he much-awaited New Education Policy has turned out to be old wine in new bottle. It takes us back to the 1960s and not to 2100, with virtual repetition in concepts, approaches and making the whole report cumbersome with an unnecessary four-year degree course that may only help the multinational education lobby.
This has not done much to help even the private sector Indian education system. The concept of 5+3+4+4 is not different from the 1950s’ primary, middle, high school and intermediate education. The 1960s tried a failed model of three years of higher secondary education, with examination at Class 11. Many states like UP did not follow it and found they were wiser; as, in a few years, it again was 10+2, to be followed by a two-year and later a three-year degree course.
Now, a vague system of four-year-degree course is being foisted again. It would lead to loss to students of one precious year before entering the job market. There is confusion of having option to complete it in three years – it blocking future career – closing option to improve career later, or do in four years and then have option for higher education. The thought of giving certificate and diploma would merely add to the confusion.
Another cumbersome part is to have a Class 9 to 12 – four years in a block — that practically becomes difficult to manage for any education system. It does not change the pattern of Lord Macaulay but makes it complicated. The wiser part would have been to reduce the one year of school term. Nobody has studied the loss or benefit of doing away the class 10 or 12 examinations.
And why has it to be 5+3 of primary and middle schooling? Why cannot it be 5+2 = 7 years? Wisely, it can follow a three six-monthly systems in two parts after 5+2 to let the students exit schools in three years, that is 10 years in all. It has some practical administrative problems, so again it can be a 2+2 system. It can be followed by a three-year degree and one-year post graduation, the four years that the NEP is saying “would be fruitfully utilised.” This would reduce education term to 15 years without any loss in cognitive deliveries; and give more time for students who want to pursue still higher education or other skills. On an average it would prepare students for jobs at the age of 20. Overall, the family expenses per child would reduce.
The NEP is confused about its stress on research. Over the past at least three decades, the nation has wasted resources on “research”, a copy-paste system. It has to realise that research has to be on volition and not compulsion that the UGC has done now. If UGC is proposed to be removed, how its flawed research methodology could continue?
Let the nation redo it. Even teachers should not be forced to do research. It does not add to learning but causes precious loss of years, finances and energy. Let us rethink and chalk-out a research strategy separate from an education policy.
The stress on privatisation of education without government funding is another bane. It has led to many undesirable practices because organisations cannot sustain the system financially. It is also incomprehensible why so much leeway is proposed for foreign institutions. Any foreign university is interested in profit by making education expensive. Collaborations have to be ensured to be beneficial and viable for the country.
There is less clarity on National Testing Agency (NTA) as centralised testing organisation to conduct entrance examination. There is a fallacy. What about other testing mechanism? The examinations, certificates and degrees at various stages should continue and must have recognition if many do not want to go to NTA. Similarly, the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority is supposed to end regional varieties or state boards. It is fraught with too many risks.
A void is being seen in the early child education. There are confusions and lack of clarity. Education costs the government Rs 99,311 crore a year as per the 2020-21 Budget. Another Rs 1 lakh crore or more is spent by parents through private systems. Still it is less than the required, and that tells on the quality of teachers. The admission to higher education would still remain a tug-of-war. A new inspector or regulatory raj may be a reality. INFA