SEEDS FOR PARADIGM SHIFT IN NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY The Education Ministry has presented the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 for public discourse and invited suggestions by July 31, 2019. There are several provisions/ points in the policy that can transform the scenario of education. A list of such seed points has been enlisted. Let us make an action plan on these seed points.
1. Change of Name: The Draft NEP has proposed to rename the Union Ministry for HRD as the Ministry of Education (MoE). Keeping Bharat-centric feelings in view, we welcome this proposal. We suggest the word ‘culture’ too, be added to it. At the time of independence, the name was Education and Culture Ministry. Presently, there are around 150 such institutes under the Ministry of Culture that are engaged in the education of various disciplines of the Arts (Kalas). The work of education and giving values (samskaras) would be more effective and holistic if the two ministries are merged.
2. National Education Commission: It has been a long pending demand of teachers and educationists that the management and operation of education should be completed in the hands of educators & academicians. The draft has proposed a National Education Commission. The proportion of educationists should be increased to ensure a more autonomous and powerful commission. About 50% of the 20-30 members would be academicians in the present draft. The outline given by Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal has suggested about 60-70% of educationists as members of the Commission. Honorable Prime Minister as Chairperson is welcome. However, it is suggested that the commission would be more autonomous if an eminent scholar of national reputation is appointed as Vice Chairperson instead of Education Minister as proposed. In addition, the commission should not merely be a recommendatory body but have executive powers. All the controllers should be under this commission. Both these revolutionary provisions should be given a place at the beginning of the final outcome of the Education Policy.
3. Flexibility: Flexibility is a very important aspect of the structure of education. The draft NEP has recommended a structure of 5+3+3+4. In this structure, Pre-primary education has also been included in the first five years as the ‘Foundation Stage’. The Grades 9-12 have been clubbed into one. Flexible alternatives have been provided in choosing the alternatives for subjects. The policy has removed the divide between science, arts, and commerce and provides alternatives to choosing mixed subjects. 40 subject credits to be achieved in 4 years. 15 vocational subjects are mandatory. The form of education will change after the implementation of this provision. There are provisions for under-graduation and graduation in higher education too. Provision of multiple exits should also be there. For instance, a student who has to leave education after completing the first year should get a certificate. After completing the second year, the student should get padvika or diploma and a padvi or degree after completing three years. Those completing 4 years of under-graduation should get Honours Degree. The student having Pass Degree should be required to pursue Post Graduation of 2 years while those having an Honours Degree should be offered 1-year Post Graduation.
4. National Education Policy: Initially, when the work was started on the Education Policy in 2015, it was called the ‘New Education Policy’. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal has consistently been vocal before society & government that a new education policy comes in every 10-15 years but if we want any real change in the long-term effect in the education system then it would be more appropriate to name it as National Education Policy this time. The government used the term ‘National Education Policy’ while assigning the responsibility to author the draft for the education policy to Kasturirangan Committee. The committee to has presented a ‘National Draft’ in a true sense before the society. This draft is a true national draft in several dimensions. For the first time, an education policy was drafted after receiving extensive participation of such a large number of people. Discussions were held on education policy in over one lakh villages. The draft of education policy is national in a cultural sense also. We see several matters on conformity to the original thought process of Bharat in this draft. We can clearly see the draft completely changing old foreign education policy and creating the foundation of a Bharat-centric and nation-building education system. In that sense also, this education policy is national.
5. Bharatiya Language: The importance of Bharatiya languages has been underlined in the draft NEP 2019. The policy also recommends for the availability of higher education in the Bharatiya languages. This could be a revolutionary reform. It is important to provide alternatives of Bharatiya languages in all courses including vocational courses like engineering & medicine. This will increase the importance of the Bharatiya languages in primary classes. This point has been mentioned in the Chapter on ‘Language Policy’ but it is important to include it in the chapter on higher education as well. The point that mother tongue or first language should also be the medium of education at pre-primary and primary levels, should be included in the chapter on School Education. Shastriya Language is mentioned in Language Policy, but its definition is not clear. Sanskrit is not just a language among innumerable languages. Its importance in the pure study of all languages is universally known. This point has been mentioned in the preamble and chapter of Language of the NEP, but Sanskrit faces the most injustice in implementing the three-language formula. The State Language and English become compulsory, but Sanskrit is ousted if Hindi is emphasized in the non-Hindi speaking States. Therefore, in addition to the three-language formula, Sanskrit should be considered as the foundation of Linguistics and taught like Yoga from pre-primary to 8th standard compulsorily.
6. National Research Foundation (NRF): National Research Foundation is a revolutionary concept that would provide new momentum to research in higher education. This would enable research that is purposeful, effective, and socially useful. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal-inspired Research for Resurgence Foundation (RFRF) is also effectively working with these objectives. We suggest the government to hand over the responsibilities of NRF to RFRF.
7. Teacher: The reverence for teachers has always been of utmost importance in Bharat which seems to be deteriorating in the last few years. Society will become capable if the teacher-hood is re-established in society. For this, two suggestions have been provided in the NEP – a commercial form of teacher education and a complete ban on contractual appointments. Presently, becoming a teacher is seen as the last alternative. Draft NEP says that the two-year B.Ed. the course should be discontinued immediately and only a four-year B.Ed. Integrated courses are allowed so that after completing Grade 12, only the dedicated youths would seek admission to teacher education courses. Presently, the teaching staff, teachers called Gurujis that are working on daily wages, perform the duties of teachers but are given meager salaries. Therefore, abolishing this provision is also a welcome proposal. This is an effective measure in enhancing the prestige of the teacher.
8. Vocational Education: There is a great delusion in the whole country about skill education, but it has not been given proper space in formal education. Vocational education has been integrated with school education in draft NEP. The 15 out of 40 subject credits from Grades 9 to 12 are from vocational subjects. In this way, vocational education has been made a part of mainstream education.
9. Full Autonomy: The issue of autonomy, started with National Education Commission, has been extended to educational institutions. The recommendation to provide full autonomy to all the Degree Colleges in Higher Education is in the draft. In school education also, the revolutionary idea of providing private schools the right to decide their fees is in the draft NEP 2019. There is only one compulsion that education should be provided with servitude. Degree Colleges have been provided academic, administrative, and economic autonomy. They have also been provided the right to decide their curriculum. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal welcomes this autonomy, but it will not solve the commercialization of education. Revolutionary solutions need to be implemented for this purpose. Merely speaking about philanthropic educational institutes is not enough, it is also essential to make orderly arrangements to control profit-oriented educational institutions. Shikshan Mandal suggests that permission should be given to open commercial educational institutions and it should be appropriately presented in society. This would enable parents to decide whether they want to admit their wards in philanthropic institutes or commercial ones.
10. Pedagogy: Presently, there are discussions on learner-centric and child-centric education. Several measures have been taken for this. Most of them are constraining for teachers. Many teachers feel bound by them. The idea of Bharat is Learning Centric and Teacher-based education. Both these aspects have been given due importance In the draft NEP. The student is responsible for his study. The teacher has the role of guidance and cooperation. With the credit system from Grade 9, the responsibility of learning will be on students. On the other hand, the responsibility for curriculum design has been bestowed upon teachers. If both perform their roles properly, this seed has the potential to create an ideal education system like Gurukul.
11. Socially Supported: There has always been an emphasis on ‘Govt. free Education’ in Bharat, but it does not mean the present form of privatization. Education has always been the responsibility of society. Therefore, it is expected that society should support the education system. There is provision for societal participation in the management of educational institutions in the draft, but it is also important to mention ‘social’ in place of ‘private’ institutions. Clubbing commercial private educational institutions with philanthropic social institutions and calling them ‘private’ for being non-government and using the same criteria for their control is not appropriate. The participation of society could be ensured at all levels by removing this anomaly.
12. Financial Abundance: For the past several years, all the educational organizations have been demanding that the expenditure of the government in the education sector should be increased to 6% of GDP. Keeping this point into cognizance, the draft policy has recommended 30% of the total expenditure to be allocated to education. The draft policy has also suggested amendments in the law to make provision for the contribution of business & industry in education through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund. If the suggestion is implemented with political willpower, an abundance of financial resources would be available in the field of education and revolutionary measures like the regularization of teachers could be implemented.
13. Universality: There was never a demarcation of boundaries in Bharat in the field of knowledge. Our teachers have provided knowledge throughout the world and seekers from across the world have been coming to Bharatiya universities to gain knowledge. This condition changed after foreign rule in Bharat and we got confined to our political boundaries. Presently, Bharatiya universities cannot open campuses in foreign countries. There is also a very limited possibility for admission of foreign students to Bharatiya universities. The draft education policy clears these boundaries. Along with welcoming foreign universities in Bharat, the education policy has recommended opening campuses of Bharatiya universities in foreign countries. Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal welcomes this recommendation. There is no objection to the arrival of foreign universities in Bharat. Only one thing should be clear they will not be provided any special facilities in Bharat. The foreign universities will be governed by the same rules or laws which are applicable to Bharatiya universities. This issue has not been clearly mentioned in the present draft. Therefore, Shikshan Mandal suggests that this issue should be paid attention to in the final draft of the policy.
14. Foundation Courses: Starting from high school to higher education, every year the foundation courses of half of the total marks have been made compulsory along with the special subjects. This is necessary for holistic education. Some fundamental/basic things are mandatory for all, be it any subject specialist. The history of country, geography, knowledge of her traditions along with the common civil code such as how to walk on road, rules for cleanliness/hygiene etc. are also needed as important provisions in formal education. The issues such as the value of time, time management, and strict punctuality should also be made a part of this foundation course. The information related to environmental awareness, common financial discipline, banking, etc. This should be included in the gradual progression of the foundation course.
15. Curriculum for Idea of Bharat: The issues related to the curriculum for cultural & spiritual knowledge of the country have also been mentioned. Presently, a book named ‘Rashtra Gaurav’ (Pride of Nation) is part of the curriculum in school education in Uttar Pradesh. In the NEP, recommendations have been provided to integrate a curriculum on the Idea of Bharat based on the knowledge tradition of Bharat, points of honor, and Bharatiya wisdom traditions, at each level of education. There is an urgent need to work on this point. A graded curriculum that would provide students with the whole knowledge of Bharat starting from primary education or Grade 1 to the Post Graduation level should be prepared.
16. Transparent and Qualitative Management: Institutions like MCI, ICAR & BCI constituted for regulation of professional courses have become the centers of trading and corruption. Suggestions are given for the complete change in the roles of these institutions in the draft NEP. These institutions should be the professional standards-setting body (PSSB), not the controller. After completing education, they should conduct a Common Exit Exam for quality control like CA Association.
17. Participation of Industry: Besides ensuring economic support at the time of financial crisis, the draft NEP has also recommended the participation of the industrial sector in academic activities. Higher education could be made more practical by involving the participation of industries in academic activities like the framing of curriculum, research, and working experience for teachers. The experience in the industry has been provided equal status to academic experience for the appointment of teachers in higher education. With this provision, those having first-hand experience in industries would also be eligible for faculty recruitment. These teachers would prove to be more effective.
18. Institutes of National Importance for Arts & Social Sciences: Despite being interested in Arts & Literature, several students opt for IITs merely for social prestige. The institutions like ISER and NISER were started around 10-15 years back to increase the interest of students in Fundamental Sciences. This education policy has decided to establish such institutions of national importance in the Arts field. The draft NEP has suggested establishing the Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts (IILA) and also the Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) for translation. Similarly, for social sciences – the Indian Institute of Social Sciences (IISS) and for language – the Indian Institute of Languages & Linguistics (IILL); should also be considered. The institutes of national importance should also be opened for the sports and military disciplines so that every student should have the alternative to opt for prestigious higher education as per his/her talent.
19. Bharat Centric: The special feature of this draft NEP is that it is Bharat-centric at all levels. Policies have been suggested as per the conditions of Bharat. There is a discussion about global standards & competition, but there is no place for the blind following to achieve global ranking. There is the possibility of accepting global ideas after adapting them to indigenous conditions. These points should be emphasized at the time of implementation. There is an imminent need for contextualization of all the branches of disciplines. The draft presents a detailed plan for medical education as per the condition of Bharat. For instance, there is a proposal to convert every district-level hospital into a medical college so that an adequate number of required doctors could be trained. The draft makes special provisions for teachers deployed in rural & remote areas. There are many such special provisions with respect to Bharat in this policy. If implemented properly, it can bring revolutionary change.