Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
National Education Policy (NEP)
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the policy, issues associated and concerns expressed by various states.
Context: Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the New Educational Policy will make India a global educational hub. He urged the public to give their views and suggestions on the draft NEP by the stipulated time of 15th of this month.
The Draft Policy is built on foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability.
In May this year, the draft National Education Policy (NEP) developed by a committee chaired by K. Kasturirangan was shared by the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) for public comment. A comprehensive education policy for India is on the anvil for the first time since 1986.
Key highlights of the draft:
- Early childhood care and education:
- High-quality early childhood care and education will be provided for all children between the ages of 3 and 6 by 2025.
- This will be done within institutions such as schools and anganwadis, which would have a mandate to take care of the overall well-being of the child—nutritional, health, and education.
- These institutions will also provide similar support to families for children younger than three years of age—within their homes. The criticality of brain development in the early years has become clear in the past few decades; this policy will result in a massive positive multiplier effect on society.
- Ensuring foundational literacy and numeracy:
Every student will start achieving age-appropriate foundational literacy and numeracy by 2025. A slew of programmes and measures are articulated for this purpose. This is aimed at the basic issue facing our education system today—of students not being able to read, write and do elementary math.
- Transformed curricular and pedagogical structure for school education:
The curriculum and pedagogical structures will be designed anew to be appropriate and effective, based on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development.
The curriculum will be integrated and flexible with equal emphasis on all subjects and fields. There will be no separation of curricular, co-curricular or extra-curricular areas—with all in a single category of equal importance.
Vocational and academic streams will be integrated and offered to all students. Examination systems will be radically changed to assess real learning, make them stress-free, and aim for improvement instead of the passing of judgements.
- Universal access and retention in schools:
All Indians between ages 3 and 18 to be in school by 2030. The Right to Education Act will be extended from pre-school to class XII.
- Teachers at the centre:
The profession of teaching, and so teachers, will be at the centre of the education system, focused on the student and educational aims. All schools will be fully resourced with teachers—with working conditions for an energetic work culture. No “temporary” teachers will be allowed; all positions will be filled with competent and qualified teachers. A development-oriented performance management system will be put in place. The teacher education system will be transformed, with rigorous teacher preparation through a four-year integrated stage and subject-specific programmes offered only in multi-disciplinary institutions.
- New institutional architecture for higher education:
India’s current 800 universities and over 40,000 colleges will be consolidated into about 10,000-15,000 institutions of excellence to drive improvement in quality and expansion of capacity. This architecture will have only large multi-disciplinary institutions, with significant investment.
Three types of higher education institutions will be there: Type 1 universities focused on research but also teaching all programmes, undergrad to doctoral; Type 2 universities focused on teaching all programmes while also conducting research and; Type 3 colleges focused on teaching undergrad programmes. All types will grant their own degrees. There will be no system of university affiliations.
- High-quality liberal education:
All undergraduate education will be broad-based liberal education that integrates the rigorous study of sciences, arts, humanities, mathematics and vocational and professional fields with choices offered to students. Imaginative and flexible curricula will develop critical thinking, creative abilities and other fundamental capacities. Multiple exit and entry points will be offered, with appropriate certification after one, two, three and four years of study. There will be a four-year undergraduate programme available in addition to three-year programmes.
- Increase in public investment:
There will be a substantial increase in public investment to expand and vitalize public education at all levels.
- While the policy talks about the need to bring “unrepresented groups” into school and focus on educationally lagging “special education zones”, it misses a critical opportunity of addressing inequalities within the education system.
- It misses to provide solutions to close the gap of access to quality education between India’s rich and poor children.
- Not specifying a common minimum standard below which schools cannot fall, creates conditions where quality of facilities in some schools will only sink lower, widening this gap.
- It proposes a roll back of existing mechanisms of enforcement of private schools making parents “de-facto regulators” of private schools. Parents, and particularly poor and neo-literate parents, cannot hold the onus of ensuring that much more powerful and resourced schools comply with quality, safety and equity norms.
Challenges in implementation:
- What is recommended is a doubling of public funding to 6% of the GDP and increasing overall public expenditure on education to 20% from the current 10%. This is desirable but does not appear to be feasible in the near future given that most of the additional funding has to come from the States.
- While establishing new institutions for Pali, Prakrit and Persian appears to be a novel idea, shouldn’t the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysuru be strengthened and perhaps even upgraded to a university with an extended mandate to take care of these languages?
- Expanding coverage under the RTE Act to include pre-school children is extremely important, but should perhaps be introduced gradually, keeping in mind the quality of infrastructure and teacher vacancies. Amendment of the Act can perhaps wait for a while.
- The idea of setting up the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog under the Prime Minister and having it serviced by the MHRD is crucial in order to integrate the approaches and programmes of multiple departments. However, it is fraught with many administrative problems and possible turf battles. Bringing medical or agricultural or legal education under one umbrella is likely to be met with stiff opposition. What is going to happen, for example, to the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017?
- The idea of regulation being brought under the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, standard setting under the General Education Council and funding under the Higher Education Grants Council may require a revisit so that there is synchronisation with the current Bill for the Higher Education Commission of India.
- The draft policy is silent on the Institutions of Eminence and agencies like the Higher Education Funding Agency.
- Language issues have to be handled sensitively in view of their emotional overtones, as witnessed recently. Protests are often made without understanding the spirit of the text.
Mains Question: Discuss the unique features of draft NEP 2019. What are the challenges and roadblocks in front of it and how should the government in power overcome the same?