Amidst the shutdown of academic facilities due to the pandemic during the AY 2020-21, the Indian education sector witnessed the much-anticipated announcement of the National Education Policy (NEP). The new policy is looked upon to herald a paradigm shift in the archaic education system in India. At the same time, a UNICEF report revealed a staggering figure of 247 million students in the country whose education was affected due to COVID-19.
Currently the second-most populous country in the world, India is expected to take the first position by 2030 with a population of 1.5 billion. A considerable segment of this figure will comprise of young Indians perched at the threshold of their career. This decade is crucial for the country to prepare the said future workforce with the knowledge and skillset needed to drive growth and development in its goal to emerge as the economic superpower.
NEP, with its ambitious vision of transforming India’s education landscape through multi-disciplinary, skill-based learning for the holistic development of its youth, is expected to be instrumental in achieving this feat. However, the path is fraught with challenges, some due to policy implementation hiccups and some thrown up by the unforeseen pandemic.
The closure of physical schools and the shift to online learning has laid bare the enormous digital divide that plagues India. A whopping 30 million children do not have access to devices for attending classes, resulting in a learning loss. To top it, the economic instability of families caused by the pandemic has also led to the rise in school dropout figures. Not to forget that a sizeable section of schools was initially unprepared to handle online education delivery.
However, with governmental intervention and the pro-activeness of educational institutions, digitally empowered Indian students, starting from elementary to higher education stages, have embraced the new normal of going through academic rigours virtually. Though, the plight caused by the unavailability of digital devices persists among the underprivileged children.
The other most significant challenge present in the Indian education sector today is the confusion regarding the full-fledged implementation of NEP. In the current situation wherein the schools are closed in most states for almost 20 months, the enforcement of the new policy has not been possible. Some schools though have taken pioneering steps in adopting the principles of the NEP, but a complete transformation is yet to happen.
The NEP 2020 is looked upon to eliminate the prevalent rote learning culture that highlights qualifications rather than skill development, leading to unsustainable education and overall unemployability. Moreover, NEP recognizes the importance of technology in academic delivery and hence envisages a hybrid model of learning to make education accessible by anyone, anywhere and at any time. Let us look at the expected promising outcomes of NEP that has got all educationists excited about the future.
Personalised Learning Powered by AI
The conventional attitude of ‘a fish should climb a tree, and a monkey swim’ towards education will change with more focus on personalising education according to individual interests and inclinations. AI will play an important role in this process, customising education to suit the students’ needs.
Bringing Vocational Education to the Forefront
Traditionally, vocational education has been sidelined to give more mileage to career options like engineering, medical, and law. With the vision to cater to individual interests, NEP aims to bring vocational education into the mainstream so that a career choice does not become a burden to the future workforce.
Encouraging Skill and Knowledge Building
Rote learning kills creativity and the drive to question. With the implementation of NEP, Indian students will once again rise above the mediocrity of mugging up notes to apply their knowledge to solve practical problems, thus prepping for real-life issue resolution later.
Focus on Research and Development
Achieving academic excellence and a culture of innovation through enhanced focus on research and development is another notable anticipated outcome of NEP. This way, it is expected that the constant brain drain that is dogging India owing to the lack of research scope can be arrested.
Raising the Bar for Teaching Professionals
With hybrid learning replacing traditional classroom coaching and the shift from the age-old system, it is imperative that the role of teachers should change from mere lecturers to that of mentors of future leaders. As such, training the trainers to raise the bar of education delivery is the way forward.
NEP aims to bring under its purview, everyone starting from the elementary to higher education levels, irrespective of the socio-economic background or any disabilities of the students. With this principle in practice, India can hope to eradicate illiteracy from its vocabulary.
The Samsidh Group of Schools lauds the NEP 2020 and has initiated measures at its institutions to bring into effect the much-needed changes proposed in the education system.