On July 29, 2020 Central Government of India has promulgated the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 with lofty ideals and ambitious plans to transform Education system in India for the coming 20 years. It has posed difficulties to intelligent minds for its ambiguities and lack of clarity with regard to its implementation.
Salient Features of NEP 2020:
- Forward-looking vision of NEP 2020 based on Constitutional values and Citizens’ responsibilities.
- Restructuring and Consolidation of Higher Education in India for more holistic and multidisciplinary approach with optimal Learning environment and student support systems.
- Catalysing Quality Academic Research with social bearing, equity and inclusion of all classes of students.
- Highly motivated and capable staff with effective governance and leadership.
- Curbing commercialization of education, reimagining vocational education and promoting professional education.
Areas of Concern:
- No Christian educator was involved in the whole exercise, in spite of Christian Contribution to Education.
- No mention of Minority Education Rights in NEP 2020.
- Under Constitutional values, there is no mention of Secularism.
- Reservation for SCs and STs do not find mention.
- The National Testing Agency (NTA) will serve as an autonomous testing organisation to conduct entrance examinations for admissions.
- Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) for every level of Teachers is mandated.
- Funding remains a major problem. The very Government which reduced spending on Education to 2.7% of GDP (admitted by the NEP Draft Document) from an earlier 4%, will not be able to fund for the major changes that are envisaged.
- NEP has decided also to remove the present governing structure of Education Institutions; “ Board of Governors (BoG) shall be established consisting of a group of highly qualified, competent, and dedicated individuals having proven capabilities and a strong sense of commitment to the institution. There shall be overarching legislation that will supersede any contravening provisions of other earlier legislation and would provide for constitution, appointment, modalities of functioning, rules and regulations, and the roles and responsibilities of the BoG” (19.2).
- Emphasis on Ancient Culture of Indian and study of Sanskrit.
Suggestions for Higher Education in the context of NEP 2020:
- There should be stress on Student Centred approach with holistic development affecting Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural dimension of students.
- Teachers should be trained to promote AWARENESS/Critical thinking among the students along with imparting knowledge and skills.
- Set up Research and Training Centres for training teachers for Motivation and Mentoring.
- Life Skills training should be given to all students.
- Study of Indian Freedom Struggle and Indian Constitution should be made mandatory for all students at Undergraduate level.
- Service Learning and Community engagement should be part of the curricula.
- Multi-religious and pluricultural context of India should reflect in the syllabus.
- Psychological and Career Counselling should be provided in College campuses.
- Innovative pedagogy and assessment should be used to achieve global standards.
- Gender balance and student support programmes should be enhanced.
- Scholarships should be provided to deserving students from below poverty line, especially for SC/ST and OBC students.
- The Government to define the Roles and Functions of four Councils (NHERC, NAC, HEGC and GEC) under Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) in order to operate in a transparent and objective manner without any discrimination. The members of these councils should be with proven track records and stature.
(Prepared by Joye James SJ, Secretary of Jesuit Higher Education in South Asia)