By Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’
Recently, Prime Minister Shri Narinder Modi was in Varanasi in his Parliamentary Constituency where he inaugurated the Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Samagam. Addressing education leaders from various top institutions, the Prime Minister said the New National Education Policy-2020 has been brought after broad deliberations. I have already said on various forums that creation of NEP was supported by the biggest open innovative exercise that ever happened in India’s history. The National Education Policy 2020 has seen elaborate consultations and deliberations with millions of students and their parents, teachers and professors, vice-chancellors and principals. From Gram Pradhan to Prime Minister, from village to Parliament, everyone was consulted while drafting the Policy, something that has been unheard of so far. Therefore, NEP is both national and international. It is inclusive and innovative, impactful and interactive and built on the cornerstone of equity, quality and access. The implementation of NEP will empower students and transform their lives and the future of the country.
Speaking about the objective of NEP-2020, Prime Minister Modi added that it aims to elevate education from the narrow mindsets and link it to modern ideas. The National Education Policy (NEP) aims to link skills and education to the future requirements of the 21st century. The idea is that our Universities colleges should not only prepare degree holders but create leaders with a capability to take the country forward. He said the education system must produce the human resource which India actually needs. PM Modi mentioned that the Education Sector is undergoing an infrastructure overhaul that will make our students future-ready. He added that the NEP has been brought in keeping future requirements in mind. It has seen many initiatives being unrolled to achieve the objectives of access, equity, inclusivity, and quality, as laid down under the policy.
Highlighting importance of technology, the Prime Minister said, “Hybrid system of online and offline learning should be developed to avoid overexposure to technology of school-going children.” In fact Indian education system is much better equipped to meet the current challenges.
One of the remarkable features of NEP -2020 is that the students will be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in secondary school – including subjects in physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills. This will help them design their own paths of study. Holistic development and a wide choice of subjects and courses year to year will be the new distinguishing feature of secondary school education. Academic bank of Credit, focus of technology upgradation, emphasis on value based education, India centered education, educational reforms for inclusive, interactive, international, and delivery of primary education in mother tongue are some of the major steps that has made our policy strategically competitive.
I often remind that India is home to more than 18 percent of world’s population. India has a major role when it comes to achieving our global Sustainable Development Goals. The UN has defined 17 Sustainable Development Goals. I strongly feel that each and every objective is directly or indirectly connected to the education system. Quality Education is one of the prominent goals to be achieved by 2030 and there are a lot of measures taken by NEP to achieve that goal for India. Multi-disciplinary approach, higher percent of GDP for education, value education, understanding the concepts rather than parroting, etc., are some of the examples in NEP to make education qualitative. Economic Boosting can only happen through a high quality and innovative Education Policy. NEP will certainly boost the national economy. The inclusion of vocational and skill education at an early level of schooling, focus on increasing GER, emphasis on innovative research are some of the important features that will boost the national economy through entrepreneurship.
We live in a global village. With recent advancement in science and technology it was essential that we focus on Internationalisation of Higher Education. This is for the first time that internationalisation of higher education is included in the NEP. A global competitive environment in higher education, research collaboration, students’ exchange programme between Indian and foreign universities will make India a global education hub.
With the entire world witnessing information technology revolution Digitalisation of Pedagogy was the need of the hour. Due to the exigency of Covid-19 pandemic and government’s initiative on digital India, importance is now given in NEP for the creation of digital libraries, digital content, digital pedagogy and classrooms and online teaching and learning. This is going to revolutionise the way teaching and learning is to be done in future, as the teachers and students will be equipped and trained in handling the latest technologies. There are many new features in the NEP which have the potential to transform the education system in India. If the NEP 2020 is implemented in true letter and spirit, the dream of India to reclaim the position of Vishwa Guru will certainly be a reality. This new policy was the need of the hour as we needed to guide and skill the world’s largest youngest population so as to make them strategically competitive. The policy envisages quality based, innovative, broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification.
I think it’s for the first time that the policy had focused on critical issues to manage research at all levels – pure, applied, transactional and research, addressed to specific needs of the industry and social objectives. The primary role of the National Research Foundation will be to nurture a vibrant research eco-system through adequate funding, mentoring and support of multidisciplinary research in Arts and Humanities, Social and Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology, including educational technology. Not only will India be the skill capital of the world but will also lead in emerging technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Additive Manufacturing, Neurosciences, e-mobility, etc.
NEP-2020 is a milestone in India’s journey to becoming a knowledge superpower. I often say that if implemented properly we can make India the most attractive destination for foreign students. NEP-2020 has the capability to transform India into a global knowledge powerhouse. The best part is that NEP clearly defines the roadmap for the country to become a global knowledge hub. NEP has focused on teaching life skills, leveraging technology, pursuing cutting edge research and putting teachers at the heart of the education process. While reducing commercialisation of education it ensures equitable access for all, irrespective of social or economic background. It does talk about resource allocation to achieve the goals and, for this reason, NEP has called for a sharp increase in public spending on education.
We are presently at a very crucial juncture. The growth of a knowledge-economy is highly dependent on a robust policy environment. Nations aspiring to be knowledge-based superpowers must ensure a stable political and economic environment in order to facilitate investment and human resources must come in with their capital and other intangible assets. Fortunately, India has a proactive leadership with all the resilience, determination and commitment required to achieve the results.