The government finally released the broad contours of New Education Policy. The last such policy was formulated 34years ago in 1986. Since then the socio-economic and technology context have completely changed. We are perhaps 25years late in effecting the necessary changes in our education, training and skill development system. Nonetheless, the new policy proposal is a strong positive move and needs to be welcome. In fact, it is arguably the best thing that has happened to India since MNREGA and RTE were implemented more than a decade ago.
The new policy is a “reform” in true sense, as it aims to change the status quo materially. The new proposals mark significant departures from the extant methods & practices of teaching, curricula, learning objectives, assessment procedures, regulatory framework, and other related aspects of the education system. The strong emphasis on accessibility & affordability, vocational training, value system, ethical orientation, nationalism etc. is a great initiative. Incorporation of modern technology in the curriculum is most desirable. The focus on development of creative thinking and solution based approach of young students is also much needed.
The goals of the policy are obviously ambitious, when assessed in the present context of fragmented political establishment, resource constraints and dominance of the vested interest groups who control the present education eco-system in the country. The implementation (particularly within the given timeframe) therefore is certainly going to be challenging. I wish the administration and political establishment will show strong commitment to come over all challenges.
Having said this, We would also like to share the following observations:
(a) The “young” demographic trend of India is likely to peak in next few years. The present generation comprises of maximum youth. Since the implementation of the new policy is envisaged over next two decades, not much is expected to be achieved from the view point of youth likely to join the workforce in next 5-6years. I do not see mention of any bridge program to benefit these youth, in the policy. The fear is that a whole generation might become redundant by the time benefits of this policy are reaped.
(b) The extant system of education is infested with huge inequality of the quality of education available to the privileged and underprivileged sections of the society. This inequality has been the widening the socio-economic divide in the society for many decades. It is therefore important that besides universal access to education, the “Right to Education” is also transformed into “Right to Uniform Education”. This would essentially mean marginalization of the vested political interests in the business of education. Uniform education would mean that all student start the race for their livelihood from the same point.
The influence of the American education system is too conspicuous on the policy proposal. This is a good thing as that system has been extremely successful in delivering the desired objective, and admired world over. However, ignoring the basic qualities of that system – uniform education to all desiring students and high quality education in government schools – raises some doubts.
(c) We have seen three official power point presentations on the new education policy. None of these mention the name of the entity or person who prepared and/or presented it. Is this the sign of lack of ownership. We would also like to hear from the state governments, which are the key implementation agencies. Surprisingly, till last evening no non BJP Chief Minister has commented on the policy.