Big Reform in Education
National Education Policy 2020
The purpose of education is to
develop good human beings – capable of rational thought and action
The ability to read and write, and perform basic operations with numbers, is a necessary foundation and an indispensable prerequisite for all future schooling and lifelong learning. However, various governmental, as well as non-governmental surveys, indicate that we are currently in a learning crisis: a large proportion of students currently in elementary school – estimated to be over 5 crores in number – have not attained foundational literacy and numeracy, i.e., the ability to read and comprehend basic text and the ability to carry out basic addition and subtraction with Indian numerals. Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy for all children will thus become an urgent national mission, with immediate measures to be taken on many fronts and with clear goals that will be attained in the short term (including that every student will attain foundational literacy and numeracy by Grade 3). The highest priority of the education system will be to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary school by 2025.
The foundational pillars of this Policy are access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability. It believes that the purpose of education is to develop good human beings – capable of rational thought and action, possessing compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper and creative imagination, with sound ethical moorings and values. It aims at producing engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society as envisaged by our Constitution.
Broadly going through the salient features and important highlights of New Education Policy 2020, I would say that the policy has far more positives than negatives and is more inclusive, innovative and comprehensive.
The various domains of the NEP 2020 envisage and address some core issues of school and higher education system that were lacking in the previously passed education policies drafted in 1968 and 1986 (amendment in 1992).
The said policy focuses more on practical aspects of learning than routine learning, which is an innovative step in transforming the education system in the country. Inviting foreign players into educational set up and focusing and investing more on research-based work- the policy would surely help in creating vibrant school and higher education system.
Moreover, the policy would create conducive environment for social transformation and creation of multiple job sectors through education by adopting a multidisciplinary approach in all institutions. Besides the policy would help in cultural development through the introduction of mother language into school curriculum up to at least 5th standard.
By primarily acknowledging the skills, critical thinking and analytical ability, practical learning assessment and capabilities of a student, than focusing on just marks and grades achieved – the policy shall prove to be more productive for a student’s career progression. There ation institution is one in which every student feels welcomed and cared for, where a safe and stimulating learning environment exists, where a wide range of learning experiences are offered, and where good physical infrastructure and appropriate resources conducive to learning are available to all students. Attaining these qualities must be the goal of every educational institution. However, at the same time, there must also be seamless integration and coordination across institutions and across all stages of education.
The reduction in the syllabus with retaining of the core and crucial areas of learning in a subject will decrease the burden on students and consequently increase the quality of learning. While the NEP 2020 promises to streamline our education system by bringing multiple innovative transformational reforms in it that is highly acknowledgeable, however more needs to be done to further strengthen it, make it more dynamic and more importantly take effective steps for its implementation.
Besides, the teacher must be at the centre of the fundamental reforms in the education system. The new education policy must help re-establish teachers, at all levels, as the most respected and essential members of our society, because they truly shape our next generation of citizens. It must do everything to empower teachers and help them to do their job as effectively as possible. The new education policy must help recruit the very best and brightest to enter the teaching profession at all levels, by ensuring livelihood, respect, dignity, and autonomy, while also instilling in the system basic methods of quality control and accountability.
The policy has a lucrative provision of financial assistance to students who need such financial support shall be made available. No student will be deprived of higher education because of financial inability. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to ensure that all students who require financial support to attend a public HEI will receive it, covering stipends, boarding, and lodging, and not just waivers of tuition fees. Private higher educational institutions will offer scholarships ranging from 100% to 25% for at least half of their students.
Shabir-uz-Zaman is a journalist.