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Pull No Punches: NEP 20-Welcome Change, Daunting Task

4/08/2020 at 7:07 AM

Announcement of lofty plans may sound music to the ears, but what the NEP lacks is a definitive road map and it is somewhat silent on the financial implications to overhaul the education system given the diversity in our country and complexities involved.

By Srimoy Kar

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is finally out and the ministry is re-christened as Education Ministry. On the face of it, the changes seem apt and timely. But are they? To many, it is like the old wine in a new bottle without much departure from the existing policy. It is an unnecessary exercise, say some.

However, the NEP 2020 is not to be dismissed wholly despite many shortcomings. A change in education policy was required to keep pace with the present and future. It is needless to say that the current curricula both in schools and colleges have lost their relevance to a great extent in the changing times. Therefore, a shift in paradigm was necessary.

Announcement of lofty plans may sound music to the ears, but what the NEP lacks is a definitive road map and it is somewhat silent on the financial implications to overhaul the education system given the diversity in our country and complexities involved.

Education is in the concurrent list and the government of India should have taken the states into confidence at the time of policy preparation because its implementation is the responsibility of both.  The States are, therefore, rightly agitated and complaining that their suggestions were overlooked. One of the biggest challenges for all the states will be to make preparations for mother tongue based education in the first five years in government-run establishments.

It requires massive infrastructure creation and training of human resource to handle children between the age group of three to eight. Given the low priority accorded to education as far as budgetary allocation is concerned, the task seems daunting.

Experts are of the opinion that unless the spending on education is increased to at least six percent of the GDP, the changes envisaged would be difficult to achieve and the class living in the margins of the society would be the worst hit. The inequality between those who can afford to send their children to private schools and the ones who cannot would continue to grow wider. One only hopes that the new policy has enough of safeguards to ensure parity among children irrespective of their economic and social status by strengthening the systems in government-run schools.

The proposals on downsizing the syllabus, reducing the weight of school bags, giving importance to health care and extra -curricular activities besides making undergraduate programmes multi-disciplinary and flexible are some of the welcome changes in the NEP. Students at the higher education level will have a wider choice of learning rather than getting bogged down with conventional subjects and combinations presently offered by most of the universities in the country.

Teachers are the passports to future and therefore, adequate thrust should be outlined for their training, knowledge enhancement, involvement, ability to elevate the minds and characters of the pupils. Good teachers just don’t teach they inspire. Since teaching as a profession has lost its charm and is no more considered exalted, the quality of people choosing the profession has deteriorated vastly.

One of the major reasons for the decline in their standard is the manner in which they have been treated by the government. Lack of recognition, motivation and incentives for teachers are the major fault lines in our education system. Policy changes would not bring the desired results unless the capacity of the teachers is strengthened and they are treated with respect.

The author is former Resident Editor of New Indian Express. He can be contacted at srimoykar@yahoo.com

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with Prameya News)

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