Education is the prime driver of any society. There is a significant correlation between educational system of a country including its strategy and innovation with its economic growth.
Therefore, future of India, to a large extent, will be determined by the education system we have. This is more important as India is one of the youngest countries in the world with median age of around 29. And these young people will drive future of the country based on education they receive.
This was the backdrop in which National Education Policy (NEP 2020) came into existence. School education being the primary building block, the Policy lays very important recommendations to transform Indian schooling system.
Major Recommendations and Objectives:
There are five (5) major recommendations intended to dramatically alter the landscape of school education in term of NEP 2020.
First, there is serious focus on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) bringing students to formal education at the age of 3 in lieu of current age of 6.
Second, there is proposed restructuring of the entire education stream in four (4) blocks spanning 15 years with clearcut outcomes at each level.
Third, significant shift in focus of education is prescribed from memory based to cognitive thinking (both lower as well higher level) including analytical approach, problem solving and innovative ideas.
Fourth, Policy prescribes doing away with the traditional segmented discipline approach like arts, science or commerce and making education holistic and life skills based. And finally, focus will be on infusing Indian values and ethos and teaching through mother tongue, wherever possible.
The grand objective of the Policy recommendations has been to create an ideal, thinking and energetic output suitable for entry in higher education and to align Indian schooling education at par with international standards.
Implementation Challenges and Way Forward:
The Policy per se appears impressive in its outlook but the actual challenge lies in its very implementation. Education being in the concurrent list of the Constitution, there are bound to be some resistance from a few states. Multiplicity of boards and total inequality in their content and standard are other major obstacles.
But biggest challenge is going to be formulation of revised curriculum and pedagogy at each of the four (4) stages of education and its actual delivery at ground level. Considering the fact India has one of the biggest diverse school educations in the world with more than 1.5 million schools and around 250 million students with dissimilar background, this is going to be a nightmare.
Changing the mindset of around 10 million school teachers many of whom are from rural background is going to be another major obstacle. Lack of accreditation at school level currently is the other issue of quality check that needs to be tackled. Intention of the government may be serious and good with lofty idea to take India to the next orbit but making it happen is going to the real challenge.
If the Policy is to achieve its stated objectives, all stakeholders need to join together to make it happen. There is no denying that output of the new school education will be totally different and independent minded young persons who will be true ambassadors of new aspirational India. And let us realize the goals as early as possible and make India the “knowledge hub” of the world that it was.
(The author is the Founder and Convener of Higher Education Forum (HEF))