Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Polity)
“As the basic building block of the country’s growth, education in India has been constantly evolving its teaching methods”. In this context discuss about the reforms suggested by Draft National Educational Policy, 2019.
The importance of knowledge and learning has been recognized since the beginning of time. Plato wrote: “If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.” Hence Education is fundamental to development and growth. The draft educational policy aims to bring out a paradigm shift in the field of education by empowering children, teachers and educational institutions. Committee was led by Dr K. Kasturirangan .The Draft Policy is built on foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, and Affordability & Accountability.
Education is a basic building block of the country’s growth
Education is fundamental to development and growth. The human mind makes possible all development achievements, from health advances and agricultural innovations to efficient public administration and private sector growth. For countries to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. And there is no better tool for doing so than education.
Evolving Teaching methods and policies in India
India has had a long history of holistic education.
- The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge, as preparation for life in this world or for life beyond schooling, but for complete realisation and liberation of the self.
- The Indian education system produced scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and Panini, and numerous others.
- They made seminal contributions to world knowledge in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, yoga, fine arts, chess and more.
- In the decades since Independence, we have been preoccupied largely with issues of access and equity and have unfortunately dropped the baton with regard to quality of education.
- The implementation of the two previous national education policies (NPE 1968 and NPE 1986) is still incomplete.
- A major development since the formulation of the NPE 1986 there has been the establishment of Constitutional and legal underpinnings for achieving universal elementary education.
- The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 that inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India envisages free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) which came into force in April 2010, entitles every child of the age of six to fourteen years to the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education.
- However, despite progress in some aspects, a mind-numbing uniformity prevails in the education system today, one in which students are not nurtured for their individual potential, in complete antithesis to our ancient traditions.
Need for New Education Policy
- Young learners today belong to a generation that is born and raised in technology-rich environments.
- They will use technologies that haven’t been invented so far and enter jobs that don’t exist at present.
- Globalisation and the demands of a knowledge economy and a knowledge society call for emphasis on the need for acquisition of new skills by learners on a regular basis and become lifelong learners.
- The narrow time lag between the generation of new knowledge and its application, especially in the fields of science and technology, necessitate the periodic renewal of school and higher education curricula to maintain their relevance to the changing societal and personal needs of learners, and the emerging national development goals.
- The demographic dividend that India is fortunate to have is expected to last for only a little over 20 years.
- Therefore, it is essential that children and youth in the country are equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values as well as employable skills that would enable them to contribute to India’s social, economic, and political transformation.
Reforms suggested by Draft Education policy
To keep the pace with demands of global environment, the government of India has unveiled the draft of new national education policy 2019. It will also deal with the unfinished agenda of the National Policy on Education, 1986 [modified in 1992 (NPE 1986/92)].
- The policy covers school education, higher education and professional education which in turn include agricultural education, legal education, medical education and technical education.
- It also looks at the verticals of vocational education by including teacher education and the research and innovation.
- The early childcare and education have been sought to be integrated within the Ministry of Education (a changed name has been suggested for the Ministry of Human Resource and Development – MHRD).
- The policy also tries to focus on certain foundational skills that children should have in the proposed new structure of 5+3+3+4.
- The first stage of five years (for children of 3-8 years of age) i.e. foundational stage looks at discovery learning and learning by play. The foundational literacy and numeracy skills is a mission mode approach under it that includes National Tutors’ Program, remedial instructional aid programmes etc. It considers nutrition as very critical for strengthening the levels of 3-8 years of children.
- The next stage is Preparatory Stage for the children in the age group of 8 to 11 years (grades 3 to 5) followed by the Middle Stage (grades 6 to 8) for the students in the age group of 11-14 years
- the Secondary Stage (Grades 9-12) for students in the age group of 14-18 years.
- For school education, governance level changes have also been suggested. A State regulatory authority has been suggested for regulating education in the country. The body will decide the accreditation of different schools. The government will continue to fund and operate education in the country.
- Main takeaways for higher education:
- Restructuring of the higher education system into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.
- Tier 1 includes research universities focusing equally on research and teaching, Tier 2 includes teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching; and Tier 3 includes colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels. All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial. The idea is to spread ‘research culture’ at the undergraduate level.
- The policy also talks about National Scholarship Fund to financially support students for higher education.
- Promotion of classical and regional languages have been emphasised upon.
- The policy also proposes to increase the class of compulsory education up to grade 12 (age-18).
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act – RTE, 2009 (represents Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution) made education, a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14.
- The policy aims to achieve a fully literate society where all adults are literates by 2030 or so.
Issues in the Draft Policy
- There is less consensus on the integration of foundational learning with schooling. In Europe, compulsory education only begins at the age of 6. In certain countries like Denmark, Germany and Finland, compulsory education begins at the age of 7.
- There needs to be a discussion on whether literacy and numeracy skills should be developed during the time of foundational learning.
- In the draft policy, there is no mention of how the State regulatory body will regulate the government institutions.
- A constitutional amendment is required to change the limits for compulsory schooling in the country. Also, increasing the limit on higher side i.e. up to the age of 18 is not consistent with the limits across the world. Also, it is a very expensive proposition.
- There is not enough capacity in the country to provide for teachers’ education. Also, M.Ed. has been given less importance under the policy. The focus has been more on B.Ed.
The draft Policy 2019 is well researched theoretically and provides the framework that emphasises the right issues in secondary education such as flexibility, integration of 21st century skills, improved teacher quality and more rigorous outcome-based school regulation. Now we should remember that any policy is only as good as its implementation. This draft Policy needs to be implemented true to its spirit for India’s education to be transformed. This implementation will require multiple initiatives and actions, which will have to be taken by multiple bodies in a synchronised and systematic manner. Further, the strategy of implementation would involve setting appropriate timelines and priorities.
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