National Education Policy 2020 – Execution challenges

Dr. Hari Krishna Maram
Digital Brand Ambassador & Chairman – Vision Digital India
President – Lead India Foundation

The National Education Policy 2020 is a welcome and ambitious re-imagination of India’s education system into a modern, progressive and equitable one. Successful execution of this policy calls for dramatic simplification of decision-making structures and re-prioritization of budgetary resources in months and years to come.

Given that there are around 350 million Indians today in school-going or college-going age groups, the NEP calls for a large-scale implementation of a magnitude never before attempted anywhere in the world.This presents substantial execution challenges, both quantitative and qualitative.

Summary of New Education Policy 2020

School Education:

  1. It may be pointed out that many of the reforms suggested by the NEP 2020 are currently being followed in the private schools offering the CBCS pattern or the IB Board pattern or such programs.
  2. The introduction of 5+3+3+4 grades is a welcome move and is on par with those available in the developed countries.
  3. The mode of instruction in the lower classes/grades is a very good recommendation.
  4. The real issue is availability of quality and talented teachers. Most of these talented teachers are absorbed by the corporate world and are not therefore available to schools. Again, the introduction of 50 hours of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a welcome move.

Higher Education:

  1. All HEIs shall develop as multidisciplinary institutions and be classified as Research Institutions, Teaching Institutions or Autonomous Colleges.
  2. All Universities shall be now known only as “University”.
  3. All Universities shall have a 3- or 4- year undergraduate program.  The 3- year program will lead to a degree and a 4- year program could lead to “with research” degree.
  4. Transfer of credits could now be possible through the creation of an Academic Bank of Credits.
  5. Private HEIs will have to give scholarships ranging from 100% to 25% to at least 50% of the students.
  6. This will automatically increase the fee structure of the students.

7. Teachers salary will have to be increased substantially. Teacher student ration shall be          between 1:10 to 1:20.

  1. All teachers must undergo Continuous Professional Development programs.
  2. All multidisciplinary institutions shall conduct 4-year B. Ed program leading to Ph.D.
  3. All Ph.D. students will be required to take credit-based courses in teaching / education/ pedagogy related to their chosen Ph.D. subject.
  4. All Ph.D. students will have to undertake minimum number of hours of actual teaching.
  5. All allopathic students must have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush) and vice versa.
  6. For each HEI there shall be a Board of Governors (BOG) consisting of highly qualified competent and dedicated personnel
  7. There shall be one regulatory body for the entire higher educational sector viz. National Higher Educational Regulatory Authority (NHERA).
  8. The Government of India is expected to budget around 6% of the GDP to take care of the needs of the education sector.

Overall, the National Education Policy 2020 is laudable and is much awaited. It takes care of many of the ills of the current education system. The only challenge I see is in the implementation and specifically two areas 1. Merger of all the statutory bodies into one body (NHERA) and allocation of budgetary fund of 6% of the GDP.

Salient Features of the New Education Policy 2020

Preamble

The new education policy 2020 is a long and much awaited document on the education system in India. It is well documented and is far reaching in its approach. The policy comprises of 60 pages.

The policy has been divided into the following sections:

  1. School Education
  2. Higher Education
  3. Other Key areas of focus and
  4. Implementation /Make it happen.

School Education

The aim of the policy is to provide equitable access to all irrespective of the socio – economic background.

School education should include not only hard skills but also soft skills including cultural awareness, empathy, perseverance and grit, team work, leadership, communication etc. The policy is based on the principle that school education should be flexible, no hard separation between arts and science and should be multidisciplinary in nature. It should be holistic in nature. Conceptual thinking is a must along with creativity and critical thinking and knowledge of ethical behavior, human and constitution values. The education system accepts that teachers and faculties are the core to the learning process.

Pre-Primary School

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is dependent on the 1. Standalone Aganwadis. 2. Aganwadis attached to primary schools 3. Pre primary schools / sections attached to primary and secondary schools covering at least children up to the age of 5 / 6 years and 4. Standalone preschools.

Many of these pre-primary schools need to be strengthened with good infrastructure. Faculty should be at least 10 + 2 qualified.

Preparatory Classes

This is newly introduced i.e. class before Class 1. The learning would be more fun or play based with a focus on developing cognitive, affective and psychomotor abilities.  Mid-day meals etc. should be continued in this class also.

Primary and Secondary Schools

The GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) has been dropping significantly as one goes to the higher class. This needs to be curtailed. Three initiatives need to be taken to stop this fall in GER:

  1. Upgrade or Provide good quality infrastructure and making the school safe and
  2. Provide conveyances / hostels etc. especially for the girl students and
  3. Use of Alternative and Innovative techniques to ensure that dropouts are reduced.

The school education will be restructured by a 5+3+3+4 structure where in

  1. Foundational (Class 3 years + Grade or Class 1 and 2)
  2. Preparatory (Class 3 to 5)
  3. Middle School (Class 6 to 8)
  4. High School (Class 9 to 10) and Class 11 and 12

The student can exit school after Class 10. The classes would follow a semester system. Arts and Sports would be taught on alternate days. Up to Grade 5 the medium of instruction will be the mother tongue / home language. From Grade 6 to 8 additionally one could also use the local language as the medium of instruction. From Grade 6 to 8 students would participate in a fun project – “LANGUAGES OF INDIA”. Sanskrit will also be offered at all levels of school.

Curricular Integration of essential subjects and skills

Students will be given a choice of subjects, however certain subjects and skills have to be learned by all students. Thus, in addition to language subjects, students should develop skills which would help in the holistic development, constitutional values, ethics etc.

Students who are gifted and with special talents would be identified and developed. Topic centered and project-based clubs will have to be initiated in all schools, such clubs could be mathematics club, science club, music club, poetry clubs etc. Olympiads and competitions shall be encouraged at the national and international level.

All class-rooms shall be developed as smart phones and once internet and smart phones are available to all quizzes, competition, assessments enrichment materials and other online material would be available to the students.

Teachers

Teachers will be B.Ed. qualified – 4-year program. Transfers will be halted except for promotion and or leadership positions. All Teachers need to clear the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET).

Teachers will be involved in the governance of school/school complexes including as members school management committees etc. They will not be involved in non-teaching activities like cooking mid day meals or electioneering work etc.

Teachers should take part in Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programs of a duration of 50 hours per year.

Professional Standards for Teachers

A common guiding principle shall be prepared by 2022 by the National Council for Teacher Education.

All universities / colleges will offer B.Ed. / M.Ed. / Ph.D.  programs in Education.

Accreditation System

A common system of accreditation will be developed and followed for all private and public schools.

National Health check up

A sample based National Achievement Survey (NAS) of student learning at all levels shall be periodically carried out by the National Assessment Centre for School Education in association with government bodies.

Higher Education

All Higher Education Institutions (HEI) shall be strive to become large multidisciplinary universities and HEI clusters. Over a period of time all HEIs will be classified into 1. Research Intensive Universities 2. Teaching Universities and 3. Autonomous Degree granting colleges.  The Autonomous degree granting colleges may or may not be a part of a university.

All type of institutions will have the option to run Open Distance Learning (ODL) provided these institutions are accredited to do so.The present nomenclature of HEIs e.g. deemed to be university, affiliating university etc. shall be replaced by UNIVERSITY.Holistic development of students which includes soft skills, communication, discussion and debate etc. will be the hall mark in all undergraduate programs including those in professional technical and vocational disciplines. Lessons in community service programs will also be considered as part of holistic development.

The undergraduate program will be either a 3- or 4-year program with multiple exit points. Thus, a student can get a diploma (after 1 year), advanced diploma (after 2 years), a degree (after 3 years). A 4-year degree with multi discipline including ‘with research’ would however be preferred. There would a creation of an Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) for digitally storing credits from recognized HEIs.

HEIs can design their own Master degree program (2 years) including the last year being fully devoted to research. Students with 4-year Bachelors program will have only one year of Masters program. Also, there could be an integrated Bachelor / Masters program (5 years). The minimum qualification for a PhD. Program would be a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with research program or a Master’s degree program. Additionally, gifted students shall complete their program in a fast track mode. All HEIs shall have topic centered clubs and activities dedicated to science, mathematics, language poetry music, sports etc.

High performing universities shall be permitted to start campuses outside India and also Top 100 universities in the world shall be allowed to start campuses in India.

Private HEIs will offer scholarship from 100% to 25% for at least half of the students.

Teacher compensation shall be increased substantially. The teacher student shall range from 1:10 to 1:20. Faculty excellence will be incentivized through appropriate rewards, promotions recognitions and movement into institutional leadership positions. Meanwhile faculty who do not deliver on basic norms will be held to account.

All teachers must undergo Continuous Professional Development programs. For this purpose, technology platforms like SWAYAM / DIKSHA could be used.

Transparent processes need to be developed for faculty recruitment, training etc. Suitable probation period will be put in place to improve productivity. Teachers with exceptional qualities will be trained to take up leadership position.

All HEIs must make plans to increase participation of students from all sections of the society by:

  1. Mitigate opportunity costs and fees for pursuing higher education
  2. Make admission processes more flexible
  3. Make curriculum more inclusive
  4. Increase employment potential by developing holistically
  5. Develop more degrees in Indian languages
  6. Make all buildings and facilities wheel chair and disable friendly.
  7. Develop bridge course for students of disadvantaged students
  8. Provide mentors and counsellors to student

All multidisciplinary institutions shall conduct 4-year B. Ed program leading to Ph.D. Faculty in the department of Education shall be Ph.D.’s and / or teachers with outstanding teaching experience.

All Ph.D. students will be required to take credit-based courses in teaching / education/ pedagogy related to their chosen Ph.D. subject. All Ph.D. students will have to undertake minimum number of hours of actual teaching.

Restructuring of certain courses e.g. vocational courses, agricultural courses, legal courses shall be encouraged.

All MBBS students must possess Medical skills, Diagnostic skills, Surgical skills and Emergency skills. All allopathic students must have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush) and vice versa.

Technical education shall call for closer collaboration with industry and institution to drive research and innovation. Cutting edge education for e.g. AI, data analytics, 3 D machining, machine learning process, genomics, nanotechnology, neuroscience etc. must be woven into the undergraduate programs.

For each HEI there shall be a Board of Governors (BOG) consisting of highly qualified competent and dedicated personnel. The BOG shall be responsible and accountable for the outcomes of the stake holders of the HEI. The members should demonstrate strong alignment to constitutional values.

There shall be one strong regulatory body for the entire higher educational sector viz. National Higher Educational Regulatory Authority (NHERA).

Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC) will be created to take care of funding and financing of HEI.

Adult education, Promotion of Indian Languages, Arts and Cultures needs to be also encouraged. HEIs shall have to create strong departments with adequate expertise and design programs in Indian language, creative writing, translation and interpretation, web design graphic design etc.

The Government of India is expected to budget around 6% of the GDP to take care of the needs of the education sector.

Statutory bodies will be created to take care of the implementation.

Here are 5 major challenges in the implantation of NEP 2020:

  1. Adding 1000 + More Universities in next 10 years is a herculean task

India today has around 1,000 universities across the country. Doubling the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education by 2035 which is one of the stated goals of the policy will mean that we must open one new university every week, for the next 15 years.

Opening one University every week on an ongoing basis is an undoubtedly massive challenge.The Government should allow Digital and Online skills. Universitiesto focus on more Digital Skills.

  1. The numbers are no less daunting in reforms to our school system

The National Education Policy 2020 intends to bring 2 crore children who are currently not in schools, back into the school system. Whichever way you look at it, accomplishing this over 15 years requires the setting up of around 50 schools every week.

This certainly requires a substantial amount of investment in classrooms and campuses.We need to add 250-300 teachers every week.

Given that many teaching positions are going unfilled even in existing schools, this becomes a particularly interesting challenge.

  1. Current focus on healthcare and economic recovery to lower the execution speed

    Economists have been calling for large stimulus packages amounting to double-digit percentages of GDP, despite the strain on the exchequer.

While the National Education Policy is a 20-year journey, one worries that we may be off to a stumbling start over the next 2-3 years, when government and budgetary priorities are claimed by the more urgent but equally important needs of healthcare and economic recovery.

4. Need to create a large pool of trained teachers

In school education, the policy envisages a sweeping structural re-design of the curriculum a very welcome step.

But in order to deliver this curriculum effectively, we need teachers who are trained in and understand the pedagogical needs.

Many of the curricular changes require substantial mindset shifts on the part of teachers, as well as parents.

5.Inter-disciplinary higher education demands for a cultural shift

In higher education, the National Education Policy 2020’s focus on inter-disciplinary learning is a very welcome step. Universities, especially in India, have for decades been very silo-ed and departmentalized.

This culture of disciplinary mooring runs very deep among scholars and professors alike, with few exceptions.

For the entire higher education system to be composed of “exceptions” professors who are curious about, respect and lean in to other disciplines while being experts in their own is no easy task. This requires a cultural shift in the entire higher education ecosystem, over the next 15-20 years.

In summary, the National Education Policy 2020 is in many ways just what India needs, as it blossoms into the world’s largest workforce in coming years.
To realize the dreams it contains, we must overcome substantial execution challenges in a sustained manner for years and decades to come.

 

 

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