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Several provisions of NEP 2020 are in conformity to suggestions of Devdiscourse

From scrapping of ‘private boards of assessment’ to the inclusion of holistic education and regulatory framework to prevent commercialization of education are some of the provisions in the National Education Policy (NEP) which are in line with the Live Discourse conducted by Devdiscourse and it's 14 point suggestions to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2019. Here, we present a brief description of our suggestions which feature in the final NEP 2020.

Devdiscourse News DeskDevdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 22-09-2020 16:13 IST | Created: 22-09-2020 16:13 IST
Several provisions of NEP 2020 are in conformity to suggestions of Devdiscourse

After conducting a Live Discourse on the Draft National Education Policy 2019, Devdiscourse had submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in the form of 14 suggestions. In the final NEP 2020 released by the ministry, several amendments have been made that are in line with some of the suggestions exclusively made by Devdiscourse.

Devdiscourse, as a media platform, intensively covered and actively participated in the discourse on the Draft NEP by conducting an interactive Live Discourse titled 'SDG 4 for India: National Education Policy 2019'. Besides, we also voiced the concerns of the commercialization of education in India by conducting Live Discourse on the topic 'JNU Protest and Discourse on Commercialization of Education'. In this article, we will track the imprint of our Live Discourse and our 14 suggestions on the final National Education Policy 2020.

No to Private Boards of Assessment (BOAs)

The Draft NEP had proposed the idea of giving private institutions and universities the ability to set up individual Boards of Assessments in addition to the existing school examination boards such as CBSE, ICSE, and State Boards of Examinations. This proposal was apparently inspired by the United Kingdom.

After thoroughly reviewing the model, Devdiscourse published a report keeping in consideration several reference studies conducted in the United Kingdom. It was found that the private assessment boards were not a successful experiment in the UK and Devdiscourse created awareness against this provision. Besides, we had specifically recommended deleting this provision in our 14-point suggestions. The entire provision of private boards/university boards has been excluded from the final NEP.

Holistic Education/ Liberal Education

This has been a burning topic of the NEP since the draft was put in the public domain for suggestions. The scholars seemed confused between liberal education and liberalism.

Devdiscourse published interviews of three senior academicians from three leading Indian universities where courses on Liberal Arts were being conducted with an objective to present a factual clarity on the topic. The interviewees - Dr. Uma Narain, founder Dean of JDSoLA, NMIMS University Mumbai, Dr. Sanjay Modi, Executive Dean, Lovely Professional University, and Dr. Shivakumar Jolad of FLAME University, Mumbai contended that the idea of liberal education is multidisciplinary, holistic, and indigenous. The final NEP has retained the entire concept of liberal education with a new name 'holistic and multidisciplinary' education which manifests its true nature.

Permission to Indian Universities to Open Campuses Abroad and Vice-Versa

As the Draft NEP has recommended allowing foreign universities to open campuses in India and performing Indian universities to open campuses in foreign countries, the issue was a matter of debate. The original provision reads 'Select universities (i.e. those from among the top 200 universities in the world) will be permitted to operate in India. A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will have to follow all the regulatory, governance, and content norms applicable to Indian universities" (P.12.4.11).

In an exclusive interview, Devdiscourse talked to IIT Delhi Director Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao and the Dean, Alumni Affairs, and International Programs, Prof. Sanjeev Sanghi, both of whom supported the idea. Prof. Rao informed us that IIT Delhi already had an offer to open a campus in Egypt and was waiting for approval of the ministry. The NEP 2020 has allowed performing Indian higher educational institutions to open campuses in foreign countries and the top 100 global universities to open campuses in India. In pursuance to the principle approval, the ministry has been directed to provide required guidelines.

Regulation of Private Educational Institutions

The final NEP has categorically mentioned to promote 'public-spirited' and 'not-for-profit' private/ philanthropic educational institutions through a 'light but tight' regulation. This involves mandatory public disclosure of crucial information for both public and private educational intuitions regarding infrastructure facilities, courses, curriculum, and a transparent mechanism for fee determination. The educational institutions will have to invest their surplus, if any, to augment/ expand educational facilities, not in any other business. The Central and State Governments through various parallel organizations have been entrusted to regulate the quality of education and prevent commercialization in the educational institutions in their respective jurisdictions.

Through these provisions, the NEP seems to have made an attempt to differentiate between philanthropic private institutions and rein in the arbitrariness of private profit-oriented schools/universities, at least in principle. However, the real strength of these provisions will be revealed in the detailed regulations/ guidelines and the way they are implemented.

Yes, to Multilingual and Indigenous Knowledge

Devdiscourse had supported various provisions of multilingual teaching and the three-language formula of the Draft NEP. These provisions have been retained with some modifications. Besides, a strong emphasis has been given to the indigenous knowledge system from school education to higher education and research. The state governments have been asked to develop curriculum in local/regional languages and also local content. Besides, several provisions have been made to promote local knowledge related to a healthy lifestyle and preventive healthcare.

Conclusion and Agenda for Discussion

Besides the above-mentioned provisions, several concerns of Devdiscourse related to teacher training, funding, elementary education, and curriculum design have been addressed in the NEP 2020.

However, the policy is silent on some serious concerns raised by Devdiscourse like the provisions for the removal of 'non-performing' teachers and non-serious teachers. The final NEP has also steers clear of the long-pending demand of teachers to stop contractual appointments that cause further resentments and discrimination in the teaching community.

The final policy doesn't include any provision to encourage healthy eating habits among children in line with the directions of the Delhi High Court to draft a curriculum on 'balanced diet and its health impact'. Devdiscourse had vociferously raised this issue with pieces of evidence from various studies but such a crucial issue is yet to awake the policymakers from their deep slumber. There is, however, a reference on holistic health which reads 'Concerted curricular and pedagogical initiatives, including the introduction of contemporary subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, Holistic Health, Organic Living, Environmental Education, Global Citizenship Education (GCED), etc. at relevant stages will be undertaken to develop these various important skills in students at all levels' (4.24). But, in the absence of any roadmap, it seems there is a long way to go to keep children away from the ill effects of fast food.

But, the best part of the story is that we have a better National Education Policy. Devdiscourse assures it's audiences to raise the ignored issues from time to time to help the policymakers in improving the NEP in the larger public interest and ensure a better future for the forthcoming generations.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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