With very high applaud from across all political parties and intelligentsia, National Education Policy – 2020 (NEP 2020) is poised, to be implemented very soon on the ground. This enlightened policy was achievable because the government crowd-sourced opinions related to, from a wide Diaspora of public, who evince interest in academics. For any durable policy change to happen, consensus should be arrived at, by a coalition of partners from different perspectives.
While delivering his speech at India Foundation Dialogue-74 (on 19 Aug), Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Cabinet Minister of Education, GOI; exuded confidence that, Bharat being Vishwa Guru, the new NEP-2020 focussed on Bharateeya Jeevan Mulya: Ayurveda, Charka, Susrutha, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Bharadwaj, Kapil Muni, Madhava, Chanakya, Patanjali, Panini and Bharat’s value of: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
He said in Bharat, once upon a time, universities like Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi had set high standards of multi-disciplinary teaching and research, indicating that India should again get back her glory with high standards of education. For attaining that standard, he enunciated the measures taken in NEP 2020.
He stated, the aim of NEP 2020 is, to give highest quality in education which includes equitable access and inclusive education-learning for all. For the improvement of higher education, he said, ‘academic bank of credit with a multiple entry and exit points, is introduced. After completion of one-year course, a student can exit but yet can get a certificate. In case, if he exits after two years, he could get a diploma. Similarly, after three-years a Bachelor degree and four-years i.e. after finishing the whole course, the student gets a Bachelor’s degree with research. This kind of flexibility is given first time in the country removing the earlier rigid method of one should complete his/her degree at one go. This leverage provides the student an opportunity, in case, he drops out due to unavoidable circumstances while pursuing a course. At each year, the student’s work gets its credit and is kept in academic credit-bank in a digi-locker. It can be retrieved as and when desired by the student to enhance his higher education further.
Shri Pokhriyal also stated that every year, eight-lakh students would go to foreign universities, with them, he added, Indian merit and money goes along. To buttress his point he went further to add; the tech-giants like Microsoft and Google of the U.S; have Heads that had studied in prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) of India! So, the new NEP 2020, to contain student-migration, would introduce twining with foreign universities with that of the Indian. That way, it is beneficial to students in India to get required knowledge on technology and skills, he opined.
The minister also emphasized on the creation of National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, and administration. He mentioned about the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct entrance examinations for admissions to universities across the country. To promote high quality research : National Research Foundation (NRF) would be promoted and at the university level, multi-displinary education would be incorporated, in the Policy.
‘The foundational pillars of the Policy are, access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability of education. The principles of the policy are based on flexibility. At university level Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as important form of Open Distance Learning (ODL), are encouraged’, was the message from him.
Talking about school education, he said, ‘the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is introduced with 5+3+3+4 pattern, as the child’s mental growth and development spurs from 3-5 years of age. Teaching in “play way method” is an added advantage. From class-6, vocational stream, multilingualism to promote indigenous Indian languages and culture. Mother tongue/regional/local language is made as medium of instruction up to class-v, with no imposition of any (specific) language. To get quality in school education the measures taken were, a four-year integrated B.Ed course and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses for teachers would be conducted’.
‘In the Covid-19 period, online education programmes have been started for crores of children on premise of: one nation, one digital platform. Smart phones, internet, 24-hours dish TV, community radio, various other educational channels etc. are used for the purpose. There are some drawbacks in it’, he pointed out, as the poor are unable afford the above, but exuded the confidence of overcoming the pitfalls.
Citing the PMs call for Atmanirbhar Bharat, as a part his appeal to youth during the lock-down, the IIT Delhi students remained in labs (while others were at home) making and testing for ventilators of international standard. All in all, he said, for school education and higher education there was a kind manthan (churning) that went on for over a period. The prime minister monitored it step-wise and passed on the Policy. Calling Indian education programme to be a massive one, the minister said in wonderment, there was more number of students studying in India than the entire country: America’s population.
‘Nation first, character-first was of the view. For the first time after independence, for the first time after Macaulay education for a long time, this policy brought in by Padma Vibhushan Kasthurirangan, Manjul Bhargav et.al would take India to the Vishwa Sikhar i.e. highest point/ pinnacle. The New India would be: swatch (clean), shresta (high quality), samruddh (abundant), Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat. This would further blossom into Gyan era in Bharat’, the minister said.
‘Earlier, the critics of the BJP, derided the party by saying that it’s saffronising education, now the same people are quiet’, he quipped at the end. So, the policy got a wide acceptance from all quarters. Now, it is for the people to take the policy forward.