Special Content


Issue no 5, 30 APRIL - 6 MAY 2022

National Education Policy 2020 Transforming India As A Global Knowledge Hub

Dr. Rajesh Kumar

Indian education system is witnessing significant reforms with the advent of National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). The policy framework envisions a comprehensive roadmap from school to higher education system in the 21st Century, which is more experience and discussion based, investigation-driven and student centric. NEP 2020 envisages the idea of holistic and multidisciplinary approach, flexible teaching, learning and evaluation process through multiple-entry exit, and eradication of boundaries between various academic disciplines, activities and streams to promote unity and integrity of all knowledge.

The focus on conceptual understanding, creative and critical thinking with three language formula, emphasis on ethical and constitutional values, respect for local and diverse cultures, life skills, extensive use of new information and communication technologies and role of a teacher as a reformer are important aspects in the policy framework which will bring a sea change in Indian education system. NEP 2020 connects links with indigenous knowledge to the international education system and its various provisions may be elucidated as:

Holistic and Multidisciplinary Approach: The concept of holistic and multidisciplinary approach eliminates rigid boundaries between academic disciplines in education system that has been in existence for decades. It emphasizes on unity and integrity of all disciplines for knowledge creation and dissemination and empowers students through flexibility in academic programs such as science with humanities, social sciences, languages, professional skills, soft skills, ethical and constitutional values. This approach makes students understand the importance of human life and its objectives from various perspectives. It aims to develop all capacities of human beings such as intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional and moral in an integrated manner, which will serve for the betterment of an individual, society, nation and the world.

NEP 2020 proposes significant reforms in higher education by transforming them into multidisciplinary universities/institutions by 2040 and recommends to establish one large multidisciplinary institution in every district in the country by 2030. To meet these goals, all single-stream institutions shall be converted into multidisciplinary institutions or will become part of vibrant multidisciplinary higher education institution clusters. It will be further classified into Research Centric Universities (RCI) and Teaching Centric Universities (TCI). Here, the role of a teacher as a reformer is paramount who will shape the future of the nation. The policy recommends various ways to improve teacher education, recruitment, deployment, service conditions, empowerment and motivation of teachers.

Multiple-Entry Exit (MEE): The policy highlights multiple entry-exit system in the academic programs in higher education, which opens up immense possibilities for the students. This system has been organized in a series of levels which range from level 5 to 10 that allows a student to enter and exit at various levels and accordingly certificate, diploma and degree shall be awarded with required credits. It is a visionary initiative in a country like India, where the dropout rate is high in the higher education in general and school level in particular due to various reasons such as financial constraints, family issues and medical problems etc. This flexible system allows a student to join academic programs for the next level throughout his/her life.

Levels

Qualification Title

Semesters

Credit

Level 5

Undergraduate Certificate

II

36-40

Level 6

Undergraduate Diploma

II

72-80

Level 7

Bachelor Degree

II

108-120

Level 8

Bachelor Degree (Honours/Research)

VIII

144-160

Level 8

Post Graduate Diploma

II

36-40

Level 9

Master’s Degree (after obtaining Bachelor’s degree)

IV

72-80

Level 9

Master’s Degree [after obtaining Bachelor’s degree (Honours/Research)]

II

36-40

Level 10

Doctoral Degree

VI-XII

As per Ph.D Regulations

 

According to All India Survey of Higher Education 2019-20, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Indian higher education is 27.1%, which is to be raised to 50% by 2035 in order to meet the level of the global higher education system. Whereas, NSSO survey 2017-18 expressed concern over the status of drop out students in schools by pointing out the number aged between 6 to 17 years is 3.22 crores. Bringing them back and preventing further drop out from the school system is top priority. NEP 2020 targets to achieve 100% GER in preschool to secondary level by 2030 and 50% GER in higher education by 2035.

Academic Bank of Credits (ABC): One of the key provisions of the policy framework is Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), which facilitates students for multiple entry exit in higher education. It is a virtual/digital database which enables students to open their account and provide them an opportunity to store their credits, which may be used for higher education at any point of time in their life. ABC preserves the information of the credits and empowers students to choose academic programs as per their choice to attain Degree or Diploma or Certificate through multiple entry and exit mode. It allows flexibility of any-time, any-where and any-level of learning throughout the life.

Multilingualism Model for Education: It is one of the most important aspects that has been highlighted in the NEP 2020. The policy framework emphasizes multilingualism in teaching, and learning process from school to higher education system in order to inculcate conceptual understanding, creative and critical thinking among learners. Three-language formula shall continue in the process of knowledge creation and dissemination and students shall be encouraged to learn one or more languages apart from their home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language in an enjoyable manner and various tools of information and communication technology shall be used for the purpose.

Further, medium of instruction of teaching and learning shall be bilingual in and outside the classrooms and high-quality text-books, audio-video and e-content shall be made available in multiple languages in order to meet the aspirations of the people, region and the union. Creation of such content has already been initiated by National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) in various languages-Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. NPTEL is a joint venture of the IITs and IISc, which is funded by the Ministry of Education (MoE), Govt. of India. This initiative will promote various cultures through languages and will inculcate a sense of belongingness among people, which will strengthen national unity and integrity.

Online and Digital Education: The pandemic of Covid-19 has affected human civilization across the world. However, it has also paved the way for alternative modes of teaching, learning and evaluation process through various information and communication technology based platforms such as Zoom, Google meet, Google class, WhatsApp and many more in the education system. ICT enabled teaching and learning process has laid the foundation for online/digital education as per the mandate of Digital India. NEP 2020 envisages future possibilities in online/digital education and proposes carefully designed online courses by evaluating its pros and cons through pilot studies by appropriate agencies/institutions like NETF, CIET, NIOS, IGNOU, IITs and NITs etc.

Simultaneously, the policy framework encourages to optimize and expand existing digital platforms and ongoing ICT-based educational initiatives. In this regard, eradication of digital divide through concerted efforts for digital infrastructure such as availability of computing devices, internet facilities and digital literacy under the Digital India campaign is a must in every nook and corner of the country.

Further, e-learning platforms such as SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) for higher education, DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing), SWAYAMPRABHA (32 High Quality Education Channels through DTH) initiatives of the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India will be extended to the next level of teaching, learning and evaluation process.

These platforms shall be entrusted with to develop virtual labs for equal access and quality practical components to the students. Simultaneously a digital repository of content creation and dissemination shall be developed for coursework, games and simulations, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning etc. To meet these goals, an autonomous body, the National Education Technology Forum (NETF), will be established for standardization of content, technology, pedagogy planning and administration for online/digital teaching, learning and evaluation.

National Research Foundation (NRF): Knowledge creation and research is pivotal for any Knowledge based Society and has utmost importance for growing and sustaining in the global scenario. A robust ecosystem of research for attainment of intellectual wealth by creating new knowledge is the need of the hour. In global scenario, the research and innovation investment in United State of America is 2.8%, Israel (4.3%) and South Korea (4.2%), whereas in India it is only 0.69% of the GDP. India has to expand significantly in output based research across disciplines in the near future.

The policy envisions a far-reaching approach for revamping research and innovation landscape in India by creating a National Research Foundation (NRF), which will act as a nodal body to fund competitively, peer-reviewed grant proposals of all types of institutions and across all the disciplines. It will act between various stakeholders such as researchers, government and industry so that research may be conducted as per need of the society and nation as well. NRF will also recognize outstanding research and progress.

Arrival of Foreign Universities: NEP 2020 has highlighted the need for internationalization of higher education and has recommended allowing top foreign universities to establish their campuses in India. Accordingly, a survey titled 'Establishing International Branch Campuses in India' was conducted by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Govt. of India in 2020-21. The survey shows that eight (8) foreign universities are interested in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2021. Five (5) out of eight (8) universities are from the United States of America and one (1) each from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

In Union Budget 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam anannounced that foreign universities will be allowed to operate from Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) at Gandhinagar, which will be free from domestic regulations. The arrival of foreign universities will pave the way for establishment of 'Global Knowledge Hub' in India.

 Regulatory Framework for Higher Education: Indian higher education system has witnessed heavy handed regulations for decades through multiple attempts with little output. There has been lack of coordination among various regulators, thereby leading to conflict of interests and lack of accountability. NEP 2020 strongly recommends for complete overhauling of the regulatory framework by creating four institutional structures carrying out four essential functions independently under one umbrella i.e., the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).

National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), a 'light but tight' regulator shall be the first institutional structure under the HECI, which will function as a single regulator for higher education including teacher education and excluding medical and legal education. Whereas, National Accreditation Council (NAC), a meta accrediting body shall be the second institutional structure, which will primarily function as a body to develop a robust system for accreditation. It will set the quality parameters such as basic norms, self-disclosure, governance, and outcomes for systematic growth of higher education institutions.

The third institutional structure will be Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC), which will look after the funding and financing of higher education institutions. The entire process shall be based on transparent criteria in which the Institutional Development Plan (IDP) prepared and implemented by an institution shall be examined. Whereas, the fourth institutional structure shall be the General Education Council (GEC) under the HECI. It will set expected learning outcomes for higher education programs. Accordingly, the process of National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) has been initiated which will be synced with the National Education Qualifications Framework (NSQF) with an objective to ease the integration of vocational education into higher education. Overall, National Education Policy 2020 envisages building a legacy of traditional to modern education by broadly covering various aspects in school and higher education system with important reforms and foresees India as a 'Global Knowledge Hub' in the 21st Century. However, the effectiveness of NEP 2020 depends on its implementation, which will be done in a phased and time bound manner in coordination with all the stakeholders and most importantly review of various provisions of the policy frame-work at the ground level is must.

(The author is Assistant Professor (Sr.) & Coordinator, Department of Mass Communication, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, and Sports In-charge, Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi. He can be reached at rajesh.kumar @cuj.ac.in.)

Views expressed are personal.