Education ought to promote intelligence, and must focus on creative, emotional, social, environmental, ethical and spiritual quotients necessary for developing a well-rounded holistic citizenry and to make our graduates globally competent and acceptable.
Additionally, we need to prepare our youth ready to face a highly uncertain and volatile future. The rate of changes happening in various domains of human lives is outpacing the abilities of the present education system to respond adequately and appropriately. Thus, the education system is at an ever-increasing risk of becoming outdated. Students currently pursuing education shall have to perform such jobs which cannot be anticipated now. Moreover, future work profiles will require the use of those technologies which cannot be thought of at present. Thus, institutions are required to mentor youth to successfully perform those jobs which do not exist today using those technologies which are yet to be invented. Nearly half of the domain knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year degree programme may become outdated by the time the students graduate. All this calls for reforming and re-strategising our mentoring goals and process for empowering youth to capitalise on the challenges and opportunities that the future has in store for them. This will also help reap the benefits of the demographic dividends of youthful Bharat.
Besides, the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat or Azadi ka Amrit Kaal cannot be actualised without making youth capable of contributing substantially to Industrial Revolution 4.0. This revolution, unlike earlier ones, capitalizes on the fusion of disruptive technologies viz., Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Intelligent Robotics, 3D Printing, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing and other emerging technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological domains. In IR 4.0, Cyber-Physical Production System (CPPS) is utilised for industrial production by the unification of the physical world. For availing of this unique opportunity, we need to embrace the attributes of Education 4.0. This version of outcome-based education ensures co-learning, co-creation, co-innovation; anytime, anywhere, any amount and any type of learning; use of flip-pedagogy, virtual and augmented reality tools for transforming passive learning to active learning; learning at home or outside institutions, while skill-development within the institutions; self-directed, collaborative, immersive and experiential learning where lesson plans become creativity plans; and freedom to learners to study preferred programmes from the chosen institutions. Complete integration of technology is a must for imparting education in this model.
In a healthy educational system, learning does not mean memorisation and recall, instead, it is the process through which learners conceptualise the contents and understand how to apply skills and knowledge to solve real-life problems
Oppositely, the current learning system is beset with several shortcomings viz., learning outcomes are not pre-ordained in the curriculum, and a multidisciplinary approach, a pre-requisite for holistic learning, is altogether missing from the curricular framework. Besides, it promotes rote learning as classrooms are largely used for content delivery and thus are passive learning spaces, and evaluation, by and large, is focusing on memory recall rather than actually testing the analytical capabilities of the learners. As such, it has failed to develop skills, both hard as well as soft, so essential for contributing towards the social and economic growth trajectory of the nation. In other words, the learning system in vogue is not serving the very purpose of education.
National Education Policy (NEP-2020) should be viewed in this context. NEP encompasses a plethora of new imperatives for ensuring translational reforms. These imperatives centre around curriculum, pedagogy, evaluation, hybrid mode of learning, experiential and activity-based learning, skill-based (hard and soft) and vocational learning, capacity building of teachers and ensuring equity, access and affordability to quality education. Uplifting the ceiling of RTE and mid-day meal to 18 years and 100 per cent GER in school education, primary education in mother tongue or local language, reducing contents, story-based teaching, easier board exams and systemic restructuring of school education is the envisioned reforms of far-reaching consequences in school education. Strengthening of open and distance learning, targeting GER in higher education to 50 per cent by 2035, learning outcome-based curriculum, multiple exits and entry options, academic bank of credits, entry of foreign universities, universalisation of education and provision for a single higher education regulator and national research foundation are reforms envisioned for transforming higher education. Thus, this is an all-encompassing, ever-evolving and student-centric education policy. NEP-2020 is supportive, caring, and trusting and aims to develop linkages between the well-being of humanity and academic and moral excellence.
In a healthy educational system, learning does not mean memorisation and recall. Instead, it is the process through which learners conceptualise the contents and understand how to apply skills and knowledge to solve real-life problems. This was the approach to education in ancient Bharat. Gurukul’s system of known and knowing ensured the abundant availability of thinkers and creative humans with well-rounded personalities for serving society and the nation. In the current scenario, the best way is to import good traits of education from the Gurukul system and customised it to meet the current needs. In order to achieve this, we ought to make the teaching-learning process experiential and thus joyful. It is a well-settled fact that when students have the option and pleasure to choose what to learn and are subjected to a personalized learning eco-system (every learner has specific learning needs and pace and one-size-fits-all kind of pedagogical approach cannot address the needs of all), experiential learning (discussion/debate, demonstration, activity-based, project/dissertation/internship and field immersion based peer and collaborative learning) and flip- and other modes of blended pedagogical approaches as envisioned in NEP-2020, they will surely become active rather than passive learners. This will pave the way for conceptualising learning, asking questions, participating in discussions/debates/declamations, solving problems faster, and above all will create an effective learning ecosystem where learners have the opportunity to perform to their fullest potential. NEP is also batting for pursuing research for addressing local and regional issues in line with the sustainable development goals and thus become ‘Vocal for Local’. ‘Land to Lab’ approach is to be pursued for selecting research problems.
NEP-2020, apart from ensuring cognitive domain development, also provides ample scope for developing non-cognitive skills (socio-emotional skills) like self-discipline, patience, motivation, conscientiousness, teamwork, passion, decision making, communication, articulation, and punctuality, responsibility and perseverance. Such skills are as important as the cognitive skills for youth to succeed in life. NEP also provides for the inculcation of moral/ethical values, preservation of bio-diversity, natural resources and environment, holistic health education and society connection. These reforms augur well with the age-old practice of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah– two of the greatest civilisational traits of humanity. Thus, NEP2020 is certainly a discourse for the realisation of Param Vaibhavmay Rashtra in near future.
Learning outcome-based multidisciplinary curriculum, academic bank of credits and admissions through a single window have already been implemented by the majority of the central universities. Regulations/guidelines on four-year undergraduate programmes with multiple exit-entry options; credit framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM; twinning- joint- and dual degree programmes; pursuing two academic programmes simultaneously; implementing uniform CBCS; establishment of research & development cell in HEIs; guidelines for transforming higher education institutions into multidisciplinary institutions; open, distance and online learning programmes; fostering social responsibility & community engagement; life skills 2.0 and facilitators’ guidelines for life skills curriculum etc. are being finalized. All these will pave the way for speedy implementation of NEP.
NEP is also batting for pursuing research for addressing local and regional issues in line with the sustainable development goals and thus become ‘Vocal for Local’. ‘Land to Lab’ approach is to be pursued for selecting research problems
NEP focuses on a paradigm shift in pedagogy especially from ‘What to Learn’ to ‘How to Learn’, and also on skilling, up-skilling and reskilling; learning, unlearning and relearning (life-long learning to become life-long adaptability); and reform, perform and transform else perish. Moreover, we need to make learners think like employees/employers and employees/employers to think like learners for empowering youth to become future-ready and for creating a robust education system.
Tight but light, dynamic and flexible regulatory regime and facilitative umbrella implementation plan with baskets of options for learners (in terms of curriculum, pedagogy, and evaluation tools) to choose from as ensured in NEP-2020 is the need of the hour for ensuring that every youngster contributes in nation building and lives contented life. Successful implementation of NEP depends on the cooperation received from the teaching and student community, parents, civil society and media. Proper implementation of NEP-2020 will be a manifestation of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwash and Sabka Prayas. If implemented in the right contexts and spirit, enshrined transformational reforms in NEP will prepare Bharat-centric youth capable of recapturing the lost glory of the Bhartiya Education System and repositioning Bharat as the Vishwa Guru. Thus NEP, in a real sense, will lead to a golden era of Amrit Kaal in the Bharatiya civilisational discourse.