Impact Of The New National Education Policy On Higher Education Sector

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What is National Education Policy (NEP)?

These are a set of policies formulated by the Government of India to promote education amongst Indian people. NEP is basically a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. The urge of such a framework was first realized in the year 1968 which was then revisited and revised in the year 1986. This was again reviewed and updated in 1992 as per the need of the hour. Since then, the entire world and the overall sector have witnessed massive changes. Hence, this year, the government decided to revise these policies to make them more relevant and compelling for the education ecosystem.

Overview of the policy

The new NEP has been introduced with an aim to formalize changes in the system from K-12 level to college/university level. Keeping in mind the developing scenario, education content henceforth, will focus on key-concepts, ideas, applications and problem-solving angles.

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Let’s take a look at some of the innovative policies introduced for the primary and secondary level education.

  • National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework to be developed by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT): 

    A national Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education for children up to the age of 8 will be developed by NCERT.

  • Coding to be introduced from class 6:

    Mathematical thinking and scientific temper will be a part of school curriculum. Students will be allowed to take up coding from class 6.

  • Board exams:

    Board exams will be conducted in two parts – Objective and Descriptive. These examinations should be designed to promote knowledge application rather than rote learning. Going forward, boards may also develop viable models of the main exams such as annual/semester/modular.

  • No hard separation of streams for students:

    There will be no hard separation of learning areas like science and humanities in terms of curricular. There will not be any separation between co-curricular and extra-curricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, etc. will be a part of the overall curriculum.

The NEP 2020 is focused on creating a holistic, application-based education system with a special emphasis on skill development which will make the students future-ready.

NEP’s focus on higher education

Similarly, there are a lot of reforms and new developments which have been introduced by NEP in the higher education sector.

Let’s take a look at some of the important ones which are well-poised to create a positive difference in the sector.

  • Single regulatory body for higher education:

    The NEP aims to establish Higher Education Commission of India which will be the single regulatory body except for legal and medical education.

  • Multiple entry and exit programme:

    There will be multiple entry and exit options for those who wish to leave the course in the middle. Their credits will be transferred through Academic Bank of Credits.

  • Tech- based option for adult learning through apps, TV channels:

    Quality technology-based options for adult learning such as apps, online courses/modules, satellite-based TV channels, online books, and ICT-equipped libraries and Adult Education Centres, etc. will be developed.

  • E-courses to be available in regional languages:

    Technology will be part of education planning, teaching, learning, assessment, teacher, school, and student training. The e-content to be available in regional languages, starting with 8 major languages – Kannada, Odia, Bengali among others to join the e-courses available in Hindi and English.

  • Foreign universities to set-up campuses in India:

    World’s top 100 foreign universities will be facilitated to operate in India through a new law. According to the HRD Ministry document, “such (foreign) universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.”

  • Common entrance exam for all colleges:

    The common Entrance exam for all higher education institutes to be held by National Testing Agency (NTA). The exam will be optional.

The National Education Policy is expected to bring positive and long-lasting impact on the higher education system of the country. The fact that foreign universities will be allowed to open campuses in India is a commendable initiative by the government. This will help the students experience the global quality of education in their very own country. The policy of introducing multi-disciplinary institutes will lead to a renewed focus on every field such as arts, humanities and this form of education will help students to learn and grow holistically. Thus, students will be equipped with stronger knowledge base.

The introduction of single common entrance test is another positive step which will reduce the stress of multiple competitive exams and ease off the pressure of preparing for so many of them. It will also ensure a level playing ground for all student applicants going forward. Establishing Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) is definitely a robust idea to store the academic credits that students earn by taking courses from various recognized higher education institutions. A student can earn scores by completing a course and these will be credited to the ABC account. One can then transfer these credits if he/she decides to switch colleges. If a student ever drops out for some reasons, these credits will remain intact which means he/she can come back years later and pick up from where the student had left.

Next Steps

The new NEP is focused on increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education space which is currently around 26%. This is much lesser than other countries such as China, Brazil and North American nations. The Indian government needs to introduce stronger policies for educational infrastructure development. It has to promote foreign direct investments (FDI) and open up the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) route to strengthen the capital pool for the sector. As rightly mentioned by Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman during the 2021-22 Budget speech, the country needs greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, build better infrastructures and formalize measures which will enable sourcing ECBs and FDI.

The new National Education Policy looks picture perfect currently. But the key to its success is its implementation within the set deadline. Now, we have to patiently wait and see how things turn out in the future and how we can reap the massive benefits that will be brought into the system with its successful execution.

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