How NEP can revolutionise India’s education system
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ease of living, and ease of doing business are equally important. He has shown through various policies and programmes that he is here to stay for a long haul—to build a New India, though massive reforms in social sector, which remains close to his heart. We can see this from the long list of high societal impact initiatives like the Swachh Bharat, Beti Padhao-Beti Bachao, Ujjwala Yojna, Skill India mission, and the health insurance scheme for poor (PMJAY). Now, with the government putting the draft national education policy 2019 in the public domain, within the first week of taking over, ‘educational reforms’ has been added to the list.
I can say it with surety that we, for the first time, have a prime minister who is firing all cylinders in one go. He is not willing to wait and go in a staggered manner to transform India in bits and bytes. He wants all sections and sectors to move ahead and benefit simultaneously, which is a daunting task. It is my firm belief that education and health are the causes of the economic development and not just the outcome and so, we must invest in both these sectors. The Modi government has taken the right decision to push these sectors with a clear policy that will drive these sectors for at least the next two decades.
The draft education policy is quite radical in its approach and might evoke resistance from a few quarters. The NEP has gone all out from changing terminology to content and mode and model of delivering education.
It recommends setting up new institutions like Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog and National Research Foundation, and addresses the issue of succession planning and filling up of vacancies. The NEP has made bold recommendations like closing down courses and institutions that don’t deliver and are irrelevant, periodic review, and even recommended changing the name of the ministry of human resource development to the ministry of education.
Iam quite happy to see that the recommendations from all earlier committees, for a separate cadre of Indian Education Service, has been dropped. I was vehemently opposed to the idea of bureaucracy in education. The NEP has addressed the issue with regards to data on education, and the important issue of leadership and governance.
The recommendations with regards to using technology like block chain for checking fake degrees, leveraging virtual reality, AI and gaming for education, and setting up a dedicated national educational technology forum is quite timely, and if implemented well, the NEP 2019 could be the last policy written by humans and the next one will be drafted by AI.
The NEP has given due importance to vocational education by integrating it across the continuum of education, and integrating education seamlessly across academic, professional and vocational streams.
The overarching themes of the NEP are achieving quality, innovation and equity through academic, administrative and financial autonomy under ‘light and tight’ regulation; focus on outcomes and not just inputs; move from rote learning to knowledge transfer, and continuously adapt to the changing needs of time.
The NEP has quantified and pointed where, and how much, money is needed, and though the figures look indicative, they give a good sense of direction. I believe that, at least for the next three years, the finances of the government will be stretched, given the emerging domestic and global economic scenario, coupled with the impact of climate change on agriculture and natural calamities.
But, still, if we start with reforming regulation, investing in primary education & research and public-private partnerships, we will have hit the right button to start with. If the policy is implemented as intended, ‘siloed education’ in India will become an ‘education system’. Overall, the draft education policy is holistic and futuristic and driven by realities on ground. NDA II delivered major reforms in health and NDA III will deliver reforms in education. In fact, the NEP borrows the line from the National Health Policy that, ‘A policy is only as good as its implementation’, and with the draft now in the final phase of public comments, there is no doubt of the sweeping reforms in education becoming a reality.