June 17, 2019
It is evident from the increased rate of underemployment and unemployment that some urgent steps on the structural regulatory reforms in higher education are required. The policy’s proposal to set up independent bodies for regulation, accreditation, funding, and standard setting would be a right move to eliminate the concentration of power. This will further lead to the creation of a transparent and effective higher education system. The proposed design and the architecture of the regulatory system should also recognise employability as an important objective, which has been neglected.
NEP incorporates effective, bold visions on the necessity of providing Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the move towards substantive and real autonomy, and the placement of education on a liberal arts foundation. However, the main problem in India is the lack of quality state capacity. It is mostly weak and ineffective at places it has been implemented in. So, the main challenge of actualising some of the NEP’s proposals is to create high-quality state capacity which is unintrusive and depoliticised. This move will successfully partner with the private sector to reform the state of education, across all spectrums in India — from early childhood to tertiary education.
The new education policy has a unique opening to ensure India leapfrogs the 21st century learning revolution which completely changes the paradigm of technology-led education. In a country with over 250 million learners, there is no other way but to ensure the use of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for personalised learning. It can become a reality, especially in a country with the advantage of low data rates and high smartphone penetration. The three-language policy and the need to acquire skills can only come about when classrooms are restructured with a focus on technology.
One of the major issues of ECCE is the unavailability of trained teachers. However, the policy seems to be silent on this problem. I propose that ECCE teacher training should be added as a skill gap in the list of National Skill Development Corporation to ensure that easy investment is available to produce efficient ECCE teachers. However, the proposal to co-locate pre-schools with primary schools or formal schools is inappropriate, as the physical needs of the children are diverse and there are significant safety issues. In fact, it should be made mandatory to have separate areas for ECCE (0-6 year-old children).
Courtesy: THE HINDU
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