Anand: The National Policy on Education was first prepared in 1968 to improve the quality of education in the country and was focused on providing education facilities to all the citizens. The need for a policy was first felt in 1964 when Congress MP Siddheshwar Prasad criticized the then government for lacking a vision and philosophy for education.
It is no secret that primary schools record shockingly poor literacy and numeracy outcomes, dropout levels in middle and secondary schools are significant, and the higher education system has generally failed to meet the aspirations for multi-disciplinary programmes. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is the first policy after the one issued in 1986, which seems to contend these multiple crises in the system.
In structural terms, the NEP’s methods to introduce early childhood education from age 3, offer school board examination twice a year to help improve performance, move away from rote learning and much more which can help the growth and development of the child from a very early age. Technically, much of what we were studying till now was irrelevant in our real life.
Indian education system earlier doesn’t train one to work with hands, thus, no relevance of studies and the future of one’s life. Progress of these crucially depends on the will to spend the promised 6% of GDP as public expenditure on education.
Where the policy fails to show precision, however, is on universalization of access, both in schools and higher education. The idea of a National Higher Education Regulatory Council as an apex control organization is bound to be resented by States. Similarly, among the many imperatives, the deadline to achieve universal literacy and numeracy by 2025 should be the top priority as a goal that will crucially determine progress at higher levels.
This would be an important step forward in India’s transition from deprivation to development. It marks the third major policy initiative in education since independence. Given the current demographic profile, the stage of the development currently and the ambitions of our youth, the new policies have not come a day too soon.
Based on the two committee reports and extensive nation-wide consultations. NEP 2020 is sweeping in its vision and seeks to address the entire array of education from preschool to doctoral studies and from professional degrees to vocational training. It acknowledges the 21st century need for mobility, flexibility and perfect pathway to learning and self-actualization.
India has faced unprecedented challenges in providing quality education to children and the youth. A country affected by huge inequality and challenges faced by the disadvantaged and disabled, the NEP lays particular emphasis on providing adequate support to ensure that no child is deprived of education. The long-neglected ancient Indian languages and Indic Knowledge system are also identified for immediate attention.
The design of the new policy is such that it helps the students suffering from stress and long term depressions. New policy ensures peace of mind and will promote true intellect of students as now just mugging up things won’t be the only option for students to score in exams and prove themselves.
Perhaps, all this planning and policies are as good as one chose the people to lead them.
(With Inputs from Aditya Hore)