Decoding Draft National Education Policy 2019

The Draft National Education Policy 2019 is finally out after four years of continuous deliberations. Disagreements apart, we acknowledge that the Kasturirangan Committee has come up with a progressive and groundbreaking document supported by relevant research. Drawing from early important policy documents, the draft policy has touched upon every aspect of education from school to university level apart from vocational, adult and professional education. The draft policy has made a paradigm shift how we look to education and has suggested a complete overhaul of all sectors of education. Starting from school education for the first time some official document is accepting the severe learning crisis in school education. The document recommends that children between the age of 3-18 will be covered in school education instead of current 6-14 years of age which in turn will need amendment in the Right to Education. This recommendation is in line with research findings that almost 90% of brain development of a child takes place before the age of six. The policy believes that part of the learning crisis in schools are because of late admission of the children in the schools. To overcome this challenge the policy recommends huge expansion and strengthening of facilities for early childcare and education. Apart from this, a serious attempt will be made to reduce the curriculum content to its core only and enhance essential and critical thinking. The policy strives that a conducive environment will be created for quality school education and those students will be fully supported who have standalone interest or talent. The concept of school complexes which has been taken from the Education Commission of 1964-66 will be reintroduced for effective management and governance of schools and at the same time to end the isolation of a large number of schools which are located far off places with low enrollment.

Accreditation which was till date only used for higher education institutes will be introduced in school education in a pre-devised format to help build quality schools across the country.

For higher education again, a lot of innovative and novel ideas have been strongly recommended. The policy envisions that by 2035 Gross Enrollment Ratio at higher education should be 50% as compared to the current 25% which of course is a daunting task. The policy documents have accepted that there are serious problems with the quality of research in Indian universities and one possible reason for that is, possibly because of standalone research institutions having almost no link with universities where teaching is done. Moreover, research in universities has no link with industry and society at large. The draft policy has recommended that all higher education institutions will be categorized into three types only with all previous nomenclature no more in use. Type I universities or institutions devoted to world-class research and high-quality teaching across all disciplines. Type II universities and institutions will focus on high-quality teaching with significant contribution to research. Type III institutions most preferably colleges which will focus on high-quality teaching across disciplines. The concept of affiliating universities will be a thing of the past and in the future, all higher education institutions will become autonomous and self-governing entities. The draft policy has come heavily on sub stand teacher education colleges, of which 90% are of private colleges who have been selling degrees on a price and has recommended their immediate shutdown. A bold and innovative step for both school and higher education has been taken that no promotions or entitlement will be given on the basis of seniority rather on the basis of merit which will be predefined and combination of many things not necessarily only on the basis of qualification.

The policy for the first time has underscored the need for symbiosis of professional and liberal education in India, which under the circumstances is a radical shift in the thinking of the government. For the implementation of the document, the recommendations are that the government needs to spend 20% from the current 10% of total public investment to really expand and revitalize public education system.

We believe that this particular policy document with fine tuning needs to be implemented in its true spirit if we really want to come out of the current mess in all levels of education. We are also aware of the fact that this country has the track record of the creation of some of the finest documents with almost zero implementations. We wish that it must not happen again with this particular policy. In conclusion, we will wait and see if the political dispensation has the will and passion to back this policy both legally and financially.

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Post Author: Loknath Das

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