Education in India is going to change radically. - Know How! - Seeker's Thoughts

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Education in India is going to change radically. - Know How!

India 50 years behind on education goals

-          UN Report, September 2016

India has a huge population, and providing education, employment, and other services all together is not easily possible.
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However, to develop in any other area, India must focus on education.  Better education policy will help India to meet the changing dynamics of the world. There will a requirement of students for innovation and research, science, technology, academics, and industry.

The History of India’s Education Policy

The education in a country is suggested by the panel, and the last crucial panel was the Kothari Commission which submitted its report in 1964- 66. 

The National Policy on Education 1986 was modified in 1992. Since 1992, for more than two decades there was no policy for education.

In June 2017, a new panel headed by space scientist K Kasturirangan was framed to provide a new National Education Policy (NEP).

In 2015, the Narendra Modi government also set up a committee under former secretary TSR Subramanian to chalk out new education policy. The committee submitted the report in May 2016.

K Kasturirangan submitted the report in June 2019 in the public domain. The purpose behind keeping the report in public domain was to get the feedback and comments from all the stakeholders till June 30, 2019.

 K Kasturirangan panel drew inputs from the T.S.R Subramanian Committee report. The document is comprehensive and far-sighted, however, the three-language formula created controversies.

What does K Kasturirangan Panel suggest?
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The draft itself seemed bold and filled with new ideas. The policy included scientific reasons behind the ideas and created a way from the beginning to the end. Therefore, basically, it provides a roadmap to achieve success in education. 

The panel has decided that lifelong education should be based on four pillars- learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be.

It has inspired the committee to cover every aspect of the education sector: school, higher, vocational and adult education.

The new education policy draft has also included professional education as well- engineering, medicine, agriculture and law etc.

At the primary level in school education, the ‘changed’ age coverage is suggested by the panels. The suggested age is of 3-18-year-old than present 6-14 years.

The reason for doing so is provided that “Based on evidence from neuroscience that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of six and that ‘school preparedness’ at Anganwadis is light on educational aspects, ECCE would facilitate play and discovery-based learning for children of that age group.”

Therefore, it is evident that the committee recommended the Right to Education (RTE ) to be applicable for the age of 3 to 18. 

1.    A 5+3+3+4 curricular

A 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children:
--Foundational Stage (age 3-8 yrs): 3 years of pre-primary plus Grades 1-2; 
--Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Grades 3-5; Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades 6-8;  and
 --Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades 9-12. Schools will be re-organized into school complexes

2.    It seeks to reduce the school curriculum

The committee suggested reducing the content load in the school education system.  It also promotes the focus on the development of core capabilities, life skills and 21st-century skills.

3.    Massive reforms in Teacher’s Education

The Committee has suggested a massive transformation in Teacher’s education by shutting down substandard teacher education institution.

The four-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed. the programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers. 

4.    To achieve Universal foundational literacy and numeracy

K Kasturirangan panel has also suggested innovative ideas for achieving universal literacy through initiatives like the National Tutors Programme and the Remedial Instructional Aides Programme.

5.    Setting up the Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog

A new apex body Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog is proposed to enable a holistic and integrated implementation of all educational initiatives and programmatic interventions and to coordinate efforts between the Centre and States. The National Research Foundation, an apex body is proposed for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

6.    Setting Up Special Education Zones in Disadvantage regions

Introduction of school complexes, a system of modular Board Examinations to allow flexibility, setting up Special Education Zones in disadvantaged regions, recognizing teachers at the heart of the system, moving teacher education into the university system, and stressing the importance of learning new languages are among the key recommendations.

7.    Increasing the enrolment ration

The way ahead for higher education has also been marked by bold propositions. The aim is to double the Gross Enrolment Ratio from 25% to 50% by 2035 and make universities the hubs of research (with Tier I universities/institutions devoted primarily to research and some teaching, Tier 2 universities devoted to teaching and some research, and Tier 3 institutions comprising mainly colleges that are to be converted gradually into degree-giving autonomous institutions).
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8.    Setting up Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts

The policy recognises the crucial importance of liberal arts (it recommends setting up five Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts offering four-year courses) and the study of modern and classical languages (it recommends setting up National Institutions for Pali, Prakrit and Persian).

Challenges in implementation

These are progressive ideas, but there are roadblocks in their implementation. These mostly relate to funding requirements and governance architecture.

The doubling of public funding to 6% of the GDP and increasing the public expenditure on education does not seem feasible. The funding through states will not be possible either.

The Right to Education will need amendment, but the step is necessary.

The radical change will shake the entire system of education, so the change should be gradual with an improvement in the quality of infrastructure and teachers.  

The idea of setting up the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog under the Prime Minister and having it serviced by the MHRD is crucial in order to integrate the approaches and programmes of multiple departments.

 However, it is fraught with many administrative problems and possible turf battles. Bringing medical or agricultural or legal education under one umbrella is likely to be met with stiff opposition. What is going to happen, for example, to the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017?

The idea of regulation being brought under the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, standard setting under the General Education Council and funding under the Higher Education Grants Council may require a revisit so that there is synchronisation with the current Bill for the Higher Education Commission of India.

Besides, the draft policy is silent on the Institutions of Eminence and agencies like the Higher Education Funding Agency.

Language issues have to be handled sensitively in view of their emotional overtones, as witnessed recently. Protests are often made without understanding the spirit of the text.

The details about financing and institutional structures should be fleshed out at the earliest, perhaps by an inter-departmental committee under the Cabinet Secretary. It is time for all conscientious persons to study the report and suggest the best path forward. If the political leadership backs it, implementation of the policy will transform our nation.

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