NEP 2020 – a tool for ascending to the top of the global knowledge economy


  • Dharmendra Pradhan *

On July 8 this year, I assumed charge of the ministry of education. The tasks at hand are both daunting and exciting not only given the portfolio’s illustrious history but also because of the ongoing implementation of the national education policy (NEP) 2020 that comes after 34 years and is the first education policy of the 21st century.
It would not a stretch to say that the NEP 2020 is adocument that will have far-reaching impact on the educational landscape of the country, thereby re-shaping the destiny of the nation both in terms of its internal resilience and enhanced resources and its standing in the world. I make this statement with full responsibility. It is a guiding philosophy, a sacred text, if you will, for the Modi government, a tool to transform the hopes and aspirations of millions of the youth to reality – building on the principles of quality, equity, access and affordability.
I base my argument on the following features in the NEP 2020 although there are many other futuristic quotients to the policy.
First, through this policy intervention, we ensure the most enabling environment for a child from pre-school to adulthood with particular emphasis on inclusive education. The NEPconflates quality education with making learning fun and prepares a child for formal schools through the new 5+3+3+4 school education system. The idea of playschools till date had been largely confined to the middle or the upper class in cities who can afford private schools.
Secondly, as a continuation of the first feature, the rigid classifications between skilling and schooling (academic), curricular and extra-curricular, humanities and the sciences have been brokenfostering multidisciplinarity, conceptual understanding and critical thinking. This engenders the potential for creative combinations, for instance of math with painting. To counter the numerous pressure points that a students’ life has come to acquire, a holistic progresscard instead of a marksheet will be provided at the end of the session, which will assess aptitude vis-à-vis skills, efficiency, competency and other talents.
Every high school child will undergo vocational education that will start from grade 6 and include internships. There will be multiple entry and exit options for an undergraduate and post graduate student with appropriate certification for each exit point.
A digital infrastructure for school education that will function independently but interoperably called NDEAR, which is a set of principles, standards and guidelines, has been created. This will energize the entire digital education ecosystem and is indispensable to the quality of reformative changes in as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
NDEAR will also facilitate the SamagraShiksha Scheme 2.0, which has been extended for the next five years with a financial outlay of Rs 2.94 lakh croreannounced earlier this month. This is an overarching programme that extends from pre-school to grade 12 affecting11.6 lakh schools, over 15.6 crore students and 57 lakh teachers of government and aided schools. All child-centric financial interventions will be provided directly to the students through the DBT mode.
For the higher education sector, an Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), will facilitate the digital storage of all academic credits earned from different higher education institutions (HEIs), including for vocational and academic training, grades accumulated if the student has exited at various points, and other such unique situations so that these can be transferred into a final degree form. Crucially, this will help twinning arrangements with foreign universities as envisaged under the NEP for students to complete a semester in a partner foreign institute.
Also, the HEIs across the country barring legal and medical institutions will have a single regulator called the Higher Education Council of India (HECI). This will ensurea “light but tight” regulatory framework.

The NEP creates a knowledge economy through multiple pathways of linguistic proficiency of a three-language policy to enable mother tongue/ local language or regional language as the medium of instruction with the standardization ofthe Indian Sign Language (ISL)  development ofnational and state curriculum materials for students with hearing impairment. In fact, UNESCO has awarded the King Sejong Literacy Prize 2021 for enabling education of persons with disabilities through technology-enabled inclusive learning material with specific focus on ISL-based content.
The thread tying all of these initiatives will be a special emphasis given on socially and economically disadvantaged groups, setting up of a gender inclusion fund, special education zones for disadvantaged regions and groups while states will be encouraged to establish Bal Bhavans or daytime boarding schools.

Prime Minister Modi envisions that the NEP 2020nurtures the highest potential of the child by breaking unproductive silos. This policy has come after one of the largest consultation processes in the history of education systems globally and reflects the resolve and vision of our leadership to situate India at the top of the knowledge economy. As we celebrate Amrut Mahotsav, or 75 years of India’s independence, this new policy will indelibly groom children who today fall between the age of 5 and 15 years and who will be in the peak productive age of between 30 and 40 years when India hits the mark of 100 years of independence, or Azadi 100. It is my privilege that I have been given a part in this process of creating a workforce who will bethe flagbearers of a global community basing on scientific thought, critical thinking and humanism.

*(Union Minister of Education and Minister of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship)*

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