FPJ Anniversary 2022: National Education Progam in Maharashtra has to achieve five important challenges

Third challenge is the governance of HEIs. Autonomy of universities will lead to adoption of best practices but also generate next practices for governance. The fourth important challenge to be addressed is technology convergence.

Dr Rajan WelukarUpdated: Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 10:49 PM IST
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The new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) is an important step towards transforming the entire education system across India. With respect to Maharashtra, NEP has to achieve five important challenges.

The primary goal is transformation from ‘right to education’ to ‘right education’ for all. That means quality education for all sections of the society. The education and skills imparted should help achieve livelihood that is affordable and accessible.

The secondary aspect of the policy is — pursuit of excellence. In any
society or a country teaching and research are two fulcrums, which run the educational system. The quality of education determines the welfare of the people and the economic output of a country. The most important
aspect is that teaching without research is meaningless. Therefore, excellence in teaching, research, and connectivity towards achieving innovation are the secondary challenge for the Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

Third challenge is the governance of HEIs. Autonomy of universities will lead to adoption of best practices but also generate next practices for governance. The fourth important challenge to be addressed is technology convergence.

Information technology, Biotechnology, Materials technology, and cognitive technology convergence (Bits, Atoms, Neurons and Genes) are
augmenting human life. Currently, Industry 4.5 is transforming the way
human beings have adapted to virtual life through Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning.

Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of digitisation across the world. Therefore, it is imperative that the education system provides the flexibility to adopt new technologies to deliver quality education and at the same time generate new products and services to realise the goals of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

The most important task ahead for Maharashtra is to consistently push the autonomous HEIs to be places that generate new inventions, discoveries, innovations. This focus should be addressed holistically that includes quality research in Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics and Arts through interdisciplinary, trans- disciplinary, cross-disciplinary and
multidisciplinary research. It should also focus on solving indigenous and localised problems by utilising current technology towards sustainable living standards for all.

Implementation of the NEP 2020 will lay the foundation for the new self-sustainable Maharashtra and India for all while addressing these challenges. The major changes that will start yielding conducive results in short and long terms are more multidisciplinary universities,
new curriculum framework and pedagogy, innovative assessment and evaluation methods, integrated teacher education programs, digital education, and quality governance via uniform legislations and digitisation of HEI operations, integrating vocational, skill, professional
education and research.

Promoting Marathi as a medium of instruction in higher education and integration of local arts and culture, streamlining financial structure of HEIs and state level financial planning is an imperative step.

Currently, the Gross Ennoblement Ratio (GER) of Maharashtra is 37.3, which is way above the national average but still low for modern
society. A GER of 50 can be achieved by creating more small sized multidisciplinary universities. The state has large public universities with many affiliated colleges.

The colleges that ranked high and accredited through various agencies like NAAC and NBA can be either given autonomy or converted to universities there by giving more access for enrolment.

Another important aspect of this expansion is the affordability. Streamlined public funded state universities can concentrate cutting-edge frontier research which is socially and scientifically relevant. De-affiliated colleges are to be converted to smaller universities. Small and medium sized universities are easy to be evaluated and accredited.

Another important aspect of NEP 2020 is to improve the quality of education through well trained teachers and professors. Students from different sections of the society of Maharashtra have been consistently moving abroad for education. Internationalisation of state universities through attractive funding scheme is need of the hour. At the same time by providing incentives to top 100 universities of the world, their campus can be setup within the state of Maharashtra.

As per the NEP2020 four-year undergraduate programs with multiple entry and exit levels would enable portability of students, thereby providing flexibility for the students. Proving a bank of credits as per the student choice will allow building progressive scientific thinking in choosing and framing customised curriculum as per the student’s interest. This will enable holistic education for the student which is generally called choice-based credit system.

The postgraduate programs are to be research focused with applied intelligence rather than being theoretical in nature. The doctoral and post-doctoral programs are to be supported with funds to increase the research pool of the state of Maharashtra.

Training the teachers for the higher education systems is mandatory. Teachers in higher education systems are to be incentivised to attract the best talent in the state. A major hurdle has been the pay scale in the private sector. This will be regularised to the public university standards. State Nodal Agency for Higher Education Institutes’ for Teacher Education is to be established.

Using the digitisation process, the quality of teachers, inclusivity and in-service training programs are to be integrated. The state has to introduce a common legislative act for all the HEIs. This is to be complemented by digitising complete operations of both private and public universities.

The only way to increase the GER in the state is through open and distance learning (ODL) mode. This is to be enhanced with state level digital universities that can offer blended learning there by integrating vocational, skill and professional curriculum in all types of courses.

(Dr Rajan Welukar is former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mumbai)

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