Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Understanding text and context of National Education Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues in National Education Policy

The article critically examines the various aspects of the National Education Policy 2020 and the issue of flexibility and exams has been analysed closely.

Context of scepticism

  • The New Education Policy is a forward-looking framework for transforming Indian education.
  • But the past record on implementation of polity raises the concern that the New Education Policy should not turn out to be just “another document”.
  • Also, the emphasis in the document on critical thinking and free inquiry is entirely well placed.
  • But universities are being intimidated into political and cultural conformity.
  • The document lays down objectives; the strategy has yet to come.

Walking the tightrope

  • On the language issue it prefers the long-standing recommendation of primary education in the mother tongue.
  • But does not categorically recommend curb English.
  • On the basic architecture of delivery, policy does not show an inclination towards public or private education both in school and higher education.

School education: Most promising part

  • The policy focus on early child development, learning outcomes, different forms of assessment, holistic education, and,  recognises the centrality of teacher and teacher education.
  • The document recognises that “the very highest priority of the education system will be to achieve universal foundational numeracy and literacy.”
  • The suggestions for school education are ambitious, centred on the students, cater to their pedagogical diversity, and take on board the world of knowledge as it is now emerging.

Multidisciplinary education

  • The document mentions the word multidisciplinary a bit too much, without explicating what it means.
  • One way of thinking about this is not in terms of multiple subjects.
  • It is reorienting education from disciplinary content to modes of inquiry that allow students to access a wide variety of disciplines.

Two concerns

1) Flexibility issue

  • Under the policy, students might need different exit options.
  • But it is unclear if the diploma or early exit options all be made available within a single institution, or different institutions.
  • If it is within single institutions, this will be a disaster.
  • Because structuring a curriculum for a classroom that has both one-year diploma and four-year degree students takes away from the identity of the institution.
  • There is also a risk that without adequate financial support, the exercising of exit options will be determined by the financial circumstances of the student.
  • The flexibility offered through multidisciplinary education is against the principle that different institutions have a different characters and strengths.
  • A healthy education system will comprise of a diversity of institutions, not a forced multi-disciplinarity.

2) Issue of exams conundrum

  • The document rightly emphasises that focus needs to shift from exams to learning. But it contradicts itself.
  • Exams are burdon because of competition and cost in terms of opportunities.
  • So the answer to the exam conundrum lies in the structure of opportunity.
  • This will require a less unequal society both in terms of access to quality institutions.
  • Exams are also necessary because in a low trust system people want objective measures of commensuration.
  • So the policy reintroduces exams back into the picture by recommending a national aptitude test.
  • But the idea that this will reduce coaching is wishful thinking, as all the evidence from the US and China is showing.

Consider the question “The National Education Policy 2020 moves away from rigidity and offers flexibility in many ways. In light of this examine the flexible dimensions offered in the policy and issues with it.”

Conclusion

The policy is commendable for focussing on the right questions. But the hope is that with this our education policy can be transformed into a treat, not another trick.

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