NEP : NEW EDUCATIONAL PROMISE.

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The NEP is a beautiful piece of policy. It is embedded with the future requirements of the nation. Aiming to provide for a quality and standard that is deemed necessary. But this is such an utopian dreamy policy, I am willing to wait till the fanfare dies down and the process and methods are released.

National Education Policy that is passed in 2020, is the new and renewed promise to revamp the whole of the education sector and the way education is imparted. The promise seems based on the inspiration and advice of the western curriculum, which for decades has been seen as a beacon of success and a go to way of imparting education.

Major heads-up, am an active participant in the Education sector through my involvement in Education delivery and research. So unless you are part of the Education sphere or understand the nitty gritty of the social inequality and the inequity that is prevalent in Education, I suggest read that up before trying to understand this piece on how I see the NEP as. <Link to the previous NEP article>

The NEP, incorporates Socio-Emotional learning, Peer based learning and assessment, as well as Behavioural and the practical learning curriculum through introducing, vocational courses, peer based assessment, choice to choose subjects beyond a strict mandate. In effect being very similar to the Liberal Arts education that this government vehemently protested during 2014 when first introduced in Delhi University.

Again, will not make it political. This policy was in work since the past decade. So essentially this has been reviewed by two political parties and 2 Governments yet surprisingly was able to retain the crux of it. But me being me, I will play the devil’s advocate and an “Anti – National Dissenter” because I have some burning questions.

The Problems as I see it.

  1. Language:

The language part in the policy is straight-forward. The states must impart education in Mother tongue (language) until Grade 5. Later, suggested to follow the three language system. Kudos to this. Prime Minister’s Office says, foreign countries do it too. Well that is a different debate all together. But here is my issue.

India is not like the foreign countries. Not every country can boast to have Hundreds of languages, Thousands of Dialects and yet have 25 odd official recognised languages. With state of affairs being conducted in English. You from Delhi, who is reading this, yes this is English. I wonder how would you read this if not for the “Link Language” Concept that is primarily persistent in India. Courts pass judgements in English with a choice for translation to Hindi and/or Other regional languages (on request).

So, it is evident that English, unfortunately or fortunately has become an integral part of the country. Especially the lower caste, or people who are deprived of Socio-Economic-Political status (ohhhh controversy) especially from Tier 2,3 cities, Rural and Urban areas, though are proficient in their regional language but learn English to find a better future and career.

Maybe yes I am nit-picking here, but the state of education is so abysmal that even if English is taught until Grade 5 the quality of it matters. Majority of Low-Income private schools or the Government schools or at times some costly private schools who focus on assessments and Sciences and Math,  imparts such low quality education, begs me to wonder, how will this be applied.  But not teaching at all, may inadvertently put a lot of pressure on the system that is already at burden of people with skill. We could as well give greater importance to Regional Language (not Hindi, for non-Hindi states) and make it a first language and continue with imparting English.

Second, the Nationalisation of Languages and advent of Hindi. I haven’t read the whole of NEP in detail but, let us be very clear. Language is intrinsically linked with Culture, Livelihood and the way history and the livelihood is preserved. Imposing Hindi onto Non-Hindi speaking states or Nationalising one language irrespective of the other majorly spoken states will be a contention and there is no solution provided for that either. It is so much political in nature that people do not understand no one speaks proper Hindi anymore. Things of importance will be lost in translation. Language is the core of existence of human kind and should not be politicised.

https://thewire.in/education/can-india-afford-the-increasing-privatisation-of-public-universities

The NEP is such a beautiful policy. It is truly wonderful. But where is the process. Have the obligations, duties, liabilities of the erring institutions or States mentioned? To what extent individual state may be able to govern imparting education until Grade 12.

The concept of Vocational and Skill courses has been mentioned. A beauty in itself. But is the government providing an option or is mandating that the State and the institution mandatorily implement Vocational training as part of individual curriculum?

If it is mandating as said, who is taking the responsibility and has the obligation to provide for all these? Is it the individual institutions or the State in general would have to provide for the courses training. Vocational training can be outsourced or not? To what extent is it mandated on to the students.

The way I see it play out – The institutions have invested so much that this NEP requires them to overhaul all their investments and may lead to much more private player involvement in this matter.  Which is exactly what we as a nation do not want and we as a nation have fought a legal battle – P.A. Inamdar and Ors. vs State of Mahatashtra and Unni Krishnan vs State of Andhra Pradesh. In both the cases the Supreme court dictated terms and conditions in regulating or dictating fees when there is no particular Legislation in that regard. In the latter case, the SC laid down a formula for Public and Private partnership to develop higher education. Which led to the State creating barriers for Commercialisation.

In T.M.A.Pai Foundation and ors. vs State of Karnataka – The regulation of unaided colleges and the need for regularisation, standardisation of Higher Education was demanded for.

The NEP 2019, in effect opens up  the country for the foreign universities to set up shop in India. The cost of a foreign university will obviously be high. Where in again the socio-economic factor will play a huge significance. If my income determines the type of education I receive the state has failed in it’s duty. The socio-economic aspect will again take the shape of reservation vs merit, effectively keeping the problem alive.

The point being, NEP is a good policy but is so ambitious in its wordings and goals, I genuinely doubt the policy if there is credible stakeholder involvement, community feedback, importance, and focusing on Socio-Economic-Politically deprived sector of the society and the localisation of education and the process of implementation. Not the timeline but the process.

  • Socio-Economic-Political factor – Vocational Training. – Peer Based assessment.
  • Vocational Training –

The vocational training is one such thing that impressed me. But again has so much riding against it. What about the students who choose to prepare for IIT-IIM coaching which now is not that possible. The Social factors playing into this. The stigma of families are some big problems which have to be addressed.

  • Peer Based Assessment.

One particular issue in general that I am thinking of is the Socio -political factor. I have explained in my previous article how RTE has been affected by the Socio-Political factors, discrimination against the RTE students. How politics based on caste played a big role too.

So in this context same things would apply, especially including students of LGBTQI+ community in general too. Because no one sort of accepts them on the same footing and I don’t know how this will be addressed on the political, educational and social front.

  • Education starts from 3 years. Regulating the pre-school and day care industry was needed but, not mandated for. I am a strong proponent of the fact that a child’s development, especially the cognition and the language aspect of it learned until 5-7 years, better learned in an environment conducive to the learning, which is essentially with family and the parents or grandparents.

Also the fact that the Anganwadi centres are such ill-equipped with resources and technical man power to handle kids of such age.

  • The budget cuts for Education and then this ambitious policy which requires atleast a 5.8% or 6% of the GDP allocated for Education, begs me to question, where is the money to fund and support this policy will come from. If not the cost will be borne by the institutions which will be passed on to the Students in general making it expensive to study in an already growing inaccessible and expensive education sector where Economic factors play such big life changing decision roles.

Conclusion:

The NEP is a beautiful piece of policy. It is embedded with the future requirements of the nation. Aiming to provide for a quality and standard that is deemed necessary. But this is such an utopian dreamy policy, I am willing to wait till the fanfare dies down and the process and methods are released.

There are various socio-political issues that are intrinsically linked to this particular policy. I sincerely hope those get resolved. Everything is political but Education is one part that should not be played games with.  The policy though is a shift from Assessment based Education (UK) to a Skill and Liberal arts based Education (USA) the implementation is such a big question. This is such an ambitious attempt, hopefully we go the Scandinavian or Norwegian way of implementation.

Am willing to wait it out till the full curriculum mandate, legislation and resources are put in place. Which will be so late that I would have my own kid join the Education sector and maybe I would have the time and resources to look through the whole thing.


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