Bengaluru: Karnataka has become the country's first state to implement the National Education Policy at the higher level, despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic and infrastructure gaps. The government has now announced that the NEP will be implemented at the pre-school level as well by the next academic year.
While universities, professional courses, and the higher education sector are already in the process of transformation in the face of Covid's challenges, educationists have expressed concerns about the state's implementation of NEP. Despite the challenges, the higher education ministry maintains that the policy must be implemented in the interests of the student community. It claims that in an age when everything is changing so quickly, the traditional education system will severely limit students' abilities. The state has set a goal of fully implementing the NEP over the next ten years.
"With the aim to move India towards an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', this year the focus was on rolling out the NEP and its elements across schools. We are excited that Karnataka is the first state to implement NEP. The New Education Policy has many steps in the positive direction and is expected to transform the Indian education system," said K. V. S. Seshasai, CEO of the Pre-K Division of EuroKids International and Kangaroo Kids.
Speaking to IANS, Higher Education Minister C. Ashwath Narayan said education is the solution to all problems that exist in the society. When everything around you is changing rapidly, you can't simply rely on an age-old education method. The NEP has been formulated keeping all these things in mind.
He explained that when the draft of the NEP came, its implementation was planned. There is sufficient time of 20 years to implement the NEP and it takes time for total implementation. "We have a target of implementing NEP within 10 years," he said.
"There is going to be a huge difference among the student fraternity. There is concept learning. Syllabus is under transformation, it will catch up with the current trend. Continuous evaluation system will come into place. The system of assessment of students in final exams will cease to exist. The student will be assessed every period, every day. Annual exams concept will go. The process of learning will be facilitated," he explained.
"If foreign universities come to India, our Indian education system would be at par with them. Everyone has to implement it. NEP is already being implemented in graduation, diploma, engineering, ITI and all other courses. Yes, infrastructure is needed. Earlier also infrastructure was lacking. We have to be forward looking and everything will catch up," he said.
"Draft stage preparation is planned before five years. The central government has sought feedback from the Gram Panchayat level upwards. People from various walks of life, from various fields are included in the consultation process. We are not hurrying," he explained.
Educationist Niranjan Aradhya, however, differed with the government's view and stated that the NEP is an impractical policy. It is being brought to dismantle the present education system and benefit private players. "Show me one paragraph in the NEP draft which addresses inequalities?" he said.
"Let there be a concept of neighbourhood schools. In the United States, a child will only go to neighbouring schools, he can't go anywhere else. There is a lot of ambiguity in the new policy on education and it is chaotic. It will not strengthen education, but it will dismantle the present education system and it will facilitate complete opening of the entire education structure to the open market," he maintained.
Kiran Prasad, Core Committee Member of the Associated Management of Schools in Karnataka, an educator and founder of Vidya Vaibhav Education Institutes, opined that, "Karnataka is in the forefront in the implementation of NEP. That is good news. The only problem is in terms of timing. The children have just returned to school after 17 months. So, right now, the attention of the education system is more on getting children back into schools and streamlining the education system."
"The academic year is going to end in March. So, right now, it is more about ensuring that the children are able to cope with the academic calendar. So maybe the timing might be of concern. I am not contesting implementation of NEP. I only fear that it is a bad time to implement NEP. The pressure right now is to ensure that we complete the academic calendar keeping all the changes in mind," he explained.
B.C. Nagesh, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, stated that the NEP will be introduced in pre-primary and primary schools from the next academic year. The government will take 18,000 primary and 5,078 high school students on a temporary basis. The NEP prescribes a teacher and student ratio of 30:1, which is very much there in the state. There are 276 Karnataka Public Schools in the state which have pre-nursery classes and children can get admitted at the age of three and study up to class 10. It is also being contemplated to shift Anganwadis close to government schools.
The National Education Policy has really tried to address the needs of the 21st century and create a student friendly environment for holistic development. The first year of the NEP was challenging as schools operated digitally owing to the pandemic. With an emphasis on digital first ideology, the NEP will ensure continuous and uninterrupted learning. The government should actively partner with all participants in the early learning sector as they implement the NEP, said K. V. S. Seshasai
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