Roadmap focuses on integrated and multidisciplinary approach to produce lifelong learners
The chief engineer of the National Education Policy 2020 spoke about how it will change education in India at the BCC&I Annual Education Conclave 2020.
Dr. K. Kasturirangan, chairperson, drafting panel, National Education Policy, and chancellor of the Central University of Rajasthan, was the keynote speaker on Day 1 of the conclave. The session was moderated by Dr. Suborno Bose, Chairman, Education Committee, BCC&I.
Bose read out a citation to induct Kasturirangan into the BCC&I Hall of Fame for his untiring contribution to scientific research and the NEP.
Excerpts from the keynote address:
The new education policy will cater to a new India
The last education policy was formulated nearly 30 years ago. India now needs a new education policy. While remaining rooted in its ethos, the NEP would prepare India for a brighter tomorrow and provide a roadmap for the whole nation. With special emphasis on kindling all its richness and complexity, the NEP will help students imbibe 21st-century skills and provide them with an element of choice and flexibility.
The policy aims for the development of all skills pertinent to the contemporary world. Critical consideration has to be made for the multidisciplinary ability of the workforce, particularly in the sector of big data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and analytics. The future needs to be reconfigured. The 2030 goals of NEP ensure promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The NEP gives a thrust on language learning. There are details on the usage of mother tongue in imparting education, usage of 18 primary Indian languages and classical languages, and we have given enough thrust on learning foreign languages too.
School education will see a transformation
The 5+3+3+4 pattern has a scientific basis and is rooted in the growth trajectory of a child. After having a strong foundation in the initial years, a child will be ready to delve deep. The division between science, humanities and vocational education has been done away with. By the time a child reaches the age of 15, she/he will be fully enabled to understand their likeness and take a call on whether they want to pursue vocational education.
Teachers are at the centre of child-centric education. Hence, we have made them on a par with any other education professional and ensured that they get the respect and status they rightfully deserve.
NEP in higher education: Focus on integrated and multidisciplinary learning
In higher education, the emphasis will be on a multidisciplinary and holistic approach. The policy aims to promote holistic education at UG level to ensure the all-rounded development of students. It traces its origin to the age-old idea of liberal arts in classical Indian works like Banabhatta’s Kadambari.
In higher education now, in addition to science, humanities and engineering, we will also have liberal arts, and integrated and multidisciplinary learning where students of humanities will be encouraged to study science and those studying science and engineering will be also dabbling in humanities and liberal arts. Vocational education and liberal education should become an integral part of our higher education.
Advantage of having a flexible higher education system
The integrated approach in higher education will ignite critical thinking and deep learning. Our institutions will churn out more well-rounded individuals who would be responsible citizens as well as job-ready. A student in higher education can opt-out of graduation in the very first year with a diploma, in the second year with a certificate and in the third year with a degree. Those wanting to continue in the fourth year will have more integrated learning and will be research-ready.
Not only will students have the opportunity to learn more at their pace, but they will also be able to get back to learning whenever they can. The integration of vocational education in the undergraduate level will not only make our education system more consistent but more holistic too.
Higher education institutions to offer both general and professional courses
The NEP envisages that all institutions offering professional courses should offer general education and all those offering general education should offer professional courses by 2030. This will eventually merge as one coherent ecosystem.
India needs to have a robust ecosystem of research and innovation. The NEP talks about setting up the National Research Foundation (NRF) to nurture the research ecosystem in India and monitoring it too. Multidisciplinary Education & Research Universities (MERU) can further help India to do quality research.
NEP needs more budget allocation
I think the policy budget has to be suitably ramped up. Since I am addressing a chamber of commerce, let me tell you that the policy talks about philanthropic and other sources that were never tapped. Certainly, 6% of the GDP allocation has to be done. In the present structure, we have a 10% gross expenditure ratio. We need to make it 20% in about ten years’ time. The funding has to be ramped up. The policy does encourage the private sector and the suggestions from CII and other agencies have been incorporated. We recognize that private players in education play a key role.