Mahatama Gandhi and NEP 2020

Dr. Rajesh K. Pillania
Professor of Strategy, MDI, Gurgaon

“What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.”

“Literacy in itself is no education. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning. By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.”

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”

“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.”

The above four quotations from Mahatama Gandhi are relevant even today. Education is a great enabler. It has a key role to play in realizing the aspirations of 1.4 billion population of India. Though we have made some progress as compared to our past, we could easily accelerate progress with the right education.

The New Education Policy 2020 is a lengthy document with various aspects. It introduces changes in school education, college education and higher education. I would like to focus on three changes.

Vocational Education & Internships starting from class 6

The NEP says every child to learn at least one vocation and is exposed to several more such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc., as decided by the States and local communities during Grades 6-8.By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education.

This is a welcome step. As quoted above from Mahatama Gandhi “What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.” Besides providing theoretical knowledge, education should also teach life skills including vocational skills that can be used for making living.

No rigid separations between Science, Arts and Commerce

The NEP will allow students to choose between subjects in Arts, Commerce, and Science programmes. The idea is to have well-rounded development of the students by helping them chose which combination of subjects they wish to opt for.

This is a good step. As quoted above from Mahatama Gandhi “Literacy in itself is no education. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning. By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.” In real life, one needs to know stuff from as diverse fileds as possible for overall developement. As research shows, innovations happen when different disciplines come together.

Top foreign universities will be allowed to set up campuses in India

The NEP says foreign universities in top 100 will be allowed to set campuses in India.

This is a good step. As quoted above from MahatamaGandhi  “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible”.Whereas Indian education has lots of strengths, it can learn from the strengths of foreign universities. A level playing field of competition, should result into overall quality of Indian heigher education.

And as quoted above from Mahatama Gandhi “Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”In this fast changing world, more internationalization of Indian education both by Indian institutions going abroad and foreign institutions coming to India, is a good way to make sure we have best of educational resources and inputs to learn.

One concern though is that I am a die-hard optimist and positive thinker, I need to also play the devil’s advocate to make this article realistic. And that is an issue of  implementation and the inclusion of regular review and update. Policy formulation is not easy but it is the implementation where the real fun begins. For example, we have seen that on paper we have probably the best constitution in the world but it mostly remains on paper due to lack of proper implementation. So my concern is about proper implementation of good ideas in the right spirit. I hope and pray this is how implementation happens.

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