At present the population of youths in India is about 35 per cent of the total population of the country. The Central and State governments are responsible for providing facilities to these youths for education at every level. The nation had to wait 34 years for the new education policy. Before giving the final shape to such an important policy, suggestions were taken from people of 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, 6,600 blocks and 676 districts. This is the first time in India’s history which opinion was taken from the public on such a large scale. The new education policy will prove to be a milestone in the development of the nation. For this, I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The hard working Union Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ deserves appreciation for this development. The committee chairman K Kasturirangan and all its members also deserve plaudits.
Improvements and changes at various levels were much needed to facilitate world class education in the nation as per the demand of the time. The new National Education Policy (NEP) makes provision for major changes in the primary, secondary and higher education levels. In school education, the policy has set a target for 100 per cent gross enrolment ratio by 2030. A decision was taken to impart education upto class V in mother tongue or the regional language. Gaining education in regional context/language will be easy, convenient and interesting for the children and elicit their interest in education in such a way that studying will not be a burden for them. Education in the regional or mother tongue will also be convenient for the teachers. In the rural areas, the parents will also be able to easily explain/tutor their school going children at home.
The NEP will make it easier at the school level to encourage language skills, scientific temperament, creativity and logical thinking. Further, provisions have been made for integrating vocational education from class VI which will make it possible to gauge the interests of a child. This will make it easier to encourage a child to move forward according to his or her interests. Additionally, provision has also been made to not separate arts, science and commerce education from the start which is a commendable step. Due to this, youth will learn about all subjects in the beginning.
In the sphere of higher education, the new education policy has set a target for a 50 per cent gross enrolment ratio by 2035. The policy has also set a target for establishing 300 research universities, 2,000 education and research universities and 10,000 autonomous degree colleges. At present quality research is being undertaken in a very few universities. The purpose of research has been relegated to securing a promotion. There is a dearth of quality publications too. Research universities will focus their energies fully on quality research work which will encourage quality research in the country. Attempts will also be made to grant autonomy to as many degree colleges as possible so that they do not depend on universities even for small tasks and will be able to change their curriculum on their own. The new education policy also lays stress on granting greater autonomy to universities which will prevent unnecessary interference in the running and management of these universities. Setting up of multidisciplinary institutions will provide an opportunity for faculty and students to organise and assist each other under the same roof while also undertaking research and innovations as per the requirement of the times. The selection of subjects has been kept flexible to encourage wholesome and multidisciplinary education among the students. The students will now be able to gain admission at various levels and be able to change the stream of their education. Stress has been laid on starting five-year integrated bachelor and master degree while provision has been made for discontinuing MPhil degree which is commendable.
Another important step in the new policy is the stress laid on universities and higher education institutions making their infrastructure, faculty, staff and other resources public. When all necessary information will be available on the public platform, the regulatory authority will not need to conduct inspection which will end inspector- Raj. This will result in progress of good and high quality universities/institutions and closure of inferior and inactive institutions.
The new education policy has also made provision for integration of vocational education with teacher and professional education which will enable the teachers to gain knowledge of professional education along with vocational education. Further, like there is a special economic zone for industries, provision has been made for special education zone for education. This provision will help in establishment of good higher education institutions even in such areas where such institutions have not been set up yet. In the context of Uttarakhand if such special education zones are established in the mountainous regions, the local youth will definitely be able to gain quality education in the mountainous region itself.
(The writer is the vice chancellor of Swami Rama Himalayan University)
Monday, 17 August 2020 | Vijay Dhasmana
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