By Tiya Parmar
In the recent years a staggering pattern has emerged of Indian students going abroad for completing their education. In 2019 this number was around 753,000 students and is expected to rise in the coming years. What is the reason for this? One of them would be the difference in the quality of education. An international degree and work experience are considered to hold more value in the market than an Indian degree. This is a huge indicator to the inferiority of our education system. Hopefully, the new education policy (NEP), which was unveiled on July 29 2020, will help in eradicating this disparity.
The major change this policy brings in at the school level is to modify the ‘10+2’ structure to a ‘5+3+3+4’ layout. This design allows for formal schooling to begin from preschool and continue till grade 12. Even now only a few children go to preschool, as it is optional and often expensive.
However, this will not be the case in the future. Preschool helps children explore in a safe
environment and builds a strong base for further learning.
The NEP promotes multilinguism by implementing the three-language formula and also encourages schools to teach in the mother tongue/local language wherever possible, at least until grade 5. There
is a myriad of benefits for a child in learning something in the first language such as a better? understanding of the topic, development of critical thinking, literacy and communication skills, knowing one’s cultural identity and taking pride in it, a higher confidence level, etc. The outcomes of this structure can be seen in various countries of Asia, like China and Macao, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, etc. where English is often taught as the second language. Adapting another thing from the Chinese education system, the NEP introduces a Bayless period between grades 6 and 8 for students to intern with local experts. In China this period usually starts
from grade 4. Interning is, without a doubt, one of the best learning methods, as it allows children to relate their academics to real life examples, and encourages them to observe and explore the insides of various careers.
The NEP also bridges the gap between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between science, commerce and humanities and between vocational and academic streams. Instead the new curriculum formed will comprise of all these streams and activities.
The syllabus is going to be reduced to the core essentials and importance will be given to interactive classes consisting debates, discussions, discovery, analysis, etc. Such an environment boost creativity through exchange of ideas and encourages class participation. To equip children with 21st century skills new subjects like coding will be introduced from grade 6and standardized tests will be taken in grade 3, 5 and 8 and not just at the end of the schooling process.
Board exams will be made easier, essentially testing core concepts. Students, if they choose to, will also be able to take the exam twice a year to improve their performance.
To make studying more appealing, students will be able to choose the subjects they are interested in from secondary school (Grade 9-12). All colleges and universities will also aim to become multidisciplinary.
Another beneficial change this policy brings in, is making multiple exit options available to those studying in universities. After one-year students get a certificate, a diploma after completion of 2 years and a degree after 3 years. This allows students, who leave or want to change them major/course to do so without wasting a few years of their life.
To keep up with the foreign education systems, all universities will offer either 3- or 4-year courses, involving a lot of research and in-depth knowledge of the major(s).
This system will also be more inclusive for those students who have disabilities, as it promises them full participation right from preschool to higher education by providing appropriate tools and equipment.
To facilitate all these changes and improve the education system, the expenditure for it will also increase from its initial 1.7 percent to 6 percent of the GDP. Such a trend can be observed in most developed nations like, Norway (6.4), New where Zealand (6.3), UK (6.2), USA (6.1), where the spending on education is over 6 percent of GDP.
While this shows that the government realizes the importance of education, we must remember that a great education system requires great and skilled teachers, educated and literate parents willing to educate children and keen students.
The biggest problem India faces right now is the absence of trained teachers who have the patience and skill to impart quality education to each of their students. It is also important to recognize the importance of career counselors and counselling for children, especially if they have to have a basic idea of their career paths from a young age.
As it is now, quality education and admission in good schools and colleges is available (mostly) only to those in the upper half of the economy. As the new policy plans to implement a plethora of new things, which can be expensive, the government should ensure that it is not only the richer section who are reaping the benefits. There should be no segregation of students based on their socioeconomic status. If all these concerns (and more) are addressed properly and the implementation of this policy is
conducted with the seriousness and standard it demands, then the future of India is going to be a great one. The new education system will raise its students to be questioning, innovative, keen, understanding and driven. It will understand the responsibility it holds towards molding a better future for India.