A Candid Review of National Education Policy 2019



man in academic dress wearing mortar cap

The exponential growth of technology has radicalized all sectors of our lives. While the world moves forward in all aspects, the Indian Education System lags on several accounts. The final draft of the National Education Policy 2019, aims to bridge some of these gaps. It aims to make the education system aligned with the 21st -century aspirations without hindering India's traditions and value systems. Let’s see if the draft aligns with the modern standards of an ideal education.


The draft has been divided into 4 parts and proposes key changes to the NPE (National policy on education) 1986.


1. SCHOOL EDUCATION


Early Childhood Care and Education


Over 85% of cumulative brain development occurs before the age of six. The RTE Act 2009 states free and compulsory education to all children of 6-14 years of age. Here, it proposes the extension of the RTE act to include all children in the age group 3-6 years, improve the infrastructure of ECCE centres, and provide trained personnel. ECCE entails access to a play-based, discovery-based education unlike the memory-based learning taking place currently.


Although the draft mentions that learning of languages takes place quickest during 0-3 years; the required health and nutrition from the ages of 0 -3 years; and the goal to ensure that every child of 0-6 years has free and easy access to quality ECCE, it fails to mention anything ensuring the same for the age group of 0-3 years.


Foundation Literacy and Numeracy


This ensures that the most basic learning which is reading, writing and arithmetic is to be achieved by all students in grade 5 and beyond. To reverse the learning crisis existing various steps and programmes such as the increased focus on basic learning, National Tutors Programme (NTP), Remedial Instructional Aides Programme, regular assessments, and technological aids will be implemented.


Curriculum and Pedagogy in Schools


  • One of the major changes in the change from the existing 10 + 2 system to a 5+3+3+4 educational design. 5 years of the Foundational Stage: 3 years of pre-primary school and Grades 1, 2.
  • This will consist of activity-based learning incorporating the latest research in ECCE. 3 years of the Preparatory (or Latter Primary) Stage: Grades 3, 4, 5.
  • Here, some part of formal education will be introduced but will mostly focus on activity-based and discovery-based learning. 3 years of the Middle (or Upper Primary) Stage: Grades 6, 7, 8.
  • The introduction of subject teachers and learning of more abstract concepts such as maths, science, etc will take place and a formal style of education will ensue. 4 years of the High (or Secondary) Stage: Grades 9, 10, 11, 12.

It will build on the style of the middle stage but with greater depth and flexibility and student choice. The notions of “higher secondary” or “junior college” will be eliminated


This change will drastically affect the education system. It is also taking one step forward. This design will not only maintain the knowledge of the core concepts but also improve critical and creative thinking. This will ensure that the students are well versed in all the aspects of life and gain soft skills also which are essential to survive in the professional world.


Teachers


To maintain the quality of education at all levels; highly qualified, professionally trained and well-equipped teachers are of importance. To ensure the quality steps mentioned in the draft are:

  • In the long term, the minimal degree requirement for all permanent tenured teachers will be the four-year integrated B.Ed. degree.
  • Continuous professional development will be provided
  • Substandard Teacher Education Institutes will be shut down as soon as possible
  • Encouragement to students to pursue teaching will be provided
  • The TET will be the first screening for the recruitment of teachers and will be extended to cover all stages of education. NTA test scores will also be taken into account. An interview and a short teaching demonstration will act as a second screening test.


It is often said that there is no such thing as a bad student only a bad teacher. Seeing the draft policy, one could only hope that teachers can teach to the best of their abilities; government school teachers find their rightful place in classrooms and not get saddled with the administrative work, they never signed up for. It would be great if teachers are invested in as irreplaceable assets.



2. HIGHER EDUCATION


Liberal Arts Education


Liberal Arts Education means focusing on one field of interest but along with it exploring other fields too. The draft seeks to ensure that a liberal arts education is imparted to the undergraduate and graduate students. Features to ensure liberal arts education given are:
  • Multidisciplinary environments and institutions
  • Imaginative curriculum and pedagogy
  • Liberal education to be accompanied by rigorous specialization
  • Inclusion of lessons in Seva / service as part of liberal education
  • Flexible Bachelor’s degree options
  • Internships and research opportunities

Pursuing a liberal arts education is the desire of many school students. But with a very small number of universities that offer such programs and the lack of trust in a liberal arts education is a hindrance many aspirants face. It will be interesting to see how the lawmakers make more space for institutions matching the likes of Ashoka University, Ambedkar University Delhi, FLAMES Pune etc.


National Research Foundation

To expand research and innovation, a new foundation called the National Research Foundation will be formed. The NRF will seed, grow, and facilitate research at academic institutions; create beneficial linkages between researchers, government and industry and recognize outstanding research.
Encouraging students to take part in research by building research capacity at all universities and colleges.


3. ADDITIONAL KEY FOCUS AREAS


Technology in Education


A new forum called National Educational Technology Forum is to be formed. The National Educational Technology Forum will be a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to improve learning, assessment, planning and administration.


Vocational Education


Integrating vocational education into all educational institutions - schools, colleges, and universities will ensure that every student is employable.


Adult Education


Developing a curriculum framework for adult education, ensuring infrastructure and universal access and ensuring widespread participation in adult education will increase the employability and literacy in the country.


4. TRANSFORMING EDUCATION


Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog


A new apex body, the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog headed by the Prime Minister will be constituted. The MHRD will be renamed as the Ministry of Education. It will be responsible for developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating and revising the vision of education in the country.


The Draft of the National Education Policy 2019 consists of many ambitious and helpful points but some of the features mentioned are ambiguous and an accurate plan of implementation is missing. It seems like having or executing time-bound targets in the field of education is not possible. Moreover, only time will tell if the new education policy is a mere good sounding document or a robust impact making policy.



- Sunidhi Shende



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A Candid Review of National Education Policy 2019 A Candid Review of National Education Policy 2019 Reviewed by EMN on July 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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