- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: Since the introduction of the National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP), Kerala has viewed the policy document with serious disagreements.
- However, two years down the line, the State has begun to warm up to some of the provisions, but with considerable hesitance. The government has hinted that the reforms might be introduced only during the 2023-24 academic year.
- The last NEP was that of 1986 and modified in 1992.
- NEP 2020 is based on the report filed by the committee headed by eminent space scientist Kasturirangan.
What are the key takeaways from NEP 2020?
- School Education:
- NEP 2020 policy envisages 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030
- 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 Educationto 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
- 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
- Higher Education
- Gross Enrolment Ratioin 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
- Philcourses will be discontinued and all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level will now be interdisciplinary.
- 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 collegesis to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- 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 campusesin 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 prompted Kerala’s initial apathy to NEP, 2020??
- Entrusted by the State Government to study the impacts of NEP, 2020, the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) had constituted a committee chaired by noted economist Prabhat Patnaik which concluded that the policy is retrograde and presented an exclusionary vision of education.
- It also raised concerns over the possible challenges that the scheme posed for access, equity, social justice and the reservation system.
- The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) also felt NEP, 2020 sought to align the country’s education policy with the needs of private investment and technocapitalism, while ignoring democratic principles and the federal system.
- Some provisions, including the move to permit multiple entry and exit in academic programmes, were feared to legitimise dropouts.
- The government also claimed the proposed National Research Foundation and the Board of Governance of Higher Education Institutions would “kill the democratic spirit of universities and their autonomy”.
How has the State altered its position?
- When the LDF led returned to power with a thumping mandate in 2021, the government felt an urgent need to overhaul the higher education sector that appeared to have stagnated in contrast to school education in the State which has constantly topped national rankings.
- One of the election promise was transitioning Kerala into a knowledge-based economy and arresting brain drain from the State. This led the government to embark on a series of reforms including relaxing its approach on academic autonomy and privatisation.
- The seeds of change were sown when the Government had, in 2020, constituted a committee to explore the possibility of establishing an ‘Education City’ in Kerala to offer courses in collaboration with foreign universities.
- Notably, the panel included an official of one of the largest private universities in the country.
How has the government’s perception about the policy changed?
- Of late, the government has begun to feel an urge to address the systemic rigidity that hindered multidisciplinary research and inter-university collaborations.
- Besides, there has been a growing clamour to liberate universities from the clutches of political machinations and free colleges from the overbearing influence of universities.
- A section of the academic community also called for relieving universities of their affiliation management activities and enabling them to focus on research.
- In order to address such lacunae, the LDF Government has constituted three commissions to reform the higher education sector, the examination system and the statutory laws that govern universities.
What hinders its implementation?
- Despite having adopted a pragmatic stance towards NEP, 2020, the government is yet to frame guidelines on implementing its provisions in the State.
- It hoped to customise the reforms to suit its ideals of affirmative action and social justice.
- Various logistical issues such as creating new posts that would burden the State exchequer amid the fiscal crunch have also hindered the implementation.
What lies ahead?
- While the Union Government has maintained that the NEP, 2020 is advisory in nature, many educationists feel that the State would do well to be mindful of the carrot-and-stick approach of the University Grants Commission.
- The universities could be arm-twisted into implementing the provisions to avail themselves of various benefits in the future.
Mains Practice Question – If implemented in its true vision, the new National Education Policy can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world. Critically Analyse.
Note: Write answers to this question in the comment section.
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