By Dr. Minu Madlani, principal, K.P.B Hinduja College of Commerce & Economics
The 34-year old National Education Policy that was formed in 1986 was recently replaced with the New Education Policy of 2020. On paper, the policy looks ambitious, futuristic and revolutionary, but most of its success will depend on how it is executed. The policy that has been formulated after taking suggestions from over 2 lakh members of different local level bodies conveys a massive structural change in India’s education system that specifically aims at inclusion and equity.
In an attempt to make India the global superpower of knowledge and capitalize on its demographic advantage, inclusion seems to be at the heart of NEP. Here’s a look at how –
- No language barriers – The New Education Policy avoids any discrimination or isolation of students from linguistic minorities through its stance on making students authoritative with command over different languages at different levels of education. This nullifies the risk of students facing educational exclusion that would arise earlier due to language barriers.
- Community Inclusion – A serious attempt has been made by the new policy to ensure students do not face any exclusion because of their language and religion. The emphasis on community participation will encourage students to learn about the country’s diverse cultures and respect them. With its effort towards providing special funding for the study of art, culture and literature, the NEP aims to bring back the creative human endeavor which is a must to develop 21st Century Skills.
- Gender Sensitivity and Equality – The government already runs programmes like the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ and ‘Sukanya and Balika Samridhi Yojana’ that are vital in achieving gender equality in education across the country. However, the low enrollment ratio of girls in upper secondary education continues to remain a cause of concern. NEPs biggest attempt has been to make gender equality an integral part of the education system with funds allotted and increased upto class 12 for all socio-economically disadvantaged categories. Gender sensitivity has made its way to the curriculum of Indian schools and the new policy focuses on coping with this issue in multiple ways across the areas of teaching, learning and assessment.
- Learning-centric education – The inclusion of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds into the formal education system for early childhood care education is a great move. The segregation of the education system with an aim to include students from age 3-5 to schooling as per global standards is also noteworthy.
- Focus on skill development – Access to quality education from school level is one of the main highlights of the NEP 2020. The opportunity to learn Coding from Grade 6 and having the option to enroll for vocational courses is a step forward in making students globally competent and future ready. The freedom to choose their own career paths and build on skills necessary for those right from the school level that will tailor suit and vitalize each and every student is the need of the 21st Century.
NEP 2020 comes as a ray of hope in the midst of the world fighting a pandemic. The policy is everything we need to uplift the lower strata of the society and will prove instrumental in bridging the gender, social and regional/community gaps. If executed in the said manner, this policy is a leap forward in attaining the Goal 4 (SDG4) of 2030 to attain sustainable development and ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education for all in decades to come.