Salient features of New National Education Policy
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
In News: The Government of India is bringing out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research.
The main thrust of the draft policy is on breaking the “rigid boundaries of disciplines” in higher education and moving towards broad-based, flexible learning. Institutions offering single streams (such as technical education) must be phased out, and all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2030, the report proposes.
Committee: By former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan.
Why: The great demographic dividend of India can easily turn into a curse if over the next decade the education system is not overhauled completely to transform from input-based system to outcome driven education model that boosts critical thinking and not rote learning.
What ails school education?
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by the NGO, Pratham, and the NCERT’s National Achievement Survey have shown that —
- There is a decline in learning levels from lower to higher grades, even as the country has been inching closer to achieving the Right to Education Act’s objective of universal enrollment for six to 14-year olds.
- More than 25 per cent of the youth in the age group of 14 to 18 can’t even read a basic text fluently — though more than 90 per cent of them were in school.
Issues related to Teachers
- As per a report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), about 74 countries face grave shortage of teachers, with India being second on the list.
- ASSOCHAM found that the dearth of school teachers is a problem that is pervasive at all levels of government schools in India, with 50 per cent vacancies in schools across India beside 30,000 vacancies for teachers in Haryana alone where more than 800 schools are being run without principals.
- Among 36 States and Union Territories, Jharkhand has the most acute secondary school teacher shortage at 70 per cent. Half of all secondary school teacher posts in Uttar Pradesh are vacant, as are a third in Bihar and Gujarat.
The idea that lifelong education is based on four pillars — learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be — has inspired the committee to cover every aspect of the education sector: school, higher, vocational and adult education.
- Early childhood education:
- In school education, the idea is to cover children of 3-18 years [instead of the present 6-14 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act], three years under early childhood care and education (ECCE) and four years under secondary education.
- Restructuring the 10+2 education structure into a 5+3+3+4 structure so that the five years from age’s three to seven or till the end of Std 2 are seen as one “foundational stage”.
- The next two stages, of three years each, are “preparatory” and “upper primary”, first ensure the acquisition of foundational skills and then their development. These stages are not only consistent with the development of children, but they are also useful to meet the overall goal of ensuring basic learning outcomes stage-by-stage.
- Higher education: The aim is to double the Gross Enrolment Ratio from 25% to 50% by 2035 and make universities the hubs of research.
- Tier I universities/institutions devoted primarily to research and some teaching.
- Tier 2 universities devoted to teaching and some research,.
- Tier 3 institutions comprising mainly colleges that are to be converted gradually into degree-giving autonomous institutions.
- Achieve ‘universal foundational literacy and numeracy’ through initiatives like the National Tutors Programme and the Remedial Instructional Aides Programme.
- Introduction of school complexes, a system of modular Board Examinations to allow flexibility, setting up Special Education Zones in disadvantaged regions, recognising teachers at the heart of the system, moving teacher education into the university system, and stressing the importance of learning new languages are among the key recommendations.
- The policy recommends community and volunteer participation in collaboration with schools to overcome the current crisis. Schools generally work in isolation from the community they serve.
- The policy recognises the crucial importance of liberal arts(it recommends setting up five Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts offering four-year courses) and the study of modern and classical languages (it recommends setting up National Institutions for Pali, Prakrit and Persian). Reintroduction of the four-year undergraduate programme in Liberal Arts Science Education (LASE) with multiple exit options, and scrapping of the MPhil programme. The LASE curriculum will be designed to develop broadly “useful capacities” (critical thinking, communication skills, scientific temper, social responsibilities etc), while offering rigorous education in specialisations (called majors or dual majors) across disciplines.
- It proposes separate institutions for regulation, funding, standard setting and accreditation, a National Research Foundation, and a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog/ National Education Commission.
- Vocational education, meant for 50% of the students, is sought to be integrated with school and higher education.
- Technology in Education
- Training of teachers in the use of educational technology, and use of educational technology for professional development of teachers
- Classroom tools and curriculum, such as “computational training”, online course software etc.
- Access for those disadvantaged students who cannot attend a physical school.
- Overall educational records management with a National Repository of Educational Data.
Challenges in implementation:
- Doubling of public funding to 6% of the GDP and increasing overall public expenditure on education to 20% from the current 10%. This is desirable but does not appear to be feasible in the near future given that most of the additional funding has to come from the States. Though innovative financing schemes have been proposed, involving the private sector, how those schemes will shape up remains to be seen.
- Expanding coverage under the RTE Act is extremely important, but should be introduced gradually, keeping in mind the quality of infrastructure and teacher vacancies.
- The idea of regulation being brought under the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, standard setting under the General Education Council and funding under the Higher Education Grants Council may require a revisit so that there is synchronisation with the current Bill for the Higher Education Commission of India.
- Language issues have to be handled sensitively in view of their emotional overtones, as witnessed recently.
There is an addendum to the policy called “Make it Happen”. It outlines the issue of financing in detail. In short, the projection is that the expenditure of the government on education, which is at 10 per cent of all public expenditure today, will need to be doubled. The “learning crisis” is very deep. The education system — public and private — has been deteriorating rapidly and has affected the quality of our human resources. If this trend is not reversed, the dysfunctional system will become more and more expensive but will not deliver the goods. It will require a huge commitment and conviction to make it happen.
Mindmap: Right to Education
Connecting the Dots:
- Low standards in education, lack of requisite skills and unemployment form a vicious cycle which is detrimental to India’s demographic dividend. Comment.
- Discuss unique features of the draft National Education Policy, 2019. Also comment on the challenges in implementation of suggested recommendations.
- Education is termed as the growth engine for any country in this century. Examine if India’s potential demographic divided is ready for the challenge
- Education and skills are complementary to each other. However, institutional set up is required to give them fillip and sustain their growth. Analyse.