New Education Policy 2020: A Determined Attempt To Transform Professional Education For An Atmanirbhar Bharat

NEP has ingredients for building robust systems to support high-quality research, recruit the best talent, and promote meritocracy

Over the next decade, India is going to be most abundant in terms of demographic dividend. Education is the driver that can leverage these young people's potential to put India on the world leadership stage while preserving our unique culture and the values of social justice and equality. To lead India to the path of self-reliance, this is our moment, the interventions we make now will be for the benefit of the individual, society, nation, and the world at large. 

Professional education contributes to the sustainable development of a nation by fulfilling economic and social goals. Focused training in the professional and technical domain should help students build capacity in these two significant dimensions- self-growth and responsible entry into professional practice. The underlying theme of the New education policy for professional education is education with ethics and unflinching importance of public purpose. The NEP,2020 has rightly emphasized the need for "large multidisciplinary universities." It is a much-needed step in the right direction. Focus on multidisciplinary education rather than stand-alone professional universities would promote holistic and globally competitive education.  

Universities, as envisaged in this policy would mean multidisciplinary institutions of higher learning. A professional programme offered to students in such universities must be a product of high-quality teaching, research, and a deep sense of community upliftment. These programmes should be designed to develop their skills to understand and use local and traditional knowledge and emerging technologies simultaneously. The students should be aware of critical environmental issues and develop a problem-solving mindset to directly benefit the community. 

NEP has ingredients for building robust systems to support high-quality research, recruit the best talent, and promote meritocracy. NEP aims to help higher educational institutions create a culture of innovation and have strong leadership and governance.  

The post-pandemic world would see the digital transformation. NEP understands the importance of the integration of technology to improve the various aspects of education. It provides the creation of an autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), as a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, and administration. The use of technology in the educational space would help spread the latest knowledge and research. It will also help to provide the opportunity to consult and share best practices widely. 

The next area of concern for professional institutions is the global rankings. Currently, there are no Indian universities in the top 200 in Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) or Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE) for 2020. 

For top Higher Educational Institutions to reach world rankings, research support will have to increase substantially. NEP envisions the establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF). NEP will promote outstanding peer-reviewed research and strive to actively seed research in universities and colleges equitably based on merit. The NRF aims to fund research in all disciplines competitively and be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields. 

The most fundamental change in this policy is seeking concerns about the structure of higher education. The policy strongly recommends moving to large multidisciplinary universities and Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) clusters. The NEP very appropriately has grouped the HEIs into three categories; research universities, teaching universities, and colleges. 

The significant changes proposed within this structure would mean, the system of affiliation will stop for colleges. Each college will now become an autonomous college or part of the parent university. This is a welcome change, and it will ensure that course design, instruction, and assessment are done together within each HEI. It is crucial for imparting good quality education.  

The prevailing system, where course design is delinked from teaching, and teaching is delinked from assessment, has many challenges, and comes in the way of providing quality teaching and learning experience.  

The NEP suggests that some universities should be identified as research universities soon. These will focus strongly on research and Ph.D. programs and have high-quality education at the graduate and postgraduate levels. The other group will be teaching universities, which will focus on delivering high-quality education and will be primarily focused on undergraduate teaching. However, it would not be restricted to that. And as high-quality education needs faculty involvement in research, these universities are also expected to do a modest amount of research and have a small Ph.D. program. 

This exercise of grouping is critical, keeping in mind the present Indian education scenario. All universities in India try to do both research and education. Still, most of these do not have the resources or trained and motivated faculty that is needed for high-quality research. The result is that very few such institutions are globally competitive. The NEP proposes that some of them can, with support, become research universities.  

This approach will lead to developing world-class research universities and also allow movement of institutions from being a teaching university to research university. This would provide motivation and keep up the spirit of competition and would ensure an increase in the number of research universities over time. 

NEP recognizes institutional and societal factors contributing to gender inequality in higher education ecosystem and announces to set up the 'Gender-Inclusion Fund,' to build the nation's capacity to provide equitable quality education for all girls as well as transgender students. It will give necessary support to scale effective community-based interventions that address local context-specific barriers to female and transgender children's access to and participation in education. 

In short, NEP provides integral elements for a leap in the future. It remains to be seen how this will be achieved. We look forward to its implementation to fulfill the promise of a 'New India.' 

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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New Education Policy 2020 Atmanirbhar Bharat NEP

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