National Education Policy (NEP 2020): major implementation challenge

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Background :

Education is the primary engine of any society. There is a significant correlation between a country’s educational system, including its strategy and innovation, and its economic growth.

Therefore, the future of India, to a large extent, will be determined by the education system that we have. This is all the more important as India is one of the youngest countries in the world with a median age of around 29 years old. And these young people will determine the future of the country based on the education they receive.

It is in this context that the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) was born. With school education being the main building block, the policy makes very important recommendations to transform the Indian school system.

Main recommendations and objectives:

There are five (5) major recommendations intended to radically change the landscape of school education on the horizon of NEP 2020.

First, the focus is on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which brings students into formal education at age 3 instead of 6.

Secondly, it is proposed to restructure the entire education stream into four (4) blocks spanning 15 years with clear results at each level.

Third, a significant shift in educational focus is prescribed from memory to cognitive thinking (both lower and higher level), including analytical approach, problem solving and innovative thinking.

Fourth, the policy prescribes removing the traditional approach to segmented disciplines like arts, sciences or commerce and making education holistic and life skills based. And finally, emphasis will be placed on infusing Indian values ​​and ethics and teaching in the mother tongue whenever possible.

The grand aim of the policy recommendations has been to create an ideal, thoughtful and energetic exit suitable for entry into higher education and to bring Indian school education in line with international standards.

Implementation challenges and way forward:

The policy itself looks impressive in its outlook, but the real challenge lies in its very implementation. With education being in the concurrent list of the Constitution, there is bound to be some resistance from a few states. The multiplicity of councils and the total inequality of their content and level are other major obstacles.

But the greatest challenge will be the formulation of a revised curriculum and pedagogy at each of the four (4) stages of education and its effective implementation at the ground level. Considering the fact that India has one of the largest diverse school formations in the world with over 1.5 million schools and around 250 million students from different backgrounds, this is going to be a nightmare.

Changing the mindset of around 10 million teachers, many of whom come from rural backgrounds, will be another major hurdle. The lack of accreditation at the school level is currently the other quality control issue that needs to be addressed. The government’s intention may be serious and good with a lofty idea to take India into the next orbit, but achieving it is a real challenge.

If the policy is to achieve its stated goals, all stakeholders must come together to make it happen. It is undeniable that the results of the new school education will be totally different and independent-minded young people who will be true ambassadors of the ambitious new India. And let’s achieve the goals as soon as possible and make India the “knowledge center” of the world that it used to be.

(The author is the founder and organizer of the Higher Education Forum (HEF))

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