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Implementing NEP 2020 in Assam

The NEP 2020 has been appreciated at large with an expectation that this education policy,

NEP

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Sep 2020 5:12 AM GMT

Biren Das

(The writer is from Tezpur University. He can be reached at biren@tezu.ernet.in)

The NEP 2020 has been appreciated at large with an expectation that this education policy, which came after 34 years from the last one, will bring a paradigm shift in our education system, to keep the Indian Education system in the race with the education world. We find a large number of changes in the NEP 2020 from the Education Policy of 1986. As education is the fundamental for all-round national development, a well structured Education Policy is important; but its implementations will matter more; otherwise, an Education Policy will be simply a document in file. However, implementation will require reasonable efforts from the Government with participation from all stakeholders keeping in mind the changes proposed or required. Along with the recommendations of the required changes, this NEP 2020 has spelt out the tasks for implementation in the policy itself with timeline and responsibilities of stakeholders concerned. The NEP 2020 has divided the Indian Education system broadly into two tiers: school education and higher education.

Education being in the concurrent list, implementation of the NEP 2020 will require action from both the Central and the State governments. The NEP 2020 has indicated action to be taken, mostly by the Central government which will culminate in reaching out to the remotest location through State governments' intervention. But for better implementation of the provisions of the NEP 2020, we have to find: (i) the changes recommended with objectives; (ii) the timeline given; (iii) Role of Central and State governments; and (iv) Role of various agencies, including educational institutions.

The implementation of provisions of this NEP can be considered in three steps: i) The reforms requiring administrative action without direct or additional financial involvement like legislations, curriculum development, etc. ii) The reforms requiring funds; but it can be achieved within the present allocation under various schemes like automation, technology development, survey, capacity building, etc. iii) The reforms which will require huge funding like establishment of new HEIs, conversion of single stream HEIs to multi-disciplinary institutions where infrastructure development will require reasonably huge funding, etc.

The NEP 2020 has mandated changes in pedagogical and curricular structure at school level education. The present 10+2 structure in School education is modified into a new pedagogical and curricular restructuring of 5+3+3+4 structure for children within the age group 3-18 years. Here two immediate actionable points are- to include early childhood care and education i.e. pre-primary section to school education and to make 11th & 12th standards integral part of School education. Hence, the existing structure of 11th & 12th classes in junior colleges or secondary schools or in colleges are to be detached and put into the school education system. This will require structural changes along with infrastructure. For pre-school or 'ready for school' children, the existing anganwadis or play or pre-primary schools may not be sufficient to meet the requirement. Further, the existing care takers, teachers and other human resources will need training to fit them to the pedagogical needs. The regulatory framework and facilitating systems for school education are to be taken up by the State Government at the earliest. The Central Government is to initiate revisiting the National Curricular Framework 2005 to upgrade it within 2020 taking into accounts all policy points of NEP 2020 on school education. This upgradation or restructuring of curriculum and pedagogy with increased focus on foundational literacy and numeracy in primary school curriculum can be acted upon in a time-bound manner through the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training). The SCERT in conjunction with SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) needs to prepare states school curriculum. While restructuring the curriculum, all the fundamental principles like flexibility, no hard separation, multidisciplinary, emphasis on conceptual understanding leading to creativity and critical thinking, ethics and human & constitutional values, life skill, promoting regular formative assessment, multilingualism etc. are to be kept in mind. Similarly, production of textbooks with changes in content, inclusion of local content and flavour, may also be planned so that implementation of new curriculum with available textbooks, including downloadable PDF printable version of all textbooks can be facilitated. Parallelly, survey of school dropouts and arrangement for bringing such children back to the classroom, schools must have sufficient infrastructure for accommodating their classes and counselling. As most of the schools have space, this need can be made with proper planning of space utility. Further, to motivate these dropout children to return to school for re-entry, we may even engage social workers and NGOs. Another parallel action required is to set up the State Achievement Survey (SAS). All these may be planned to implement within 2022, which may not require too heavy budgetary allocation. Similarly, utility of resources through reorganized school complexes or clusters of schools, sharing of resources optimally including human resources, establishment of State School Standards Authority can be initiated with the existing resources and infrastructure.

In case of higher education, first step is to detach the 11th & 12th classes from the degree colleges with a proper planning to accommodate these students in schools. Some of the facilities meant for 11th & 12th classes in colleges can be reorganized to school with proper planning. This will help colleges to increase their student intake and becoming multi disciplinary. It is a fact that a good number of colleges in Assam lack infrastructure and human resources to be considered for autonomous status or, as per NEP 2020, to be degree granting colleges. It is expected that Ministry of Education, Government of India will bring regulations on governance of HEIs with Higher Education Council of India (HECI) as the umbrella organization with four verticals, namely- National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERA) – which will function as the common, single point regulator for all HEIs excluding medical and legal education; National Accreditation Council (NAC) – which will oversee accreditations of institutions by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions based on defined basic norms, public self-disclosure, good governance and outcomes; Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) – which will carry out funding and financing of HEIs based on transparent criteria and General Education Council (GEC) – which will frame expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes. As per the NEP, the governance of HEIs will be with BoG within a period of 15 years i.e. by 2035. During this period, all HEIs are to take steps to become independent self-governing institution under a BoG, pursuing innovation and excellence or may go for sharing resources of other nearby colleges to form a cluster of degree granting autonomous college.

However, till our colleges become autonomous, the parent Universities and other Universities may develop restructured course curriculum with emphasis on skill education component as envisaged in NEP 2020 i.e. courses for 3 year Bachelor and 4 year research degree; 2 year PG for those coming from 3 year UG programme and 1 year PG for those coming from 4 year UG programme; PhD programme for entry with 4 year degree and with 1 or 2 year PG programme. Learning outcomes from School education to PG & beyond should have mapping to that learning outcomes are defined which will indicate the graduate attributes. This mapping will also help to develop an integrated course curriculum from primary (Grade-I) program to higher education (PG or even PhD) programme. This mapping will also help in designing modular programme, especially at UG level, like a Certificate after one year, a diploma after two year and a Bachelor degree after 3 years' pursuance of an UG programme. This will also help students' lateral exit and entry with flexibility in studies. In addition, introduction of liberal arts enhancing the scope for pursuing subjects of Choices as Minors along with a Major may break the boundary of stream concept. This will help students to enhance his/ her skill in more than one area, may be with flexible time line, convenient to him/ her, including pursuing some courses through online or distance mode. The Academic Credit Bank will help to accumulate course credits for fulfillment for a degree or diploma or a certificate, or even for 10th or 12th Standard Board examinations.

As per the provision of the NEP, Government is to identify at least one College, if no University is there, in every district, which can be upgraded to a degree granting institution, or else to plan for a Model Multidisciplinary College. Our Government may also consider approving teaching positions in colleges in areas like Biotechnology, Computer Science, Environment Science, Folklore, Physical Education, performing Arts etc., so that colleges can become really multidisciplinary with multiple subject choices for students. Brainstorming sessions for college teachers, may be in cluster, perhaps also be considered for smooth transition. Proposal for establishment of a new Central Multi-disciplinary Education and Research University (MERU) may perhaps be initiated identifying location with availability of land as it will benefit the State and whole of the Northeast. As learnt, the initiatives of the Government of Assam is praiseworthy and hope that Assam may get its due credit in implementing the NEP 2020 as the pioneer, keeping balance in class and mass.

However, the success in implementation of the NEP will depend a lot on the mindset of stakeholders. Because, though the Government's support is essential, yet academic institutions, mainly teacher's community, must get involved with open mindset to bring the reforms envisioned in the policy. The government is also to bring required legislation for restructuring the systems like bringing the present H.S. section to School level, establishment/ upgradation of Colleges as degree granting HEIs for decongestion of colleges from affiliating Universities, granting of teaching positions for existing & new departments to make the HEIs multidisciplinary, bringing integrated B.Ed department in the colleges with required infrastructure, etc. A State monitoring Committee with eminent academicians may help in the Government's approach in this regard.

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