The last 34 years
The existing education regime has been a very rigid system, with too many shortcomings that have long been ignored. With rote learning as its primary focus, upskilling students have a constant need as the current school system doesn’t make them market-ready.
The primary purpose of education is to bring forth the perfection that already exists in human beings, which happens at three levels – head, heart, and hands. All these years, the head and hands have been applied without giving much thought to putting heart to use. It can be safely said that the consequence of such a process has been that followers were created, not leaders. The existing education system enabled students to cope with the industrial age requirement as helping hands were needed to work like machines. However, creativity, social and emotional intelligence, research, critical thinking, and complex problem solving are future skills.
The current government has been influential in bringing in reforms. With plans to open up the education sector to the private sector, it is believed that the education cost will come down. It is critical to acknowledge the role and contribution of independent schools in the policy narrative, and time is appropriate for government and independent forces in education to start aligning and collaborating towards nation building through adequate upskilling of the students.
How National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Has Changed It?
The Union Government approved a historic amendment by announcing the National Education Policy 2020, which aims to “reform” the education system from rote learning to imbibing and retaining the “core essential skills”. These skills will help one develop a holistic personality and render them employable. Along with introducing the new education policy, the HRD Ministry, which regulates the country’s education system, will also be rechristened as the Ministry of Education.
In the current times, education is about following one’s passion and cultivating their interest. It’s crucial to understand what one’s heart lies in doing. Reformed education is armed with love (heart), knowledge & reflection (head), and skills (hands), which are developed by practicing and applying what one learns. While formal education aids in shaping the head and heart, hands should practice and perform within the industry for upskilling. Welcome to the era of ‘Applied Experiential Learning’ with experimentation, immersions, real-world problem solving, and internships at the core!
The new structure plans to reduce board exams to “low stakes” and put to the test “experiential learning and critical thinking” instead of superficial bookish learning. It has also completely altered the present 10+2 structure in schools by replacing it with the 5+3+3+4 pedagogical structure. Figuratively speaking, if education is meant for nation-building, then till now, the authorities were building a nation without a heart.
Thanks to NEP 2020, we will soon be making a nation where the education first addresses every child’s soul by helping them identify their interest and passion. And it will further pique their imagination and curiosity.
In the current education setup, it was challenging to find an individual well-aware of their passion. The enactment of NEP 2020 will change that positively. The skills now taught will be put to the application, which will help every child discover where their interest lies. This experimentation will help them understand what they love doing. Then they can continuously gain knowledge, practice, and perform because now they will be engaging in what they love doing.
The Act aims to dismantle the current flawed structure of learning. The bulldozing of regimented distinction between curricular, extracurricular and co-curricular subjects in school, and the provision allowing multiple entries and exit options in higher education gives a lot of flexibility to students to effectively hone their skills and interests.
The proposal to introduce vocational training and internships from grade 6 onwards and the establishment of a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE) has been made with the vision to minimize the social stigma attached to taking up a vocation as a career. This provision will also expose students to multiple career paths, including entrepreneurship, instead of keeping them restricted to a handful of erstwhile popular professions.
Developments such as the cluster-based approach of creating school complexes, continuous assessment of competencies, setting up the National Testing Agency for conducting universal entrance examinations, and integrating technology are measures that will go a long way in bringing in the desired enhancements in the quality of school education.
The intended rationale behind NEP 2020 is to equip students with the opportunity to learn, upskill, re-acquire, or modify their skills. Now is the time when all educationists must think outside the box and work on methodologies & pedagogies that would make children self-reliant, reducing their dependence on teachers and technologies.
A practical blueprint for the holistic development of the youth of the 21st century, NEP 2020 has been designed as an education policy that will focus more on students’ personality and skill development, develop an entrepreneurial spirit, ensure sound mental health, encourage scientific and critical thinking and provide them with very crucial opportunities for education in their mother tongue or regional language in primary school—making children study subjects like music, arts and crafts, sports, science, commerce, etc., as per their interests will open up many more arenas in front of them.
The National Education Policy will, with a modern outlook, provide for a knowledge-based society with scientific temper. This upskilling will prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow that they will face in their careers.
Summing It Up
The inclusion of innovation, creativity, in-depth research, skill development, and employment-oriented education following Indian values in the National Education Policy-2020 is commendable. Other provisions such as working out a detailed action plan for achieving gender parity in the education sector, defining the direction of research work to be undertaken, extending scholarships, and capping the fees in privately-owned educational institutions, and having a standard curriculum for government and private institutes will all ensure the best possible outcomes for students.