May 26, 2024

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National Education Policy 2020- Hitches and Hopes for Higher Education

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A good and quality education is the founding stone for the development of each one’s life. Be it new discoveries, knowledge creation, skillset building, and innovation- the determining factor behind the excellence of each parameter is a good education. In this direction, the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is futuristic, augmentative, and ambitious.

New Education Policy comes out after more than thirty years of its predecessor education policy. In the report of 200 pages, the drafting committee has carefully analyzed the problems, challenges, and flaws of the existing education system and then warranted the policy’s formulation. The committee came out of 90 recommendations that are shaped as new education policies 2020 by MHRD (which will be renamed as Ministry of Education)

As pointed earlier, the education system requires to broaden its aspect as per the relevance or need of the society and nation. NEP has taken cognizance of a child’s development journey during its formative years and felt the need for imbibing of critical characteristics like knowledge-seeking, social skill, teamwork, communication at the right age. It aims to facilitate the comprehensive framework and overarching vision for both schools and higher education institutions across India.

The relevance of NEP with Higher Education

The drafting committee has found a big gap between the skill set required in the job market and the education imparted by the educational institutions of our country. NASSCOM found that merely 10-15% of the total graduates are industry-ready. It found the education level deteriorating despite a raised number of educational institutions.  In such a backdrop, NEP 2020 is a much desirable step. 

Amid a slew of recommendations of educational policy, one is that it should be teacher-oriented. It has identified teachers as the most prominent link between the students and institutions. NEP 2020 pressed for identifying the missing links and strengthening the teaching faculty, research facility, and infrastructure with some added resources to improve the current education system’s effectiveness.

The report has also favoured increasing the GDP share of education by 6% and strengthening the Right to Education Act’s implementation. This minimum share has been considered the essential expenditure to meet the country’s desired level of standard of education.

The policy has also pointed towards the universities to stop letting themself from being converted as a playground for big national rivalries, social inequalities, and fall between cultural fault lines. For that matter, some self-imposed restrictions must be in place to ensure that the primary work of universities must keep going without hindrance. The society, as a whole, should work for this and restrict political and other distraction of educational institutions. Also, the committee did not favor the student unions, and if unions are present, they should deal with academic issues only.

Another take away of the new education policy is phasing out of the college afflation system in the next 15 years so that each college develops into either an autonomous degree-granting institution or a consistent college of a university. The policy has also recommended grading universities on merit basis. It will be helpful to grant autonomy to good performers.

NEP paved the way for introducing a four-year undergraduate degree with multiple exits and entry options. It will allow more flexibility, boost vocational courses, and practical knowledge. Another aspect is the elimination of rigid streams/ discipline to permit students to explore career opportunities beyond their subject specialization. At par, integration of co-curricular subjects will help students honoring their hobbies, skills and do value addition to their preferences and will not restrict them in making their career choices. NEP has promised to build an academic bank of credit. It will make it easier for students to take transfer between the institutions. Further, it will allow more flexibility and ease of doing studies. Meanwhile, the policy has done way with M Phil degree.

The public and private institutions must support the need for a more inclusive, participative, and holistic education. NEP has focused on creating ‘special educational zones’ for students who are facing economic, social, and caste barriers concerning their educational goals. The central government will also set up a Gender Inclusion Fund for capacity building to provide equal education to all girls and transgender students. It is indeed a welcome step with a progressive approach.

NEP proposes the introduction of a new umbrella regulator body for all higher education institutions except for legal and medical courses. It has paved the way to combine UGC and AICTE and envisage a single regulatory body as- the Higher Education Council of India. The goal is to ensure that higher education institutions can offer multi-disciplinary courses as per the choice and demand of the students. Further, it will have a long-term impact on improving learning outcomes in higher education, besides removing the anomalies and ambiguities with a single regulator’s presence.

Remember that innovative, long-lasting, and progressive changes can be done by increased enrolment. New Education policy 2020 has a target to double the Gross Enrolment ratio in higher education institutions from 26.3 % in 2018 to 50% in 2035 (including vocational education) with an additional seat of 3.5 crores. NEP 2020 has replaced the 10+2 structure with the 5+3+3+4 curriculum structure. It aligns with the UN’s vision of disburdening students from extreme stress and safeguarding their mental health. 

Effective communication and coordination are always required to progress and manages risk well. Being the third policy on education after independence, NEP aims at making India a Knowledge-driven superpower. There are great steps planned within the ambit of policy for taking the Indian education system to new heights.  

Minakshi Sehrawat    

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