The NEP 2020 envisions no improvement in the status of school teachers or empowering them to have a say in matters concerning education
Despite the fact that there is no agreement on the definition of the term education, there are many institutions and offices functioning for providing education to people. Because education is enshrined in the constitution of India asa right, policies and laws are laid down time and again to regulate it.The Government of India (GOI) on July 29 approved the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, replacing the NEP in vogue from1986.
Agreed that there is no harm in formulating new polices to live up to the expectations of the changing times, yet what is noteworthy is that the new NEP has come up after more than three decades, underlining the fact that this key sector did not get the due degree of attention for years together.Interestingly, the new policy was long overdue—for its flaws needing immediate attention—and its introduction indicates that education ranks high in the list of priorities that are essential for social upliftment and progress of the people.
Broadly speaking, the NEP 2020 proposes to introduce a 5 3 3 4 pattern in school education, a system of academic structure, which not only replaces the existing 10 2 system but also acknowledges that it is defective. Under this new patternthere shall be a foundational stage from 3 to 8, three years of pre-primary education from 8 to 11, a preparatory stage from 11 to 14 and the secondary stage would comprise 14 to 18 years. Thusa child shall complete 12 years of school and three of Anganwadi or pre-school.
That the child at a government school will start learning, under the new NEP, from nursery and kindergarten classes before entering the formal school education is a great step forward; this pre-primary stage will not only prepare the child for learning basics like alphabet and numbers but will also enable him/her to be at par with the child from a private school. This basic knowledge is essential for a beginner entering the first standard because it shows the child’s mental development and facilitates his/her smooth transition to the other classes. With no provision of pre-primary classes—under the current NEP—at a government school, children mostly remain weak or underperform while a child from a private school excels and displays brilliant performance in the subsequent classes.
For the successful implementation of the new pattern, there is a pressing need of developing the infrastructure and providing a trained staff of teachers at the Aanganwadi centers. Additionally,a workable monitoring mechanism is essential to ensure a strict execution of the new protocol—if implemented— and to ensure that the children do not suffer.
The new NEP also proposes to abrogate the pattern of examination being adopted by the boards of school education. As per the exiting norms, a board of school education tests a student’s memory of contents, not the real competencies of learning things. However, the new NEP envisions testing the real competency of students through a different pattern of examination.
Although critics say that the new exam pattern will not work on the ground level because mass copying and cramming has established deep roots in the education system, it is worthwhile to mention that testing the mental horizon and competency of students in terms of understanding the contents is no bad idea. Such a significant move will end the era of cramming; it will also prepare a student to read contents thoroughly, feeding him/her with a tonic of motivation and eagerness to understand contents better.
Another provision of significance in the new NEP is of making Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree mandatory for the teaching profession, a degree that basically trains a candidate for the teaching–learning process. B.Edequips the candidate with various techniques and methods that are essential for teaching effectively and efficiently.
However, there are certain key points which merit attention. The NEP 2020 envisions no improvement in the status of schoolteachers or empowering them to have a say in matters concerning education. Schooling lays the foundation of a child’s education and for that teachers are the frontline soldiers but school teaching is a low profile job with the teachers’ status witnessing a constant decline. A school teacher hardly manages to meet the basic needs of the family while an employee drawing meager salary than that of a teacher lives in luxuries and comfort. Moreover, thereis no transfer policy for 98% of school teachers who were recruited on the pattern of Rehber-e-Taleem (ReT) scheme for a mere Rs. 1500 a month. We have about 70 thousand Ret pattern teachers in the school education department in J&K; all of them have been working at their first appointment schools since the implementation of the ReT scheme in 2000 AD. Many such teachers are of the opinion that this long, long stay at the same school has demotivated them and induced the feelings of boredom and inferiority complex. Point to note is that only these ReT teachers work from the primary to the middle level with one or two teachers, whose services are transferable, from the selection boards. All the other employees enjoy transfer —an employee's right—except the ReT pattern teachers forming about 98% of the teaching staff from primary to the secondary level.
For the new NEP to be more effective, it is essential that teachers at all levels are empowered, given better working conditions and their issues in terms of status and salaries are resolved on priority