Young India! Aren’t we happy that the ambitious National Education Policy 2020 proposed by the present government has come at the right time or rather that it was high time? It replaces the 34 –year-old National policy on education framed in 1986 by the Rajiv Gandhi Government and modified in 1992. The sweeping transformation in the global economic and social ecosystem demands a corresponding overhaul of the educational system to prepare the future sitting in the classrooms for the emerging new world order. Therefore, National Education Policy 2020 is the shot in the arm for Gen Z.
My perception as teacher..
The revolutionary reforms proposed in the NEP 2020 are exciting and promising. Being in the teaching field for 18 years, I have seen the ennui of students build up over the years. Inevitably, the energy is particularly bubbling from std 6 onwards. In std 9 most of the energy and spontaneity is contained.
However, in some students that energy is expended towards disruptive behaviours. The significant lacuna I found in the existing model was that formal school education addressed only the mind and left out the soul. The theoretical part was heavy and the experiential part was light. Mind you, although NEP 1986 had proposed the promotion of value education and cultural education in addition to academia, it remained in the letter most of the time.
Gen Z are bold, beautiful and energetic !
Most 9-11-year-olds wriggle in their benches with their energies going all over the place, scattered! On an average 10 out of 40 students are hyperactive these days and a handful is self-actualized. The rest is neither here nor there and hover on the mid-ground. They are well behaved but disappointingly, their performance does not match their good behaviour. They have wonderful talents which the straitjacketed system does not give scope for expression and nurture.
Rote learning and examination based marks; the summative form of assessment has led to a tuition culture that runs parallel to school. Students are sent to tuition classes wholesale. School time, therefore, becomes playtime for kids who have decided to learn the after school classes.
The need of the hour, therefore is the Game-changer.
It is therefore urgent to incorporate productive outlets for energy. Creativity and curiosity have to be encouraged along with pedagogy. Education ought to mould the personality by taming instincts. It should quench inquisitiveness and stimulate innovation and invention at the same time. I see that possibility with NEP 2020 on paper. However, the catch is its implementation. That is where the magic lies. Needless to say, we need material and economic resources to actualize the NEP 2020.
These Five key takeaways of the NEP 2020 which will be game-changers according to me.
1. Recommendation of Local language as the medium of instruction till STD V and more (if desired).
Children indeed understand concepts in their mother tongue or local language better. This has been proved time and again by the brilliant scores bagged by students from regional schools. The recommendation of the National Education Policy 2020 will give impetus to the regional languages which are fading away. It will rejuvenate and enrich primary education with culture and celebration. But then, the option is only a recommendation and may not be feasible for many reasons.
I grew up in Bangalore and went to St. Theresa Convent School. The songs and dance of Karnataka which we were encouraged to participate in brings happiness and a sense of belonging no matter where I live even to this day.
2. Internship from std VI Onwards..
The incorporation of an internship in the National Education Policy 2020 is wonderful! It is certainly a perfect solution for restless and unmotivated students. Although teachers use audio-visual aids, it is not sufficient to hold the attention of the youngsters. Possibly due to technology overload. When impressionable kids lose the sense of awe and wonder, the future is bleak. Children need a walk in the fields or nature under the sky. They should be allowed to get their hands’ dirty playing with mud. They need to splash in the water. This is how the connection with nature develops and immunity is formed too. The virtual is a poor imitation of the real.
This means the voluminous syllabus must be reduced accommodating field trips and first-hand experiences.
The 10-days bag-less internship is the caveat of the National Education Policy 2020. It is that schedule in the calendar which students will look forward to. They will get the opportunity to apply knowledge and interact with peers in a make-believe world. It will hopefully fire motivation and inculcate decorum. Don’t you think that education should be a memorable journey of exploration, exposure and excitement instead of a lacklustre formality?
3. The interdisciplinary choice at Secondary and Higher education and two levels for Mathematics.
This opportunity provided by the National Education Policy 2020 is sure to engage the students. About 2/3rd of the class are not academically oriented. Thankfully, such students will be able to use the strengths of the left and right brain by choosing subjects in alignment with their capabilities and interest. They will find their magic formula which will open up avenues for excellent life and job skills in the future. How cool is that!
The two levels of mathematics switch by the National Education Policy 2020 will be a boon for those students who find the subject challenging. These students will finally get a breather and will have the opportunity to invest their time and energy in subjects that fire their innate talents. Wow! I wish this happened four decades earlier.
4. Multiple entries and exit at graduation level.
This tweak by the National Education Policy 2020 has been long overdue. Presently when students enter the 9th grade, it is like a pre-bachelor party year. They know that the noose will go round them from grade10 to 12. They want to freak out before the 3 stressful years when it will be all work and no play.
The undergrad course is like a tunnel, which once you enter, there is no turning back. Students are usually exhausted by the time they are through it. Most of them don’t want anything further to do with education. And God forbid, if they have made a wrong choice, then there is no going back. If they do, they will lose that year since it is unaccounted.
The National Education Policy 2020 allows students to take a drop after the first or second year of graduation and receive certification and diploma for having completed the same. They can go for an internship where they will get an opportunity for real-time experience and come back to finish off the graduation. These skilled graduates will now enter the job market with confidence, with a thing or two to add. Way to go!
Choosing the right profession is the most important life choice just like the choice life partner, if not more important.
5. Competency-based evaluation system and low stakes examination for middle school and High School.
A competency-based assessment has been proposed by the National Education Policy 2020. Competency-based assessment is formative assessment. It is an ongoing and continuous evaluation of skills gained over time. It takes into account the progress in areas like character and behaviour apart from academics. This change will remove the stress of rote learning and should hopefully motivate the students to modify their behaviour for better.
This will hopefully eliminate the indiscriminate tuition culture too. Killing two birds with one stone. The great part is that the time and resource saved can be utilized for nurturing the extracurricular personality of the child. I think it is a super life-shaping opportunity for young India.
Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as the apex body for entire higher education, excluding legal and medical education. The above mentioned regulatory body will integrate higher education. Students can bank the credits earned during graduation with the body which will be taken into account for bestowing the final degree.
National Education Policy 2020 looks good on paper; everything depends on its implementation by the state governments. Material and financial resources should be made available to walk the path of New India. The syllabus should be revamped. Obsolete parts should be deleted and new information and developments should be added. Thought-provoking exercises and divergent thinking should be encouraged to stimulate the scientist and entrepreneur in the student.
We are moving into an age where repetitive work will be taken over by machines. Scientists in social and general sciences, ideators and thought leaders will be in demand.
I am quite excited and optimistic about the policy change in the field of education.