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National Education Policy 2019: Will the NEP be able to tackle challenges faced by the system?

Indian education system is one of the oldest education systems around the globe. It was unfortunate that while the education systems of the other nations have undergone major changes with the changing times and technological advancement we were stuck with the old and mundane system.

education Updated: Aug 14, 2019 13:58 IST
Dr Samir Kapur
Dr Samir Kapur
Academics are given so much importance that everything else is ignored.
Academics are given so much importance that everything else is ignored.(Mint/File)
         

At the first review of the new National Education Policy 2019, many people can have a sigh of relief as it is devoid of any strong saffron colouration and instead calls for a significant restructuring of the educational system and its governance despite many expressing fear that government alleged agenda of rewriting Indian history would eventually trickle into school syllabi. The new education policy assigns a key role to both public and private capital in education and recommends liberal arts education as the foundation of higher education.

The whispers of the alleged influence of the RSS and saffronisation grew to a point when BJP talked about education policy in its manifesto, it begins with a plea to restore India’s inner vitality, recognise her strides in science and other branches of knowledge long before the Europeans, and the need to develop a ‘civilizational consciousness’.

Education, of course, plays a key role in the mammoth project of the restoration of past glory. Stating that education is the most powerful tool for nation building and development, the manifesto articulates the role of education in “national integration, social cohesion, religious amity, national identity and patriotism”.

Read: Colleges boast that 90%+ of their students are placed, here’s the truth about University placements

The manifesto abstains from using the word secularism, opting instead for religious amity. Interestingly, the term ‘social justice’ (Samajik Nyay) is reintroduced with a conjoined term ‘social harmony’ (Samajik Samarasata)

Also, Indian education system is one of the oldest education systems around the globe. It was unfortunate that while the education systems of the other nations have undergone major changes with the changing times and technological advancement we were stuck with the old and mundane system. Neither had our system seen any major change in the curriculum nor had there been any significant change in the way the education is imparted.

WHAT AILS INDIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM?

The Indian education system has numerous problems that hinder the proper growth and development of an individual. One of the main problems with the Indian education system is its marking system. The intelligence of the students is judged by the way they perform in a 3 hour theoretical paper rather than by their overall performance in the class. In such a scenario, learning lessons to get good marks becomes the sole aim of the students. They are not able to think beyond it. They are not bothered about understanding concepts or enhancing their knowledge all they think about is to look for ways to get good marks.

Another problem is that the focus is only on theory. No importance is given to practical learning. Our education system encourages the students to become bookworms and does not prepare them for handling the real problems and challenges of life.

Academics are given so much importance that the need to involve the students in sports and art activities is overlooked. Students are also overburdened with studies. Regular exams are held and students are scrutinized at every step. This creates acute stress among the students. The stress level of the students continues to grow as they advance to higher classes.

WAYS TO IMPROVE INDIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM

Some of the ways to improve the education system are, focusing on skill development; it is the time for the Indian schools and colleges to stop putting so much importance to the marks and ranks of the students and focus on skill development instead. The cognitive, problem solving, analytical and creative thinking skills of the students must be enhanced. Imparting practical knowledge, practical knowledge is very important to develop a thorough understanding of any subject.

However, our Indian education system focuses mainly on theoretical knowledge. Revising the curriculum, the curriculum of our schools and colleges is the same since decades. It is the time to change it as per the changing times so that the students learn things more relevant to their times. Classes on developing good communication skills as it are the need of the hour. Looking beyond academics, the education system of our country must look beyond academics. Sports, arts and other activities must also be given importance to ensure the all-round development of students.

CONCLUSION

BJP in its manifesto declared that public spending on education will be increased up to 6% of the GDP. The government has spent less than 3% in the last five years. Weakening institutions, making way for commercialisation of higher education and slashing support for educational welfare are adding more misery to this sector while private players are laughing all the way to the bank. Notwithstanding the rhetoric, the present government’s report card on education has more misses than hits. How this new education policy brings that change, only time will tell.

(Author Dr Samir Kapur is skilled training and development coach, and visiting faculty at leading institutes. Views expressed here are personal)

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 13:58 IST

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