The Unseen Possibilities Of NEP
The NEP 2020 stands out for several unseen benefits it holds for the holistic development of the nation.
The National Education Policy 2020 is finally here, after a gap of 34 years. Understandably it has been doing the rounds in the media circles over the last month – some that talk about the strengths of the program, some that talk about how it is unrealistic. Without taking any sides, to me as an educator and a technology entrepreneur, the NEP 2020 stands out for several unseen benefits it holds for the holistic development of the nation. Obviously, all of this is subject to how well the plan is implemented and taken to the grassroots level across every nook and corner of the nation, sustainably withstanding the test of time, global dynamics and political changes over the years. Assuming all goes well in implementing the plan, here’s my take on the unseen but powerful promise the plan holds for the nation at large. I will not delve into the visible potential benefits such as practical learning possibilities for children, education at scale across the country etc. which have been detailed in several online publications already. Well then, what else is exciting to look forward to?
Diverse Employment Opportunities Like Never Before: An education plan of this scale with an ambitious goal of a gross enrolment ratio in higher education, of 50% by 2035, calls for a lot of teachers and teaching staff. This will mean a lot of new trained teachers and opportunities for institutions that provide teacher training. However, the kind of educational programs NEP hopes to offer, including a focus on vernacular languages, regional medium of instruction, Sanskrit as an optional language, foreign languages (not limited to just a handful of private schools), provides a lot more employment opportunities for the masses with these skills. Leveraging existing skills, they will now become more employable which is a great step ahead for the entire nation’s socio-economic positioning. Similarly, teachers and specialists who are adept in handling students with special needs will also be able to rightfully market their skills bringing in a better balance in the overall demand and supply for teachers.
Equitable Platform Making Every Student An Agent of Learning: While NEP focuses on equal educational opportunities for one and all, regardless of age, socio-economic backgrounds, gender, it also will silently promote an educational model that drives students to be their own agents of learning. While this is not new in global pedagogies, this was visibly missing for the most part in the rote style of learning in the country. Creating such equitable platforms along with standardized examinations for further qualification into higher education in the country gives everyone a fair chance to compete, based on merit. This will have a larger impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of students too. Ongoing suicides, anxiety issues, are all becoming very common every year with mounting academic pressure on students. A standardized process of evaluation will reduce the toll and also set clear expectations amongst students, enabling them to think clearly and make informed decisions early on. This will help them achieve a better balance in their personal lives and academic journeys, motivating them to be their own agents of learning.
Economic Facelift for the Country: India has been a victim of brain drain for several decades now. Given the bright minds in the country and the lack of compelling opportunities that are also financially appealing, India has been losing a lot of its good talent to global competitors. The NEP will enable us in reversing this trend. A lot of foreign investments is likely to flow into the country, and many new lucrative employment opportunities will be generated in an educational system that mimics the global landscape. Youngsters will be encouraged to pursue educational interests and careers in a more flexible manner while the governmental bodies can still bring in the required federal regulation around funds, policies that align with global needs. Through all of these, the NEP will give us a compelling chance to not only give an economic facelift for the country but also attract Indians from foreign soil back to the motherland along with mitigating the exodus brain drain.
An Improvement in the Nation’s Happiness Index: A country as rich and diverse as India, with a lineage that we should all be proud of, sadly continues to score very poorly in the World Happiness Index. For the year ending 2019, India was placed 144 of the 156 countries that participated. While there could be several reasons that attribute to this and a well-implemented NEP alone cannot do the magic of alleviating India from these ranks, I strongly believe, NEP will bring in a noticeable change. The focus that NEP brings in multi-disciplinary learning modules, including our own Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts will focus more on the Emotional Quotient of students. An emotionally stable student base will have a huge positive impact on the emotional stability of families and the nation at large. A nation that is emotionally stable with equitable opportunities, and a healthy mix of learning options both local and foreign, will go a long way in pushing itself up in the World Happiness Report.
New Business Opportunities With a Global Appeal: The new plan, brings in new requirements that will power new business opportunities - this will attract investors not just within the country but on the global footing too. While some may say, the timing for NEP is not right, given the COVID-19 enforced economic challenges, I think the timing cannot be more perfect. Technology around education is at an all-time high, even amongst the not-so-privileged. Smartphone, virtual learning sessions, synchronous and asynchronous learning modules, have all made the entire nation more technology-savvy over the last 6 months. At Prometheus for example, we are looking to taking this beyond virtual sessions. We have partnered with Phando, a leading OTT provider, to offer anytime anywhere learning enabling individually paced learning. Solutions such as these will further enable the less privileged too, to learn, not constrained by lack of device, network, space etc. during core school hours. With the diverse learner profiles, and the rich OTT solutions and content, the country has excellent prowess to showcase new business opportunities that holds global appeal.
Scope for Regulation in an Otherwise Unregulated Market: India has been plagued by being an unregulated market across several domains. Education is no exception. Right from the elite international schools that have been an entitlement to just a handful across the nation, to the other extreme, where children are deprived of an opportunity to attend school, given their social-economic constraints, the country has seen it all. Lack of standardization in examinations, evaluation, entrance to higher education, lack of transparency in systems and financials, rigidity in implementation, obsolete learning material – the list goes on. A country that has churned unparalleled global leaders, has not been able to sustain the grown, despite the talent, given the challenges around volumes to manage, political agendas, all under the umbrella of being an unregulated market. NEP, in my take, will be that one important magic wand to bring in a whopping change that the country and every learner in India has long deserved.
Responsible Solutions As a Single Source of Truth: With all the flexibility the educational programs bring in, the country has to begin to rely on centralized and transferable data that serves as the single source of truth. For example, the healthcare system in the US is known for its centralized structure with a high emphasis on PII (Personally Identifiable Information). The lack of such a robust system in a large country like India creates ample loopholes for perpetrators and questions the genuineness of the information available. An NEP kind of a program prioritizes responsible solutions that will serve as a centralized and single source of truth enhancing the credibility of the information provider and supplier. To give an example, ValidateMe.Online is a digital blockchain-powered background verification and data store solution that enables one central repository that cannot be tampered by malicious users. Given the flexible entry and exit criteria, NEP promotes especially in HEI (Higher Education Institutions), such responsible central solutions will become more prevalent, which is absolutely needed in a populous country like India.
While discussions around the merits and demerits of NEP will continue and will be important to the rightful implementation of the plan, let’s not miss on this boat to capitalize on the unseen possibilities that it promises, for the holistic advancement of the country.
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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