Is the NEP 2019 about old mind-sets in new bodies?
02 July 2019
Some thinkers believe that reports and recommendations invariably remain what they are if unaccompanied by the micro-details of strategic implementation maneuvers. A bit higher in the hierarchy of proposed actions and actionable steps is the wave theory of political will of the powers, the calculus of economic certainties and uncertainties, the gravitational laws pervading in the moral and social matrix of the times, and the much simpler yogic asanas of accepting divergent views and counter-points of critical thinkers in the academic and non-academic world. This cover-story has the distinct honour of being sandwiched between some worthy insights by eminent thinkers and locating them isn’t going to be difficult for the discerning reader.
Great ideas also need to be implemented
Dr. Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director, BIMTECH, Greater Noida.
“Draft National Education Policy report (NEP) Submitted by the Dr. Kasturirangan Committee has suddenly jolted the nation on the dire urgency for educational reforms. We find that after 26 years of the declaration of the previous NEP in 1992, this Draft NEP has followed the path of ‘Change with Continuity’. Overall objectives of access, affordability, accountability, equality and quality are in continuity of earlier goals.
Some of the big-ticket reforms proposed in the Draft NEP are laudable. Prominent among those are extending RTE from age 6 to age 18 in school education and clubbing pre-primary education of 3 years. Draft NEP touches upon almost all aspects of school education, but the crucial question is whether the diagnosis of the problems and prescriptions suggested are according to the hard realities existing today?
In higher education, the Kasturirangan Committee has given comprehensive recommendations related to curriculum, teachers education, duration of under-graduate courses, regulatory model, accreditation, financing etc. The Committee has made a fervent demand to raise expenditure on education from the current 2.7% of GNP to 6% of GNP.
Draft NEP 2019 seems futuristic but very ambitious. It is to be seen how this futuristic vision will be translated into pragmatic actions and execution.”
Critical assessment must and always will begin by asking questions. For instance, how is the concept of ‘inter-disciplinary’ woven in with the futuristic policies mentioned? Is it true that terms like ‘future-ready’, ‘employability’, and ‘job-ready’ have been mercilessly exploited by the corporate world to hide their own inefficiencies? Or is it the other way round? How must the education industry tackle this? Do corporates too need an overhaul in their attitude? What are the features or suggestions in the policy that makes the private colleges and institutions restless? There are mentions in NEP 2019 about private and public institutions to be treated at par. What does this really imply? The concept then goes on to add that education is to be ‘not for profit’ for ALL. How do you think this aim can be achieved, considering that there are a number of institutions and universities subsisting on just grants doled out to them? Will the policy-makers read and hear the voices of dissent or will they prefer to listen only to those opinions that kowtow and applaud? Finally, is it time for more eminent educationists to enter politics and make their views heard when legislations are being debated because according to a media report, the 217 eminent people consulted while forming this draft did not include even one teacher?
The Draft NEP 2019 was submitted on the 31st of May 2019 and deals with challenges in the access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability in the education system. I am sure the Chairman Dr K Kasturirangan will be pleased to note the sort of whirling excitement that this report has already initiated.
A harbinger of transformation with a few riders
Dr. Irfan A Rizvi, Professor of Leadership & Change Management, International Management Institute, New Delhi and a member of Federation of World Academics, New Delhi
NEP 2019 incorporates the best features of earlier policy frameworks and if implemented in letter and spirit is bound to transform the Indian learning and development system with its impact felt over many generations.
It is well known that poor quality of teachers, abysmal teacher-taught ratios, and inadequate infrastructure plagues our education system, especially the government schools and colleges. The policy runs short of providing concrete directions in improving upon these most critical factors of teaching-learning. The document as being commissioned by the Central Government, also does not adequately address the state government level issues in our education system.
Actionable directions for modernizing the teaching and learning system of traditional community based institutions, especially in the ‘maktabs’ and ‘madarsas’ need attention. The policy requires a renewed focus on this aspect without curbing our secular ethos of religious freedom.
The future of stand-alone/independent single program/discipline higher education institutions worries me. These institutions have been in existence for more than three decades now and have provided yeoman service towards professionalizing education through their employability programs and internationally published research with practical implications. If they are forced to merge with some University to be part of any of the type 1 to 3 higher education institutions, then such stand-alone institutions lose their unique value proposition for now and for-ever.
I hope that at the next stage when all inputs and critiques on NEP 2019 are available, the Ministry and the NEP 2019 drafting team will give due considerations to the above and many other such suggestions. The real test of any policy, including that of NEP 2019, is in its implementation. I sincerely hope that all stakeholders will insure that implementation doesn’t suffer.
NEP and our school education
There is a major rejig of curriculum and pedagogy with the early childhood care education or ECCE. Focus is obviously on health, nutrition, and education but the multiple regulatory bodies involved are going to be integrated and the anganwadi institution will be brought under the new educational setup.
Training interventions for teachers are going to be sturdier as this is the only way to upgrade the doddering literacy and numeracy that exists today. Besides strategicplacements of focused training for teachers (other points of focus will be recruitment, motivation, continuous education and career development), a positive increase in the use of technology is aimed at. Even Prof. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE remarks, ‘Faculty today must be prepared to bring in creative thinking and thus their critical analysis of the entire system will become note-worthy in multiple ways.’ This obviously cannot be possible unless there is an equally powerful thrust of public investment in education. These are the two pillars besides a single-minded focus on vocational and adult education that are going to lead the nation towards universal access to education by 2030.
A clearer implementation roadmap is essential
Dr. Jitendra K. Das, Director, FORE School of Management, New Delhi
Since 1947 the government essentially could not ensure high-quality higher education in India through the university system. Thus, it created parallel higher education system for Engineering and Management through IITs and IIMs, respectively. Currently, there are ten different categories of institutions in India reflecting the ad-hoc approach. There is a pressing need to have a uniform regulatory system, for the expected output is same across such institutions. The difference may be only in their source of funding and sectoral specific requirements. A higher education system reform, as radical as the Economic Reform of 1991, is desperately needed.
The current NEP proposal to set up NRF is wonderful and so its role as a scholarship or research funding agency must be made absolutely transparent, objective and efficient. However, what concerns emanating from the existing education policy is being addressed by the new policy and in what way this attempts to look at the future needs have not been objectively expressed. Thus, the detailing in the proposed NEP look like a wish list and thus these may have implementation issues as has been the case with many previous policy recommendations made since the last few decades.
While pertinent issues like consolidation of regulatory bodies are welcome, ‘wish list’ items like the establishment of new institutions, restructuring old ones, use of technology, and boosting vocational education need clearer roadmap.
One of the common features throughout the policy is the emergence of the idea to merge multiple bodies and schemes that are sometimes uncommunicative with each other and become the cause for needless heartburn in the officials concerned. Operational efficacy thus goes up. Another vital component of this policy is the visible shift from rote learning through modified pedagogy aimed to enhance critical thinking, creativity, scientific temper, communication, collaboration, problem solving, ethics, social responsibility and digital literacy. The objective for this dynamic transformation is set to be achieved by 2022.
There are recommendations like shutting down all sub-standard teacher training institutes in the nation and starting a 4-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed that need to go way beyond mere mentions in a report. These, like re-organising schools into school complexes where adult education too can be made possible, blurring the lines between curriculum, co-curricular, and extra-curricular areas, activating the 5-3-3-4 structure for schools, and developing core competencies to include life skills and 21st century skills can be fairly intimidating demons without a clear set of step-wise instructions with clearly defined fiscal and completion goals. NCERT developing a national curriculum framework may seem fine but why has it not thought of reducing content load in school education curriculum all these years? Why hasn’t NCERT thought of developing a national curriculum framework for adult education all these years? The question that I’d like to ask here is if all the giant procedure and process generating institutions work only when a policy pushes and catalyses them? Are terms like ‘being proactive’ actively prancing around only for junior executives in multi-nationals? Yes, policy makers believe that certain changes will improve governance, but isn’t it time that our thinking bodies stopped just waiting for instructions and began generating ideas to maximize resource utilization?
It is only correct and timely for this policy to suggest the creation of an independent State School Regulatory Authority to handle all sorts of school regulations including the oversight of the system and implementation of accreditation. A separation of functions to eliminate conflicts of interests is obviously included.
A thoughtful document if regulations remain pertinent
Dr. Raj Singh, Vice Chancellor, Ansal University, Gurugram
“The draft National Education Policy 2019, a thoughtful document giving directions for school and higher education for the country, is both futuristic and bold. It is refreshing to note that the draft policy touches the most important issues of separating the various functions of funding, standard setting, accreditation, regulations to be conducted by independent bodies, and the need to eliminate concentration of power and conflicts of interest. It talks about academic, administrative and financial autonomy for the Universities and treating of private and public institutions at par by the regulatory regime. The establishment of National Research Fund (NRF) and Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA) are unique initiatives that will give the desired impetus to research and eliminate regulation by multiple agencies. The plan to have three types of Institutions and phasing out affiliated colleges by 2032 will help breed innovations on one hand as well as give an incentive for moving from a type 3 to a type 1 institution. Caution may be needed in certain functional areas to remove excessive stifling regulations as has been the practice in the past.”
NEP and higher education
Yes, I know this and everyone else too knows pretty well that the draft NEP favours high class research, high quality teachers, and an ever-evolving inter-disciplinary curriculum besides the National Research Foundation egging this orientation onwards. The question that many people in the higher echelons of decision-making may not want to hear starts and ends with a single word: how? Yes, there will be the RashtriyaShikshaAayog to co-ordinate between the centre and the states and then there will be a newly created superbody given the acronym NHERA (National Higher Education Regulatory Authority) as the only regulatory authority. Yes, bodies like AICTE, the Bar Council of India etc will be responsible only for setting standards for professional practice and that UGC will be limited to providing grants for higher research. The point here is that NHERA, as the single entity to take care of regulatory structure and accreditation will be the turning point a liberal approach and a stringent care to make things work will become a norm can be reduced to a muddled chaos if the experts and the specialists and the thinkers are allowed to hop from the ‘erstwhile’ power engine to the new purring one. It is almost like being intent upon changing the name of the circus time and again but keeping the same jokers, ringmasters, jugglers, and acrobats to make sure that the show goes on. Is the NEP 2019 about old mind-sets in new bodies? As Dr. Harivansh Chaturvedi asks in a straight-forward tone: “The crucial question is whether the diagnosis of the problems and prescriptions suggested are according to the hard realities existing today?”
Even a cursory look at the plans expressed one gets a feeling that is rather invigorating. One of the radical features is the mention of a slow transition of all institutions towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial. Tagging along is the fact that all private and public institutions will be treated at par in the long term and that education to finally be a ‘not for profit’ venture for everyone concerned. Padma Shri Dr. Pritam Singh believes that “the physiology of education is market-driven and government led and any policy needs to consider this in every way.” He goes on to add that for research to be progressive, additional sources for generating funds need to be identified. “Look at the CSR spending in the country that is around 50,000 crore in 2018,” he says, “A mere 5% of this can be diverted into the National Fellowship Fund. Mathematically, a corpus of 2500 crore means taking care of a huge number of fellowships besides other productive activities. Once we have the right kind of students, we will also have research that makes its mark globally.”While we are on innovative approaches, it must be mentioned that in one of my short conversations with eminent educationists, Dr. M. Venu Gopala Rao remarked that “we also need to think about having courses ideated by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in India and Indian universities may be allowed to open their campuses overseas.”
Let’s get inspired by the West
Dr. M. Venu Gopala Rao, Vice President, MODY University of Science & Technology, Lakshmangarh
“The proposal to attract maximum private investment in education will require regulations to avoid encouraging isolated profit motives or personal agendas over educational welfare. The proposal to integrate play-schools with the formal education system is a welcome move as the present concept of primary education and pre-schooling has become a conduit, at least in major cities, for generating profits through donations. Play-schools too need to be brought under the Ministry of Education (currently MHRD). Even the transition of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 into semester systems, with a choice of 40 plus courses, is a brilliant idea. However, it must be ensured that students will take their exams within a stipulated time or a specified number of attempts. Private schools must also have complete freedom to decide their fee-structure provided they are not engaged in profiteering and are practicing philanthropy. ‘Complete freedom’ needs reconsideration and needs to have reasonable and relevant restrictions. Emphasis on topics like Knowledge of India and Inspiring Lessons from India should be incorporated in the curriculum. The curriculum should also include basic health and safety training including sex education, STD prevention and family planning as well as life-skills training like developing resilience, emotional intelligence, prevention of suicide, mental health etc. Under-represented groups may not be a fair term when we are aiming at equal opportunities.
The right thing to do will be to focus from the start on compulsory education and equal opportunities for all. National Testing Agency (NTA) the sole body to conduct all entrance/ competitive exams is encouraging though these exams need to be conducted more than once every year to give students multiple attempts to improve their performance. It is time to initiate the formation of bodies like the Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts (IILA) on the pattern of IITs and IIMs, to provide a four-year Bachelor in Liberal Arts (BLA), Bachelor of Liberal Education (BLE) or BLA with Research. This thought can be taken ahead to discontinue M.Phil, convert PG degrees into graduate courses which implies that graduates can be enrolled for their doctoral course as is done by many universities abroad. We also need to think about having courses ideated by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in India and Indian universities may be allowed to open their campuses overseas. Such inclusions will make the NEP more desirable.”
Talking of finances, the NEP clarifies that the fiscal burden was 6% of the GDP in 1968 and remained the same in 1986. However, in 2017-18 it was 20% of the GDP. Thus it is only logical to look towards doubling public investment to rise upwards from a mere 10% to 20%.For higher education, the Policy sets a target of achieving at least 50% GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) by 2035. Today we are a little above 25%. The higher education system is to be literally turned into a new entity if the aim to create world-class multidisciplinary higher education institutions that are distributed across the country is to be actualized. Vocational education that is today sitting outside in a separate bucket will be integrated and brought under one roof as the aim is for it to be 50% of the total enrolment by 2025 from the present 10%.
According to the 2011 census we have 3.26 crore youth non-literates and 26.5 crore adult non-literates. With these kind of bone-chilling figures, it is only heartening that the NEP 2019 talks about moving towards a liberal approach of which the 4 year undergraduate programs with multiple exit options will be an important part besides the entire thought-cloud about the inter-disciplinary programmes.
As already mentioned earlier, professional education will be integral to the overall higher education system. Sudhir Ahluwalia praises the aim in the new NEP to discourage “the setting up of stand-alone universities for professional education” and the fact that “institutions that offer either professional or general education will organically evolve into institutions offering both seamlessly.” This objective is targeted to be achieved by 2030. The intentions are more than just being fine and no one can ever disparage the inclusion of facts like having a 30:1 student:teacher ratio, professional development of faculty, and even the wave of encouragement to build upon research capabilities.
SDG4 is a worthy goal
Kamal Singh, Executive Director, Global Compact Network India (GCNI)
“Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. NEP 2019 drafts the policy efficiently addressing all the challenges i.e. access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability faced by the current education system. The alignment of NEP 2019 with UN Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG4 is the need of hour as it seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. SDG4 is, therefore, an all-encompassing goal which is applicable to every nation attempting to bring quality of life to its citizens in a sustainable way, without degrading the environment. Without achievement of SDG4 none of the goals of the SDGs can be achieved.
I am hoping that NEP 2019 will accelerate the Achievement of SDGs Target by India.”
Dr. Jitendra K. Das writes that “a wish list with inclusions like the establishment of new institutions, restructuring old ones, use of technology, and boosting vocational education needsa clearer roadmap.”Dr. Raj Singh mentions that “caution may be needed in certain functional areas to remove excessive stifling regulations as has been the practice in the past.”Dr. Irfan A Rizvi opines that “the real test of any policy, including that of NEP 2019, is in its implementation”. Thus we have the intellectuals being appreciative of the features of NEP 2019 but at the same time being a tad worried about implementation and the fact that the road-map needs to be unambiguous and clearly defined. These doubts exist because the past decades have not been excessively kind on education and education-related policy-making.
Dr. Rizvi has also mentioned in his commentary that this“policy requires a renewed focus on this aspect without curbing our secular ethos of religious freedom.” Earlier NEP documents have invariable invoked the secular vision of the country in one way or the other but the 2019 document mentions a number of values and goes on to invoke our “democratic outlook and commitment to liberty and freedom; equality, justice, and fairness; embracing diversity, plurality, and inclusion; humaneness and fraternal spirit; social responsibility and the spirit of service; ethics of integrity and honesty; scientific temper and commitment to rational and public dialogue; peace; social action through constitutional means; unity and integration of the nation, and a true rootedness and pride in India with a forward-looking spirit to continuously improve as a nation”. A word, even when it makes its appearance physically can be absent in spirit… and this document has a myriad other facets that talk about progressive education even as it remains silent on the word secular. However, it will be equally interesting to see if this absence leads to yet another yet hidden interpretation though I am confident that the policy has a lot of good vibes surrounding it.
Market driven and government led
Padma Shri Dr. Pritam Singh, former Director of IIM Lucknow. He also serves as a Member of the Local Board for Northern area of Reserve Bank Of India and holds PhD and Masters degree in Commerce from Benares Hindu University and Masters degree in Business Administration from the Indiana University, USA
The NEP 2019 is a powerful vision document though intentions clearly outrun strategies on implementation. Without a strategy and stable structure it is a paper document that without much value and much pragmatism.
One major issue is that they haven’t talked in detail about the quality of faculty, how to attract the best, and how to attract quality along with accountability. One way of attracting the best be the best is the creation of something like a National Fellowship Fund which isn’t a difficult objective. Look at the CSR spending in the country that is around 50,000 crore in 2018. A mere 5% of this can be diverted into the National Fellowship Fund. Mathematically, a corpus of 2500 crore means taking care of a huge number of fellowships besides other productive activities. Once we have the right kind of students, we will also have research that makes its mark globally
Besides this, the structure and the governance mechanism of the universities needs to be re-examined. Committees need to always remain manageable and relevant. The enrolment figures need to go up faster and more meaningfully and private institutions have helped in this effort. However, providing quality education and just concentrating on making tons of money are two different aspects and accountability is the bridge here. There are cases of some players running engineering courses through distance education. Can you run engineering programs through distance learning?
The physiology of education is market-driven and government led and any policy needs to consider this in every way.
The NEP talks about reducing content curriculum and encouraging critical thinking that in the current flow of things seems rather improbable. We seem to have had a gala time adding more and more flab to our content in the past decades… and I am not talking about heavier school bags here, but about the bulging reading lists even in higher education. In my opinion this has been happening because we have always been fascinated with information instead of being an informed nation. A sudden shift from being an information-obsessed society to being a critical one is never going to be easy. Moreover, giving lip service to critical thinking isn’t ever going to be enough if our leaders and decision-makers are going to be afraid of being questioned, grilled for truth, and are going to come heavily upon dissenting opinions and expressions. We live in times when the borders between fact and fiction is blurred, when technology has given us all access to create and communicate multiple interpretations of anything, and where campaign and propaganda rules our psyches. Thus when the NEP talks about a liberal approach even the powers around us need to avoid stifling new voices and fresh conversations, however uncomfortable they may seem to be.A recent article in THE WIRE dot in points out that “the report’s understanding of critical thinking has less to do with independent thought or free and critical inquiry into received traditions and wisdom and more to do with courses in statistics, data analysis and quantitative methods (page 229).” Only time will tell us if the words in the current NEP are going to encourage our coming generations to question, critique, and remain free to think.
The transition of India to a developed country status
Sudhir Ahluwalia – former Global head of Government consulting in TATA Consultancy Services and former member of the Indian Forest Service. He is also the author of multiple books on herbs and natural products.
“While the policy deserves praise for its comprehensive and integrated approach to education, I have a few concerns. While some of the individual objectives have quantified targets, institutional and regulatory reform objectives which are critical to transforming the education sector do not have a target date for completion. Regulatory reform is the engine of the transformation train and needs to be completed before meaningful progress will be possible in operational areas.
The vision is generic. For a government that has a clearly defined goal of achieving five trillion-dollar status in the next five years and a ten trillion-dollar status soon after, it would have been great if the vision too had a clearly defined and quantified goal. Education and people will drive the move from a developing country to developed country status. A policy vision on education cannot be generic. We know that anything that cannot be measured can also not be monitored.
We have had a poor track record when it comes to social indicators. The nation and its people are suffering under the weight of convoluted rules, over-bearing bureaucracy, long and complex processes. These continue to impede us achieve our aspirations and dreams.
The education sector is crying for transformation. Transformation will require restructuring of business processes. Convoluted processes impede speedy implementation. The education policy chief failing is that it is silent on this critical aspect of transformation.
While the policy does propose the creation of a National Technology Forum, MOOCs and digitization of administration, it is silent on how it will prepare the nation for the 21st century digital world where artificial intelligence, mobile technology and internet will be ubiquitous.
Our citizens have adopted mobile technology like a duck takes to water and the policy makes only a perfunctory mention of this powerful tool. Content streaming will become a household thing with the introduction of 5G and education should leverage its power.
Redrawing the education sector regulatory organization chart as is mentioned in the policy is not enough. The business processes driving regulation require re-engineering and technology needs to be mainstreamed. An effective and professionally executed business process re-engineering will make for efficient and independent monitoring of stated objectives.
Be that is it may, the 2019 education has all the ingredients which will help transform this critical sector. A bit of tweaking here and there should set us up for the massive shift from developing country to developed country status.”
As a final word it will be reasonable to say that a good policy attempts to be an enabler and importantly, a supporter of freedom where accountability has been factored in. The NEP 2019 contains these encouraging signs though a lot depends on the people or sets of people who step in between the formulation of a policy and its actual implementation.
Some thoughts on Draft National Education Policy
Prof. R. K. Shivpuri, Director-International Relations and Professor, Mody University
The Draft National Education Policy (NEP) announced by the Govt. is a bold, thought provoking and a reformist initiative. The timing couldn’t have been better as the whole education system desperately cries for reform. Of particular interest is the establishment of National Education Commission and the Governance of education. These measures are planned to be taken for the first time. Hence, in almost all spheres, NEP is a radical & enlightened policy.
There are some areas which call for serious attention. Firstly, there is a problem of teacher absenteeism as well as of students, particularly in schools in rural areas. This point has not been addressed seriously in NEP. To suggest that the School Management Committee (SMC) will hold schools accountable has not been found to be effective. The SMC’s already exist in Schools and had they been effective then there would not be any need for our concern. The most important point that needs to be addressed is that of accountability of teachers and students. The situation is grim in schools lying in rural areas. The infrastructure in such schools also needs to be strengthened.
The next question is how do we take care of socially disadvantaged students? Normally, The Govt. transfers the money to schools and let the school management disburse funds to such students. To depend upon the school management to do this job would not achieve the desired objective. The best arrangement would be to transfer the money directly to the accounts of such students. There will be no middle men and hence no possibility of pilferage of funds. This policy has been found to be eminently successful by the Modi Govt. in direct benefit transfer to citizens for farm subsidy, LPG subsidy etc.
The other point is knowledge imparted to the students and knowledge gained by the students – how do we ensure that the knowledge and skill gained by the students is of desired level? This has to be uniformly followed by all the schools – public & private.
The draft NEP suggests that there should be a huge increase in the public education expenditure to 20% of the Govt. budget. This is not warranted by the circumstances as there is considerable wastage in expenditure at the current levels. Quoting NEP, 28% of all public primary schools have less than 30 students. As per Unified District Information System For Education (UDISE), Ministry of Human Resource Development, in Feb 2017, the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) at national level for elementary schools is 24:1 and the required level of PTR should be 30:1. Thus there is no shortage of teachers, in fact there is surplus of teachers.
We don’t need more funds but we need accountability.
The NEP is an excellent document for Higher Education Institutions (HEI). There is hardly any area which has been left untouched by NEP. The draft NEP states that “Private higher education institutions will arrange their own funding; however, so long as they publicly disclose their full academic, administrative, and financial details to demonstrate financial probity, and academic and administrative responsibility, they too will move towards full autonomy in order to allow them to strive for excellence”. With regard to private Universities/ Institutions, The Govt. should make provision for funding their infrastructure and research. Such HEIs also contribute to raise the educational level of students, thus contributing to National development. Private HEI’s do not get any funds for infrastructure or Labs. The situation about most private Universities is lack of Infrastructure in the form of classrooms, laboratories etc. As per the University Grants Commission (2019), there are total 907 Universities and 334 are privately managed, which constitute about 37% of the total institutions. Such a large number of private institutions and hence students can’t be left untouched by NEP, if we have to raise the education standards of the country. We need to get all the private HEI’s under the ambit of NEP.
According to Higher Education report by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and Ernst and Young, 99% of MBAs and 80% of engineering graduates in India are unemployable. This is due to lack of correlation between what the students are taught in colleges, and the industry requirements. The situation about the IT sector is equally grim. Out of more than 6 Lakh engineers pumped into our economy each year, only a handful ~ 18.43% (FICCI Report) are ready to be deployed as Software Engineers in the IT service industry. We have created a large number of educational institutions and their number is inversely proportional to the quality of education imparted to the students. The outdated curriculum, inadequate infrastructure and poor quality of faculty make it difficult to equip our students with relevant skills.
Employers have difficulty in finding people with the latest skill sets in emerging technologies. There is a dire need of adequate skill training to our students to become worthy of industry. A mechanism to monitor and suggest ways for improvement of academic standards has to be evolved.
A milestone in the draft NEP is the constitution of a National Research Foundation (NRF). The objective is to grant competitive funding for outstanding research proposals across all disciplines, as determined by peer review and success of proposals. Most importantly, it will aim to seed, grow, and facilitate research at academic institutions where research is currently in a nascent stage, through systems of mentoring by active research scholars, who may have retired or be near retirement at top research institutions.It must be emphasized that private HEI’s at present get negligible amount of grant for research from Govt. as well as from the management of their institutions. Hence, there is hardly any research work going on in these institutions. This is the main reason why there is no private University in the country finding a place among the top Universities of the world. Addressing this issue of emphasis on research will go a long way in significant improvement of the academic standards of private HEI’s.
In general, the faculty to student ratio in private HEI’s is much more than suggested by University Grants Commission. If the faculty spend all their time in teaching, how can they do research? While assessing the private HEI’s, this point about the teaching load of the faculty should be taken into account.