The Draft New National Education Policy drafted by a committee headed by Dr.K. Kasturirangan is designed to meet the changing dynamics of the current education system. The policy tried to address the challenges of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability faced by the current education system.
- It emphasized early childhood care, current exam system, strengthening teacher training, restructuring regulatory framework, technology usage, vocational education, and adult education, among others.
Education as a public good
- Education, for most of us, is a necessary public good central to the task of nation building and, like fresh air, is necessary to make our communities come alive.
- It should not be driven solely by market demand for certain skills, or be distracted by the admittedly disruptive impact, for instance, of Artificial Intelligence.
- This form of education should be inclusive and affordable.
- In essence, education must aim to produce sensitive, creative and upright citizens whose professional skills will endure revolutions in thinking and technology.
Education is not a commodity
- A menu of choices provided by the private sector, which reduces education to the status of a commodity and views our youthful demography as human capital, is being seen as panacea to our educational challenges. This is a fallacy.
- We have to be conscious and deeply aware that there is no developed country where the public sector was not in the vanguard of school and higher education expansion, in ensuring its inclusiveness, and in setting standards.
It was therefore essential for the government to produce a blueprint for reforms after widespread consultation, whether the present NEP report can deliver on this challenge is debatable.
Changes in the new policy
- Empowerment of teachers remains a key mantra of the policy, and it is understood that this can only be achieved by ensuring their livelihood, respect, dignity and autonomy, while ensuring quality and accountability.
- Early childhood care: Equally laudable is the emphasis on early childhood care and schooling more generally. The anganwadis remain the backbone of an early childhood care system and the idea of volunteer teachers, peer tutoring, rationalisation of the system of schools and sharing of resources does sound ominous.
The best example of holistic childhood education with a focus on a free-progress, experimental school inspired by the writings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
- Building capacities: The NEP wisely recognises that a comprehensive liberal arts education will help to develop all capacities of human beings — intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional, and moral — in an integrated manner.
- The National Research Foundation: The proposal to establish a National Research Foundation, with an overarching goal to enable a culture of research to permeate through our universities needs to be applauded and widely supported.
- About categorization - Division between research-intensive premier universities, teaching universities, and colleges. The NEP suggests, three types of institutions are not in any natural way a sharp, exclusionary categorization, but are along a continuum.
- In the case of early childhood care and education, the focus is more on physical resources and less focus is provided to psychosocial stimulation for development.
- There is no government system to take care of babies of poor families or of mothers who go to work for daily wages. The experimental project of Fulwari or community-managed crèches in Chhattisgarh is one answer to this gap.
- There needs to be a discussion on whether literacy and numeracy skills should be developed during the time of foundational learning.
- In the draft Policy, there is no mention of how the State regulatory body will regulate the government institutions.
- There is not enough capacity in the country to provide for teacher’s education. Also, there is more focus given to B.Ed. and M.Ed. has been given less importance under the policy.
- There are fewer consensuses on the integration of foundational learning with schooling. In Europe, compulsory education begins at the age of 6. In countries like Denmark and Finland, compulsory education begins at the age of 7.
- Natal and prenatal studies should also be included in the country’s education system to ensure awareness about the issues related to mother and infants, considering high IMR and MMR in the country.
- There should be a course of Masters of Teacher Education. Also, there is a need to build good teacher training institutions.
- The education policy should maintain a symbiotic relationship between the different regions of the country through the study of different languages.
- The Indian education system should focus on churning out not just engineers, but also entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, writers, etc.all of whom are influential in the development of the economy.