The Quint’s Newsletter: Will NEP 2020 Pass the Test?

·3-min read

Remember the scene from 3 Idiots in which Aamir Khan questions rote learning which doesn't allow for a deeper understanding of the subject? The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has seemingly taken a cue from that scene.

With a focus on "learning how to learn", the NEP 2020 is a document that dreams of an India in which school exams are replaced by continuous assessment and colleges metamorphose into centres of multidisciplinary learning. It is a broad vision – a roadmap of sorts – for an overhaul in the Indian education system that will take at least a couple of decades to implement.

But what are the hits and what are the misses?

In schools, the decision to focus on a curriculum for early childhood care and education has received widespread appreciation from academics.

As Sunila Dixit, a research analyst at the Takshashila Institution, points out, it is "imperative to a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development and is linked to retention rates and higher school readiness levels.”

But while the NEP seeks to break away from traditional pedagogy, Anjela Taneja, a founding member of RTE Forum, argues that the policy pays less attention to the needs of the underprivileged. For instance, the policy’s emphasis on vocational, non-formal education brings with it the risk of premature streaming of children from marginalised communities and poor families into lower quality of education, she adds.

Educationist Meeta Sengupta questions the decision to teach children up to class 5 in their mother tongue, wherever possible.

"“Will all children studying in a district have the same mother tongue? What will happen to those who come from other states?”" - Meeta Sengupta 

It is not school reforms alone. From turning all institutes of higher education into autonomous degree-giving colleges by 2035 to introducing multiple entry and exit points for degrees, NEP 2020 has an equal focus on reforming advanced education, at least on paper.

According to investor-turned-philanthropist Ashish Dhawan, “Not every student needs to do a three-year degree. For some, one year is appropriate. It also brings things that are very vocational into the one-year format.” Watch the interview right here:

While the NEP provides for a three- or a four-year degree UG programme, a viral message circulating on WhatsApp claims all UG courses will now be for four years only. We fact-check all the claims in the viral message for you.

Meanwhile, Congressman Shashi Tharoor, who welcomed the policy, questioned the government on its decision to ratify the draft before introducing it in the Parliament first. Watch his interview here:

There is no doubt that the NEP is an ambitious document. But don’t most polices look tall in the sheets but stall in the streets? Asserting that the NEP offers remedies without explaining implementation, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “Unless a law is passed to ensure that six percent of GDP is spent by states and the Centre on education, only a handful states will implement the policy.”

We only hope and pray that he is terribly wrong.

ANTHONY ROZARIO
Correspondent, Education
@anthonyrozerio

SHELLY WALIA
Senior Editor, News and Podcasts
@shellywalia

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