National Education Policy: A Conundrum!

(Indian Express)

Context:

  • The Cabinet had approved the National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020. 
  • This policy will result in dynamic changes to the education policy of the country. It also renames the Ministry of Human Resource Development as the Ministry of Education.
  • Its main objective to make India a global superpower in the education sector.
  • This is the third major remodeling of the framework of education in India post-independence.
  • Before this, education policies were introduced in 1968 and 1986.
  • Dr. K. Kasturirangan led the committee that prepared the National Education Policy.

Main principles of the policy:

  • Critical thinking
  • Flexibility
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Teachers as the heart of the learning process
  • No tight separations between subjects, curricular and extra-curricular activities
  • Multi-disciplinary education
  • Ethical Values
  • A robust public education system

Arguments for New Education Policy 2020:

  • NEP seeks to address the entire education system, from pre-school to even post-doctorate.
  • Adoption of 5+3+3+4 model for school education starting at age 3.
  • It gives a sense of autonomy to schools through self-declaration and free from regular inspections.
  • It proposes the creation of inclusion funds to help and promote socially and educationally disadvantaged children to pursue education.

Critics of NEP:

  • Increased stress on the mother tongue as a medium of instruction not only implicates the marginalized but also especially in a country where English is grossly associated with employability and privilege, puts a restriction as well.
  • The lack of playgrounds for children is mentioned in the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It further restricts the overall growth from an early age.
  • The biggest criticism against the NEP has been that it would drive towards the privatization of higher education, which is against social justice. 
  • It aims to gradually phase out the affiliation system of Universities in 15 years and grant autonomy to colleges which will again be a cake-walk for privatization.

Way Ahead:

  • It must come up with a collective strategy with states over the three-language formula, as education is a matter in the concurrent list.
  • Children and parents must be at the center of implementation plans and providing autonomy must not just be in the letter but also in spirit. 
  • Without linking NEP to RTE for the goal of universalization of education at the pre-primary, middle, and secondary levels. Without this legal framework, the target of the vision will hardly be ever materialized.
  • To ensure equal opportunities for all the policy must incorporate the Common School System.

Download current affairs 02.03.2021

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