Education is the single most important catalyst for the development of a country. Ever since I dropped out of college due to lack of motivation to continue traditional education which was based on rot learning and grades rather than practical skills, I’ve been a huge proponent of the Education system in India which has failed the country’s young minds and restricted the growth of innovation and creativity.
However, The Union Cabinet of India on Wednesday, July 29, approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) that in my opinion can revolutionize the education system of India, thus allowing it to be on the forefront of innovation across the world. This policy comes after almost three decades, and post deliberation of almost six years. This is the third NEP after policies that came in 1968, and 1986. Though the government amended the 1986 policy in 1992, it was largely the same. So, as you can see It was long overdue.
India is home to the highest number of youngsters on earth. And that’s exactly why NEP is probably the most important thing that has happened to India since her Economic liberalization back in 1991. NEP, if implemented correctly, can fundamentally change India’s future. Here are some things which I liked about the NEP, and my thoughts on how it can help create better opportunities and innovation across the minds of the younger generation.
1. Under the new system, flexibility will be given to students both in choosing the subjects for education as well as in the entry and exit in college degree programs. Any student can exit a degree program from the first year onwards if he/she wants only a certificate. Once two years are completed, a diploma will be awarded, and post the completion of the three-year or four-year curriculum, the degree will be awarded.
2. No rigid subject system for arts, science or commerce. The National Education Policy will put a thrust on the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction till the fifth grade. Further, subjects wouldn’t be restricted to students purely based on their educational background. This means an engineering student could study a course in History while a humanities student can take Physics or Mathematics as a subject. This will be allowed in both schools and colleges.
3. Academic Credits Systems: This is an excellent initiative that will allow students to learn at their own pace. They don’t have to worry about completing the whole course. They can collect credits, drop out, and return when they want (within permissible limit) to finish the course based on the minimum credits required. Additionally, they can transfer their credits across universities.
The above points are a very important aspect of education which rejects the previous notion of “Rat-Race”. It encourages kids to explore their preferred careers based on their interests and passion rather than doing what everyone else is doing. This will breed new ideas and innovation in more sectors and will increase the number of people genuinely passionate about that sector.
If you’re doing what you love, the work will feel like a game rather than just WORK.
4. Coding will be taught from Class 6 (Elementary Level of Schooling.)
This is probably one of the most important announcements made by the government. With the changing economic and technological scenario across the world, technical skills based on coding is the single most important skills anybody can learn. Giving kids the foundation to learn coding from such an early age will put them on a path to become the next technology visionaries like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zukerberg, all of them learned coding from an early age and built revolutionary multi-billion dollar companies.
We are going to see more such entrepreneurs, programmers solving some of the biggest problems of India using computer science in the coming decades.
5. By 2040, all higher education institutions (HEIs) shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions, each of which will aim to have 3,000 or more students. Multidisciplinary studies majors have the chance to design their educational programs to suit their own interests and career goals. When considering a multidisciplinary studies major, it can be helpful to consider the curriculum, application requirements, and career possibilities. This basically means that Engineering colleges can now have other disciplines such as Arts, Humanities, Commerce, etc. and students are free to design their degree based on their interests and passion.
Why this is important?
For example, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook was enrolled in Psychology AND Computer Science courses (Two different disciplines) at Harvard. That allowed him to pursue his interest in CS while studying people’s skills. That allowed him to create a global social-media empire. The same goes for Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, who went to Harvard to study Law but later enrolled in Computer Science and Mathematics based on his passion.
We can now expect more Harvard like institutions emerging from India in the coming decades allowing India to produce free thinkers and visionaries across multiple disciplines.
6. Foreign universities can now set up their campuses in India, providing the Indian students with much needed mental and cultural diversity.
Diversity is extremely important to get different perspectives on important topics, which in turn helps people develop ideas which helps maximum numbers of people. The same goes for Indian universities. High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries.
7. Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials, and make space for critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-based, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning. The mandated content will focus on key concepts, ideas, applications, and problem-solving.
8. Experiential learning will include hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, story-telling-based pedagogy, among others, as standard pedagogy. Classroom transactions will shift, towards competency-based learning and education.
Most of what is learned by people in schools are not transferred into real-world applications, which in turn, makes the whole thing pointless in the first place. Learning based on skills and knowledge that can be applied in the real world and that which helps people excel in their careers are essential. Not to mention, most of the things can be learned using a single click on the internet, which makes most of the knowledge easily accessible to people around the globe. Keeping only important things inside the brain and search for additional things on the internet. Most of the programmers actually operate this way.
I can’t believe it took the Indian government 34 years to reform the educational policy. Still, better late than never. I personally am now more excited than ever to see how this will pan out in the near future and looking forward to seeing future visionaries, researchers and intellectuals emerge from this changed education system. This will be an essential step towards building India as a global economic and intellectual powerhouse in the coming decades.