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NEP: A Modi vision to put Indian education on fast track for $5 trillion economy?

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

There’s a lot of curiosity, concern, confusion, complexity and even clamour about the New Education Policy, which, by all means, will be implemented by 2024. According to NEP, learning should be holistic, joyful, stress-free, and a lifelong process. Let me explain it in a nutshell. The NEP (New Education Policy) aims to make India a global leader in education by improving access, equity, and quality of education at all levels, from early childhood education to higher education and vocational training.
The policy emphasizes on providing quality and affordable education to all children in the age group of 3-18 years. It emphasizes holistic and multidisciplinary education instead of rote learning. Students will now be tested on their abilities to apply concepts to solving real problems rather than on how well they remember things from books. It envisages a system where there is no distinction between rural and urban areas, and all children have access to quality education.
The school curriculum in India has been updated to incorporate more core concepts and vocational education. The policy also focuses on providing vocational and technical education to students so that they are better equipped to enter the workforce. The policy proposes to set up a National Higher Education Regulatory Council to oversee the regulation of higher education institutions.

Developing 21st century skills

The New Education Policy also emphasizes the importance of developing 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving in all students. This is neither child-centric, nor teacher-centric. This is learning-centric. The new system is 5+3+3+4 instead of 10+2. The first stage is the “Foundation Stage” of 5 years where the first 3 years will be of “Anganwadi” Balvatika” and games and the next two years will be of classes 1 and 2. The second stage will be the “Preparatory Stage” from classes 3 to 5 with the introduction of the sciences, Maths and humanities. The third stage will be the “Middle Stage” with a defined syllabus from classes 6 to 8. The fourth stage will be the “Secondary Stage” from classes 9 to 12. Sanskrit will be available to all students as an option for their education, with three language formulas, at school and college levels. Vocational education will start in school with grade 6, also known as middle school for those who are not interested in pursuing formal education. Internships will be a part of that vocational education curriculum as well.
The ABC (Academic Bank of Credit) will be created as a digital recognition awarded for a student’s academic performance. ABC can allow universities to verify an institution’s credits, or schools can use it to reward or recognize students. It can help to keep track of the credits each student has earned over time. A big facility in this new system is that any person can discontinue and rejoin to complete the course.

Learning-based education

Focus on online learning to ensure that students are educated to the highest standard. In the new system, e-learning will be expanded to include online courses, which will provide flexibility in terms of location and time for students. By the end of 2040, they aim that all universities will become multidisciplinary institutions, each of which will have 3000 or more students. College affiliation will be phased out in the coming 15 years. At least one oversized multidisciplinary HEI (higher education institution) should be built-in or near every district by 2030. If implemented honestly, this will leave the Harvards, Browns, Balliols and Oxfords!
This is one of the ways we can make our schools more connected to their communities and provide them with growth opportunities. The pedagogical structure in the proposed NEP is based on the principles of ‘learning by doing, ‘learner-centricity,’ and ‘active learning.’ Under this structure, students will be actively involved in their learning and encouraged to think critically and solve problems independently.
Teachers will act as facilitators, guiding students through the learning process. This structure is in line with the latest research on how people learn best. It also aligns with the government’s goal of making India a ‘knowledge powerhouse.

360 degree progress card

The comprehensive 360-degree approach allows teachers to observe the learner and measure progress in different ways, such as through self-reporting or measuring the learner’s achievement on multiple competencies and skills. This also allows them to use the most effective methods in their classrooms. With a comprehensive 360-degree progress card, improvement of assessment and tracking of student progress to achieve learning outcomes in all walks of life.
Frankly speaking, any Indian's chest would inflate with pride when one compares the educational fabric of India to that of the rest of the world countries because after the advent of the marvellous Modi magic and mastery resulting into multifaceted and multidimensional disciplines in the field of education, the country is proceeding on a fast track. Gone are the days, when we looked towards the West for good education as India is way ahead of them. In “The Worldwide Education for the Future Index” (WEFFI) 2021, India jumped five ranks as per a report published by “The Economist Intelligence Unit”. The index ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education. The report also added that among the world’s largest economies, that is, the US, UK, France and Russia, all fell back in the index, while India took steps forward.

Vision and mission of moral and spiritual values

In the words of Mr Amit Shah, the Indian Home Minister, “The educated masses of any country act as the backbone of development and progress. It gladdens me to state that today Indian youth have more knowledge than ever before owing to the system being learning centric and immense strides made in all walks of life, especially, governance, education and marketing, under the present government led by the visionary Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. “The intellectual cacophony that surrounds us can only be resolved when we realize that an education that ignores moral and spiritual values cannot qualify as a qualitatively moral education. He added that as per Taittarya Upanishad, our success mantra, is: Matri Devo Bhava, Pitri Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava. (Respect the mother, the father and the teacher) practices, had remained fearless when attacked by men of physical might.
According to the present Minister of Education, Mr Praadhan, “India has become a preferred destination for higher education owing to her all-round expertise from science to humanities. Therefore, under its “Study in India” programme, Ind-SAT is proposed to be held in the Asian and African countries. It shall be used for benchmarking foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education institutions. Truth is that the medical systems of US and UK will collapse, if Indian doctors come back. The IITs are considered to be one of the world’s best.

Value education

Even today, some major enrichment in all walks of the educational fabric of India, especially, value education with the quantum leap in areas such as — critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as digital and technical skills in the overall educational scenario.
When asked about the overall purpose of education, Nishank sagaciously stated, “I believe that the purpose of education is that literature should sensitize us to the importance of human feelings and emotions. Our study of economics should sensitize us to the human condition in the context of the material aspects of life; our study of history is meaningful only if it sensitizes us to the havoc of fighting wars and our study of the sciences is momentous only if it sensitizes us to the parameters of human existence and the infinite patterns and rhythms of life.” A very sincere attempt has been made to identify learning outcomes for various classes and specially, priority has been ensured that the benefit reaches the poorest of the poor standing at the tail end of society.
During the last six years, schemes like — SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds), Paramarsh (mentoring institutions seeking NAAC accreditations), Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat (strengthening libraries and reading habits with books), E-Vidya (digital education), Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (working in the rural areas), Khele India Khile India (grant for sports and physical education), Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, Pariksha pe Charcha (Discussion on tackling exams), Dhruv (mentoring and nurturing talented children to enrich their skills and knowledge so that they can realize their full potential) under the aegis of Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Program, DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing), aiming at “One Nation, One Portal”, Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat – Bhaashaa Sangam, GIAN (Global Initiative of Academic Network) and Yukti Web Portal for the online education — have been actively working.
So far as the minorities are concerned and especially the Muslim masses, there has been a very enterprising program for the uplift of madrasa education, By the way, as stated by the governor of Kerala, no madrasa teaches, "Sar tan se juda" (begeading). The government aims at modernizing madrasas system making it a perfect blend of deen aur duniya (religious and secular) with the introduction of SPEMM (Scheme for Providing Education to Madrasas / Minorities) and SPQEM (Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas) matching with Prime Minister Modi’s resolve for "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas" for Muslim education mantra, “Mein her Muslim ke ek hath mein Quran aur ek mein computer dekhna chahta hoon.” (In each Muslim’s one hand I want to see the holy Quran and the other, a computer). Truly, with the legacy of Swami Vivekananda, vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and soul of Narendra Modi, India is bound to be the vishwa guru, leader of the world, as rightly pointed out by the prime minister.
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Firoz Bakht Ahmed is the former chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University

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