The Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED), organized a Webinar Session recently on the impact of the new National Education Policy on Higher Education.
Shivkumar Rao, President, VED, and Rina Sinha, Chairperson – Education Committee of VED, made the introductory remarks and Pramod Pampatwar, Director – Jhulelal Institute of Technology (JIT), moderator of the webinar, spoke of the aim of the webinar and also introduced the panelists, they being eminent educationists like Dr. Vilas Sapkal, Ex- Vice chancellor, RTMNU and Atul Kulkarni, Management & Strategy Consultant from Industry with varied experiences.
Under discussion were the impacts of the new National Education Policy (NEP) on higher education. The NEP, everyone said, was a holistic, multi-disciplinary, transformational, digital learning, ultimately aimed at creating the job-readiness of a student, the measure of the return on the education one gets. Everyone hoped the policy would get the right kind of results.
Dr. Sapkal said the NEP is to impart high quality education to learners to make India a super knowledge hub in the near future. The NEP would link school education with higher education in its 5 years (Foundational) + 3 years (Preparatory) + 3 years (middle) + 4 years (Secondary) stages of education. There would be an integrated manner of learning for the making of an Atma-Nirbhar Bharat.
He informed that there would be three types of education systems – Research, Teaching education institutions and Degree-granting institutions which would be given graded autonomy.
All institutions would be divided into 3 categories at each district – school, higher and research; there would be choice-based programmes and no compartmentalization.
There would be the foundational education, middle and secondary school, 3-4 years of bachelor’s and 1-2 years of master’s programmes all of which would make the learner self-reliant.
Pampatwar said the industry has no stake and only asks for good engineers but doesn’t take any responsibility of the education. Would the new NEP resolve this problem? Kulkarni said current education unfortunately doesn’t have the environment; primarily, the student hasn’t picked up the skills but goes by rote learning, and that it’s important to understand how now all this would change, hence industry is happy with the new holistic approach. Right now there is the lack of ability to take on societal challenges, and even the best students don’t understand the smallest challenges and the child is looked at administrative-centrically and not child-centrically and human-centrically.
A key statement that the policy has used is the matching of interest and ability of every single child which would improve performance. The world has realized that societal values and cultural preservation are also important. The new policy would include skills, sensitivity to societal challenges, values, empathy, all of which are needed for the progress of the organization. He further said that industry is trying to make the best of resources and converting them to economic resources for the country.
Integration would happen now, where every stream would be able to learn something from other streams too through a holistic approach. So far, we’ve been wasting human talent, so now the compartmentalization would no longer be there. The single greatest change would be the cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary set-up which would make a person seen as a package, and not as a robot. We are looking at human beings as industry is a reflection of the society.
He further added that every individual doesn’t get the environment, ability is not nurtured, but now it’ll have the best of talent. It’ll be a choice-based education where a person can learn a subject of his own choice and live life to a full, which will give the best resources to the country. Courses and professions must match. Teachers are going to be acknowledged for their work and flexibility given to them
Pampatwar wished to know how the liberal arts could be brought back into the education system without trained teachers. Dr. Sapkal said the implementation would be proper only when the teachers are groomed and developed for the implementation of the NEP. Pedagogy is important here. Appropriate curriculum and student support is also needed here for the liberal arts. Research Foundation is also important.
The tenure of teachers would include good and sound knowledge of subject skill, communication and teaching skills and the teacher would define the curriculum and how students are to be nurtured towards their interest. The teacher’s role would be defined; they would have to be updated, and technologically and scientifically developed. Teachers are very important for the implementation of the NEP. There would also be points to attract teaching as a profession. The fundamental shift would be to make education help learners to become good human beings.
Kulkarni said this is the first time one is talking of teachers where they are given the freedom on how to teach etc., and also progression of the child from child to higher education. The child will learn what is useful to him for becoming a good human being.
Pampatwar wished to know about accreditation. Dr. Sapkal said for higher education there would be four councils – Assessment, Accreditation, Funding, Standard Setting – important for global ranking, stand alone, graded autonomy that would have their own curriculum, set a good benchmark, have their own intellectual grading and reach excellence in academics.
Placements/internships must be connected. Kulkarni said industry has always been interested in the education system; this is nothing new as such collaborations have existed from ancient times. It was only later on that industry was told they would be given students and that they were to focus only on the economic part of it.
Now there is a voluntary participation of industry in the education process. Institutes will survive on the outcome they can deliver and the stakeholder would be the industry. In vocational education today, in the 16-24 years age-group, 5% of the youth go for it whereas in countries like Korea it is 96% and so also in the western countries. Now at least NEP is aiming at 50%.
The vocational education would be different at different levels, but the concept of vocational education introduced at an early age would definitely ensure a vocationally-skilled manpower for the industry, and they would be the beneficiaries of such an education. It would be under one roof; not multiple doors. Holistic and seamless, synchronized, hand-holding at every stage, so the product would be good too. Only industry can give inputs at every stage. Planning would be from the academics and application from the industry.
Q & A Session: What about socially-disadvantaged students like those not being in the metros, those not being economically empowered etc. NEP is very conscious of the fact, where trade bodies etc. would play a big, dedicated role. Dr. Sapkal continued to assure that the education costs would not be high as quality doesn’t require high cost and education cost would be reduced.
Technology would be a big enabler and would be a dynamic sector and would transform things where a teacher would be enabled to make his own curriculum.
The NEP is the aspiration of all students and parents and should be acceptable to all and implemented with the right spirit.
Although the fundamentals for the NEP have been picked up from several countries, it is very relevant to our own society.
It would be implemented in a phased manner. The most significant seeker, the child, would be the biggest beneficiary as he would be able to do what interests him, obviating parental and peer pressure, which would be a big change.
Varun Vijaywargi, Secretary-General, VED, while proposing the vote of thanks said this was a path-breaking policy where students would get good education in India which would reduce brain-drain to some extent.