The National Education Policy tries to bridge the gap between the read techniques and day to day hands on experiences.
The National Education Policy 2020, announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, sets the goal to transform the education system of the country and initiate new policies in consonance with the changing needs of time. After more than three decades, radical changes have been proposed in the education policy. It can be regarded as the first omnibus policy after the education policy of 1986. The new policy aims to do away with the problems of pedagogy, structural inequities and tries to address the asymmetries. It tries to bridge the gap between the read techniques and day to day hands on experiences. The National Education Policy of 2020 has to contend with multiple problems present in the previous system.
India is considered the youngest country of the world. The youth are regarded as the most important human resources for any country. About 34.3% population of India is in the age of 15-34 years, forming the most resourceful section of the state. Development and improvement in nurturing the abilities of the youth translates into a better future for the country. The NEP 2020 can be regarded as the amalgamation of need based policy. The new policy successfully questions the previous ‘one size fits all’ nature of education system, which could hardly accommodate diversities. Treating vocational training as inferior to academic training has led to lesser number of people enrolling in vocational courses. But this policy proposes compulsory introduction of at least one vocational training from Class 6 onwards. Vocational training can be considered as the bedrock for the development of trades in all industrialized society.
The new policy proposes revolutionary changes in the old outdated system. It marks a departure from archaic practices and introduces new methods in the pedagogy. The dismantling of the water tight compartments between curricular, extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects in school gives students the opportunity to hone their skills. Introduction of vocational training as a part of academic curriculum will reduce the gap between theoretical and practical perspectives. The concept of applied learning will be put to use instead of rote learning. The more skillful people become, the greater push economy will get.
Importance to vocational training also helps students by identifying their skills early on. Practice based curriculum would go a long way in achieving this. The new education policy has been approved keeping in mind the need to emphasize the use of technology in education and helping students in adapting to learn through the use of technology such as online courses, educational platforms, and class-wise broadcasting on dedicated channels of education. Moreover, special care is also given to regional languages and to make students aware of their roots.
At the 'Conclave on Transformational Reforms in Higher Education' under National Education Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that this policy would focus on “how to think” instead of “what to think’. Therefore, this policy goes beyond skilling or turning educational institutions into grooming grounds for skillful labour. The National Education policy takes a holistic approach towards the education. It encourages internship opportunities for the students between Classes 6 to 12. Echoing the PM’s slogan of “Vocal For Local”, the policy talks about setting up skill labs in collaboration with local industries to improve the skill of students in that particular arena. It proposes local teacher education programs in which local resource persons can be hired by schools for shorter courses on vocational crafts.
The focus on professionalization of education would create more job opportunities for people. A discovery-based approach and practical-based learning will make education more participative. It would ensure knowledge transfer as opposed to the tradition of sifting through pages and memorizing content. Moving from marks-oriented, examination-based assessment to assessment of skills and competence will change the culture, practices and therefore the objective of 'education'. Students will acquire a vocation in secondary school, which would help in bringing relevance to education in terms of skill enhancement and capacity-building for various sectors. The problem of dropouts due to the prevailing theoretical education design has been addressed. Technology is the new driving force of the world. Therefore to cope up with the ongoing time, coding as a language in middle school will go a long way in unleashing creative potential. Thus, with the changing curriculum and structure in the prevailing educational system, a bridge can be built between the written and practical knowledge.
The challenge of NEP 2020 lies in its implementation. New infrastructure need to be put in place in order to turn the existing two dimensional approach into a three dimensional one. Moreover, it should be kept in mind that much stress on vocational training should not act as a distraction for promising students from weaker section of the society. The main aim should be to spread literacy and impart vocational skills to as many as possible. The NEP has a lot of potentials in terms of transforming the educational system and addressing the existing problems. The Prime Minister’s vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” can be achieved by following small steps mentioned in the proposed educational policies along with other policies.
(Bijetri Pathak is an Intern with Acdemics4Nation. She is currently doing MA in International Relations from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.)