SEEDS OF PARADIGM SHIFT IN NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY

Education Policy Feb 22, 2021

The Cabinet of Union Government has passed the National Education Policy (NEP) on 29 July 2020. There are several provisions in the policy that can transform the scenario of education completely. Such seed points are enlisted for effective implementation & action as under.

1. Change of Name: The NEP has renamed the Union Ministry for HRD back to its original – Ministry of Education (MoE). (25.2) Keeping Bharat centric feelings in view, we welcome this change. This is not a mere change of title. This will revert the purpose of education to man making, character building and overall personality development rather than just preparing enabled labourers (human resource) for the market. We suggest further that the word ‘culture’ too, be added. At the time of independence, the name was Education & Culture Ministry. Presently, there are around 150 such institutes under the Ministry of Culture that are engaged in education of various disciplines of Arts (Kalas). The work of education and giving values (samskars) would be more effective and holistic if the two ministries are merged. If there is a need for a separate ministry for arts, the name of present ministry may be changed to 'Ministry of Arts & Aesthetics' so that the word culture is not understood only as dance, music.

2. Higher Education Commission of India (HECI): It has been a long pending demand of teachers & educationists that the management & operation of education should be completely in the hands of educators & academicians. Voluntary organisations working in the field of education have been demanding establishment of a strong National Education Commission for this purpose. This policy has established a Higher Education Commission. (18.2) In its present form, HECI itself will be a small, independent body of eminent public-spirited experts in higher education, which will oversee & monitor the integrity & effective functioning of HECI. Suitable mechanisms will be created within HECI to carry out its functions, including adjudication.(18.10) The work of the Commission is not only suggestive but also, as executive and all controllers are subject to it. The Commission will be more autonomous by appointing a scholarly Vice President of national repute. The proportion of participation of educationists should be increased to ensure an independent & powerful commission.

3. Flexibility: Flexibility is an important aspect in the structure of education. NEP has restructured curriculum & pedagogy of school education in a new 5+3+3+4 design. (4.1) Three years of Pre-primary education has also been included in the first five years as ‘Foundation Stage’. The Grades 9-12 have been clubbed. Flexible alternatives have been provided in choosing the elective subjects. The policy has removed compartmentalisation of streams such as science, arts & commerce and provides multi-disciplinary options. (4.9) The form of education will get revamped after implementation of this provision. There are flexible provisions in higher education at graduation & post-graduation stages. Provision of multiple entry & exit as recommended in detail in the Bharatiya Education Outline submitted by BSM to the Drafts Committee has been accepted literally. Certificate after completion of first year, diploma after second year and pass degree after completing three years will allow the students to enter and leave the education as per need. Those completing 4 years of under-graduation would get Honours Degree. The student having Pass Degree would have to pursue 2 years Post Graduation while those having 4 years Honours Degree would be able to do it in 1 year. (11.9) Simultaneously, establishment of Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) would provide digital storage of credits with ease of transfer within recognised HEIs. With this flexibility, livelihood selection will be possible according to interest. All types of enterprise, labour, business, arts would be socially respected.

4. National Education Policy: Initially, when the work was started on the Education Policy in 2015, it was called ‘New Education Policy’. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal was consistently vocal before society & government that a new education policy comes in every 10-15 years but if we want any realistic change in the long-term effect in education system, then it would be more appropriate to name it as ‘National Education Policy’ this time. The government used the term ‘National Education Policy’ while assigning the responsibility to author draft for the education policy to Kasturirangan Committee. The committee too, has presented a National document in true sense. It is National in several dimensions. For the first time, an education policy is drafted democratically after participation of a large number of citizens. Discussions with more than 33 crore participants were held on education policy in over 2.5 lakh villages. The policy is National in cultural sense also. Several matters in conformity to the original thought process of Bharat are evident in the policy, completely changing old foreign education policy thus creating foundations of a Bharat centric and nation building education system. In that sense also, this education policy is national. (Introduction, Pg. No. 4-7)

5. Bharatiya Language: The importance of Bharatiya languages has positively been underlined in the NEP-20. The policy also provides for availability of higher education in the Bharatiya languages. This could be a revolutionary reform. It is important to provide the alternative of Bharatiya languages in all courses including vocational courses like engineering & medical. This will increase the importance of Bharatiya languages in primary classes. (22.9 to 11) First language or mother tongue should also be the medium of education at pre-primary & primary level. This is also included in the chapter on School Education. (4.11) Sanskrit is not only one of many languages but its importance in pure study of all languages is universally known. (4.17) This point has been mentioned in the preamble and chapter of Language of the NEP, but Sanskrit faces injustice in implementing the Tribhasha Sootra (three-language formula) (4.13). The State Language and English become compulsory, but Sanskrit is ousted if Hindi is emphasized in the non-Hindi speaking States. Therefore, in addition to the three-language formula, Sanskrit should be considered as the foundation of Linguistics and taught like Yoga from pre-primary to 8th standard compulsorily. Another option which is being followed in some of the states is combined paper of Hindi & Sanskrit of 50 marks each.

6. National Research Foundation (NRF): National Research Foundation is a revolutionary concept (17.9) which would provide a new momentum to research in higher education. This would enable research that is purposeful, effective & socially useful. Provision for several universities should be able to conduct coordinated research on the topic of national need under Mission Mode Projects in the activities of NRF (17.11) should be added. It is imperative for self-reliant Bharat to end its dependence on imports. Promotion of research in academic world will be useful in this direction.

7. Teacher: The reverence for teachers has always been of utmost importance in Bharat which seems to be deteriorating in last few years. Society will become capable if the teacher-hood is re-established in society. (5.15) For this, two measures have been provided in the NEP – professionalisation of teacher education and complete abolition of practice of ad-hoc & contractual appointments. Presently, becoming a teacher is seen as the last alternative. NEP says that four-year B.Ed. Integrated courses should be promoted so that after completing Grade 12, only the dedicated youths (especially from rural areas) would seek admission in teacher education courses. (5.2) Presently, the teaching staff, teachers called as Gurujis that are working on daily-wages, perform the duties of teachers but are given meagre salary. Therefore, abolishing this provision is also a welcome proposal. This is an effective measure in enhancing prestige of the teacher.

8. Vocational Education: There is a great emphasis in the whole country about skill education, but it has not been given proper space in formal education. In NEP 20, vocational education has been integrated with school education (4.26) along with Higher Education (10.8, 10.13, 11.4). In this way, vocational education has been made a part of mainstream education. 8 revolutionary provisions have been made to streamline the structure of vocational education in Point No. 16 of NEP. 16.6clearly states that vocational education will be integrated into schools & higher education institutions over the next decade. The use of the word 'vocational' in place of 'skill' instils a sense of entrepreneurship in self-employment instead of a job mentality.

9. Full Autonomy: The issue of autonomy, started with Higher Education Commission, has been extended to educational institutions. The provision of full autonomy to all the Degree Colleges in Higher Education is in NEP. (19.2) In school education also, the revolutionary idea of providing private schools the right to decide their fees is in NEP. (7.1 to 7.12) There is only one condition that education should be provided with servitude. Degree Colleges have been provided academic, administrative & economic autonomy. They have also been provided the right to decide their curriculum. (11.9, 10) Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal welcomes this autonomy, but it will not solve the problem of commercialization of education. Revolutionary solutions need to be implemented for this purpose. Merely speaking about philanthropic educational institutes is not enough, it is also essential to make orderly arrangements to control profit oriented educational institutions. Shikshan Mandal suggests that permission should be given to open commercial educational institutions and it should be properly publicised in the society. This would enable parents to decide whether they want to admit their wards in philanthropic institutes or commercial ones.

10. Pedagogy: Presently, there are discussions on learner centric & child centric education. Several measures have been taken for this. Most of them are constraining for teachers. Many teachers feel bound by them. The ideal of Bharat is Learning Oriented and Teacher-Centric education. Both these aspects have been given due importance in NEP. The student is responsible for his study. The teacher has the role of guidance & cooperation. With the credit system from Grade 9, the responsibility of learning will be on students. (4.9, 10) On the other hand, the responsibility for curriculum design has been bestowed upon teachers. If both perform their roles properly, this seed has the potential to create an ideal education system like Gurukul.

11. Socially Supported: There has always been emphasis on ‘Govt. free Education’ in Bharat, but it does not mean the present form of privatization. Education has always been the responsibility of society. The basic principles of the policy in the introduction chapter states - "Education is a public service." Therefore, it is expected that the society should support the education system. There is provision for societal participation in management of educational institutions in the policy, (7.12) and there is also talk of raising funds by reviving philanthropic activities in financing.(26.6) But, it is also important to mention ‘social’ in place of ‘private’ institutions. Clubbing commercial private educational institutions with philanthropic social institutions and calling them ‘private’ for being non-government and using the same criteria for their control is not appropriate. The term ‘private’ or ‘philanthropic’ is used in the policy (8.3, 8.4, 8.5 a) but their division has not been clarified. The participation of society could be ensured at all levels by removing this anomaly.

12. Financial Abundance: Since past several years, all the educational organizations have been demanding that the expenditure of government in education sector should be increased to 6% of GDP. Taking this point into cognizance, the policy has mentioned 6% of the GDP by increasing investments of both central & state governments. (26.2) The policy has also suggested amendment in the law to make provision for philanthropic contribution of business & industry in education. (26.6) If the suggestion is implemented with required political willpower, the abundance of financial resources would be available in the field of education and revolutionary measures like regularization of teachers could be implemented.

13. Internationalisation: There was never demarcation of boundaries in Bharat in the field of knowledge. Our teachers have provided knowledge throughout the world and seekers from across the world have been coming to Bharatiya universities to gain knowledge. This condition changed after foreign rule in Bharat and we got confined to our political boundaries. Presently, Bharatiya universities cannot open campuses in foreign countries. There was also a very limited possibility for admission of foreign students in Bharatiya universities. The education policy clears these boundaries. Along with welcoming foreign universities in Bharat, the education policy has paved way to open campus of Bharatiya universities in foreign countries. (12.8) Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal welcomes this provision. The policy talks about allowing the best 100 universities in the world to open their campuses in Bharat and special legal provisions will be made for this. There is no objection to foreign universities coming to Bharat. It should be clear in the Acts that no special facilities will be provided to them. These foreign institutions should be run by those laws which are applicable to Indian universities.

14. Foundation Courses: Starting from high school to higher education, every year the foundation courses of half of the total marks have been made compulsory along with the special subjects. (11.1) This is necessary for holistic education. Some fundamental/basic things are mandatory for all, be it any subject specialist. The history of country, geography, knowledge of her traditions along with the common civil code such as how to walk on road, rules for cleanliness/hygiene etc. are also needed as important provisions in formal education. The issues such as value of time, time management and strict punctuality should also be made a part of this foundation course. The information related to environmental awareness, common financial discipline, banking etc. This should be included in gradual progression in the foundation course.

15. Curriculum for Idea of Bharat: The policy mentions about the cultural spiritual knowledge of the country under a syllabus named 'Knowledge of Bharat'. (4.27) Presently, a book named ‘Rashtra Gaurav’ (Pride of Nation) is part of curriculum in school education in Uttar Pradesh. In the NEP, provisions have been provided to integrate a curriculum on Idea of Bharat based on the knowledge tradition of Bharat, points of honour and Bharatiya wisdom traditions, at each level of education. There is an urgent need to work on this point. A graded curriculum that would provide students the whole knowledge of Bharat starting from primary education or Grade 1 to the Post Graduation level should be prepared. (Introduction, Pg. 4)

16. Transparent & Qualitative Management: Institutions like MCI, ICAR & BCI constituted for regulation of professional courses have become the centres of trading and corruption. Suggestions are given for complete change in the roles of these institutions in the NEP. These institutions should be professional standards setting body (PSSB), not the controller. After completing education, they should conduct a Common Exit Exam for quality control like CA Association. (18.7)

17. Participation of Industry: Besides ensuring economic support at the time of financial crisis, the NEP has also proposed participation of industrial sector in the academic activities. Higher education could be made more practical by involving participation of industries in academic activities like framing of curriculum, research and working experience for teachers. (13.6, 13.7) The experience in industry has been provided equal status to academic experience for appointment of teachers in higher education. With this provision, those having first-hand experience of industries would also be eligible for faculty recruitment. These teachers would prove to be more effective.

18. Institutes of National Importance for Arts & Social Sciences: Despite being interested in Arts & Literature; several students opt for IITs merely for social prestige. Institutions like ISER, NISER were started around 10-15 years back to increase the interest of students in Fundamental Sciences. This education policy has decided to establish such institutions of national importance in the field of Arts. The NEP has suggested establishing Indian Institute of Translation & Interpretation (IITI) for translation. (22.14) An ideal Multi-Disciplinary Education & Research University (MERU) would be established for holistic & multidisciplinary education. (11.11)

Similarly, for social sciences – Indian Institute of Social Sciences (IISS), for language – Indian Institute of Languages & Linguistics (IILL), and for arts – Indian Institute of Liberal Arts (IILA) should also be considered. The institutes of national importance should also be opened for sports & military disciplines so that every student should have alternatives to opt for prestigious higher education as per his/her talent.

19. Bharat Centric: The special feature of NEP is that it is Bharat centric at all levels. (Pg. No. 6, Vision of Policy) Policies have been suggested as per conditions of Bharat. There is discussion about global standard & competition, but there is no place for blind following to achieve global ranking. There is possibility of accepting global ideas after adapting them to the indigenous conditions. These points should be emphasised at the time of implementation. There is imminent need for contextualization of all the branches of disciplines. The policy document presents a detailed plan on medical education as per the condition of Bharat. (20.5) For instance, there is a proposal to convert every district level hospital into medical college so that adequate number of required doctors could be trained. Traditional medical methods of Bharat like Yoga, Ayurveda etc. will also be infused at all levels in medical education through AYUSH. Keeping in mind the challenges of teachers deployed in rural & remote areas, special provisions have been made for that. (5.2) In view of the specific situation of Bharat, many revolutionary & practical measures have been given in the policy for social harmony by providing education opportunities to all sections of society. (14.1-14.4)

There are many such special provisions with respect to Bharat in this policy. If implemented properly, it can bring revolutionary change.

Author - Mukul Kanitkar, National Organising Secretary, Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal

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