The National Education Policy 2020- An overview-IV

Dr N Ranjana Devi
Contd from previous issue
4) Technology Use and Integration
* An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration, and so on, both for school and higher education. It will have the following functions:
a) provide independent evidence-based advice to Central and State Government agencies on technology-based interventions;
b) build intellectual and institutional capacities in educational technology;
c) envision strategic thrust areas in this domain; and
d) articulate new directions for research and innovation.
* Teaching-learning e-content will continue to be developed by all States in all regional languages, as well as by the NCERT, CIET, CBSE, NIOS, and other bodies/institutions, and will be uploaded onto the DIKSHA platform. This platform may also be utilized for Teacher’s Professional Development through e-content. CIET will be strengthened to promote and expand DIKSHA as well as other education technology initiatives.
* Technology-based education platforms, such as DIKSHA/SWAYAM, will be better integrated across school and higher education, and will include ratings/reviews by users, so as to enable content developers create user friendly and qualitative content.
* The National Research Foundation will initiate or expand research efforts in the technology. In the context of AI, NRF may consider a three-pronged approach:
a) advancing core AI research,
b) developing and deploying application-based research, and
c) advancing international research efforts to address global challenges in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, and climate change using AI.
5) Online and Digital Education: Ensuring Equitable Use of Technology
This Policy recommends key initiatives such as pilot studies for online education, digital infrastructure, online teaching platform and tools, content creation, digital repository, and dissemination, addressing the digital divide, virtual labs, training and incentives for teachers, online assessment and examinations, blended models of learning and laying down standards.
6) Creating a Dedicated Unit for Building of World Class, Digital Infrastructure, Educational Digital Content and Capacity
A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building is recommended to be created in the Ministry to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education. This centre will consist of experts drawn from the field of administration, education, educational technology, digital pedagogy and assessment, e-governance, etc.
Making it Happen
The most crucial part of any policy will be financing and implementation.  The NEP 2020 targets to increase public investment in education to 6% of GDP at the earliest. Active promotion and support for private philanthropic activity in the education sector is highlighted and coherence in planning and synergy across by all stackholders is suggested.
1) Strengthening the Central Advisory Board of Education
* The Policy recommends strengthening and empowering the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) which will have a much greater mandate and not only a forum for widespread consultation and examination of issues relating to educational and cultural development. The remodeled and rejuvenated CABE shall also be responsible for developing, articulating, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous basis, in close collaboration with MHRD and the corresponding apex bodies of States.
* The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) be re-designated as the Ministry of Education (MoE).
2) Financing: Affordable and Quality Education for All
* The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
* Financial support will be provided to various critical elements and components of education, such as ensuring universal access, learning resources, nutritional support, matters of student safety and wellbeing, adequate numbers of teachers and staff, teacher development, and support for all key initiatives towards equitable high-quality education for underprivileged and socio-economically disadvantaged groups.
* This Policy identifies the following key long-term thrust areas for financing to cultivate an education system: (a) universal provisioning of quality early childhood care education; (b) ensuring foundational literacy and numeracy; (c) providing adequate and appropriate resourcing of school complexes/clusters; (d) providing food and nutrition (breakfast and midday meals); (e) investing in teacher education and continuing professional development of teachers; (f) revamping colleges and universities to foster excellence; (g) cultivating research; and (h) extensive use of technology and online education.
* Financial governance and management will focus on the smooth, timely, and appropriate flow of funds, and their usage with probity; administrative processes will be suitably amended and streamlined so that the disbursal mechanism may not lead to a high volume of unspent balances. The provisions of GFR, PFMS and ‘Just in Time’ release to implementing agencies will be followed for efficient use of government resources and avoiding parking of funds. Mechanism of performance-based funding to States / HEIs may be devised. Similarly, efficient mechanism will be ensured for the optimal allocation and utilization of funds earmarked for SEDGs.
* The Policy also calls for the rejuvenation, active promotion, and support for private philanthropic activity in the education sector. In particular, over and above the public budgetary support which would have been otherwise provided to them, any public institution can take initiatives towards raising private philanthropic funds to enhance educational experiences.
* The matter of commercialization of education has been dealt with by the Policy through multiple relevant fronts, including: the ‘light but tight’ regulatory approach that mandates full public self-disclosure of finances, procedures, course and programme offerings, and educational outcomes; the substantial investment in public education; and mechanisms for good governance of all institutions, public and private.
3) Implementation
* The implementation of this Policy will be led by various bodies including MHRD, CABE, Union and State Governments, education-related Ministries, State Departments of Education, Boards, NTA, the regulatory bodies of school and higher education, NCERT, SCERTs, schools, and HEIs along with timelines and a plan for review, in order to ensure that the policy is implemented in its spirit and intent, through coherence in planning and synergy across all these bodies involved in education.
* It will be guided by the following principles:
a) First, implementation of the spirit and intent of the Policy will be the most critical matter.
b) Second, it is important to implement the policy initiatives in a phased manner, as each policy point has several steps, each of which requires the previous step to be implemented successfully.
c) Third, prioritization will be important in ensuring optimal sequencing of policy points, and that the most critical and urgent actions are taken up first, thereby enabling a strong base.
d) Fourth, comprehensiveness in implementation will be key; as this Policy is interconnected and holistic, only a full-fledged implementation, and not a piecemeal one, will ensure that the desired objectives are achieved.
e) Fifth, since education is a concurrent subject, it will need careful planning, joint monitoring, and collaborative implementation between the Centre and States.
f) Sixth, timely infusion of requisite resources - human, infrastructural, and financial - at the Central and State levels will be crucial for the satisfactory execution of the Policy.
g) Finally, careful analysis and review of the linkages between multiple parallel implementation steps will be necessary in order to ensure effective dovetailing of all initiatives. This will also include early investment in some of the specific actions (such as the setting up of early childhood care and education infrastructure) that will be imperative to ensuring a strong base and a smooth progression for all subsequent programmes and actions.
* Subject-wise implementation committees of experts in cooperation and consultation with other relevant Ministries will be set up at both the Central and State levels to develop detailed implementation plans for each aspect of this Policy in accordance with the above principles to achieve the goals of the Policy in a clear and phased manner.
* Yearly joint reviews of the progress of implementation of the policy, in accordance with the targets set for each action, will be conducted by designated teams constituted by MHRD and the States, and reviews will be shared with CABE. In the decade of 2030-40, the entire policy will be in an operational mode, following which another comprehensive review will be undertaken.
Successful implementation of the NEP 2020 demands a long-term vision, availability of expertise on a sustained basis and concerted action from all concerned encompassing national, state, institutional and individual levels. Increasing of public investment in education sector to 6% of GDP needs to be implemented in the right spirit. The implementation process will require multiple initiatives and actions by multiple bodies in a synchronised and systematic manner.
Infrastructural development and capacity building of teacher both for the school and higher education for fulfilling the NEP 2020 objectives will be a challenging task for the stakeholders concerned. There is ample opportunity for employment of IT experts as the policy focuses on extensive use of technology. A threadbare extensive discussions and understanding of the concepts and the implementation along with desired outcome should be given utmost importance by all concerned stakeholders in the central as well as state governments.
It is hopeful that the implementation of NEP 2020 will be a smooth journey towards achieving its goal ‘Making India a Global Knowledge Superpower’.
(The writer is former Director Programme, NCCT, New Delhi and former Director, ICM Imphal)