Towards edu evolution
The New National Education Policy, expected in March 2018, has the ability to change the pace and pattern of growth if the policy can devise a strategy to skill 282.6 million non-literate population, says Professor Avanish Kumar
The New National Education Policy (NMP) within the backdrop of teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi sets a mammoth policy agenda. The educational impact would stretch from individual well-being to national growth. It has the ability to change the pace and pattern of growth if the policy can devise a strategy to skill 282.6 million non-literate population to participate and compete in the emerging economy.
Apart from existing non-literate population, two broad categories require serious policy deliberations; school and higher education. The number of dropouts and unemployed population suggests that schools have failed to inspire and experiment while higher education is yet to promote desired innovation and scholastic engagement.
The nine-member committee of NMP is expected to deliver by March 2018, making it really difficult but not impossible with the experience of eminent panel members. Prior to NMP, the education system in India has witnessed two fundamental shifts, in 1976 by transferring from State list to Concurrent List and 2009 RTE Act giving a right based approach to children up to 14 years of age, the third is awaited.
One of the striking differences in the proposed policy is the process of participation adopted in the making of policy. Participation has more advantages than the disadvantage. While there is the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and concerns; often completion and consensus result in delay. The NMP identifies various key challenges as access, participation, quality, skills, employability, curriculum and assessment.
Though challenges exist, the root lies with the waning of status and prestige in the profession, especially in schools.
Rather than asking the simultaneous question on each of these challenges, it would be critical to vision policy to get the best young mind to want to become teachers. Education can never achieve its goal in a society where a teacher’s status is low. In last 50 years, the position of school teachers has reduced drastically in India. The articulated vision of the NMP is complex and blurred as the goalpost.
It’s true that education systems need to be more than just be best in literacy. The policy is required to be inclusive, holistic, comprehensive and dynamic. Often policy fails to achieve the desired result due to lack of operational clarity on policy, a clear and simple mission shall promote consistency of interpretation and implementation. The policy recognises proliferation of sub-standard educational institutions contributing to the diminishing credibility of the education system.
Apart from credibility, despite of heavy cost students are unable to gain desired knowledge and skills. Why more than 60 per cent of the 0.8 million engineers graduating from technical institutions across the country every year remain unemployed? Why the place that gave birth to one of the first University in the World, in 2011 Nalanda, 47 per cent women and 25 per cent male are non-literate, are some basic questions to ask.
Setting up of National Teacher Education University for teacher education and faculty development, and converting Regional Institutes of Education under NCERT to Teacher Education Universities is an extremely important step.
The policy recognises a need for re-orientation of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to address issues of deteriorating quality of school education. It is also a good idea to create common and differentiated curriculum. The policy recognises Science, Mathematics, and English a common national curriculum. Social sciences, a part of the curricula will be common across the country and the rest will also cater to regional context. Introduction to laboratories from class VI onwards is extremely good idea to experiment and experience science.
The policy does cater to representation in governing bodies of higher education institutions with transparent guidelines. The policy, however, limits the role of governance with the governing body. If governance is to reduce the gap between stakeholders, the policy should focus how to transform from person-centric decision making to process-centric.
The policy needs to address external (governing body) and internal governance system simultaneously. The policy recognises the role of students’ union in furthering the interests of democracy and discussions. In order to attract young talent into the teaching profession, a career growth of research students, MPhil and PhD scholars, it is envisaged to create and designate them as Academic Assistants and Academic Associates.
The policy envisages putting in place an enabling legislation for a foreign university to offer its own degree to the Indian students studying in India.
— The writer is a Professor for Public Policy and Governance, Management Development Institute, Gurugram
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