NEP was perhaps the most awaited reform for India. Since the announcement, the policy has gained wide acceptance and appreciation from different stakeholders of the population. The policy is indeed a positive step towards systemic changes that were needed in our educational setup. Students and teachers are the primary stakeholders in any educational system. Fortunately, the policy has kept both these stakeholders at the center.
In school education, students will get several benefits. The amended pattern of examinations will ease off the pressure. The curriculum will now provide a wider choice of subjects thereby breaking away the boundaries between ‘arts’, ‘sciences’, ‘commerce’ etc. Therefore, future generations are likely to be more holistic in their thinking. The entrance exams are being combined to create a common admission test so that students do not have to prepare for multiple exams. It will also reduce or eliminate the need for coaching.
Similarly, in higher education, the curriculum will become much more interdisciplinary. The structure will also change so that all institutions become multi-disciplinary. The idea of an academic bank of credits is quite path-breaking because it will give students an extremely large amount of flexibility to design their education as per individual interests and aspirations. So a student could be studying a combination of design, technology, and business from three different institutes of preference. The addition of vocational education at the school level, as well as higher education levels, will increase the employability of students as well as make their curriculum more relevant for practical applications.
The emphasis on teachers and teacher training is notable in the policy. From changing the redundant system of teacher education to creating a robust performance-based appraisal mechanism, we have significant reforms. Sharing of good teachers and special talent teachers across schools in a ‘school cluster’ will fulfill the demand especially in smaller schools, that cannot afford all teachers on a full-time basis.
The proposed regulatory system is a welcome move for educational institutions. The shift from ‘approvals’ to ‘accreditation’ will encourage institutions to improve their quality. Having common regulatory authorities and independent governing boards for institutions will hopefully take away corrupt practices and political interference in the running of educational institutions. It is encouraging to note that private and public institutions will be treated at par.
The initiative on adult education is well thought-off given India’s demographics. Training our vast and adult population on basic skills such as financial literacy, foundational literacy, digital literacy, and healthcare awareness will create efficient linkages of our workforce with the growing economy. India’s objectives of becoming a manufacturing hub and economic power will not just require a trained younger human resource but the upskilling of millions in the adult workforce.
Technology is being integrated into all aspects of education, whether it is curriculum, delivery, research, teacher training, and so on. Digital learning has become not just acceptable but also preferred in certain domains. The ministry had announced the provision of online degrees a few months back. That provision along with the structures proposed in the NEP will encourage lifelong learning and continuous upskilling of our people.
The National Education Policy has the potential to put India on a longterm growth trajectory. It depends on how well the policy is implemented.
First published in Business World.