A new chapter begins

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A new chapter begins

Sunday, 02 August 2020 | Shalini Saksena

A new chapter begins

The much-awaited new National Education Policy has brought the needed changes in the education system overhauling the 34-year-old system by doing away with rote learning and 10+2 format. SHALINI SAKSENA brings you a report on how revolutionary the overhaul is

For years, educationists and industry experts had been talking about how there is need to completely overhaul the country’s education system so that our students are able to compete globally. The good part is that the new National Education Policy (NEP) is not only aspirational, it is futuristic as well. It is bold that it acknowledges the deficiencies in the present education system at all levels including the administrative and Government and advocates an integrated approach to address the issues in entirety to create altogether a new academic framework for education in the country that takes into account the education from the age of three years to PhD and beyond. It has broken the silos and boundaries made in terms of disciplines and departments and considers the development of well-rounded individuals with a T-shaped learning framework having a broad base to begin with and facilitating an evolution of specialisation out of the natural talent and interest in due course of the study.

The policy focuses on the education model facilitating the development of both the left and right brain of the students and induces the appropriate interventions the right age. It gives thrust on developing the students not only for their first job but the second job, the third job, and beyond. It also creates flexibility in the education system for multiple entries and exits and facilitates lifelong learning. It has introduced the system which is learning-driven and objective and accordingly redesigns the assessment/examination to be free from encouraging rote learning and stress of examination. And most importantly, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is renamed as the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Dr Jitendra Kumar Mishra, Director, Jaipuria School of Business opines that the new NEP has revamped the education system. “At higher education, it has brought in the system of four years of UG, wherein the fourth year may be focused on research and thus the student can directly enroll in PhD if he has undertaken research in his fourth year of undergraduate programme. The policy also advocates to start vocational education from early college level. It will help the learners to develop employability skills and get a job in his chosen area of vocation. It would create an alternative for the graduates to either go for a job or higher studies,” Mishra says.

Sahil Agarwal, co-founder-CEO, Rishihood University shares a similar viewpoint and tells you that new education policy has brought much awaited reforms for a long-term overhaul of the system. “In the higher education, the college affiliation system which prevented curriculum innovations will be phased out. This will allow industry-linked curriculum and faster modifications based on industry’s needs, therefore helping the students in placements. Flexibility of subjects, credit transfer and multiple entry-exit points will ensure that everyone can complete a college education and learn the subjects of their choice. The students will not be restricted to narrow domains. A common aptitude test for undergraduate admissions will ease off the pressure from students to prepare for multiple exams. The CAT will be designed in a way that most universities can identify the student skill set for admissions from the same test,” Agarwal says.

By giving students a chance to pick non-conventional subjects, which will focus on right brain development, it opens a wide variety of career options as well. With clear inspiration drawn from the western education system, this new reform will help students excel in subjects of their choice and explore the realm of education with a newer outlook. This was a much needed and awaited change in the education system of our country.

According to Dr Akhil Shahani, MD, Shahani Group, the NEP should have been implemented years ago to enable India’s education system to catch up with that of other fast-developing nations in Asia. The focus on light Government regulation, multi-disciplinary institutions and creating equivalence of vocational and academic streams are welcome, but these have been a part of other countries’ education models for years. It would have been good to have some more innovative ideas implemented like recognition of pathway/twinning programmes with foreign universities, permission for for-profit firms to set up schools and colleges, allowing corporate CSR funding for primary research in universities and allowing universities to offer online degrees to outside their geographical jurisdiction. As education is a State subject, it is important for the Centre to create a mechanism to ensure each State implements these new policies effectively.”

Experts say that this policy was long due — to disrupt the present education system and bring the transformation to learn and turn the future Indian minds. The diversity in the policy aims to meet the future learning needs which will engrain practical skill-based learning to shape the learners being Industry ready. The policy addresses most of the critical issues that daunt our present education landscape and brings about a totality in terms of the paradigm shift that we need for educated and skilled people in India. Since the NEP offers multiple exit points in studies, it means that one could actually get into employment at different ages, different times, and different levels of education which is a thoughtful strategic structure.

“As Indian employment breed faces a dichotomy with compartmentalised skillsets wherein many of them are unemployed due to lack of skill-based education. In the backdrop of this alarming scenario, the NEP is a step in the right direction towards a radical shift in the education disciplinary system to bring exponential growth. If implemented in true letter and spirit by all stakeholders it will undoubtedly transform the overall educational ecosystem in the country and should be brought into force as early as possible as it is the need of the hour,” Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, Provost, HSNC University says.

As the policy lays special emphasis on Early Child Care Education (ECCE) and development by including a play-based multi-faceted curriculum, universalisation of ECCE will lay the foundation for the development of every child and will be able to honour unique skillsets at an early age.

“The integration of co-curricular subjects at par will help students honour their hobbies and skills and make value addition in the areas of preference. Project-based learning, vocational learning at an early age, and learning of life skills and inclusion of technology will help a child realise ambitions, gain multi-dimensional knowledge and universal skills and lay the foundation for higher education. In addition, a new system of self, peer, and teacher assessment will give parents and children a 360-degree progress report imbibed with new skills learned during the academic year,” Rustom Kerawalla, chairman, Ampersand Group, says.

The Government’s vision to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) from 25.7 per cent  at present, to 50 per cent by 2030 is a move in the right direction.

“The Government acknowledges that online and distance education will play a key role in achieving this goal by enhancing the offerings, improving access and providing increased opportunities for lifelong learning. This goal will boost the Indian economy and the per capita income. We will be committed to playing our part in achieving the 50 per cent GER mark and will continue to create programmes that are at par with the highest quality in-class programmes and delivered online,” Rajiv Shah, CEO-director, NMIMS Global Access School tells you.

Then there is the whole idea of replacing UGC with the creation of Higher Education Commission of India  (HECI). Ashwani Awasthi, Managing Director, RICS School of Built Environment says that this is a welcome step. “With the independent verticals taking care of Regulatory/Accreditation/Funding/General Education, it will address various issues related to smooth functioning of the education institutions. The introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary bachelor’s programme shall be the preferred option since it allows the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education in addition to a focus on the chosen major and minors as per the choices of the student. This change is an important step in revamping the higher education landscape. The multiple entry and exit options along with introduction of an academic bank of credit will provide an opportunity of continuing studies in a staggered way. This will address the needs of the industry and will also help students to go back and upgrade themselves after acquiring the work experience. The new education policy will provide students with exposure to multi-disciplinary and flexible curriculum which is the backbone of holistic development. The increased focus on research will encourage education institutions in doing a cutting-edge research which is the need of the hour and will further help Indian degrees get more international acceptance,” Awasthi explains.

However, what is important is how this policy is implemented efficiently by the States so that it does not lose its effectiveness. “We put forth high commendation for this much needed effort to mainstream skills and education Class VI onward. The social stigma attached to manual jobs together with parental control on the child’s education and employment, lack of awareness about career paths through vocational stream or negligible importance given to entrepreneurial options — hurdles like these need mindset changes. The proposal to set up National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE) is a laudable move, it is imperative for the concerned ministries and allied bodies to seamlessly coordinate and work towards the goal of mainstreaming skills and education,” Shoba Mishra Ghosh, Assistant Secretary General, FICCI, says.

And as such the new NEP has the potential to create profound long-term impact, affecting the social and economic fabric of our society — that’s the power of education, particularly given our demography. Dr Rupamanjari Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida says that the new policy advocates major reforms in higher education — holistic and multidisciplinary education, flexibility of subject choices and programme durations. The concept of a Multidisciplinary Education & Research University will find resonance.

Byju Raveendran, founder-CEO, BYJU’S says: “The new policy’s focus on providing students flexibility and furthering digital education is timely and much needed. We believe that tech-enabled learning is the best way to achieve scale as well as maintain uniform quality irrespective of geography or physical infrastructure availability. Emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and stronger conceptual understanding will encourage students to become self-motivated learners. This is much needed for students to acquire skills that will prepare them for the unseen jobs of tomorrow,” Raveendran tells you.

 Professor Malabika Sarkar, VC, Ashoka University that the GER of 50 per cent is an important target and all universities must contribute to it. “We are happy that the multidisciplinary approach we have been practicing is recognised as the right way to prepare students for challenges in their careers. We are also happy that continuous assessment will be the way to evaluate students, which is something we believe in. The NEP also has made a bold move to resolve the binary of research and teaching and the focus on research will foster a strong culture for innovation. This, along with enhancement of digital infrastructure, will match our education system with the requirements of today’s dynamic business and economic environment,” Sarkar opines.

Vipul Sobti, Business Head, Unthinkable Solutions LLP says that the new education policy is designed to make education more pervasive and relevant. “It is good that the rigid boundary between different streams is to be eliminated. This means a student may choose to study physics, home science, and physical education, something which few in India could learn simultaneously in school. With these changes, the new education policy will create a system of knowledge that is well-rounded and versatile. Students who will learn under this new pedagogy will be ready to face the challenges presented by an increasingly complex world. Technology will play a very important role in this new phase of education,” Sobti says.

Rishabh Khanna, Cognitive Scientist and Founder, Suraasa tells you that new NEP looks progressive and covers a lot of ground when it comes to 21st century teaching and learning needs. “The good part is that the policy has come as a plan and not just promise based statements. The difficult part is to jump from the present system to this system and take along millions of stakeholders, many of whom might need to be completely re-trained. In fact, teachers will see the biggest change and will have to transform at both content as well as pedagogy level to survive in this new world order,” Khanna says.

THUMBS UP TO 5+3+3+4 PEDAGOGY

A high point of the new National Education Policy (NEP) is the shift from the 10+2 to the 5+3+3+4 format. Foundational stage (5) from pre-school and classes I and II with focus on development of language skills and teaching by play, preparatory stage (3) from classes III to V with focus on language and numeracy skills, middle stage (3) from classes VI to VIII with focus on critical learning and not rote learning and secondary stage (4) from classes IX to XII with focus on allowing child to pick subject as per interest.

Reforms like having a self-declaration system, bringing in a four-year-undergraduate programme, replacing a cumbersome inspection system and adding an additional one year to college will help students to be eligible for many top-ranked global programmes and will remove unique barriers that Indian students have faced in the past.

“The new NEP was long-overdue and we welcome the future-facing changes introduced. Strengthening the school education system, making efforts towards making India as a global education hub and having one regulator brings much-needed focus towards making India an international knowledge superpower. It is good to see the blurring lines between Liberal Arts and Sciences as the modern workplace demands some newage skills that go beyond the silos created by a technical only education-or a Liberal Arts-only approach. Earlier, the one big differentiator in Indian versus international education was academic flexibility. The NEP 2020 with flexibility and multiple exit-options, including a one-year Master’s programme and focus on digital education, will hold us in good stead in the times to come and positively impact future students.” Vineet Gupta, founder-trustee, Plaksha University, says.

Aakash Chaudhry, director-CEO, Aakash Educational Services Limited tells you that the NEP 2020 is set to usher in a revolution in the country's education sector by introducing structural and far-reaching reforms in curriculum and pedagogy. “A case in point is the inclusion of Arts, Humanities, Sports, Physical Education and vocational training in school. The policy is also futuristic promising online content in English, Hindi and regional languages. Above all, the policy is bringing common standards of learning that is applicable for both public and private schools, thus removing disparities. The restructured 5+3+3+4 is a welcome step and skilling of each child during schooling will increase the stature of skill-based education and increase employability of the youth,” Chaudhry says.

The idea of conducting a common entrance exam for all higher education institutes across the country will ensure a level playing ground for all students. Curtailing drop-out rates and extending universal education to all by introducing the multi-disciplinary entry and exit points at the undergraduate level will prove to be beneficial for those who switch streams or exit courses owing to various reasons.

Professor Mahadeo Jaiswal, director, IIM Sambalpur says: “Due to the small structure of our IIMs and IITs, despite having ample talent, they were unable to figure in top 100 institutes of the world. Allowing technical institutes to become multi-disciplinary will help IIMs and IITs to start other departments like medical and make their size bigger and allow them to admit more students. This will enable them to compete with the elite institutes of the world and become at par with them in the coming years.”

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