New Education Policy: Critical Analysis
A good education is the first step towards change in society and one’s life. Education is a ray of light in the darkness and plays a vital role in developing the country and ensuring decent living of the citizens, the Education policy of a country is a significant aspect that should be taken in consideration when talking about the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation by Education.
Education is the basic key for determining human skills, developing society from conservative norms and customs, and overall promotes national development. The cultural heritage and philosophy of education present in ancient times like the pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (Pragya), and truth (Satya) is the highest human goal. From Takshashila, Nalanda, Vallabhi and other world-class institutions of the ancient times promoted the multi-disciplinary teaching and research.1
In India, after a period of 34 years, there is a change in the education pattern, and the New Education Policy was announced by the government on 30th July 2020. The objective of the policy is to mend and rectify the education system prevailing in India and come up with the education subsistence of the 21st Century.2
Looking back, many efforts were made to change the existing education policy but they were not fully recognized. The very first attempt was made by Prof DS Kothari in 1966 and later by Rajiv Gandhi in 1992, but the policy continued to have its existence until now. The students in the present system, tend to focus more on ‘memorize and reproduce on paper’ without even getting the concept or analyzing the subjects through critical thinking. A picture is presented that the system, marks in the report is seen more than the practical knowledge of a student. It is even that some subjects are considered less important and not valued as much as they should be, impart education. The period of 34 years plays a vital role in this, as there has been no change in these years, it therefore it considered that the grades and report card defines your potential and not any other co-curricular activities.3
All these factors present us with a view of why there is an urgent need for new education policy, and to bring new changes, increasing student’s participation and focusing more on the practical knowledge of education as the existing education system has now become outdated and faulty. This article assess and critically analyzes the new education policy through the plans and mechanisms described therein by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Salient Features of The New Education Policy
1. School Education Pattern
The main aim of this policy is to take into regard the preliminary education of a child, age 3-6 years who has access to “free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education” by the year 2025. The view considered in this is the fact a child’s brain 90% brain develops before the age of six years.4 A well Early Childhood Care and Education program is the keystone that will focus not only on the early years of the studies but also on the health and nutrition of the mother. This ECCE policy if implemented properly will provide the children who are in elementary school, the basic learning and ability to read and write. The concept of foundational literacy and numeracy is taken into this policy so that the students don’t drop out of school.
There was three division of subjects after 10th class into science, commerce and Humanities, but it created a system that science stream was always preferred than the other streams, moreover the students were mainly interested in variety of subjects. The new policy will seek the multidisciplinary approach, and there will be no strict division of subjects. The academic structure is now changed and there will not be a 10+2 but a 5+3+3+4 system, as that of a Western education system. In this, pre-school will start from the age of 3 and then the preparatory stage from 3 to 6 followed by classes 1 and 2 for the next two years, and the other three years will be for classes 3 to 5. These stages will include activity-based classroom learning while from class 6 to class 8 will focus more on experimental learning. From class 9 to class 12, the students will be provided with more flexibility in choosing the subjects and a multidisciplinary approach would be followed.
The NEP focuses more on reducing the burden of the students and increase the critical thinking of the students, giving a scope of holistic, experimental, discussion learning. Multilingualism is given preference in schools with sign language and the Sanskrit language will be introduced in schools.5
One significant change in this is also how the Mother tongue will be used as a medium for teaching until grade 5th class. Students can give the exam whenever they want and also are free to retake the exam if they want to do better.
This policy also specifies certain qualities of teachers that benefit the students, and to handle the problems like teachers not taking initiatives to recruit the best teachers, shortcomings, and optimal development of teachers, the special merit-based scholarships will be given along with guaranteed employment and other incentives.6
2. Higher Education Pattern
The NEP replaces the current fragmentation of the higher education system, which does not provide any checks to college and institutions, and gives us a more energetic system for any student. Same as provided in school, a multi-disciplinary approach is introduced in Universities and colleges. This will improve the opportunities for the students and will increase the efficiency of resource sharing both material and human. Students now can choose any multiple disciplines like arts and sciences independently and this policy now aims to support the faculty through different teaching patterns and institutional autonomy. Another focus of NEP is the establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF) which will give the competitive funding for research programs in every subject. The reason behind this is to promote research in educational institutions.7
The NEP will seek that every educational institution follows these parameters and enforces them with strict sense, and if the institutions will not, they would be shut down.
Points to be Considered
The New Education Policy has presented us with a picture of improvement in education but certainly, it can be a shorter vision that provides such paradigmatic approach. Many scholars think that force on the vocalization of education at an early stage can compromise with holistic learning. It is no doubt that the policy has many positives points but it can only be termed as an insight of the education lawmakers, more of its success will only depend on how the policy is implemented. The nature of the policy is very theoretical. Although the approach of the policy is very pragmatic, it fails to explain the actual process of implementation of the ideas.8
The policy is making several changes suddenly which is now is creating confusion in the mind of the people, for say considering the medium of instruction, it offers that schools are free to choose any medium but also states that mother tongue should be preferred or any regional language being with three- language formula. For states like Goa, where there are different scripts, the consideration of education development is not generally taken into regard, and focus is shifted in language imperialism by some politicians.
The policy is generally very broad and wide but it remains with a central view, it can give less space to the creativity and too many choices can lead to confusion in students. All these provisions require an expenditure which can certainly contribute to the 6% of our GDP but the GDP is falling and it can be seen, the economy is struggling to settle, at the same time adding on the pandemic costs on Health care sector, it is to see how well the government will find its finances. The policy does not provide any mechanism to check corruption and privation of education, the new system also requires an infrastructure in schools and college for vocational courses but it is not mentioned specifically but creates an unclear road map towards it.
As more and more choices are provided to students, the parents can still force their children to opt for one specific subject which they like, and so the students will require guidance and counseling to make their decisions to be required for further professional careers and jobs. The point of the autonomation of the educational institutions can affect the increase in fees and multiple entry and exit points, and the point to reduce the number of dropouts will not benefit.
The pandemic has challenged the education system, with schools and colleges being closed for more than six months and the students are still struggling to adapt the online pattern and missing the online classes, the digital education can lead to failure without any proper system of digital infrastructure.
The NEP also fails to talk about the Right to Education Act, which should be given preference as only a fraction of it has been achieved in the last 10 years.
The New Education policy provides us a broad framework and introduces to a system which is focusing more on the critical thinking of the students. The level of education is uplifted in India and if it implemented with proper plans, then surely can change the current existing mechanism which somewhere does not fulfill the purpose of imparting the knowledge. But as stated in the points, it very important to look and consider the plan for the implementation otherwise it will only remain a theoretical concept, or just written in the paper.9 It is important to see the student’s demand and what they want, it creates a responsibility on teachers to remark the teaching pattern or change it from time to time so that the students won’t feel burdened. The policy presents us a set of goals which needs a lot of work for its effectiveness, if its true vision is lead on properly, with the development of a scientific approach to education, India shall be at par with the leading countries of the world. Children are the future runners of the country and every policy should be made considering the fact that the holistic development of a child takes place, and the purpose of imparting knowledge is fully filed.