A new beginning

Education policy was long overdue, implementation key

A new beginning

The new National Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet promises a transformational shift, infusing an element of joy and purpose in learning. On paper, the proposals offer students a flexible academic journey where they can pick and choose, and not be confined to set patterns. The loftier goals are to bring two crore out-of-school children into the mainstream and integration of vocational education, with internships from Class 6 onwards. Replacement of the 10+2 structure aims to include the uncovered age-group of three to six years under the school curriculum.

Mother tongue would be the medium of instruction till Class 5. While this would address any misgivings over imposition of Hindi in some parts of the country, if the adherence is limited to state education boards, the others’ English medium advantage would only widen the divide. Board exams, under the revised policy, would test core concepts and application of knowledge, instead of rote learning. Report cards are meant to be an analysis of skills and capabilities, and not just marks. A four-year undergraduate programme will have multiple exit options. A convincing roadmap overall, but implementation would be a humungous exercise.

To make higher education focused and research-oriented, a single regulator will look after institutions that have 3,000 or more students, barring medical and law colleges. A target has been set to almost double the gross enrolment ratio to 50 per cent by 2035, and ensure that all higher education institutions become multidisciplinary in another five years. A game-changer could be the decision to allow the top 100 foreign universities to set up campuses. Quality education, innovative methodologies and the time-tested models that demand a freshness of ideas and approach would give a huge impetus to ‘Make for India’ and ‘Make in India’ projects. Keeping a check on the fee structure would present a challenge. A welcome chapter of the policy is the emphasis on moving towards convergence of science and arts, and therefore, holistic education. The HRD Ministry is now the Education Ministry. It has its task cut out.

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