Dr Asangba Tzüdir
The recently announced National Education Policy 2020 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development sets for itself the goal of transforming the education system to meet the needs of the 21st Century India. However, one of the immediate challenges is that, any educational reform can be implemented only through a consensus among the various states.
The NEP 2020 is humongous and which is designed to address the issues related to pedagogy, structure, the various irregularities and of late the rampant commercialization of education specifically of fees, course and degrees.
The NEP 2020 has come at a time when the students of primary schools have recorded poor literacy which has also led to the greater number of dropouts in middle and secondary schools. On the higher education front, it continues to suffer from its failure to offer multidisciplinary programmes.
An aspect of NEP 2020 that has caught the attention of many is its change in structural pattern of the education system. A child student will be introduced to school as early as 3 years; school board exams twice a year for performance enhancement; shift from rote learning; raising the mathematical skills; and the lions share being a shift to a 5+3+3+4 design where the Undergraduate College degree programme is four-years. The medium of instruction too, the policy says, should be the mother tongue till class 5 but preferably till class 8. Considering the larger spectrum of India being a diverse country starting with language, and the new structural design requires a rethinking. A thorough discussion by our School board and of Higher education is needed in the context of the present issues, problems and challenges before its acceptance.
Well, the new NEP seeks to revamp the curriculum in all subjects by reducing it to its core essentials, and through interactive classes it seeks to inculcate critical thinking. It also looks at a shift from the often boring classes by making it more interactive, and also offers flexibility of course choices. However, what matters is the content. In the never ending production of various cultures of knowledge every day, knowledge needs filtering and therefore content filtration. It is dangerous to have various forms of knowledge brought together that rather than effecting a harmonious learning creates ‘epistemic violence’ which is bound to happen in a land of diversities.
Certain lessons can be drawn from Finland that has the best education system in the world. One may question how they created the best education system. They followed the simple logic of keeping it sensibly simple that looks at an all round development of the children. In the entire Western world they have the shortest school days and school years, which means they go to school less but still do better. They also do away with standardized tests which are generally directed at scoring well in the test rather than a test designed to make a student learn. For them, home-works are almost obsolete and so the students do not have to spend lengthy hours doing homework after their tiring day’s class ordeal. This offers them more time to grow freely as kids, to be youngsters and enjoy life fully and truly, and thereby offering them more avenues to learn. Too much of school and college learning and its extension to home only curtail learning.
Well, the NEP 2020 is the first blanket compilation after 1986, and having the dateline to achieve universal literacy and numeracy by 2025, it only pinches on the need to focus of holistic learning and one that focuses not on quantity, rather on quality and content. If this fundamental issue is not addressed, then any Education Policy is still a long way from home.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to the Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)