The NEP and India's Education Sector
Global education and knowledge acquiring domains are going through a significant transition. With the drastic pivot from traditional in-person educational training to a digital learning ecosystem, numerous scientific and technological advances have made their way to the forefront. This has given rise to the big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence supplementing many unskilled jobs around the world by machines and the need for a skilled workforce, particularly in mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary abilities across the sciences, and social sciences, becoming increasingly in demand.
With climate change, pollution, and depletion of natural resources, there will be a significant shift in meeting the world's energy, water, food, and sanitation needs, necessitating hiring new skilled workers, especially in agriculture and climate science, and humanities. As India progresses toward becoming a developed country and one of the world's three largest economies, there will be an increasing demand for innovation and technical knowledge.
The National Education Policy 2020 is the first education policy of the twenty-first century to address our country's numerous expanding developmental imperatives. This policy proposes that all aspects of the educational structure, including regulation and governance, be revised and revamped to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st-century education, including Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) of quality education while preserving India's traditions and value systems. Many efforts have been launched in the two years after the NEP's launch to meet the policy's objectives of access, equity, inclusion, and quality. The recent review of the policy underlined these special efforts and highlighted the future interventions further to enable access to inclusive, affordable and sustainable education. Firstly, the discussion noted the proposed plan to track out of school children and bring them back into the mainstream, introducing multiple entries in higher education.
Additionally, the databases maintained by Anganwadi centres are now instructed to be integrated with records maintained by schools to ensure a smooth flow of children from pre-primary classes to class I. Secondly, hybrid learning methods for students were proposed to acquaint them with online and offline learning systems. This will avoid over-exposure to virtual methods, complement the digital learning in-person, on-ground learning techniques and safeguard the students, teachers and parents from unprecedented infections. Furthermore, regular health check-ups of school students by using the technology-aided solution were advised. Thirdly, to enable learning and awareness around traditional and on-ground practices, the secondary schools with science labs must engage with the farmers to help them understand the quality and health of the soil and other relevant factors. Lastly, attention has been given to honing interdisciplinary skills and knowledge among students at elementary, secondary and senior secondary levels. Referring to the same, it was highlighted that guidelines for multiple entry-exit for flexibility and lifelong learning and the launch of the academic bank of credit on the Digilocker platform will now make it possible for students to study as per their convenience and choice. Moreover, pitching for emphasis on indigenously developed toys to develop conceptual skills in students for holistic development for students was discussed.
Finally, the Prime Minister has also mentioned incorporating that multi-linguality in digital methods is needed to remove language related hurdles in academic attainment. These focussed efforts can be instrumental in fostering a conducive environment for greater educational outcomes, in all subjects and areas, along with honing the expertise in practical skills required for the current employment opportunities. The importance of multidisciplinary learning and training in vocational skills as are necessary for indigenous products and services will lead to the country's progress, in alignment with the 'Vocal for local' and 'Make in India', as we enter the 'Amrit Kaal'.
This has been co-authored by Bhakti Jain and Srijata Deb.