The Union Cabinet approved the draft on New Education Policy on July 29, 2020 NEP-2020. NEP-2020 has been discussed at national as well as international forum via different means i.e., webinars, seminars, workshops etc. The implementation of the policy is likely to come in place from the year 2022, with students having different choices and patterns to follow. In 1947 when Britishers left India, the goals and objectives of policy makers with respect to education policy which of-course followed in coming years can be discussed under 4E approach, as was presented by Dr Shahshi Tharoor at one of the Ted talks. These 4Es are as under:
Expansion: Expansion was our first priority in education, when British left us in 1947, with a 16% literacy rate. So obviously, expansion was essential; we’ve gone right from that 16% to 74% literacy today. So expansion has taken place at a large scale.
Equity: That is, including the excluded from the education and trying to reach out to the unreached, and that became a big challenge and a priority for education.
Excellence: Obviously, we need quality. And we set about setting up institutions of great quality in our country. As a result, IITs and IIMs were established.The IITs, and IIMs have tended to be islands of excellence. We can get an idea about the quality of the education provided in these institutions that CEOs of leading companies like Google, IBM, VMware, Twitter all are IITians.
Employability: This factor needs to be stressed, and became one of the motivating factors of NEP-2020.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry did a survey - 64% of employers are not satisfied with the quality of graduates they’re getting. Not only that, but if one talks to employers, to CEOs; they would tell that they’re simply not satisfied with the quality of the graduates they’re getting. Some companies are running, essentially, re-education places; for instance - Infosys’ gigantic campus in Mysore.
Now, that’s the scale of the challenge that we face. What are we doing about it?
The four 4E approach presented by Dr Shashi Tharoor in itself represented a strong vision and has undoubtedly brought health and magnanimous transformations in our education sector, however the challenges that we face in current era have become much more tough in terms of employability and career opportunities.
In 2020, the average age of an Indian is 29, compared to 37 for China, 48 for Japan, Europe 46, and the United States is 40. International Labour Organization has worked out that by 2020, we’ll have 160 million people in the age group of starting workforce. India as a country, in terms of population viz-a viz as per estimates and data provided by ILO has young dynamic and productive population, which puts forward some tough challenges in the form of imparting of skills to our youth, making our curriculum structure more flexible, multidisciplinary, holistic, incorporating scientific temper among students, in calculate among students deep rootedness and pride in India and least but not last the spirit to develop rational thought. NEP-2020 has taken cognizance of all these challenges and provided a framework, how to deal with such challenges. The key areas that NEP-2020 has focussed are as under:
(1)With word going transformations at very large pace in subjects like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data many of the unskilled jobs will be taken by machines that will be a serious challenge. However the need of skilled work force will be required, at the same time with the conjunction of many fields like Mathematics, Computer-Science, Data science social-sciences and humanities will require more skilled workforce.
(2) The concept of critical thinking and creative thinking must evolve among the students at a very tender age, in addition to this pedagogy must be more experimental, holistic, discussion based and enjoyable.
(3) There should be inherent realization of core values related to nation building like, fundamental duties of a good citizen, knowledge of India and protection of environment. Focus to be given on integration of different subjects, skills and capacities.
(4) Incorporation of mathematical and computational thinking among students through a variety of innovative methods like regular use of puzzles and games that make mathematical thinking more enjoyable.
(5) The field of ICT, which with each passing day is bringing newer reforms how we live our life and as such our education system need to have curriculum designed to expose students to such technologies.
(6) Significant expansion in innovation and research must evolve in higher education institutions. Our education system must make aware our students about the diversity and culture which exists in the Country.
(7) Professional education must involve critical and interdisciplinary thinking. It must focus on discussion, debate, research, and innovation.
(8) As per Global Risk Report 2021 of the World economic forum (2021), cyber security ranks 4th most critical threat to the world. With the digitalisation program being undertaken by government on a massive scale under the banner Digital India and as education and learning has already shifted to cyberspace, it is mandatory that the data privacy and protection is ensured and for that our cyber space and networks must be highly secure. With these challenges adoption of cyber security resilience in our curriculum has been adopted by NEP-2020 so that cyber security skills can be incorporated among the students and is given prime importance.
(9) As per 12th fifth year plan (2012-2017), only a less percentage approx. 5% in the age group of 19-24 received formal vocational education, whereas it is quite high in countries like USA (52%), Germany (75%) and in South Korea it is as high as 96%. These estimates underline the importance and urgency to increase and hasten imparting of vocational education in India. The perception of vocational education being inferior to mainstream education needs to be completely reimagined and reframed, further It is targeted that by 2025 almost 50% learners have access to vocational education, with clear targets and timeliness developed.
Further it has been stressed in NEP-2020 that, If India has to evolve as Vishwa Guru our education system must develop robustly and provide top education at an affordable price. Faculty development must occur to ensure that each faculty member is happy, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated towards advancing her/his students, institution, and profession.
(The Author is Assistant Professor PG Deptt of Information Technology, Sri Pratap College, Cluster University Srinagar. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org)