New Education Policy: A Critical Analysis

The Legal Arc Volume 1 Issue 1 Articles

Yash Sinha

Yash Sinha is a second-year Law Student at NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law, Mumbai. His area of research interest is Constitutional Law.

Introduction

India will have the highest youth population in the word in the upcoming decade and it is a shared responsibility of the government to provide contemporary educational opportunities to the students to shape the future of the country. This can be done only if the education policy targets the idea of universal access to quality education which will be a key to social and economic justice. There is a rapid change going on in the world in terms of the knowledge landscape. We have observed how our workforce has moved from manual stages to machines, and now the whole world is trying to move to the next step, i.e. artificial intelligence. This will increase the need for a skilled workforce with the knowledge of data science, mathematics, and computer science in conjunction with multi-disciplinary abilities across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The approach of the education system must make children not only learn but learn to learn. The revised policy aims to develop critical thinking in students since the inception of their schooling. To provide a holistic development which not only includes cognitive skills but also social and emotional skills referred to as ‘soft skills’ including cultural awareness, empathy, teamwork, leadership, among others. The foundational pillars of the policy are access, equity, affordability, and accountability.

No policy could do justice to the system if teachers and teaching measures are not regulated, this policy has addressed these issues and proposes to empower teachers and help them to work as effectively as possible and to ensure teachers their livelihood, respect, dignity, and autonomy, while also having accountability and quality control. The policy is based on certain principles such as flexibility, no hard separations of streams, multi-disciplinary conceptual understanding, creative and critical understanding, constitutional values etc. to provide holistic development to the students.

ECCE and School Curriculum

There has been a fundamental change in the school education system in every aspect from the elementary, secondary, and Higher education system. The present system is based on a 10 + 2 system where the students study a particular set of subjects for the first ten years starting from class 1 and then respective streams as per their interest. This system will be changed to 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 which means that the state will keep a record since the start of the schooling rather than from class 1. The policy also introduces a term ECCE (Early childhood care and education) which is to ensure that children entering Grade 1 are school-ready. Over 85% of the child’s cumulative brain develops before the age of 6.  It has been observed that due to lack of investment in ECCE, most of the young children, particularly from economically disadvantaged families are not mentally prepared to go to school easily and are also afraid of the school environment. Keeping all such observations into consideration, the first bracket which is the first five years of school is termed as the foundational stage (3-8 years) based on play/activity-based learning and ECCE. It will also focus on good behaviour, ethics, courtesy, teamwork, cooperation, etc. Exams for this section have been removed to ensure that there is no pressure on the child in these early stages and the child should be mentally prepared to go to school without any fear. The second stage is the next three years which is also termed as the Preparatory stage (8-11 years) which will begin from grade 3. This stage will observe a transition from play-based learning to more formal but interactive classroom learning, with an introduction to some light textbooks to lay a solid groundwork across subjects such as arts, languages, science, and mathematics. The stage will also include exams and the approach will be based on study and activity. The stage also highlights the language policy which is, that the students till this stage should study in their regional languages. There is some contention with this policy and many people believe that there is an imposition of a language, however, the policy has made it clear that this is not mandatory. The private/public schools can still use English as a language or the medium that they decide, however, no school can impose the same. The next stage is termed as the Middle stage (11-14 years) which is again for the next three years. This stage introduces various courses such as computer coding, vocational courses, Maths, Science, arts, etc. Apart from all these subjects, a child also has to study one Indian language as per his or her interest. There is again a contention among people that this Indian language is an imposition of any particular language such as Hindi, but that is not the case. One could study any of the National languages which are given in schedule 8 apart from the subjects the child is studying. The last four years of the school system from Grade 9 to Grade 12 is termed as the secondary stage (14-18 years). There will be a major change in this stage as compared to the present system. The separation of streams has been removed and one could select subjects from various behavioural science, arts, & commerce streams. This stage also includes an optional foreign language and the exams will be conducted every six months. The idea is to stick with the objective of the policy, which is to provide holistic growth. The teachers will be encouraged to ensure developing a habit of critical thinking in their students.

Graduation and Post-Graduation

There is also a major change in the policy in terms of the years required for graduation. At present, graduation is for three years in subjects like Arts, Science, and Commerce. This has been changed to four years, however, the way the certificates will be provided is different. As soon as a student completes the first year, he or she shall receive a certificate by the title ‘Graduate Certificate’. Similarly, at completing the second year, he or she will get a certificate by the title ‘Graduate Diploma’. When the third year is completed, ‘Graduate Degree’ will be given to the student, and as soon as the student completes the fourth year, he or she shall receive a certificate by the title ‘Graduate research’. The policy has also proposed a new system of re-entry of students in any of the respective years of the graduation. This is done to address the untimely dropping out of students in the middle of the graduation majorly due to economic reasons or personal reasons. So, now if any of the students leave the college after the first year due to lack of money, and after a few years when he or she gets some money to continue his or her studies, they can continue directly from the second year. Also, no student needs to study all four years. A student can apply for a job after the degree received in the third year, if in case the student wants to continue his research in the subject, he or she may study for the fourth year.

In terms of post-graduation, the duration is kept one or two years depending on the number of years completed by the student in his under graduation. If a student completes three years in his under graduation, he shall study for two years to complete his post-graduation. If he studies four years during his under graduation, he may only study one year to complete post-graduation. The proposed policy has given ample stress on the area of research to encourage the young mind in this field.

Financial Planning and Budget

Even the first national education policy of 1968 envisages a provision of six percent of GDP to be allocated for the education sector. The same allocation is maintained in the proposed policy. At present, we are spending around 3.1 percent of the total GDP in this sector. The policy will implement a regulatory regime which will have a clear separation of role, empowerment, and autonomy to institutions which focus on the smooth, timely, and appropriate flow of funds and the usage of the funds with probity. The policy also recognizes two types of funds; those being formula and discretionary funds, given to the state to implement priorities defined by the central government and to deal with localised specific context barriers to girls to get access to high-quality education. To ensure transparency, the funds or investment which are made available either to the private or public industry in this sector will come under the ambit of RTI (Right to Information). The details of the flow of funds can be accessed by the public at large.

One of the major contentions against the policy is about the commercialisation of education. This contention has been addressed in the policy by using a ‘light but tight’ regulatory approach that mandates full public disclosure of finances, procedures, course, and programme offerings, and educational outcomes; the substantial investment in public education; and mechanisms for governance of all institutions, public and private.

Promoting Indian Culture

The rich Indian heritage has been the guiding path of the policy since the beginning. The aim of education in ancient India was based on complete realisation and liberation of the self, in addition to the acquisition of knowledge as preparation for life in this world or life beyond schooling. It is the very cultural and natural wealth that truly makes India as ‘Incredible India’ as per India’s tourism slogan. Culture awareness is not only important for the nation but also for an individual to develop a sense of identity, belonging, as well as an appreciation of other cultures and identities. To preserve and promote one’s culture, it is very important to promote and preserve the culture’s languages. This is the reason Indian languages are taken care of throughout the policy. Now, this has been a major contention and people have also alleged that this is because of the implementation of the ideology of Hindutva. Many developed countries have demonstrated time and again that studying one’s culture, traditions, and languages is indeed a huge benefit to educational, social, and technological advancement. India is trying to achieve the same. Applying a political colour to this approach will fail the major objective of the policy. Concerning Hindutva, the Supreme Court in Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo case in the year 1995 has been very clear that it is a way of life and should not be equated with the Hindu fundamentalism. It represents a culture which in itself is very inclusive. If one goes to the text of Hindutva given by Veer Savarkar, he always meant it as an inclusive term and nothing to do with religion. Anyone who lives between the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean, and considers this land as his fatherland and holy land is under the impression of Hindutva. Although, the policy in no means has used the word ‘Hindutva’ in the principles or visions of the policy. In my opinion, using Hindutva would also never make any difference because it was never meant to be an alienating term. It has been all-inclusive and for cultural preservation.

Conclusion

The Indian education system has revolutionized itself after 34 years. The policy has finally understood the problem with content education and has proposed a sound solution for the same. The increase in budget will ensure the proper allocation of funds, as done by many developed countries like the USA, Israel, and Germany. The ECCE will ensure more enrolments in the elementary level, and different forms of languages will ensure culture preservation. The vocational subjects will prove a holistic development and adaptive behaviour. No hard separation of streams will motivate students to explore other career paths. The Re-entry policy in the graduation system will be effective only if the administration can manage normal students and dropouts concerning the seats they have.  As India is an evolving democracy with a strong presence of parliamentary democracy, the policy can be amended if required after the implementation. For achieving successful implementation, the policy proposed for the creation of Rashtriya Siksha Aayog (RSA), an apex advisory body at the central level, and Raj Siksha Aayog (RJSA) at the state level. I believe all the benefits that the policy claims to achieve i.e. affordable and quality education for all, are likely to be visible within a decade of the implementation.



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One thought on “New Education Policy: A Critical Analysis

  1. A detailed analysis, efforts visible… Precise use of words! A good piece of writing after all!

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