The newly approved National Education Policy (NEP) was applauded by many. It took the government half a decade to develop the policy document.
In December 2014, when Smriti Irani was Minister of Human Resources Development (HRD), the first media reports were published on the new education policy being developed by the government. Since the start of the NEP development process, it has already seen 3 HRD ministers, several secretaries, 2 expert committees and a long consultation process.
The Subramanian TSR Committee developed the first set of recommendations and the K. Kasturirangan Committee developed the second set of recommendations. It is a great loss to the country that TSR Subramanian passed away in 2018 and was unable to attend the final version of the NEP.
The NEP needs to get credit for some of the reforms it recommended, which, if implemented in the true spirit of politics, will have a positive long-term impact. So far all the different roles, such as planning, implementation, monitoring and funding, have been taken on by the Ministry of Education, which in my opinion left enough room for a Internal “rigging”.
The NEP recommended independent and autonomous bodies, in particular for the administration of school-level education, as well as higher education. This would completely change the regulatory architecture of education, open the way for specialization and, at the same time, increase the accountability and transparency of the system.
the Right to education The 2009 law made several entry standards such as infrastructure, teacher skills, class sizes and more mandatory. It shifted the focus of administration related to education from learning outcomes to inputs, with serious consequences for access, cost and quality of education. It has even resulted in the closure of thousands of low cost private schools.
The NEP recommended re-emphasizing learning outcomes with “light but tightregulation. One of the drawbacks of the Indian education system has long been its compartmentalization, with streams such as arts, commerce, and science, with almost no space to move from one stream to another.
The NEP also recommended the spread of multidisciplinary studies, giving students the choice of studying subjects from one track with another. In addition, the multiple entrances and exits to higher education will allow students to plan and complete courses in the way that is most convenient for them. Thus, the rigidity of the education system will to a large extent disappear.
Another missing piece of our public education system was the lack of early childhood education. This gap was filled in private schools with the introduction of kindergarten, but public education began at the age of six, with entry into first class.
Now, according to the NEP, education will begin at age 3, with an additional 3 years of early childhood education by reorganizing the current arrangement of the “10 + 2” system to a “5 + 3 + 3” +4 ”. The NEP also placed emphasis on vocational education during the school years and on research in higher education.
While the NEP has some major advances, it still disappoints in many aspects which, if not addressed, would render the NEP meaningless.
- First, it misses the aspirations of parents, and therefore trends.
Between 2011 and 2018, student registration in public schools fell by 2.4 crore but increased by 2.1 crore in private schools. The trend is simple. Parents’ aspirations for quality education are changing and as a result they are choosing expensive private schools over free public schools. The NEP’s public school-centered approach appears to run counter to the parent’s approach and could be rendered irrelevant.
- Second, the NEP makes the same mistake in designing the policy to keep the teachers at the center instead of the students.
With the lack of skill and motivation coupled with the lack of accountability and performance incentives, the old machine would not be able to produce new goods.
- Third, the NEP was not bold enough to tackle the biggest hypocrisy of the education system: educational institutions should be run by charities and therefore should not make a profit.
It is an open secret that almost all educational institutions make a profit, but sometimes through unfair practices. This basic hypocrisy results in flaws on many levels and taints the sacred work of providing education. The new education policy of the 21st century should have been bold enough to get rid of this basic hypocrisy.
- Fourth, the NEP reflects a complacent attitude, of ‘I know everything and therefore I can fix everything ‘.
The reality is that the world is changing at an unprecedented rate and the future is unpredictable. Life and the nature of work may change dramatically in the decades to come. In such a scenario, the NEP could have focused more on human resource development to face the uncertainty of the future.
The NEP needed to create a system that goes into “autopilot” mode, giving the freedom and space to modify its curriculum, its pedagogy and its technological integration with real world changes rather than keeping the best possible. today. It would be completely disheartening to see the hard work of five years become redundant in 10 years.
To note: Dr Amit Chandra is a passionate promoter of market-based policy solutions with practical experience. The opinions expressed are his own. You can reach the author on Twitter.