India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released the New Education Policy on July 30, 2020, almost after 34 years of the previous policy. The earlier education policy was released in 1986 and helped in manifesting challenges. The Minister introduced a new National Policy on Education, which emphasised on “Special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalise educational opportunity,”. It was primarily aimed for uplifting the lives of Indian women, Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Scheduled Caste (SC).
A slogan with the motto of educate, encourage, enlighten was highlighted with that education policy. It helped in bringing more and more population into a streamlined education system, but still many realistic aspirations and goals remained out of reach even after 75 years of Independence.
Novel Aspects of NEP
The New National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 was released on July 29, 2020, by the current Government of India. This policy has many firsts in its introduction and implications. It is a historic, well thought education plan which includes many novel aspects never experienced in Indian education before. In current times with rampant globalisation, and increased connectivity of thoughts and ideas around the globe, our education needs and purpose has also changed dramatically. The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is an attempt to examine future needs. It addresses all aspects of education suitable for current times.
This policy has included so many novelties and looks drastically different from previous education policies. With the new National Education Policy of 2020 (NEP), India envisions a more inclusive society where all types of skills and talents get the due opportunity and training space for promoting their professional life. It aims to be more holistic to contribute to nations’ development and not just focus on generating read and write capacity.
Emphasis has been given to engendering entrepreneurial skills and other supporting skills for developing a self-sustainable workforce. The new National Education Policy would generate the start-up ecosystem with the promise of extending training support and other opportunities in timings of entry and exit in education institutions. It will certainly match the explorative enthusiasm of youth and walk with their changing needs whenever required.
How NEP Supplements the Start-Up Ecosystem?
With the rise of more and more environmental, climatic and population-related challenges, we need our youth to be prepared not just to understand these challenges but also to find novel solutions to these challenges. You are generally equipped with strong imagination, innovation, ingenious, proactiveness, prospect, and they need an optimal platform to use these qualities. So start-up culture gives all the solutions to these mismatches, where the education system gives them enough options to channelise their inner entrepreneurship. Therefore, we urgently needed a revolutionary change in our grassroots level plus higher education system.
The NEP 2020 encompasses those desired elements, which helps the student to transform their ideas into workable projects and examine the success of their entrepreneurship ideas even at college and school levels. The good thing about the new infusion of entrepreneurship skills in all the subjects makes it a universal change in the education system, where not just business school graduates but all of our youth will have a chance to pursue their entrepreneurship dreams regardless of career direction and domain.
Fillip to Vocational Training
Another path-breaking inclusion in NEP2020 is the mandatory inclusion of a vocational training programme and curriculum. In our country, we have unknowingly set and observed a hierarchy where we consider academic and office jobs superior to vocational ones. Although manufacturing, plumbing, carpentry and building something by hand are some of the best expressions of creativity and utilises human skills at their best. Now, NEP-2020 has a due objective that we should eliminate that sense of inferiority.
Therefore, NEP-2020 has mandated the integration of vocational training programmes into all basic and middle education in all educational institutions, to be implemented in a phased manner. Extensive choices will be made available for vocational training as well, which will give flexibility and further diversify the skill set which a student can opt for during his education. Another crucial improvement in NEP-2020 can be observed that these vocational programmes are not going to be limited to early education, but their research-based specialisation programmes will also be available. It will provide opportunities for a paid internship and various practical training and research-based specialisation. Multi-disciplinary work would also encourage our youth to move towards entrepreneurship.
Apart from these, special mention is the freedom of multiple entry and exit. It removes the sense of failure if the degree is not completed in all three years. Students can also exit with a certificate of one-year graduation or two years diploma of the same subject specification if they feel they should move towards other entrepreneurship ventures.
These freedoms of exit, along with freedom of choosing subjects and vocation programmes, are worth mentioning which makes NEP-2020 useful for promoting entrepreneurship skills and generating a wave of change in mindset as well as job prospects of young generations.
The National Education Policy is expected to give students a wide range of viable career options. NEP 2020 also helps in wiping the stigma and negative atmosphere about vocational education. NEP also distinguishes the importance of soft skill and their importance in career building among the younger generation. So in NEP 2020 there is an emphasis on soft skills such as communication, team work, problem solving, decision making, analytical thinking, resiliency, etc. as imperative life skills. The skilled manpower and youth of the country will help in its growth of the country.
In NEP 2020, the post graduation education is designed in such a way that there will be degrees that will be more specialised and research-centric, which helps in developing a Research and Development (R&D) attitude in higher education. Foreign universities make a more competitive atmosphere in the field of higher education. Foreign exposure will make the students more confident and help in their holistic development.
From Job Seeker to Job Provider
The idea of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ can be achieved by the skilled and professionally sound students and youth of the nation. The NEP 2020 will make the students subject expert, professional, confident, and soft-skilled. The better implementation of NEP 2020 will make the student self resilient and a job provider rather than a job seeker in the long term.
In terms of evaluation of NEP 2020, though we are in the early stage, but clearly see the positive vibes in the skill development and entrepreneur cells of different universities and institutes. Students are approaching entrepreneurship and new start-ups with innovative ideas. The involvement of industry will shape and direct the young students who are full of energy and new ideas. We can hope that in the future, we will find a boom of good start-ups and entrepreneurs in not only the technical institutes but also in universities. I am very much hopeful that in near future NEP 2020 will be helpful in making ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ by preparing a skilled new generation of the nation.
(Author is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Civil Engineering, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)