Ambiguities In The New Education Policy

Tuesday, 04 August 2020

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Ambiguities In The New Education Policy

Swapnil Bharali | August 01, 2020 22:47 hrs


The reforms in the education system of the country have finally come in the form of the New Education Policy (NEP) that seeks to overhaul the current education system which, at best, could be termed as inconsistent with the demands of the modern world. 
 



It is a different matter altogether that a lot of experts and experienced academics have cast aspersions on the timing of the announcement by the “newly” formed central Education Ministry (that has replaced the “HRD” ministry) given the current uncertainties prevailing in the nation’s academic scenario because of the COVID pandemic.


Be that as it may, the NEP essentially has two parts – one pertaining to schools leading up to a 4-year degree course (over the previous TDC) and then the higher or university education.


The school makeover seems fine, especially getting students and parents used to three state-level board exams leading up to Grade 12 so as to define and discern the capabilities and interests of students until they reach that definitive stage of choosing a career path at the undergraduate or college level.
 

Further, encouraging multi-disciplinary study and students’ choice of subjects would lead to greater critical thinking and flexibility making education more interesting and the student more employable. 


What, however, remains ambiguous as of now is the locus standi of the state boards - for example, our own SEBA. While the NEP has emphasized on mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, it does not address the position of the state boards which impart education in the mother or regional tongues primarily. Perhaps we need to await the corollaries that are set to come by which all such ambiguities would be removed. And whether the state boards (with their own respective agenda of imparting education on local language, history, etc) will have a role to play in what looks like a “One India One NEP” remains to be seen.


As for the university education, it would be pertinent to catch the response of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) to the NEP which it seeks to term as an act of “bulldozing.” The association’s tough contention rested on the government’s insistence on holding final year university examinations (as desired by the UGC) despite the fact that the current situation is not conducive for the same given poor internet facilities in the country and the large number of students who do not have or have very poor access to the same besides devices, books, and other educational resources. DUTA chose to term the government’s use of the current pandemic to push its agenda of online education in India as “shocking” given that a vast section of the citizens seeks education for the betterment of their lives.


To quote another paragraph from its note would throw further light to the association’s fears: “The DUTA's opposition to the draft NEP rested, among other things, on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies. Each BoG is to enjoy unfettered powers on matters of (1) setting educational goals; (2) academic starting and closing academic programmes (3) determining the number of students to be admitted and a number of teachers to be appointed; (4) students' fees; (5) teachers' qualifications, mode of recruitment, salary structure, promotions, and continuation/termination.”


The NEP may well address a few other apprehensions that have been the norm of every university so far. 


One of them is the university’s freedom to devise its own curriculum under the conditions set by the union education ministry allowing 30% deviation so as to meet the university’s desired local goals and agenda. The other of course is the credit transfer facility which essentially allows a student to transfer to another university between years with the marks credited from the previous university. 


This would require total standardization of course curriculum, teaching methods, etc all over the country. Also, with the 4-year UG course, what will be the status of the Masters’ programmes offered by various universities? The whole thing needs greater clarity than what can be observed or absorbed from the NEP.


The NEP is very welcome to overhaul the moribund education policy hitherto in place but it is best that the creases as indicated above and any other are ironed out through addressing the concerns of various stakeholders to allow this ‘universalization’ of India’s education. 

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