National Education Policy 2019 : 10 brilliant ideas…

 Prof Milind S Marathe
Contd from previous issue
5) Restructuring and Consolidation of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) :- Higher education must develop good, well-rounded and creative individuals with intellectual curiosity, good research capabilities or problem solving attitude, spirit of service and strong ethical compass of Bharat. But this aim is far from reach. India’s higher education system is facing many challenges.
a. Fragmentation and small size of HEIs ;-India has over 800 Universities and  40000 + colleges over 40% of all these colleges run Only Single Programme. Over 20 % of colleges have enrollment below 100, while only 4 % of colleges have enrollment over  3000 (AISHE 2016-17). This fragmentation leads to sub-optimal performance like schools with small size.
b. Rigid boundaries of disciplines and fields
c. Lack of research at most of the Universities and colleges leading to lack of research culture in HEIs.
d. Lack of access in socio-economically disadvantaged areas
e. Lack of teachers and Institutional Autonomy.
So NEP 2019 has suggested brilliant idea of establishing large multi-disciplinary universities and colleges with teaching programs across the disciplines and fields.  Research Universities, Teaching Universities and Colleges will be the 3 types of HEIs in India. It will have autonomy and freedom to move from one type to another type. At least one institute of type 1 to 3 will be established in every disadvantaged district within a span of 5 years. After independence Indian HE system was predominantly affiliating type of system. But in last 70 years we could not get desired results. So let us say good bye to affiliating system and make all our HEIs either Research or Teaching Universities or degree granting autonomous colleges. There will be no affiliating universities or affiliated colleges.
6) Shifting towards more Liberal Education orSarvsamaveshak Education or  more holistic Education :- Various ancient books  has referred arts as “Kala”.Banabhatta in his famous book Kadambari mentioned 64 kalas or 64 types of arts which included music, painting, sculpture,dance, languages, literature in addition to kalas like engineering, surgery, medicine,astrology and mathematics, carpentary, foundary, pottery. These kalas were part of syllabus in Universities like Nalanda and Takshashila. This critical Bharatiya concept of Liberal Arts or sarvasamaveshakkalaor  Holistic Education is brought back by NEP 2019. It is marriage between science and humanities, mathematics and arts, medicine and physics, aeronautical engineering and Sanskrit. It develops both sides creative side and analytical side of brain. Curriculum of Sarvasamaveshak Education will be developed with the areas which are left out today because of strong compartmentalization. Innovation and critical thinking, higher order thinking, inter-personal relations , working in a team, communication of all types, problem solving approach, foundation of social work, Internships and research opportunities, developing constitutional values, ethical values, understanding  idea of Bharat, training of concentration of mind and detachment of mind and such many topics can be brought in to the curriculum which will be helpful for overall development of personality of students. Students will be prepared for the life and not for mere jobs. A 4 year bachelor program of Sarvasamaveshak education can be started. This approach of preparing student for life will energise under raduate education in India.
7) Establishment of National Research Foundation (NRF) :- Unfortunately R&I investment in India was 0.8 % of GDP in 2008 and dropped to 0.69 %, in 2014 as compared to 2.8 % in USA, 2.1 % in China, 4.1 % in  South Korea and 4.3 % in Israel. This has reflected in low research output in India.The number of researchers per 1 lakh population in India is merely 15, compared to 111 in China, 423 in USA and 825 in Israel (Economic Survey of India 2016-17). According to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), China made 1338503 patents applications of which only 10 % by non-resident Chinese, USA filed 605571 patents  while India filed  only 45057 of which over 70 % by NRIs. Lack of research culture and mindset, lack of funding and lack of research capabilities in most universities and delinking of Universities and National Research Laboratories (NRL) are the root causes of poor research in India. NEP 2019 has come up with the proposal of establishing NRF to stimulate and expand research in India. NRF will seed, cultivate and grow research culture right from schools to HEIs. IT will monitor, mentor the HEIs by eminent research scholars across the country. NRF will fund competitive, peer-reviewed grant proposals of all types and of all disciplines. It will act as an umbrella organization between researchers, HEIs, funding departments of government, Industries, NRL and policy makers and synchronize the efforts for research.
8) Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA)  or National Education Commission (NEC) :- Education in India is driven by political masters of the time and so it is facing problem of short sightedness, temporary solutions for temporary benefits, piecemeal approach of the education and disconnect from the ethos of the country.  So a long pending need was felt to establish a   Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog  constituted by act of parliament similar to the  Election Commission of India which will work independently with integrated approach from school education to higher education. NEP 2019 brigs this very important concept in it’s draft.  RSA with the help of Rajya Shiksha Aayog will monitor education in all respect. Governance and regulation of education right from setting parameters for quality, accreditation of schools and HEIs, funding for development of education, examination conduction and administration of education will be handled by RSA.
9) Say no to Commercialisation of education:- NEP 2019 clearly proclaims that Education is a not-for-profit activity. It is a charitable activity and commercialization of education is not at all acceptable. This clear direction was very much required because wrong perception is there in the minds of many people that quality education will be the costly education and private education is quality education. Actually affordable quality education is the need of an hour. Public expenditure on education in India was 2.7 % of GDP in 2017-18 which was around 10 % of total government (center and state) spending. NEP 2019 categorically said that there is aneed of significant increase in public investment and not expenditure from current 10 % of overall investment to 20 % in a next few years. In addition to this public investment policy encourage philanthropic private funding in education. This funding is for existing institutes for scholarship, infrastructure development, faculty development and research activities. There is a need of central legislation to control commercialization of education.
10) Teachers :- Teachers truly shape the future of our children and thus our nation. So we need passionate, motivated, highly qualified, professionally trained, well equipped teachers with mother like heart for their students at all levels of education.
NEP 2019 suggested very good methods to increase quality of teachers. Teacher education must be 4 year integrated B.Ed. program after 12 th standard, 2 years after graduation and one year after  post graduation and it will be an integral part of HE system and thus should be conducted by multidisciplinary colleges and universities. Special merit scholarship coupled with guaranteed employment in rural areas for brilliant students is suggested. Harmful practice of excessive teacher transfer is halted. All the vacant posts of teachers must be filled with rigorous, impartial, transparent process. All para-teacher system across the country will be stopped by 2022. Closure of substandard teacher education institutes will be done on top priority.
NEP 2019 is an India centric, Indian education system with primacy of Indian languages. It is forward looking with indigenous wisdom and roots. It is integrated and holistic.. It has a capacity to completely revamp the Indian Education System. This NEP will throw away the colonial education policy lock, stock and barrel. So by and large I wholeheartedly welcome the Draft NationalEducation Policy 2019 and appeal to government to accept it immediately. But I know that any policy document is incomplete if it is not implemented with its letter and spirit. For well-meaning critics this policy may be difficult in implementation but as it seems to be difficult,  it is worth doing task. Otherwise simple tasks can be done by any one. I appeal to all the members of education fraternity, including government, to come forward and take maximum efforts for successful implementation of this game changer NEP 2019.
The writer is former National President and present special invitee of National Executve Council of ABVP