Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

National education policy is important for the holistic development of students

India is moving towards the ‘Vishwa Guru’. To make India  ‘Vishwa Guru’ , all Indians need to know about the prosperous ancient India. In NEP there will be teach about Indian Knowledge system, which will help to create a sense of pride among the students about the ancient India.

Ancient India was very prosperous and full in all respects. So, foreigners have attacked and looted India many times. As a result of this India has lagged behind financially many times, but has never lagged behind in knowledge, education or morality. The British rulers felt the hard truth that if India was to be completely occupied, it could not be done by arms. So they gave up their weapons and started the battle of knowledge. Realizing that it was not possible to compete with India, they tried to distort the Indian education system. So, in 1835, the British introduced the ‘Macaulay Minute’, describing Eastern education as ‘impure and corrupt’. The aim was to create an Indian class that, though Indians by blood, but would be completely Western-minded in all aspects of thought, mentality, culture. But to a large extent, they succeed. So even today, we often see that those people educated in higher studies are ashamed to follow their own culture. But Macaulay minutes, introduced nearly 200 years ago, shouldn’t be blamed for it so far. The new National Education Policy has already been introduced in 2020 to get out of that evil effect. We have to play as many roles as possible to implement that national education policy. The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), launched on 29 July 2020, outlines the vision of India’s new education system. NEP 2020 focuses on five pillars: Affordability, Accessibility, Quality, Equity, and Accountability – to ensure continual learning. It has been crafted consistent with the needs of the citizens as a demand for knowledge in society and economy called for a need to acquire new skills on a regular basis. 

But what is this national education policy? And why is it so important to formulate such an education policy in India? Most people are not aware of it. Swamiji said, “education should be holistic and man making, life giving and character building.” Following Swamiji’s ideas, the National Education Policy aims to create an holistic education system that makes an overall development with character building and self-sustaining thinking among the students. 

The NEP 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. Built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability, this policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.

The current education system in India is aimed at creating educated job seekers only in bookish education. Vivekananda was not satisfied with India’s education system. He called the education system. He called the education system “a clerk-making machine”. He said, this education system does not teach one to “stand on his own feet”. He also said, this education system does not produce “man of originality”. 

Talking about this, Rabindranath Tagore also said that we did not make our education our vehicle, we carried the education, it is the ultimate sorrow. The national education policy 2020, aims not only to provide livelihood-based education but also to develop humanity through the formulation of education. Behind the education of a student everyone from his family, teachers to village farmers have a direct or indirect role in it. The purpose of this education policy is to educate the students in such an education so that even after achieving any high post or officer they remember the role of the rest in growing up. Whatever profession he is engaged in, the attitude should be developed that it is a service to the mother of the country. The development of the country is possible only if this attitude is developed among the students. If this attitude can be developed among all, then there will not be so much corruption in different fields, which will help in the overall development of the country. This education policy, built in the light of the rich knowledge and tradition of ancient India, will create respect and patriotism among the students about India. Whenever we read the rich history of India, we will know how advanced India was from ancient times. This will remove the inferiority complex among the people towards the indigenous culture and traditions.

There is a very famous quotation by Swami Vivekananda, “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.” So, according to Swami Vivekananda, what is the definition and scope of “actual education”? Swamiji wanted to see “man-making education”. In a lecture delivered at Madras  he clearly said – We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. It is a man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is man-making education all round that we want. Although we have read Swamiji’s quotation for so long, it is going to be properly implemented after 75 years of independence through this national education policy. In fact, the current education system or examination system brings out the weak side of the student, but it does not reveal what subject he is proficient in. That’s why Swamiji said this education system destroys one’s faith and self-confidence. The purpose of the new education policy is to introduce a test system so that the special abilities of each student can be identified. At present, teachers try to develop the student in his own way, but to make learning enjoyable, the teacher has to identify the good qualities of the student and make him like him. According to Swamiji, the love for the subject in everyone should be made proficient in that direction.

There is a special need for teaching in mother-language to bring the light of education to the most marginalized people in every corner of the country. So, In this new education policy, special emphasis has been given on teaching in the mother tongue. India is a multilingual country, so the National Education Policy calls for making the medium of instruction at least up to Class 5 as a mother tongue to emphasize Indian languages, and it is better if it can be done up to Class 8. 

The new education policy has made several changes for the benefit of students. NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondary. With emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.  This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new education system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling. The last four years range from classes 9-12,  the secondary level with students aged 14 to 18. It is good to say that the importance of secondary examination is no longer there in this new education policy. Recognizing Foundational Literacy and Numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. 

In this new education policy, there will be no strict barrier between arts, science and commerce streams. One can read history with mathematics if they want, one can study music with physics if they want. From Class 6, there will be vocational training beside the subject. Even after Class 6, students will have to go to internships for at least 10 days a year. Computer coding can be learned from class 6.

The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.  An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country. The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

It goes without saying that the students who will benefit the most from this simplification in higher education. It is not possible to say in this short span all the features of the National Education Policy. But it must be said that it is very important to implement the National Education Policy 2020 across the country to increase the interest of students in education, to remove the complexities of the education system and to teach that ‘work for the nation is the main vision’.

(The Author is Jagran Josh Awardee 2023, having authored three books. Views expressed are his own)