Year : 2020 | Volume
: 10 | Issue : 6 | Page : 257--259
A transformative document: National Education Policy
Ameeta Mulla Wattal
Principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road; Chairperson, International Advisory Council, Global Inclusive Education Network, New Delhi, India
Prof. Ameeta Mulla Wattal
Springdales School, Pusa Road, New Delhi
|How to cite this article:|
Wattal AM. A transformative document: National Education Policy.Curr Med Res Pract 2020;10:257-259
|How to cite this URL:|
Wattal AM. A transformative document: National Education Policy. Curr Med Res Pract [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Mar 6 ];10:257-259
Available from: http://www.cmrp.org/text.asp?2020/10/6/257/304830
The New Education Policy has come at a time when schools have to adjust to the changing societal demands and expectations by transforming themselves in role and identity. This policy will help in creating connections between student learning and observation outside the textbook by shifting the goalpost in learning. This will enable the new generation to receive the education that they need. The realisation that curricula in schools have been focused on equipping students for the last century, has been the driving force, behind the changes reflected, in the National Education Policy (NEP).
Much of the energy that will drive the economy will be the brainpower generated in classrooms. It is clear that without a skilled workforce, no community will prosper and no industry will grow and thrive. This policy will help us change the landscape of employment opportunities, allowing every child to be trained to think creatively, innovate wisely and use technology collaboratively to learn and earn. It is a vision document that will help India to find its place in the community of developed nations and become a knowledge centre. It has an indigenous feel with emphasis on the mother tongue and other regional languages along with English, localisation of practices and vocationalisation of education that will be acceptable to the state education boards.
The early childhood care and education, which has often been a neglected part of schooling, has brought in greater detail through a scientific structuring of age-appropriate learning. For preschool, nursery, kindergarten and classes 1 and 2, the core dimensions of the learning outcomes that will be addressed during this period will be attitudes, skills and readiness for the next stage of learning group. In the preparatory stage of classes 3, 4 and 5, experiential learning will be transacted across disciplines. In the middle level of classes 6–8, there will be an emphasis on subject-oriented pedagogy.
The NEP ensures that the curriculum of the school should be inextricable from human well-being and emphasises student, teacher voice and agency. It cultivates an ethos of inclusion and diversity. The focus on well-being also reiterates that the school supports outdoor activities, social emotional learning, value education and health-promoting programmes, which benefits all stakeholders, that is staff, students, auxiliary staff and the community. The policy affirms that schools should be committed to engaging with the world, developing a cultural awareness of its own country through indigenous practices and demonstrating value building through understanding of the constitution including knowledge from ancient to modern India along with its aspirations.
For the first time, the 21st-century skills will run like a thread though the curriculum and will be woven across disciplines crafts, practices and teaching strategies. Collaborative, innovative, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making will be coupled with digital literacy and information technology, which will help in developing enquiry and competency-based learning. Social and emotional skills will be embedded in the curriculum and will become an integral part of interpersonal communication. Empathy, resilience, conflict resolution and relationship building are the skills, which will offer the key to success in a rapidly changing world. This model will transform the existing one, refine and reengineer classroom transactions through progressive pedagogies.
The policy fosters education in a multicultural society, emphasising the importance of a worldwide vision by introducing contemporary subjects, that is artificial intelligence, design thinking, holistic health, organic living and global citizenship education at relevant stages. Coding and computational thinking are the being brought into school in the middle stages.
Students in the senior school have always grappled with selecting a variety of subjects across streams but were not able to do so. With a dilution of subject boundaries and increased flexibility, they will be able to make choices and select a mix of subjects that had earlier been in silos. However, all changes made at senior school have to dovetail into the decisions and admission processes in the universities or it will be an exercise in futility. Today, students often do not take subjects of their choice out of fear of being rejected in the entrance procedure of colleges. These changes have to come in simultaneously with those in higher education or students will face problem.
The much-debated three-language formula has been a part of our constitution article 350(A), where the importance of instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children has always been upheld across policies and governments. The NEP recognises that children are able to learn a variety of languages at an early age. States have been given the liberty regarding the medium of instruction in schools under their jurisdiction. The policy clearly states that children should be exposed to a variety of languages that could be English, Hindi, a regional language and the mother tongue. This flexibility will prevent any language from being imposed on a child or a state. Currently, children change languages in class 6 and are proficient at the literature level by the end of secondary school, which is very similar to the new policy on language. Languages continue to be taught culturally and experientially through music, storytelling, games, interactive sessions and real-life experiences.
The assessment pattern is a welcome change. The dependence on summative pen-and-paper assessments has been reduced and moved to more personalised and customised models. This will compel educators to relook at pedagogical practices and make them more child centred and policymakers to review curriculum and make it more skill based.
Innovative assessment and student tracking are a variety of methods which have been brought out in evaluating students. A student-centred approach of differentiated learning and assessments will allow students to make mistakes, take risks, be creative and move away from rote learning. If we want our children to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and succeed, we have to change the way we teach and evaluate because PISA does not test students on their memory but attempts to assess if students can apply the knowledge they have gained. These tests affirm if countries have effective, inclusive education systems in place, in which students from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds perform equally well. They also evaluate whether children have adequate social and community skills, which will help them to excel holistically as members of the workforce.
The NEP is a historical milestone for transforming education. It is a move from rote learning towards a competency and skill-based learning system that incorporates constitutional values, indigenous knowledge systems, crafts and culture, global citizenship, environmental education, design thinking and aspects of sustainable development goals. The greatest challenge that faces us is teacher training. Teachers themselves need to have an understanding of the method in which this extremely creative curriculum has to be transacted in classrooms across India.
At the grassroots level, the quality of education leaves much to be desired. A large number of in-service teachers have no professional qualifications in teaching, and they are taxed with innumerable administrative and social responsibilities towards their communities. They have very little time for hands-on teaching and training. Most teachers are not technology enabled, and the teacher technology courses do not prepare them to handle digital aids. There are pockets of excellence and expertise, but they are few and far between. Despite these models in some progressive schools, the fundamental, pedagogical structures of how we organise education have proved to be deeply resistant to change.
This is one of the reasons that led to the failure and withdrawal of continuous and comprehensive evaluation initiative. If we want this policy to succeed, we have to be careful to disrupt the established norms. It is imperative to have a systemic preparedness to rule out failure in a shift of this magnitude. Every stakeholder at the state, district, subdistrict and block level has to have ownership and understanding of the concepts and theoretical aspects of the NEP. Principals have to be trained in advance. Many of them do not have the capability and skills required for such changes even in urban areas, let alone in rural India. It is important to plan the mapping of resources and skill sets of teachers, even before the policy is actually rolled out. Stand-alone training workshops and run-of-the-mill training will not suffice. Consistent inter- and intraschool training over months has to be organised. Master trainers themselves need clarity in concepts and strategies. The cascade model of training will lead to sub-standard implementation.
The state and national boards, across the nation, will have to start with pilot programmes to ensure the efficacy of this policy. Creation of master trainers should be done who in turn will train principals and teachers in its urban and rural schools, replicating the model across all its schools. This success can resonate through twining programmes and school clusters with government and state schools. Professional development, training in techniques, resources and mentoring, will help teachers across India. Educators will develop and implement a transformative template for the coming years by adding the power of cutting-edge communication technologies. The latest pedagogical tools will equip them for life and work in the present age.
Independent centres have to be created for continuous in-service training for teachers across subjects and classes to create successful school units that will help in realising the aim and objective of this policy. The learning systems incorporated in the NEP are being practiced in schools across the globe. We hold a unique position in the world in terms of demographics with a young profile of 20% between the ages of 15 and 24. This population is a representation of a huge economic prospect of the country if tapped well. The NEP will help our children to realise their hopes, aspirations and dreams to get them future ready in an ever-changing world.