Dr Gautam Patikar
The new National Education Policy announcement is a very significant step for strengthening our education system. The announcement is historic as the new policy has come out after almost 34 years. There have been revolutionary changes in this New Education Policy as compared to the earlier ones. Most of the changes brought in this New Education Policy mainly focus on 21st Century oriented skill based India’s education system.
The earlier education policies were inclined towards a system based on the philosophy advocated by the British rule in India. The emphasis on three language system of education and education in mother tongue up to class 5 and preferred up to class 8 indicates the effort in this direction. If we closely look at the national education policy document, it is quite clear that the new education system will now integrate India’s ancient wisdom and modern science which is done through main streaming of Art and Culture and Health and Physical Education in the new policy. Now onwards, Art and Culture and Health and Physical Education will no longer remain as co-curricular activities. These will become main subject like any other subjects in school education.
The shift from age old tradition of 10+2 system of education to 5+3+3+4 system of education is a major policy change. Probably this is done keeping in mind the capacities and competencies requirement of a child at different stages of school life. Childhood school education will now start at the age of three. The first five years of school education is the foundation level with three years pre schooling and then class 1 and 2. Class 3 to 5 will be preparatory level focussing on playing discovery and activity based classroom learning, class 6 to 8 will be middle stage and will focus on experiential learning and class 9 to 12 will be secondary stage which will focus on multi-disciplinary studies with flexibility in the choice of subjects. For instance, a student admitting to Humanities can keep a paper of science in his/her curriculum and vice versa.
The importance of board exam at this stage has been reduced. Course contents for each level of the four stages of school education will appropriately be developed. Class 9 to class 12 will be on semester system and the student will have the option to choose his/her stream of education from class 9 onwards. Another salient feature of this new education policy is the introduction of internship for vocational training jobs from class 6 onwards like carpentry, wielding, driving and electrician etc. The main aim of this education policy is to ensure that a student coming out of the school education system will have atleast one skill which will help him/her to get a job. Rote learning is discarded in this new policy by encouraging actual learning. Compulsory education up to the age of 18 years has been another important initiative announced in the new policy document as against 14 years in the earlier policies. The target of spending 6% of GDP in education is a welcome move.
The change in the higher education system in the country was overdue. Accordingly, the new National Education Policy paves the way for much wanted change. The graduate level of education will be of annual system for four years. There will be multiple points of entry and exit for the student at graduate level. A student can discontinue his/her studies for a pre-decided length of time at this level. For example, a student can leave a gap after first or second year and can continue with past credit accrued. This initiative will benefit many students who cannot continue studies due to economic or other difficulties but can join back the course after a gap as and when condition becomes favourable. However, on the completion of first year, if a student leaves he/she will get a certificate while after two years he/she will get a diploma while after three years he/she will get a Bachelor’s Degree and after completion of four years he/she will get Bachelor Research Degree.
The policy to pursue Ph.D programme just after the completion of Master’s Degree is a welcome decision. Abolishing M.Phil Degree is a realistic move because the course work needed for pursuing Ph.D programme can substitute it. Nagaland University like many other universities can now think for starting an integrated programme offering Master’s with Ph.D degree.
The intent in the new policy document is very clear and acceptable. But the real challenge lies in its implementations. The lack of infrastructures and shortage of teachers is a real problem. The able and trained teachers will be of high demand. Since education is in the concurrent list, respective State Government does have a role for making available adequate infrastructure and trained teachers particularly for school education. If we look at Nagaland in the absence of any state language of its own, the national education policy implementation will be a severe challenge. So many languages are spoken in Nagaland, developing textbooks, study materials and other literature in each mother tongue is not an easy task. NCERT has to play its pivotal role in this direction for smooth implementation of the new education policy particularly at the school level.
The author is a Professor, Department of Commerce, Nagaland University – Kohima Campus