If NEP were a student and had participated in a debate competition, it would surely have both the proposition and the opposition in its winning bag. That is how I would sum up the entire National Education Policy. The wait was as long as a World Cup event, four years in the making and a colossal 484 pages of documentation, the excitement around National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 was palpable.
The policy looks great on intent, needs a polishing on the implementation and requires a perfect blend of technique and improvisation. Here is a short summary of the NEP’s the good, the better and the ungainly.
The very basis of Right to Education Act (RTE) was integration. I am a big advocate of materializing it in the true sense but creating the policy based on recommendations and discussions is an important criterion as well. Here, the NEP may have let the guards down when it decided that it is on the “good intent” of the school. The good intent is a very weak term, like the ‘spirit of the game’ in cricket. It took an Ashwin, Mankading the Englishman at the IPL, for all batsmen to stay cautious within the crease. So do we need an iron whip to get the schools to have them have the ‘good intent”?
For the past 50 years we did not have schools taking in marginalized children based on ‘good intent’, so how would you ensure that the good intent is followed by good action? Hope this 360 degree turnaround by the NEP does not dilute the act. While it’s still good, it might need a Third Umpire review indeed.
France had a miserable fate at the World Cup before 2018. They changed the formation and won it last year. That’s what the NEP intends to do. Restructure the school curriculum and pedagogy in a new ‘5+3+3+4’ structure from the rote 10+2 one. Hope the new formation would act as a catalyst and galvanize the education that our nation so direly needs.
Among the most positive news coming from the policy is finally breaking the barriers of ‘co’ and ‘extra’ curriculum from the core academics. There was a lowland phase when it was almost demeaning to pursue arts or humanities. Fortunately, times have changed now and things have looked up for better. The NEP mentions that there will be no separation of curricular, co-curricular or extra-curricular areas—with all in a single category of equal importance.
Equally significant is the concept of stress free and skill based learning. We need to equip our young learners by enabling them to be 21st century ready, and for that we cannot be using the 20th century tools! Thus the NEP lays down the right premises on making a school without a threat called exams. Exams have become so judgmental like our Twitter trolls that the students almost feel abused and psychologically shaken up. A stress-free and real application based examination system is like the first spells of rain, we have been waiting for so long.
Imagine having a technology conference without the use of social media! That’s what happens when you form policies without including a single teacher. In its 217 member committee, NEP does not include any school teacher. Sad, isn’t it? It’s like you take away the very core component of the substance and then expect the entire structure to be built impeccably.
The Teachers for long have shared the same plight as that of the Indian soldier. Both selfless, sacrificial and yet forgotten. It’s really unfortunate and distressing when such a policy on the future of education does not even have the very voice that should speak to the future in a classroom setting.