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NEP- Research, Innovation and Indian Knowledge Systems in Higher Education – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • September 30, 2020
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NEP- Research, Innovation and Indian Knowledge Systems in Higher Education

Search 19th Sep, 2020 Spotlight News Analysis here: http://www.newsonair.com/Main_Audio_Bulletins_Search.aspx

Topic: General Studies 2, 3:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

In News: The Government of India has brought 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.

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.

Key Takeaways from NEP 2020

1. School Education:

  • Universalization of education from preschool to secondary level: The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, will be extended to cover children between 3 and 18 years
  • Structure: The current 10+2 system will be divided into 5 (3 to 8 years) +3 (8to 11 years) + 3 (11 to 14 years) + 4 (14 to 18 years) format.
  • Co-curriculum and vocational subjects like sports, arts, commerce, science will be treated at the same level.
  • Computer Skills: Students will be allowed to take up coding from class 6 onward.
  • Vocational Education to start from Class 6 with Internships.
  • Additional Meal: Provision of an energy-filled breakfast, in addition to the nutritious mid-day meal, to help children achieve better learning outcomes.
  • Regular Exams: To track progress, all students will take school examinations in grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.
  • Class 10 and 12 board examinations to be made easier, to test core competencies rather than memorised facts, with all students allowed to take the exam twice
  • Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials, and will make space for critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-based, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning
  • Teacher Capabilities: A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021, will be formulated by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with NCERT

2. Medium of Instruction:

  • The policy says that wherever possible, the medium of instruction in schools until at least Class 5, but preferably until Class 8 and beyond, will be the home language or mother tongue or regional language
  • The three languages learned by children will be the choices of states, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India

3. Higher Education

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50% by 2035 (presently it is at 26.3%)
  • Flexibility in Higher Education: NEP 2020 proposes a multi-disciplinary higher education framework with portable credits, and multiple exits with certificates, diplomas and degrees
  • The common entrance exam for all higher education institutes to be held by NTA. The exam will be optional and not mandatory
  • Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education
  • M.Phil courses will be discontinued and all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level will now be interdisciplinary.

4. Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)

  • It will be set up as a single umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
  • It will be a single, lean body with four verticals for standards-setting, funding, accreditation and regulation so as to provide “light but tight” oversight
  • Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

5. Technology & Foreign Institutes

  • An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
  • National Assessment Centre- ‘PARAKH’ has been created to assess the students.
  • It also paves the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

What are the merits of new NEP 2020?

  • Comprehensive: NEP seeks to address the entire gamut of education from preschool to doctoral studies, and from professional degrees to vocational training.
  • Early Childhood Education: In adopting a 5+3+3+4 model for school education starting at age 3, NEP recognises the primacy of the formative years from ages 3 to 8 in shaping the child’s future
  • Easy on Regulations: NEP 2020 makes a bold prescription to free our schools, colleges and universities from periodic “inspections” and place them on the path of self-assessment and voluntary declaration
  • Holistic: The policy, inter alia, aims to eliminate problems of pedagogy, structural inequities, access asymmetries and rampant commercialisation.
  • Promote Inclusion: The Policy proposes creation of ‘inclusion funds’ to help socially and educationally disadvantaged children pursue education

What are the Challenges ahead w.r.t implementing NEP 2020?

  • Cooperation from States:
    • Any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the States, and the Centre has the giant task of building a consensus on the many ambitious plans
    • The idea of a National Higher Education Regulatory Council as an apex control organisation is bound to be resented by States
  • Inadequate check on donations: Fee regulations exist in some States even now, but the regulatory process is unable to rein in profiteering in the form of unaccounted donations.
  • Funding: Progress on these crucially depends on the will to spend the promised 6% of GDP as public expenditure on education.
  • Translating policy into action on the ground at scale
    • This is challenging because most of the policy suggestions are not new – several state governments have been trying hard to implement such reforms
    • However, the lack of consistent political will and the slow pace of adopting emerging technologies have stymied these efforts.
  • Parents are not involved
    • Parents, from less-privileged backgrounds find it difficult to understand the value of the current reforms such as curriculum overhaul, teacher-training or activity-based learning in schools
    • Parents are only mentioned 25 times, as compared to 221 mentions for teachers
  • Poor Perception of Public Schools due to technological backwardness
    • Private schools take huge pains to attract their most critical constituency — parents — through fancy brochures or computer labs.
    • Public educators tend to be poor publicists.
    • As a result, the public-school system has lost the perception battle to the private system.
  • Lack of Political Incentives & Visibility
    • There is opaqueness of progress of Child’s learning levels and lack of value realisation by the constituents (Parents)
    • This is why politicians across the spectrum have, in turn, not paid attention to education, as compared to other sectors such as infrastructure and skills training.
    • As a result, Education reform attempts come and go, based on the whims and fancies of officials and their unpredictable tenures.

What is the Criticism of NEP 2020 with regards to Language?

  • As opposed to the previous policy, the current draft suggests the introduction of languages at the primary level itself. This is criticized on the ground that it will be Cognitive burden on young children to learn languages
  • Back Door Entry for Hindi: Tamil Nadu which is having two language policy in State opposes the continuation of Three Language Policy as they fear this would eventually pave the way for Hindi to enter the State through the back door.
  • Scarcity of Teachers of non-Hindi Languages: Several linguistic activists and educationists observed that the move would eventually end up in students being forced to learn Hindi because of scarcity of teachers in other languages
  • Discrimination in Funds: The Centre has allotted 50 crore for development of Hindi, while no such funds are given to other languages.

Is the Criticism valid?

  • Out of necessity, many in the Tamil Nadu State have picked up conversational Hindi to engage with the migrant population that feeds the labour needs of society. Teaching the same in schools is thus not a threat to native language
  • There is this counter-argument that Tamil Nadu is depriving students of an opportunity to learn Hindi, touted as a national link language. 
  • Unlike the National Education policy-1968 which mandated teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking States, the latest NEP does not explicitly mention the ‘third’ language shall be Hindi.
  • This means, apart from Tamil and English, students must learn any one of Indian languages.  

The Way Forward

  • Regular Interactions with Parents: Models should be designed to include teachers as key facilitators for parent interactions. This increases community respect for teachers and also makes parents as stakeholders in Child’s educational progress
  • Leveraging technology: Tech- and media-enabled models of leveraging government infrastructure to build parental aspiration, information gateways and, social motivation
  • Increase Political Incentive: We need initiatives and technology that achieve both educational and political success, as was the case with the midday meal scheme. The initiatives must create a virtuous cycle of governments pulling parents along and vice versa

 

Do you know?

  • MHRD will now be called Education Ministry
  • This is the first new education policy in 34 years
  • A panel headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan submitted a draft Education Policy in December 2018
  • Education is a concurrent subject
  • Gender Inclusion Fund
    • Centre to set up a ‘Gender Inclusion Fund’ to build the country’s capacity to provide equitable quality education to all girls and transgender students.
    • The fund will be available to States to implement priorities determined by the Central government critical for assisting female and transgender children in gaining access to education (such as the provisions of sanitation and toilets, bicycles, conditional cash transfers, etc)

Connecting the Dots:

  1. What are your views on the recently announced National Education Policy (NEP)? Will it lead towards better scientific temper amongst students? Discuss.
  2. India’s federal nature and diversity demand that no regional language is given supremacy over another. Discuss wrt the NEP 2020.
  3. 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

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