The education manifests our sensibility, cognitive skills and knowledge, and this is the link between our mental, physical and emotional development. In fact, education is necessary in building the present and sculpting the future. It has been said that without education, man is like an animal. For a long time, there has been a need for a new education system which would be compatible with the civilisation and culture of India. The new education policy is a step in the right direction to foster a modern approach to life and bring about important changes in the country and the world. Of late, this has become both necessary and inevitable because till now Lord Macaulay’s prevalent education system whose main objective was more to prepare clerks rather than leaders is completely outdated and redundant.
Macaulay designed the education system in line with a Western outlook in which Indian civilisation and culture were neglected, and Indians were delinked from their cultural and moral values. As a result, many generations have strayed away from our rich cultural and value systems and heritage.
Indian education policies in the country have been revised from time to time. The first education policy was presented the Indira Gandhi government in 1968, the second education policy by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986, in which minor amendments were made in 1992 the government by Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. This new education policy is truly a democratic policy, in which gram panchayats, block and district leaders of the entire country as well as expert educators, parents, public servants and students have given their suggestions and opinions. Over two lakh suggestions were discussed and scrutinised before this policy was formulated. In order to make significant changes in the field of education, the name of the Ministry of Human Resource Development has been revised to the Ministry of Education, which is completely appropriate and denotes its seriousness in the field of education.
The use of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the foundational years was a boon. It will ensure the preservation, development and active growth of all Indian languages this is a revolutionary feature of the NEP. The important aspect of this NEP is that students will study in their mother tongue up to Class V, which may be increased to Class VIII, English will be taught only as a subject. Subject perception and communication take place quickly in the regional language of the mother tongue. According to the 2008 report of Education Psychology and UNESCO, it is very important for students to study in their mother tongue for the complete cognitive development of a child. This is a yeoman effort in strengthening Indian culture and languages.
The NEP gives every student an opportunity to learn at least one profession. This makes career options a vibrant exercise. We must remember that vocational courses will begin from class VI, making vocational education an integral part of school and college education. This will make our students self-reliant as well as urging them towards self-employment and entrepreneurship. NEP will enable students to select streams in school education on the lines of Europe and America, as well as plans to connect at least 50% of the students with vocational education by 2025. Students of science or commerce will also be able to study humanities and will also be able to take advantage of this speciality at the undergraduate level. By studying subjects on the basis of interest, they can achieve their desired future and become job creators as well as career creators.
Indian higher educational institutions will be converted into resource-rich, multi-disciplinary institutions with the objective of providing quality education, research and community participation. A wide range of institutions will be formed which will include teaching-centric universities, research-focused universities and autonomous colleges. Most importantly, the affiliation of colleges will be phased out in 15 years, and a mechanism will be established through which gradual autonomy to colleges will be granted.
The new education policy will open doors for new possibilities, and special provisions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, handicapped, Girls and the Poor, including public and private sector educational institutions. A provision has been installed so that new groups can get scholarship.
Multi entry and Multi exit undergraduate level is another new feature of NEP. In the earlier system, dropouts due to circumstance had no way or retrieving their investment in labour, time and money. Now every level that he completes is certified. After the first year, he or she gets a certificate after the second a diploma, and after the third a degree and after the fourth, a research is awarded. This degree will prove beneficial for the future his or her Masters.
Another innovative initiative by the NEP is the establishment of an academic bank of credit. Here a student will transfer the academic credit that was earned by him from one institution or to another, thus accumulating all his academic pursuits and certifying them. Such a system has yielded encouraging results in developed countries like Japan and the US. India has a great of youth force, and this system will mobilise them into active learners and with market-ready options. It has been decided to increase the successful enrollment ratio to 50% by 2030. It is hoped to create 3.5 crore new seats in undergraduate education.
As a result of the recent pandemic, a detailed framework has been prepared to promote online education, so that when there is no available means to obtain traditional and personal education, e-education in both school and higher education sectors may be immediately implemented.
Multi entry and Multi exit undergraduate level is another new feature of NEP. In the earlier system dropouts due to circumstance had no way or retrieving their investment in labour, time and money
This medium will provide education through digital content. With a view to making the higher education of the country globally excellent, a strong research institute will be established, which will also focus on the culture and potential of the nation. For this, the National Research Foundation will be established, which will also develop the culture of research in the universities of the country. The National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) is also being created to promote an e-curricula. Simultaneously, virtual labs are also being developed. A 4-year teacher degree will be the minimum qualification which will be implemented by 2030. The teachers will be promoted on the basis of their merit, after meeting professional standards. To achieve all the objectives and goals of the new education policy, the GDP on education, which is currently 4.43%, will be increased to 6%. The Modi government is making all efforts to create inclusiveness in education. There is no doubt that this is a new education policy apt for 21st century India. It will prove to be boon that will catapult the education scenario and help fulfil the needs and requirements of the nation in the arena of education.
(The writer is Eminent Educationist, Chairperson of Dr MPS Group of Institutions, Agra)