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Does NEP 2020 seeks to break a dogma?

  • 26th February, 2021

(Mains GS2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education).

Context:

  • NEP 2020 will bring many changes in education ecosystem which seeks to break the dogma of testing only what is written in the textbooks.
  • The end of the year examination results does not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child. Therefore, we need to look beyond examinations and look at assessment only as a means of learning.

Disconnect in old education system:

  • It will take away the false pride in a culture that takes the joy out of being a child, a culture that sees indiscipline in the animated chatter of children as they play, collaborate, express their ideas and help their peers shows how far some schools may have digressed from the path of real education.
  • An average teacher works on the assumption that his/her job is to teach from the textbook and to prepare children for the examination.
  • He/she does not perceive that it is a part of his responsibility to develop the child’s curiosity. Nor does the school provide conditions in which the teacher could fulfill the responsibility.

    Education is empowerment not mere exams:

    • The goal of school education was indeed not to prepare children for examinations and if it is so than there was no need for the country to run 15.07 lakh schools, with 96.86 lakh teachers and to enrol 26.43 crore students.
    • If schools are just for the examination than all we need is to prepare rigorous SOPs and kunji-like textbooks, hand them over to children at their homes and ask them to appear on designated dates at examination centres to showcase their powers of memorisation.
    • Examinations are not the final goal of a rewarding learning experience. They are, at best, one of the multiple milestones to be crossed by a child on her path to holistic growth and development.

    Path breaking: NEP 2020

    • The NEP proposes sweeping changes including opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities, dismantling of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with multiple exit options.
    • In a significant shift from the 1986 policy, which pushed for a 10+2 structure of school education, the new NEP pitches for a “5+3+3+4” design corresponding to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle), and 14-18 (secondary).
    • This brings early childhood education (also known as pre-school education for children of ages 3 to 5) under the ambit of formal schooling.
    • The mid-day meal programme will be extended to pre-school children. The NEP says students until Class 5 should be taught in their mother tongue or regional language.
    • The policy also proposes phasing out of all institutions offering single streams and that all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2040.

    Shift for betterment:

    • The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, uses two interesting phrases: “No hard separations” and “elimination of silos”. These terms are used in the context of areas of learning.
    • As the country begins to work on implementing the policy, it is imperative to understand these phrases and their implications.
    • Eg: NEP 2020 requires the achievement of common standards for high-quality education in all schools — that is, removing differences between public and private schools — through the setting up of a State Standard Setting Authority (SSSA).
    • The most significant implications of the removal of “hard separations”, are at the classroom level.
    • The barrier of language needs to go first by introducing the mother tongue/language spoken by the child as the medium to understand numeracy and all other items of knowledge, particularly in the foundational years.
    • Pedagogy can no longer be disconnected from the child and will have to be activity-based and experiential, facilitating cognitive growth through story-telling, art and craft, sports and theatre.
    • Classrooms need to move away from the typical seating plan — all the children facing the board — for them to be more joyful spaces.
    • The seating plan will have to be flexible — sometimes in a circle, but often in groups.
    • Schools will need to embrace a variety of teaching and learning materials and methods — toys, puppets, magazines, worksheets, comic and storybooks, nature walks, visits to local craftspersons.

    Conclusion:

    • A lot of research shows that an enabling environment is one in which a child is constantly learning to collaborate, think critically, solve problems, be creative and articulate.
    • thuswith the force of the NEP behind us, we must plan to have less curriculum but more in-depth knowledge, less content but more competency, less textbooks but more diverse learning, less stress but more joy, less assessment by the teacher but more self and peer evaluation. And finally, fewer silos but more connections.
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