The National Education Policy vis-à-vis professional education is exactly what the present academic scenario and time demand. Speaking from the perspective of the employing industries and more specifically regarding business studies, the NEP has a lot to imbibe. Presently, higher educational institutions are exam-oriented or in proper terms, concerned with clearing exams and tests at any cost.
Moreover, the testing mechanism by no means could be termed to be full-proof or error-free. The ‘straitjacketed’ method of curriculum designing wherein a student has to compulsorily study other subjects which may not necessarily be required, leads to students emphasizing more on remembering the subject instead of learning the same. Innovation, ideation, and inquisitiveness will be the new mantra in the field of higher education when it comes down to assessing the students’ capabilities or performance. And in assessing any student, marks or grades will not be the sole criterion.
India being the second-most populous country in the world with a known and envious history of academic excellence is very poorly rated when it comes down to innovating new technologies and research related works.
Speaking about technical and management educational genre, there hardly is any scope for the learners to cultivate the quality of ‘inquisitiveness’, even if the same is developed, then there arises the issue of how to address the ‘inquisitive mind’. These issues are going to be addressed by the new policy as a flexible learning system and practical oriented curriculum are to be introduced. Another interesting proposal in the policy is for encouraging research and innovation.
India being the second-most populous country in the world with a known and envious history of academic excellence is very poorly rated when it comes down to innovating new technologies and research related works. This is because the entire education system, as already stated earlier, is more inclined towards creating marks scoring ‘educated zombies’, instead of encouraging ‘idea-generating normal beings’. The fascination with scorecards can be gauged by the fact that the annual school boards’ results have almost taken the status of some ‘exemplary festival of talent judgment’. This itself speaks poorly of the system.
‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Start-Up India’ etc. are some very innovative policies that the present government initiated. Most of us are now up in arms against these policies with a single-minded agenda of touting those as mere hypes. But, have we questioned ourselves as to why these policies have failed to pick up the pace? This is where the topic of ‘refurbishing’ the existing system of education arises. How do you expect newer skills to be acquired when the inherent intention of the present education system is to churn out specialized graduates in any field instead of encouraging ‘skilled personnel’ to come up?
For example, speaking about an engineering institution, how many new technologies have been developed by the students or alumni of those institutions? Even if developed, how many of those have been used in the fields or industries? It is not that they cannot do so. Indian human resources are a valued lot all over the world. There is no doubt about that. But the concept of ‘brain drain’ has taken shape only because we fail the talented as a system to retain and utilize their inherent qualities. We as a system have failed them by not giving them a ‘research arena’ to work on their ideas and innovations. Industries need performers, people who can add value addition.
It is worth mentioning here that India produces about three lakh management graduates annually, but hardly 35,000 of them are employable (as per the 2012 National Employability Report, talent assessment company Aspiring Minds). Existing B Schools can take this opportunity to adjust to the proposals of the NEP and be more industry-oriented vis-à-vis course modulation. Various sectors and industries may be involved in devising the course structure so that there is a readily available pool of human resources that will be employable.
Say, an FMCG company may select the pool of students who have already undergone general course study related to the management aspects or requirements of the FMCG sector. Moreover, a manager is more of a psychologist as well, if he or she specializes in HR. in this case an HR trained management graduate with an added subject learning of psychology may be more employable. So, the NEP aims to facilitate the creation of a pool of resources in varied fields, inculcate a mindset of innovativeness in the students and make India a leading global soft power.
Some highlights of the National Education policy:
- Gross Enrollment Ratio in Higher Education to be raised to 50% by 2035. Also, 3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education. (The current GER is 26.3%).
- Holistic undergraduate education with a flexible curriculum can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certifications within this period.
- MPhil will be discontinued and all courses at undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. levels will be interdisciplinary.
- Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate the transfer of credits.
- Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERU) at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education at par with global powerhouses in education.
- The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
- Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single umbrella body for the entire higher education realm, excluding legal and medical education. Both public and private higher educational institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation, and academic standards. HECI will have four independent verticals:
- National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation
- General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting.
- Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding.
- National Accreditation Council (NAC) for Accreditation.
- Affiliation of Colleges to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- Over a while, every college is expected to develop into either an autonomous degree-granting college or a constituent college of a university.
- An autonomous body National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, and administration.
- National Assessment Centre (PARAKH) has been created to assess the students.
- Paves the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
- Emphasises setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions, and groups.
- Promotes multilingualism in both schools and higher education. National Institute for Pali, Prakrit, and Persian, Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation to be set up.
- Aims to increase public investment in the education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest. The current spending is 4.6%.
(The author is assistant professor in the Centre for Management Studies of Dibrugarh University, Assam, India. Views expressed are personal.)
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