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New Education Policy 2020- The key to reform

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Never wished you could turn back time? National Education Policy 2020 might just make you want to.

This policy is by far the greatest achievement of this Government. The policy plans to take the educational standards of India close to those practiced in developed first world countries. The focus has been shifted from memory based learning to vocational training and practical skills, bag-less weeks introduced and importance of board examinations as the one deciding factor eliminated. This policy might just change the Indian education system from one of rote learning to a more practical skill based learning.

The GDP allotted to the education sector has been increased from 3 percent to 6 percent. This is necessary to achieve the standards set out by the policy.

Students will now be allowed to decide their own multi-disciplinary syllabus. Students will no longer be exclusively divided into the branches of Science, Commerce and Humanities. They will have the freedom to study Chemistry with Economics or Political Science with Biology. I studied in one of the premiere institutes of India where surprisingly humanities was not even offered as an option. With this policy implemented, students will be able to explore their interests and decide their career after gaining a clearer understanding of the different subjects and their respective fields.

Regional language has been introduced as the preferred medium of instruction till fifth standard. This move has received flack and there are some genuine concerns behind it.

 I’ll discuss both the pros and cons to this move leaving the reader to judge which side carries more worth. Today India has more English speakers than the native England, thanks to the present education system that focuses on English as the primary medium of instruction. Regional languages including Sanskrit are offered as an optional language. English is the lingua franca – knowing the language itself can open job avenues for you. Besides in most areas a child learns a regional language at home without requiring any formal education. Most of the scientific and technical fields have studies in English, students being educated in a regional language will face an obvious disadvantage in adapting to the changed educational environment once they get into senior school. On the plus side, this move is essential to save the dying local cultures. Half of the languages that exist today will be dead by the end of this century.

Many of the local tongues like Garhwali and tribal languages which are a part of the rich cultural wealth of India are dying a slow death simply because they have lost their relevance. I regret today that I cannot understand my native tongue, much less speak it. I feel an obvious void when I look at my culture as a strange entity that I never explored. The next generation will be in a much sorry state and might not even be aware that there was a culture as rich with its own folklore and heroes. Learning the language might open the way to the reincarnation of these dying cultures. A country is only as rich as its culture and values. India will soon be the youngest working mega force in the world. And while we educate our youth with skills that will earn them jobs, we must also preserve their link to their culture – their identity and pride.

MPhil has been scrapped and graduation now has multiple exit options. You will earn a certificate if you choose to exit after one year of graduation, a diploma after second, a bachelors after the third and a degree after the fourth. Your credits will be transferable and you will no longer be ‘wasting’ a year if you choose to exit a graduate degree mid way when you realize it’s not the best fit for you. This update has made education a safer, more comfortable process with multiple backups that is student-friendly.

The school education has been divided into a 5+3+3+4 structure. Board examinations will be conducted after five years of education that is in class third followed by fifth eighth tenth and twelfth standards. The exam will be conducted in a semester or modular pattern and will test core skills over mindless learning.

Students will now be asked to self – evaluate themselves. A piece of paper does not define your future – this might actually turn true in the Indian education scenario as the right to grade a student shifted from the master to the student and what better way to inculcate a sense of responsibility that to make the student self-aware.

Students will be gaining skills in vocational fields like carpentry and gardening from as early as the sixth standard. Not only would this open a much wider professional avenue it might change the perspective the Indian masses have towards these essential professions.

The policy is set to be implemented in a duration of 10 years in multiple phases starting with the common professional standard for teachers set to be put into action as early as 2022.

The states however complain that in spite of education being a concurrent issue subject to action and discussion by both the state and Center, they were not taken into consideration for a policy that will affect them.

Besides, we are talking about a change that will require much more than 6 percent of the GDP of the country. The state of primary government education is dismal with lack of essential infrastructure and an upending teacher student ratio. The criticism arises whether basic factors like infrastructure and sufficient teachers should be addressed first instead of coming up with a paradise the base might not strong enough to build upon. Serious doubts are being raised about the actual realistic implementation of the policy at a grass root level. If implemented, the policy could take Indian educational standards to the best in the world. The Government has taken up a mammoth task but the light at the end of the tunnel is worth the struggle.

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