Juggling a new curriculum, new teaching method, new evaluation system and new approach to education will be a big challenge
What the NEP has charted out for the education system is a tall order to achieve but it can change the future of India. This was the message that Narayanan Ramaswamy, National Leader, Education & Skill Development, KPMG India, drove home at the BCC&I Annual Education Conclave 2020 on October 9. The session, NEP Decoded, was moderated by Dr Suborno Bose, Chairman, Education Committee, BCC&I.
Excerpts from Narayanan Ramaswamy’s speech.
What the NEP aims to accomplish
The NEP talks about a lot of innovative and good policy initiatives. It talks about restructuring the school curriculum to the 5+3+3+4 format. It aims to ensure that students do inculcate a scientific temper and high order thinking. I like the fact that the separation between arts and science, academic and vocational, has been done away with.
The learning and assessment pattern, too, would change and we would be doing away with rote learning and have competency-based learning. Of course, there are issues on learning in the mother tongue but the change to formative assessment from the now existing summative assessment is a welcome change.
With the NEP, we are aiming at a 100 percent gross enrollment ratio and that is great. However, if NEP guidelines are followed, then the National Curriculum Framework has to be changed. The NEP says that higher education will be interdisciplinary, affiliated colleges will go, and institutions will have greater autonomy and manage their own affairs.
It talks about the importance of distance education, welcomes foreign universities and talks about revamping teachers’ education by making it a mainstream four-year course. NEP touches upon the use of technology in academics. In addition, it recommends the budgetary allocation to education to be increased from 4% to 6% of the GDP. But this is a tall order to achieve.
The challenges of implementing NEP
There will be a reduction in the number of higher education institutions with many merging. We should expect at least 50% students in higher education to have vocational education exposure. The enrollment ratio has to increase, amounting to a huge increase in budgetary allocation. For setting up the special education zones, a lot of money is needed.
Developing pedagogy is not easy. International Baccalaureate (IB) was done 50 years back. It was a big task. With so many curriculums being followed by so many school education boards, how are we going to implement the changes in the curriculum? The biggest problem will be for the teachers. At the end of the day, they will juggle a new curriculum, a new teaching method, a new evaluation system and a new approach to education.
Talking about bringing back school dropouts is great but we need to have a tracking system in place to do that. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERU) need a lot of coalition and coordination and mentorship schemes in place.
Online education will have a lot of technological intervention. The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) needs to be revamped. Reforming and reframing teacher training, digital dissemination and upgradation of teachers’ education is going to be big. The National Research Foundation (NRF) will bring the confidence of our academia in quality research. Also, the option of research and interning in undergraduate years would develop research orientation and professionalism among students.
What the policy document missed out
The NEP shied away from talking in detail about private participation in education. Also, the roadmap for lifelong learning has to be very intricate as we are in the beginning of a demographic bulge that we need to address for more than two decades from now. The document talks about blending academics with technology but the disruptive nature of digital technology should have been discussed. Also, digital transformation could be absolutely transformational and would require a lot of training. There are questions on why specialized institutions should be done away with. Many feel that the approach is not practical. And if we have one regulatory body, it will have to tackle too many things.