NEP 2020: How new education policy will impact students
Timely and progressive, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 marks a historic development in our education system. First, with a focus on universalising access from early childhood to higher education, integrating over 2 crore out-of-school children, and efforts towards socio-economically disadvantaged groups, the NEP aims at ensuring last-mile delivery. Second, through a convergence of efforts and erasing conventional silos in workflows, early childhood care and education will be delivered through a new curriculum as well as a play- and activity-based pedagogy, bolstering the most critical phases of learning.
The 21st century classroom requires 21st century teachers. The NEP attaches respect to the teaching profession. Professional development of teachers, building their accountability through tenure track system and periodic performance appraisal, all can create a positive impact. The dismantling of rigid distinction between curricular, extracurricular and co-curricular subjects in school, and the provision of multiple entry and exit options in higher education gives flexibility to students to hone their skills and interests.
Also, the proposal to introduce vocational education from grade 6 onwards and the creation of a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE) will not only minimise the social stigma attached with taking up a vocation as a career, but will also expose them to multiple career paths, including entrepreneurship.
The cluster-based approach of developing school complexes, periodic assessment of competencies, National Testing Agency for conducting universal entrance examinations, and integration of technology are measures that will go a long way in bringing about the desired improvement in the quality of school education.
As against any major country where the percentage of students attending self-financed independent schools barely reaches double digits, about 50% of children attend such schools in India. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates, the total financial requirement for India to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 by 2030 is $2,258 billion, which for the years 2017-30 averages $173 billion per year, far exceeding the current government budget of $76.4 billion a year for education. It would be unrealistic to expect such large investments coming solely from the government and purely philanthropic initiatives.
The current regime has been strong on reforms; it’s time they open up the education sector to private investment that will bring the cost of education down. It is critical to recognise the role and contribution of independent schools in the policy narrative, and time is ripe for government and independent forces in education to start aligning and collaborating towards nation building.
We, at FICCI ARISE, are committed to work closely with the government and other stakeholders to chart out ways to implement the NEP 2020. Over the years, FICCI ARISE has created certain practically implementable frameworks covering various areas of school education. These frameworks are outcomes of nationwide consultations with various stakeholders, professionals and legal experts. Certain states have started adopting some of these frameworks. Going forward, FICCI ARISE shall be humbled to contribute in this area of ensuring practical implementation of path-breaking policy proposals.
The author is chairman, FICCI ARISE