts, with 70% of universities falling under this category.
- Approximately 94% of students are enrolled in State or private institutions, leaving only 6% in Central higher educational institutions, emphasizing the crucial role of States in providing higher education.
Key Issues Discussed
- Disciplinary Separation: Concerns were raised about the rigid separation of disciplines, which can impede interdisciplinary learning and innovation.
- Limited Access in Disadvantaged Regions: Access to higher education in socio-economically disadvantaged regions remains limited, hindering the equitable distribution of educational opportunities.
- Language of Instruction: There is a lack of higher education institutes offering instruction in local languages, potentially excluding a significant portion of the population.
- Faculty Shortage: A scarcity of qualified faculty members is affecting the quality of education in the higher education sector.
- Autonomy Challenges: Many institutions lack autonomy, which hinders their ability to adapt and innovate.
- Diminished Research Focus: The panel noted a decreased emphasis on research within the current higher education system.
- Ineffective Regulatory Framework: The regulatory framework governing higher education was deemed ineffective, necessitating comprehensive reform.
- Concerns About MEME System: There were concerns that implementing the MEME system in Indian institutions, while flexible in theory, may not align effectively due to unpredictability in student entry and exits, potentially disrupting the pupil-teacher ratio.
Recommendations for Higher Education Reform
- Financial Support for SEDGs: Both the Union and State Governments should allocate sufficient funds to support Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) in higher education.
- Clear Enrolment Targets for SEDGs: Clear targets for the Gross Enrolment Ratio should be set for SEDGs to ensure increased access to higher education.
- Enhancing Gender Balance: Efforts should be made to enhance gender balance in admissions to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
- Inclusive Admission and Curriculum: Admission processes and curriculum should be made more inclusive to cater to diverse learner needs.
- Regional Language Courses: Encourage the development of more degree courses taught in regional languages and bilingually.
- Accessible Infrastructure: Implement specific infrastructural measures to make higher education institutions more accessible to physically challenged students.
- No-Discrimination Enforcement: Strict enforcement of no-discrimination and anti-harassment rules was recommended to ensure a safe and inclusive environment on campuses.
- Diversifying Funding Sources: The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) should diversify its funding sources beyond government allocations.
- Private Sector and International Collaboration: Explore partnerships with private sector organizations, philanthropic foundations, and international financial institutions for funding higher education initiatives.
National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020):
The National Education Policy 2020 is a comprehensive reform initiative aimed at modernizing India’s education system to meet the evolving development needs of the country. It replaces the National Policy on Education, 1986, and its 1992 modification, bringing about significant changes and improvements in the education sector.
Key Features of NEP 2020:
- Universal Access: NEP 2020 focuses on universal access to school education, from pre-school to secondary levels.
- Structural Changes: It introduces a new educational structure, shifting from the 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system, with a focus on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for 3-6-year-olds.
- Medium of Instruction: Mother tongue or regional language is the medium of instruction up to Grade 5, with options for Sanskrit and other languages. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized.
- Inclusive Education: Special emphasis is placed on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs), children with disabilities, and the establishment of “Bal Bhavans.”
- Integration of Streams: The policy promotes a seamless education system with no rigid distinctions between arts and sciences, curricular and extracurricular activities, and vocational and academic streams.
- Higher Education Expansion: The aim is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio from 26.3% to 50% by 2035, adding 3.5 crore new seats.
- Research and Innovation: A National Research Foundation is established to boost research culture and capacity.
- Language Support: Support for Indian languages, including the creation of an Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) and strengthening of language departments.
- International Collaborations: Facilitation of international collaborations and entry of top-ranked foreign universities.
- Increased Investment: Joint efforts to increase public investment in education to 6% of GDP.
- Holistic Assessment: Introduction of PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) as a national assessment center for competency-based and holistic assessment in education.
- Gender Inclusion: The policy introduces a Gender Inclusion Fund to emphasize gender equality in education and support initiatives empowering disadvantaged groups.
- Special Education Zones: The establishment of Special Education Zones to address the specific needs of disadvantaged regions and groups, ensuring equitable access to quality education for all.
-Source: The Hindu