Published: 20th August 2020
NEP has the right intentions, but it all depends on how it is implemented
NEP talks about umpteen vital changes like incorporating Indian values in the education system starting from school to higher education. If implemented properly, the results will be quite positive
The need for modification and reforms in the field of education to keep pace with the changing world in era of globalisation has been felt for a long time. The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will be a futuristic change in the Indian education system if its basic spirit and intention materialises. However, it largely depends on how the Ministry of Education and State Governments execute it. Since education is a subject on the concurrent list, the crucial role of its implementation will be on state governments.
NEP talks about umpteen vital changes like incorporating Indian values in the education system starting from school to higher education. If implemented properly, the results will be quite positive. Time and again, questions have been raised about students’ knowledge of issues and needs around them apart from their specific subject knowledge. The NEP recommends setting up multidisciplinary higher education institutions to develop the intellectual, social, emotional, physical abilities of the person. Emphasis has been laid on handiness and value-oriented education for the holistic growth of the person. Students will have the opportunity to select interdisciplinary subjects of their choice, work with local bodies, artists, researchers and teachers as trainees in educational institutions to enhance practical knowledge. It will benefit them and enhance their employability.
If we look at the enrolment figures in higher education, a large section of the country is deprived of it due to different reasons. It has been suggested that at least one higher education institution should be established in every district or vicinity to make higher education accessible to all. Consequently, the gross enrolment rate i.e. 26.3% in 2018 will be improved to 50% by 2035. A fundamental change in higher education has been done at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. So far, if for some reason the student leaves his studies midway, then he/she is not given any degree or certificate. But thanks to the NEP, if a student desires to leave the graduation programme after one year of study, then a certificate will be given to him. If he/she leaves after two years, a diploma will be awarded and a bachelor's degree will be awarded after completing three years. Such an exit system will benefit the students particularly those who are associated with vocational education, technical education and foreign languages. Numerous companies offer employment opportunities in these fields on the basis of certificates and diplomas. Another important change is that the students who wish to choose a four-year graduation programme will be able to complete his post-graduation in just a year.
MPhil has been removed in this policy. It is argued that this will demean the research quality, but it is necessary to know that four-year graduation will be accompanied by research. However, more clarity on this will come only after detailed regulations are made and implemented.
Literary, cultural groups and special clubs will be formed to develop dialogue, creativity and critical thinking among students. In this, the teacher will play the role of a guide. I believe that such practice will carry forward the Indian tradition of collaboration and debate. The said proposal will also develop self-reliance, intelligibility in thoughts, and leadership in learners.
To make institutions more efficient and to help economically weaker students, the NEP advocates providing adequate funds to them. It intends to create a National Scholarship Portal, considering the need for scholarships to students from Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Backward classes. Private educational institutions will be asked to give scholarships to students. It is difficult to say how easy or difficult will it be to implement these rules. Nevertheless, the steps taken by the government in this area are commendable.
There has always been talk of making India a world-class education and research hub. It is suggested that the PhD students will have to take credit courses which makes them proficient in academic activities. These students will also have to work as teaching assistants so that they may become excellent teachers. Realising the importance of research, the government will create a National Research Foundation so that the researchers can get the required financial support. Universities that do well, will be allowed to open their campuses abroad. The world’s top 100 educational institutions will also be allowed to open their branches in India. However, what their methods of operation will be in India will be clear only after a detailed set of rules are issued. Students who complete required credits courses in foreign universities as per the rules can use it as a credit in Indian universities as well.
The NEP also talks about the formation of a The Higher Education Commission of India that will have academic and administrative autonomy to keep education away from any kind of unnecessary intervention. There will be departments under it like the National Higher Education Regulatory Council, which will be a regulatory body for all higher education institutions (except law and medical). Also, to maintain transparency, institutions have to put their information on their official website. Emphasis has also been placed on promoting functioning through technology to enable all these institutions - regulation (NHERC), accreditation (NAAC), funding (HEGC), and academic standard setting (GEC) to operate transparently.
Since long, the functioning and quality of private universities and institutions is the subject of criticism. In this regard, role of all these institutions will be vital in preventing the privatisation of education and ensure the quality of education. It should be kept in mind that education is a charity. Not a business or a way for making money. The dropout rate in India is already so high. In such a situation, privatisation will ruin the education system. The government has given appropriate suggestions in this direction. However, how this will work will only be known only after the policy is implemented. In spite of the recommendations of higher spending on education even in the previous education policies, so far, much less has been spent on education in India compared to developed countries. What is now about 4.4% per cent of the GDP, is proposed to be increased to 6% by the NEP.
The author is an Assistant Professor of Russian language at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi