A comprehensive education policy for India is on the anvil for the first time since 1986. On 31 May, the draft National Education Policy (NEP) developed by a committee chaired by K. Kasturirangan was shared by the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) for public comments. The fact that Indian Education System, in all aspects, needs a transformation and modification in order to cater to the needs of a large population demands urgent action and call for an omnibus national policy as a priority.
The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 is built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability. We at MASH Project conducted research and analysis on the NEP recently, and we could come up with Five Pillars of NEP 2019, viz. The Three Language Policy, University Autonomy, Anganwadi, Common Entrance Test and, Financing education.
When we talk of the Three Language Policy, we mean Three-language formula: It is commonly understood that the three languages referred to are Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective States. The original three-language formula was adopted by the India Parliament in 1968. After reviewing it we could see some visible problems with this proposition. The inadequacy of resources is perhaps the most important aspect of the challenge. This will be a very heavy cognitive burden on a young child of five to seven years as each of the Indian languages has a very large number of visual units (aksharas) between 400 and 700, to be mastered in two to three years’ time. Lack of teaching staff can also be seen as a big challenge. To this, we came up with certain suggestions or viewpoints as we can call them. We should adopt two language policy rather than three language policy and better implementation can be done in order to curb down the challenges. Lastly, the choice should be given to the students to choose the language they want to study.
The current university system evolved globally thereby making universities the cathedrals of education. On February 12th 2019, UGC released the policy of graded autonomy for higher education institutes. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted full autonomy to 62 higher educational institutions, including five central and 21 state universities, which maintained high standards. The institutions granted full autonomy will be free to decide their admission procedure, fee structure and curriculum. The self-financing mode will not only lead to a steep increase in student fees but will propel the universities and colleges to start commercial courses, solely for the sake of financing
Anganwadi, initiated as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program in 1975 that targets childhood hunger and malnutrition, Provide non-formal pre-school education- children below the age of six go to Anganwadi for daycare. Primarily run by women from poor families in rural areas
Currently under the purview of Ministry of Women & Child Development. The NEP aims to start formal education for children from the age of three by expanding the RTE (Right to Education) Act to cover all children from 3 years of age to 18. It recommends the integration of Anganwadi into a common school complex. Under the NEP, Anganwadi would no longer be supervised or regulated by MoWCD but rather under the MoE(Ministry of Education) for all educational aspects, the proposed name for MHRD. A similar move by the government in Karnataka, involving the introduction of kindergarten classes in government schools has to lead to multiple protests by the Anganwadi workers who are concerned about the implications of such a policy for the jobs of the existing Anganwadi workers and the nutritional requirements of children below the age of 6.
There is no standard system of testing that is currently used for admission into undergraduate courses in public-funded universities. Common Entrance Tests have long been used for entrance into professional or postgraduate courses. Private educational institutions conduct their own entrance tests, so there exists little uniformity. Admission to all undergraduate courses in government-funded universities will be through all India entrance tests. Private institutions will also be strongly encouraged to use the same tests. These tests will be conducted by the NTA (National Testing Agency) 2020 onwards. A possible implication of this is that Grade 12 marks will no longer be used for admission into public institutes for higher education.
The education budget of 2018 was one of the least valued at just 3.5 per cent. The policy suggestions on financing follow from two key principles — first, financing for education is not ‘expenditure’ but an investment for the future of India’s children; and second, education is a ‘not-for-profit activity and enterprise in society’. To attain this additional 3% share of GDP, the committee recommended doubling of expenditure on education from the current level of 10% to 20% of all public (Centre and state) expenditure, over a 10-year period. The committee has made this recommendation anticipating two developments in the economy — a rapid pace of economic growth and an increase in the tax-GDP ratio, resulting in enhanced resource envelop of the government, and thus, the education sector. The draft needs to flesh out the Centre-state resource sharing strategies at the earliest.
The idea that lifelong education is based on four pillars –
- learning to know
- learning to do,
- learning to live together
- learning to be —
has inspired the committee to cover every aspect of the education sector: school, higher, vocational and adult education. It also includes the whole gamut of professional education-engineering, medicine, agriculture, law, etc. Some of the main agenda of the proposed draft is to tackle the problem of low intake of higher education 50% increase in GER by 2035 from the current level of about 25.8%, a commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education as against 2.7% of GDP in 2017-18. It recommends focused electrification of all educational institutions as electricity is a prerequisite for all technology-based interventions; integration of multiple public schools and focused electrification of all educational institutions have also been suggested. Improving and expanding the Anganwadi system by including guidelines and educational framework for three to eight-year-old children. Recommendation for extending the ambit of the RTE Act to the age group of 3-18 years rather than 4-16 years. Replacing the 10+2 system in high schools by the 5+3+4 design to make space for holistic, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning. It suggests creating an independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state.
Vibrant high quality and equitable public education must be the bedrock of Indian society.
The draft policy is prepared by a team of nine experts led by space scientist Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan is perhaps the best piece of education reforms initiative in recent years.