The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) has laid out a vision about what education in India should be like in the upcoming years. The NEP has focused on many changes to teaching, learning and regulatory framework of primary, secondary and higher education. The NEP proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the current education structure, including its regulation and governance, to forge a new education system that is on par with the aspirational objectives of 21stcentury education. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is renamed as the Ministry of Education in a bid to bring the focus back on education and learning.
In 1964, the Government of India appointed an Education Commission ("Commission"), under the Chairmanship of Daulat Singh Kothari. Amongst other objectives behind setting up of this Commission also included evolution of a general pattern of education. The report was submitted by Commission in 1966 which indicated the guidelines for formulation of a National Policy on Education. In 1968, the Government of India declared its first National Policy on Education. Based on the recommendations contained in the report of this Commission, the Government took steps to introduce certain needed changes in the system of education.
Keeping in mind the educational defects during that time, the main recommendations in the area of educational administration included but not limited to the following:
Free and Compulsory Education
Provision of free and compulsory education to all the children until they complete the age of 14 years is a Directive Principle of the Constitution. Education should be free and compulsory up to the age of 14. Steps should be taken to ensure that the child enrolled in the school, should successfully complete the course.
Status, Emoluments and Education of Teachers
The teacher is the most important person to determine the quality of education in the country. His/Her emoluments and service standard should be increased, with due regard to his/her educational qualifications, professional responsibilities and the expected status in society. Proper attention should be given to quality teacher education.
Development of Languages
The three language formula provides for a study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the Southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi speaking States and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non Hindi speaking States. The three language formula should be introduced, in which a student at the secondary level, should know Hindi, English and the regional language of his/her state.
Equalization of Educational Opportunity
Under this policy, every child of the country should get education, irrespective of caste, religion, region or whatever the case may be.
The policy visualizes integration of the assessment of performance with the process of learning and teaching, and utilizing the process of evaluation to bring about qualitative improvement in education. A major goal of examination reforms should be to improve the reliability and validity of examinations and to make evaluation a continuous process aimed at helping the student to improve his/her level of achievement.
It will be advantageous to have a broadly uniform educational structure in all parts of the country. The ultimate objective should be to adopt the 10+2+3 pattern, the higher secondary stage of two years being located in schools, colleges or both according to local conditions.
Educational opportunity at the secondary (and higher) level is a major instrument of social change and transformation. There is a need to increase facilities for technical and vocational education at this stage.
Considerable care is needed in establishing new universities. The arrangements for planning and coordination of college and university education at the state level are inadequate. States with large number of universities will set up State Councils for Higher Education to review performance, determine financial requirements and plan for innovations and inter-se network.
Open University and Distance Education
The Open University System augments opportunities for higher education, ensures access, is cost-effective and promotes a flexible and innovative system of education.
Games and Sports
Games and sports should be developed on a large scale with the object of improving the physical fitness and sportsmanship.
NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY, 2020
The Government of India is currently investigating the feasibility of implementation of a revised NEP in order to modernize and streamline education, right from the early elementary or preliminary schooling system for children and adults. The NEP believes that the education system should develop good human beings with rational thinking, compassion, empathy, courage, resilience, scientific temper, creative imagination, and ethical values.
The NEP envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower.
Some of the major recommendations of the NEP are:
Efficient Resourcing and Effective Governance through School Complexes/Clusters
Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education
Catalyzing Quality Academic Research in All Fields through a new National Research Foundation
Transforming the Regulatory System of Higher Education
OTHER KEY AREAS OF FOCUS
Promotion of Indian Languages, Arts, and Culture
Technology Use and Integration
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
India has faced unprecedented challenges in providing quality education to children and the youth. Lack of resources and capacity and a persistent mismatch between the knowledge and skills imparted and the jobs available have been some of the challenges that have bedeviled our efforts since Independence. The NEP is a step in the right direction, signalling the 'new normal' in education with its focus on critical thinking, experiential learning, interactive classrooms, integrated pedagogy and competency-based education. NEP has also addressed the issue of creative thinking, design thinking, logical decision making and innovation which was long overdue.
NEP is futuristic and bold, and at the same time practical, considering the needs of the time. The NEP, if implemented in its true vision, will promote flexibility in the choice of courses for the students. Further, the NEP will also permit switchover to a different course, or to a different degree / diploma programs. Such a flexible approach will ensure that the right students embark on right educational programs to promote optimal national productivity.
NEP has encouragingly provisioned for real-time evaluation systems and a consultative monitoring framework. This shall enable the education system to constantly reform itself, instead of waiting for a new education policy every decade or so, for a shift in curriculum. This, in itself, will be a remarkable achievement. The NEP also aims to facilitate an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach. It is a progressive shift towards a more scientific approach to education.
It is observed that the possible challenge(s) with the NEP are (i) the availability of skilled human resource and the transition time and (ii) since NEP leans much more towards the enabling aspect of technology, without fully dwelling on the need for building the capabilities required for engaging meaningfully with it, a lot will depend on how it is implemented.
Through a robust education system, leveraging the full potential of its demographic dividend, India has taken a giant leap towards establishing itself as a knowledge superpower. As with every policy, the real test of NEP will be translating it to action. Backed by expeditious and effective implementation in sync with its spirit, NEP could shape the lives of our future generations.
Mr. Sanjay Mehta is Partner & Ms. Lakshmi Gnana Tejaswi is an Associate at Surana & Surana International Attorneys . Views are personal.