Sentinel Assam spoke to B Kalyan Chakravarthy,
Principal Secretary, Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, Government of Assam, to know more about
the Policy and how prepared is Assam to implement it.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Sentinel Assam: How ready is Assam to implement the National Education Policy?
B Kalyan Chakravarthy: Assam government has been probably the first government, to the best of my knowledge is the first government which has taken the most immediate step to constitute a committee to understand the complete facets of the new education policy because it's such a comprehensive document. It pans out from pre- primary school education to higher education and there are so many things that have been said in this policy, which require a very deep analysis both in terms of infrastructure requirements and that's brick and mortar. But also in terms of the kind of Manpower that we need in order to achieve the objectives of the policy. Bring about that kind of an education which is holistic. We therefore need both man and material. I have been given the responsibility of ensuring, studying it in depth and ensuring we set our milestones and this is one policy if we were to implement will take Assam to be the best state in the country, most productive state in the country. Our documentation is going to be ready by the end of this year. There is this view that between the private sector and the public education there's a difference in terms of quality and therefore the divide between the haves and the have-nots. So, we find that there is a gradual movement of parents trying to take their children to the private education. But private education also charges heavily. So there is a need related to free education. So for example, Government of Assam has come out with the free education Act. Government of Assam has come out with a scheme called Pratyahban in the sense like a challenge to have those kind of schools which are good or better than the private schools establishing about 1000 schools in the state. Their results are outstanding, most of them are above 90% in terms of the results. So we are trying to establish new models of excellence. We are trying to ensure that the fee structures in the private sector are transparent and accountable. It's in the new education policy but we have done it earlier itself. And there are various other things, for example rationalization of teachers in the sense, there are some teachers more in one school and there is just one teacher in one school. So we have reasons, you know, there is lopsided irrational distribution of teachers for various reasons. But the rationalization to see that all teachers are there in all schools. According to the pupil-teacher ratio that was essential to be done right. So for that government of Assam has come up with policies. We are really happy that this education policy resonates with the thinking that we had.
Sentinel Assam: Let's talk about school education. there. What are some of the significant changes that we are going to see in the coming days because of the Policy?
B Kalyan Chakravarthy: School education perhaps is the foundation which probably will result in the entire flow of education into higher levels. Education which used to start from class one at the age of five or six has now gone down to the age of three. Between the ages of three to six we are hoping that is the age which is like, you know new education policy instructs ten plus two. Class one to ten plus two years that is up to 12 and thereafter has now gone from three years, four years, five years six and seven that is the first block. So in the first block that is up to class two now a child will learn through his hands. Will learn language, the language learning occurs when the child is small is just like a fish taking to water. You can learn any language. Now theory says that a child can learn about six languages fluently. Big difference in the National Education Policy, when the child comes out of class 2 he is able to speak fluently. Class three, four, five is the second block. In the second block, the child will begin to learn a little bit of maths, a little bit of science, you know and those kind of things as basic concepts and will begin to understand. Then comes the stage of six, seven and eight. Six, seven and eight is when we will introduce vocational education. It is not an option. It's mandatory, so when a kid comes out he will know some kind of vocational skills, whether it's anything electrical, plumping or whatever. Something like even typing, we don't get a lot of people to type in Assamese. We are completely handicapped when we have to send a document across in Assamese. There will be 360-degree kind of report card, the child will be judged comprehensively not just based on his education. It will be a continuous assessment of the child rather than a one-time assessment of the child. And that is important. Another thing I would like to say, you know sometimes we look at education as if the teacher when he does progression, teacher can go from primary to upper primary to the secondary as a progression in a teachers' career and that's not true. That's not right because there are teachers who are experts in just primary because that's the complete specialization by itself. Like for the doctor if you are a general physician, you cannot become a heart specialist from there and become an oncologist. A paediatrician is as experienced and as important and as different as maybe a general physician. So, similarly, a teacher who is teaching in pre-primary will reach the pinnacle of his career in that and there will be grades and then he will focus on that itself.
These are exciting times. The education sector is opening up. The online divide we will try our best to bridge it.
Sentinel Assam: What does this policy say about higher education?
B Kalyan Chakravarthy: I studied in IIT and IIM. After I did IAS one thing that I sincerely felt was that IIT students are exceptionally intelligent but they are ignorant of social factors affecting the society. They will not understand things about inclusive education. Most of the IITians, at least of my batch would not be aware of how the government runs. What is it for the person who comes in from a socially disadvantaged background or from an economically viable disadvantaged background and these two things are different? They would not understand because most of the IITs and IIMs during my time were from culturally privileged background. So the potential of the country was not unleashed. The National Education policy says that there has to be a 50% gross enrolment ratio, which is a big target in the sense that mostly people after doing their class 12 don't actually get into college. Second, the gap between science and society have been bridged in this New Education Policy. Certain other things are there, like you enter into a particular course, and after one year you feel that you would like to do something else. Earlier you would have lost a year but now because of the Education Policy you don't lose that one year because if you do one year you get a certificate for the course you were doing. If you do three years you get a full degree and if you do four years, you get a degree with the research in the sense that you are like at that level.
In order to get permissions a fast track mode of clearance will be there from the government, which will have a single window. Now the four independent verticals would come together. Whether it's regulation or standard setting or funding or whether it is accreditation all these things will now be at one place. So it becomes easier and more uniform across the country and so there will be an ability for every college, there will be clusters in the sense, you know more amount of integration between different colleges in this especially the post covid time where you will be able do cross University kind of studies also and also for foreign universities to be associated because now is the time where we have lots of interaction with best of the universities across the world. So the ability for the higher educational institutions to get the best not only from other institutions within the country, but from institutions across the world is going to be easier.