Noble Purpose: Purpose of educationis to develop good human beings – capable of rational thought and action, compassion & empathy, courage & resilience, scientific temper & creative imagination, ethics & values. New Education Policy 2020 is in the right direction to achieve this purpose. Policy has been made and now the states are in the planning stage for putting implementation plan in place. There are few key areas that need to be stressed upon while making an implementation plan for such transformational policy to gets its desired impact.
Early childhood care and education: As per the policy, schools will be expected to recruit workers/teachers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of early childhood development, care and education (ECCE). Parents and volunteers can be a good support in ensuring success of ECCE. At an implementation level, there is a need to setup a coordination mechanism between Education Department, Women and Child Departments and other related departments that contribute towards ECCE. This will bring in a coherent approach to implement ECCE in its true spirit. As ECCE is a specialised area, there should be sufficient number of teachers and professionals to support. Thus, the teachers who have completed Nursery Teacher Training (NTT) or other equivalent degrees/diplomas, teacher who are working for Anganwadi need to undergo a bridge course to ensure that the best teachers and professionals are handling the foundational stage of a child in her/his education journey. The pre-service training curriculum for teacher development along with provision for sufficient number of courses across various universities and colleges need to started on a war footing, to ensure smooth implementation.
Multi-disciplinary approach and skill development : The Policy covers various facets including flexibility for students to choose their learning trajectories and their path in life; no hard separations between arts & sciences, curricular & extra-curricular, vocational & academic, etc.; multi-disciplinary and a holistic education (sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, sports); conceptual understanding, creativity & critical thinking; ethics and human & constitutional values (e.g., empathy, respect for others); life skills (e.g., communication, resilience); formative assessment for learning rather than the summative assessment and ‘coaching culture’. Making education system flexibile and creating various opportunities for students is a welcome step. However, implementation should be handled with great caution as some of the specialised courses.
Skill based exposure to students in scientific temper and evidence-based thinking, creativity and innovativeness; sense of aesthetics, logical reasoning; vocational exposure and skills; digital literacy, coding, and computational thinking, introduction of contemporary subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, Organic living, Global Citizenship Education is a welcome step and much required to give an impetus to bring India in league with developed nations. The skills approach can be integrated into the curriculum to be a part of each and every activities at the school level rather than making it a separate subject.
Technology for Education:With the digital divide being evident during this lockdown, there is dire need for technology to) be judiciously used to ensure the learning poverty is not increased in the country. Low cost technology that can be used at scale can be introduced instead of resource intensive technology. Each and every technology may be considered to tackle some process or some aspects of education and not vice versa. Technology should be made for education and education should not be changed to suit technology.
Teacher Availability: Implementation for co-scholastic (physical education, arts and crafts, vocational skills, and languages) provision needs innovative ways like cluster-based teaching / part-time teachers that would ensue that the schools provide a holistic development of students especially in the rural area (as there is a dearth for teachers in rural areas), Artisans and local experts from the parents and community members from the surrounding villages under the aegis of school complexes can help in optimizing the resources available.
Continuous Professional Development: School Principals / Teachers, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) with a minimum of 50 hours of CPD, which would increase the existing 7 physical days of annual training to 9 to 10 days including online modules Training platform will have to facilitate online trainings for teachers. While there is a focus on professional development of teachers and heads of schools, the outcome of the evaluation of training is to be done on a continuous basis in terms of training effectiveness and introducing need based topics. Lockdown has provided an opportunity in this regard to encourage teachers, heads of schools and education administrators to access online module on a need bases.
Public Private Partnership (PPP): The policy welcomes PPP. Both governments as well as non-governmental philanthropic organizations to build schools, encourage local variations, making the requirements for schools less restrictive. The focus will be to have less emphasis on input and greater emphasis on output, with a potential to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Other models for schools will also be piloted, such as public-philanthropic partnerships. We are hoping for some flexibility in norm with more focus on outputs rather than inputs creating opportunity with new models of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
Enhance cooperation and positive synergy among schools, even between public and private schools. The twinning/pairing of one public school with one private school will be adopted across the country with regularly monitoring and mentoring to make it a success.
Transparent Regulation: Self-regulation or accreditation system will be instituted for all stages of education including pre-school education – private, public, and philanthropic. Establishing State School Standards Authority (SSSA) define minimal set of standards based on basic parameters (safety, security, basic infrastructure, number of teachers across subjects and grades, financial probity, and sound processes of governance). Self-regulation process can make recognition process easier depending on States rules formation. SSSA standards focusing on safety and security, number of teachers across subject might mean extra resources if States do not follow the intent of keeping it light. All the information of the schools need to be in public domain so as to increase the accountability and transparency in the education system.
Financial Commitment: All the policies can be successful when sufficient funds are allocated for its implementation. There are various initiatives like providing counselors, provision of breakfast especially to younger ones and similar initiatives that has a high budget implications.
Making a policy is a start to the journey of transforming education in the country. But its implementation strategy, adequate resourcing (human resources, financial resources) at the school level, financial commitment in the state education plans and a will to implement at all level will tell us whether India will reach or go beyond the targeted Sustainable Development Goals, carving out a place in the world as a developed nation with every citizen having knowledge, skills, values to be a good human being envisaged in NEP 2020.