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NEP 2020 outlines equitable and inclusive school education for socially disadvantaged groups

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

NEP proposes that public and private schools be assessed and regulated on the same criteria, benchmarks, emphasizing online and offline public disclosure

Anupama Kumari

The world we inhabit today is rapidly changing, it is important to equip the future generations with learning and skills (irrespective of caste, creed, financial background, etc.) that will not just help them survive but also face the challenges of the knowledge with rigor.

According to the World Bank report 2011, India’s education for all program Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has brought nearly 30 million children into primary school but the problem is that the education given to them is not up to the mark. It is crucial to provide equal and inclusive education to students of every community, especially the socio-economic disadvantaged groups (SDGs). The SDGs depend on government schools and institutions for better and affordable knowledge and despite efforts in the last two decades to improve public school education, the quality of teaching, attainment of knowledge, and skill development of the students is still poor. Keeping this in mind many new recommendations have been made in the National Education Policy 2020 to empower school education. Under sustainable development goals - of which India is a signatory - school education is the single greatest tool to achieve probity in society and equality.

Under the new NEP 2020 the goal of the school education regulatory system is to empower school teachers with trust and ensuring the integrity of the system through complete transparency and public disclosure of all financial records and educational performance of their students. So far, all main rules and regulations regarding education and financial activities are handled by a single body but now the Department of School Education - which is a state-level body in school education - will be responsible for overall monitoring and policy-making of the public education system. Mainly the Directorate of School Education will monitor, including the DEO and CEO independently. A State Education Standards Authority (SESA) will be set up to ensure that every state school follows minimal setup of essential quality standards. The minimal sets of the standard include safety, security, basic infrastructure, number of teachers across the subject and grades, financial benefits, and decency, etc. Also, feedback from randomly selected students will be solicited online. SCERT will have close consultation and collaboration with NCERT which will give new energy or strength to an institution in any state.

The current rules are also unable to curb commercialization of education and economic exploitation of parents by many for-profit private schools. But now, in NEP public and private schools will be assessed and regulated on the same criteria, benchmarks and emphasizing online and offline public disclosure. Public disclosure on the school website and on the SSSA website - for both public and private schools - would include (at the very least) information on the numbers of classrooms, students, and teachers, subjects taught, any fees, and overall student outcomes on standardized evaluations such as the NAS and SAS. For schools controlled/managed/aided by the Central government, the CBSE in consultation with the MHRD shall prepare a framework. All the education institutions will be held to similar standards of audit and disclosure as a 'not-for-profit' entity. Surpluses, if any, will be reinvested in the educational sector only. Also, the new mentioned authority will keep a sharp eye on arbitrary increases in tuition fees.

The standard regulatory framework for private school accreditation shall be reviewed on the basis of learning standard of their students in the last decades. This review will ensure that students from unprivileged section shall have equitable schooling from early childhood care to higher secondary education. By the help of all the newly formed regulatory body, the public-school education system will be going to focus on imparting highest quality education so that, parents would not feel inferior to send their children to any state or public schools. Careful attention must be paid to SDGs (specially the girl child and LGBT community) safety and rights- particularly girl children - and various issues faced by them, such as substance or drug abuse and forms of discrimination and harassment including violence, with clear, safe, and efficient mechanisms for reporting. The development of such mechanisms that are effective, timely, and well-known to all students will be accorded high priority.

If the policy is are well implemented, we can expect a massive shift in the education ecosystem in India. This will further improve India's progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 and ensuring free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education for all.

(Anupama Kumari is an Intern with Academics4Nation. She is currently doing Economics MA from BHU.)



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