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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Lofty promises, minimum investment: Analysing NEP 2020

NEP 2020
S K Bhattacharya, Chairman, Bal Bharati Public School, Navi Mumbai, President, Action Committee

Finally, the cabinet of the Central Government India has given its approval to the New Education Policy 2020.

Already, there has been lot of discussions and deliberation on various landmark, and far reaching impact of NEP which basically talks about taking Indian education system at par with the vision and aspirations of the 21st Century. There is no doubt that the policy emphasises to take Indian Education System matching with International Standard, and on the other hand the authors of the NEP want to blend it with Indian Cultural heritage and ethos.

Before giving our critical appraisal on the document, I would like to brief the readers on the historical background of Education System right from the time India became Independent. Architects of Indian Constitution realised the significance of role of Education for social, economic and overall growth of the Country. Directive Principles of State Policy in our constitution has mentioned urgent need to eradicate illiteracy, later government appointed many expert bodies to recommend policies and measures to bring reforms in our education system. To mention a few, Dr. Radha Krishnan Committee (1948) Mudaliar commission (1952) Kothari Commission (1968) NEP (1985) National Curriculum Framework (2005) Right to Elementary Education, as a fundamental Right incorporated in our Indian Constitution and RTE (2009) etc. In all these documents and policies,the focus has been on re-structing and reforming our Education system to make it more meaningful, holistic and productive. But over the last 74 years in the post – independence period, our achievements and progress in Education Sector has not met our desirable aspirations and still we are struggling with our education reforms.

The NEP 2020 once again reiterates our strong conviction to take Indian Education system at par with the International Standard.Let us now try to understand the strategies and policies, which promise to make Indian Education compatible with constitutional values that we want to impart to make our students more productive and responsible citizens and simultaneously bring qualitative reforms in various sectors of Education.Itis heartening to note that for the first time, Pre – Primary Education, which they have termed as foundation stage has been given high priority, with a view to lay a strong foundation for the later stage of school education and finally for higher education.

Other important changes that we note from the document, are highly forward looking and promising to bring qualitative changes in our education. Some salient features are:

  • Flexibility, no hard separation between curriculum and extra-curricular, vocational and academic
  • Multi-disciplinary approach
  • More emphasis on creativity and critical thinking
  • Life skills (co-operation, team work, communication)
  • Regular formative assessment for learning/Semester system
  • Autonomy, good governance and empowerment.
  • Education is the public service and no-commercialisation in education
  • Curriculum content will be reduced to make space for understanding and critical thinking
  • Language policy: mediums of instruction be Hindi/ mother tongue upto 5th standard (optional)
  • Three language formula to continue
  • Curriculum integration of essential subjects and skills
  • Apart from flexibility of choosing subjects, certain subjects and skills should be made compulsory for scientific temper
  • The National Assessment Centre for school Education under Ministry of Human Resource Development shall be created for preparing guidelines for assessment (NAS) National Assessment Survey
  • TET Teacher Eligibility Test will be strengthened
  • Teachers will get more autonomy
  • Continuous professional development programme for teachers (50 hours per year)
  • For health check-up of school standard National Achievement Survey (NAS) shall be created

Where we are not very clear and comfortable with some of the changes enlisted in the document

  1. State conducted examination at different stages at class III, V, VIII level besides two Board examination at Class X and XII. The whole preposition is based on mistrust. On the one hand NEP 2020 talks about granting more autonomy to the schools, and the other hand contrary to promoting autonomy, the NEP talks about so many external examinations.
  2. Secondly, although very briefly importance of private sector has been mentioned in taking forward our education system, but they are silent on kind of autonomy and freedom they will allow the Private Sector to practice research, experiments and innovations. The NEP should have taken into cognigence the landmark judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court (TMA PAI v/s State) which has beautifully described the importance of autonomy to be granted to the institutions which is so much fundamental for the growth and improvement and education as a whole. They are loudly advocating curbing commercialisation, which is absolutely a welcome recommendation to make both school education and higher education, corruption free, more transparent and accountable, but they have not mentioned Private Sector’s vital role not only in terms of providing elementary education to almost 50 percent of school education, but more importantly, the Private Sector alone has assured providing quality education. Since the beginning of Modern Education in India the Private Sector has always been in the front. Hundreds of institutions have been created by the philanthropist, education trust, and societies which have become the role model to emulate. Today India has thousands of such schools form different parts engaged in research, development and experimentation to provide holistic education.

We feel that NEP should have clarified more elaboratory the role of the Private Sector and collaboration between the Private Sector and the Public Sector. When the country has the lack of resources and despite lofty promises investment on education is minimum (3.5% to 3.7%) of the GDP, thePublic Private Sector partnership in today’s scenario assumes more importance.

 

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