Article authored by Adithya Binoy, Director of The Economics Society of ISME.
The new education policy as a whole is a considerable change to India’s education system. The changes are important but the primary motive should be to change people’s mindset or views towards education.
Before learning about how the NEP-2020 is supposed to change people’s perspectives, it is important to understand the reason behind the current mindset and why things are the way they are. During the 1800s when India was colonized by the British, the industrial revolution was in full swing in England. There was considerable demand for factory workers, and the British would meet this demand for workers through their colonies. This is why education started gaining so much importance. This tells us why the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) domains were prioritised. This led to a hierarchical structure which put STEM subjects on top followed by the study of commerce and then the arts and humanities.
Eventually, people started believing that domains other than science aren’t as valuable. This led to a huge imbalance in the system. When you analyse the new education policy, it can be observed that importance has been given to application-based learning and students are given the option to select any combination of subjects, wherein a student can choose a subject like chemistry along with accounting. This gives students the freedom to follow their passion by mixing subjects depending on the career they want to pursue.
Students are also allowed to shift from one domain to another whenever they want, this gives a very strong message that every domain is equal and eliminates the hierarchical structure. India as a country is in no shortage of talented people. A major reason why they are unable to garner their talents is because the system fails to guide them appropriately. The new policy makes it compulsory for every class to find one student who has a special talent and the school should help the student nurture it and give all kinds of guidance to him/her. This is a great move to show parents the importance and scope of domains apart from science.
A major controversy that broke out with regards to the new education policy was the exclusion of English as a compulsory medium of teaching in the earlier stages of education. A child’s foundation determines their academic performance, if the foundation of subjects like mathematics and science are poor right from the beginning because of lack of clear communication because the child doesn’t understand English, then it will affect them for the rest of their academic career. Therefore, it is important that a child has the right foundation through efficient communication in a language they understand. Granted, English is important but a student can learn English later or as a second language. An issue that arises from this premise would be for students who migrate from one state to another, in which case the medium of teaching will change from state to state in earlier stages of education causing the migrant student to face language barriers.
Another major step taken up in this policy is the inclusion of internships in school, which will help students to grow their practical skills. Also, the inclusion of coding in younger classes is a step towards a more digital India and will help to develop more homegrown apps and software solutions in the long run. Also, an autonomous regulatory body will ensure balance in the quality of education for all domains.
To summarise, the success of this new policy depends on the implementation. 6% of the GDP is now allocated for the education sector, which is a fair boost in resources. The rest depends on how efficiently it is used. This policy is a stepping stone towards more digitalization, a change in the outdated perspective towards education, and an independent and self-reliant youth.