Change in inevitable and adaptability to change makes a society future ready”, said James Peebles while receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics for the year 2019. In the past decades, we have all been privy to changes in labour market needs and education systems. Alongside our changing notions of what constitutes a modern-day classroom, ideas about the way teaching are delivered have also reshaped.
The current pandemic has already swiftly transformed teaching and learning well beyond the classroom. In light of a shift towards a more personalised learning experience, teachers of the future are expected to be data collectors, as well as analysts, planners, collaborators, curriculum experts, synthesizers, problem-solvers and most importantly learners and researchers themselves.
Amidst all the ongoing changes, the change in education policy has arrived after a gap of 34 years.
Higher education to witness major changes:
The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 marks a monumental development in the country’s human resource transformation that aims to disrupt the existing Indian education system with ambitious and generational reforms to meet 21st century skills agenda.
In fact, the document, iterated over the last few years, is an ode to the ideals of public policy, factoring in the voices of every stakeholder – from experts to teachers and the common man.
National Education Policy 2020: Highlights
NEP underlines the principle of creating an enabling framework that helps in doing away with “rote-learning” and facilitates acculturation of an inquiry-based, project-led ecosystem of education that not only enhances the learning outcomes but also helps in rendering a more rounded and holistic development of individuals.
Paradigm shift in conventional practices:
Given the global adaptation of outcome-based education frameworks and an enhanced focus on higher-order learning and professional skills, the NEP promises a paradigm shift in conventional practices of curriculum design, education delivery and assessment.
Redesigning of board exams:
One of the primary focus areas of NEP 2020 is the redesigning of Board exams by testing core capacities and concepts.
Now, all students will have the provision of taking up board exams on up to two occasions during any given school year -one main examination and one for improvement (if desired).
Also, all students in Classes 3, 5 and 8 will be required to mandatorily take exams which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.
Regular and formative assessment system:
NEP 2020 has also proposed a shift from summative assessments to regular and formative assessments, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity.
New structure will promote “assessment for learning” which acknowledges that individual students learn in idiosyncratic ways. These initiatives indicated in the NEP are laudable but require much more scalable systems of teacher empowerment, checks and measures, rubrics and guidelines to create a fit for purpose education system.
Introduction of vocational education:
The proposal to introduce vocational education from grade 6 onwards and creation of a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE) is an extremely significant move that will not only minimise the social stigma associated with taking up a vocation as a career in the minds of students and parents but will also expose them to the various career paths including entrepreneurial ventures.
Let’s hope to see a stronger industry-based apprenticeship programme and a theory-practice continuum among classrooms and worksites.
Education cannot be in watertight compartments anymore. There needs to be diversity because today there are so many opportunities. One of the critical characters of NEP 2020 is flexibility. It is integrated yet flexible.
The dismantling of the rigid distinction between curricular, extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects in school, and the provision of multiple entries and exit options in higher education gives much-needed flexibility to students to hone their skills and interests.
No restriction on students learning process:
The policy leads with major changes that aim to bring about the much-needed relief from the factory model of education that had restrained much of our students’ potential.
First, with an extensive focus on universalising access from early childhood to higher education, integrating over two crore out-of-school children, and concerted efforts directed towards socio-economically disadvantaged groups, the policy ensures last-mile delivery.
Second, through a convergence of efforts and erasing conventional silos in workflows, early childhood care and education will be delivered through a new curriculum as well as a play- and activity-based pedagogy.
Along with a dedicated national mission for foundational literacy and numeracy, NEP 2020 will be significant for bolstering the most critical phases of learning, building a strong foundation for education.
Financial investment in education sector:
However, according to UNDP estimates, the total financial requirement for India to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 by 2030 is USD 2,258 billion, which for the years 2017-2030 averages USD 173 billion per year, far exceeding the current government budget of USD 76.4 billion a year for education.
It would be unrealistic to expect such large investments coming solely from the government and purely philanthropic initiatives. The current regime has always been strong on reforms to leapfrog sectors in the country.
It is time they open up the education sector to private investment that will bring the cost of the education down and help in meeting the diverse needs of the country.
In this 21st century, both developed and developing nations are faced with the demands of a rapidly changing and more globally competitive world due to major forces driving this change in the world of work. After Covid-19 there has to be more thrust on developing ‘Global Citizens’ which drives the growth journey of the country.
NEP 2020 certainly lays down the path of ‘Atmachintan’ and ‘Atmamanthan’ which could lead us to become ‘Atmanirbhar’.
(Authored by Manit Jain, Chairman, FICCI ARISE )