National Education Policy 2020 From The Perspective Of Higher Education Institutions: A Decisive Step Towards A Globally Competitive Ecosystem

The policy makes education more employment-oriented and caters to business and economic development of the country.

The National Education Policy 2020 is a critical and timely intervention that is destined to make Indian education landscape globally competitive. The policy is comprehensive and encompasses significant reform in every area of our education system. The policy makes education more employment-oriented and caters to business and economic development of the country. The focus towards making the higher education ecosystem inclusive, affordable, equitable coupled with adequate emphasis on technical and vocational skill development are welcome steps towards employment generation, economic productivity and economic growth. 

Making higher educational institutions multidisciplinary with adequate flexibility in course selection, multiple entry and exit criteria in conjunction with a drive towards research and innovation are significant proactive overhauls. This makes the new education system more realistic, inclusive and opens doors for academia-industry integration enabling it to address the challenges of the 21st-century global competition. 

Technology-based adult learning through apps, online courses/modules, satellite-based TV channels, online books, and ICT-equipped libraries and Adult Education Centers, etc. have been inducted to educate adults who were deprived of quality education in their younger days. In this context, there are significant convergence of NEP with UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 & 8. To accelerate the innovative approach, the move towards making engineering institutions, such as IITs, to include holistic and multidisciplinary education curriculum with the inclusion of arts and humanities is in sync with the need of the hour towards holistic education. 

One of the hallmarks of NEP 2020 is the rightful emphasis on vocational and skill development intending to make far-reaching implications in enhancing academia-industry collaboration and facilitating outreach-practice-research endeavours with an intent of establishing Centres of Excellence in higher education institutions. Such an intent embedded in the NEP 2020 is aimed at making fresh graduates ready for future in tandem with the objective to promote self-employment opportunities, making it a catalytic force towards promoting business and economic development in global paradigm. All these aspects are destined to make a synergy between higher education and industry in a manner that provides complementarity between our education system and industrial management and productivity enhancement. The emphasis on important vocational skills is to boost small and medium sectors. Additionally, the policy is holistic and transformational in its approach on the principle that education caters to the development of not only cognitive and technical skills but also social and emotional skills - also referred to as soft skills. These are paramount towards enhancing cultural awareness, empathy, perseverance, teamwork, leadership, effective communication and resilience. 

The critical significance provided to Open Distance Learning (ODL) and online programmes, provided they are specifically accredited to do so, aims to improving access and increased opportunities for lifelong learning (SDG4) and development of management attributes. As a corollary, the NEP 2020 envisages that all academic programs, courses, curricula, pedagogy, across subjects, including those in class, online and ODL modes, achieve global standards. 

One significant dimension of NEP 2020 is its emphasis on internationalization for increased exchange of expertise and harnessing manpower resources optimally. Research and development collaboration and student and faculty exchanges between the Indian higher educational institutions and global institutions are integral components of the policy. In an era of global economic and business interdependence, such provision is going to metamorphosize the entire landscape of business and management competency among students graduating from universities and institutions of higher education in India. 

One critical aspect of NEP 2020 is the realization that vocational and professional education among students, in the form of integrating vocational education programs into the mainstream education system, is of utmost significance. This is in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal 4 while helping realize the full potential of India’s young demographic dividend. Identification of skill gaps among students is the primary focus area behind such policy initiative, keeping in mind the urgent necessity of integrating technical and vocational skillsets getting ingrained in graduating students. To fulfil such objective, NEP 2020 envisages that the MoE (Ministry of Education) constitute a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE), along with industry participation, to oversee the effort and earmark budget for promoting this academia-industry integration. Additionally, the policy initiatives further allow for incubation centres to be set up in universities and higher education institutes in partnership with industries. Simultaneously, deliberations on agricultural education, legal education and healthcare education are important to serve the society effectively. 

Research and development, innovation, incubation centres and entrepreneurship skill development are predominant elements of NEP 2020. Towards this, technical education encompassing engineering, technology, management, architecture, town planning, pharmacy, hotel management and catering technology are going to be critical in employment enhancement and higher trajectory of productivity. At the same time, the policy further envisions that India must take the lead in preparing professionals in cutting-edge areas that are fast gaining prominence, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3-D machining, big data analysis and machine learning among others. In technical education, genomic studies, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neuroscience and other scientific pursuits would pave the way to facilitate linkage of universities with industry. Innovation in curriculum, Internationalization and Industry integration are the three ‘I’s that can bring transformational effects in education. NEP 2020 has been able to successfully amalgamate educational framework with innovation and research; global standards and industry needs and requirement. The new policy can be regarded as a truly revolutionary step towards building India’s education system robust and resilient to face rapidly evolving complex challenges in the ambit of emerging global ecosystem and economic integration.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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