Written by Bhumkia Rajdev, Abdul Basith and Suhail K

central university

New Education Policy 2020 has replaced thirty-four-year-old National Policy on Education (1986). The 66-page document talks about vision of government for ECCE (Early childhood care education), School Education, Higher Education and Professional education. It aims for universalisation of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) in school education by 2030 and aims to raise GER to 50% in higher education by 2035. With respect to higher education, the policy envisages broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. It highlights the vision of government to make India ‘a hub of global education’.[[[1]]]

The policy also mentions that internationalisation of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked universities to open campuses in India. The major aim of it is to create a ‘knowledge society’ which can be beneficial for Indian students to have education of ‘global standards.’ These high expectations of Indian government seem very promising and shows how eager they are to make India, ‘Vishwa Guru’. But the question arises that which data about Indian educational institutions make them so confident that this is an achievable task for India? What do they mean by ‘Global education’ for students and how do they plan to provide it without interference of global industries? What benefits do they find in this massification of education? What kind of knowledge society this massification of education will create?

This article tries to revisit NEP 2020 from the perspective of global education and knowledge society. It tries to ‘unbracket’ certain jargons used in the policy such as ‘knowledge society’ and ‘global citizenship’. It aims to provide clear picture of the status of higher education in India today and raises questions on the policy with respect to its implication in the current scenario.
NEP on internationalisation of higher education


The New Education Policy (NEP) of India focuses on internationalisation of education. It promotes excellence through internationalisation, with a clear goal of making India a “global study destination” — the NEP has charted an ambitious roadmap for making internationalisation of higher education a reality by 2030.

Under the heading Internationalization new education policy says that ‘The various initiatives mentioned above will also help in having larger numbers of international students studying in India, and provide greater mobility to students in India who may wish to visit, study at, transfer credits to, or carry out research at institutions abroad, and vice versa. Courses and programmes in subjects, such as Indology, Indian languages, AYUSH systems of medicine, yoga, arts, music, history, culture, and modern India, internationally relevant curricula in the sciences, social sciences, and beyond, meaningful opportunities for social engagement, quality residential facilities and on-campus support, etc. will be fostered to attain this goal of global quality standards, attract greater numbers of international students, and achieve the goal of ‘internationalisation at home’. [[[2]]]

We can understand from this clause that NEP-2020 is opening the doors for foreign universities to have campuses in India with the aim to stop the brain drain. It allows international academia to participate in Indian education system. They assume that allowing top-rated foreign universities to set up campuses in India is expected to raise the standards of their Indian counterparts and encourage India’s talented students to stay in the country.

The NEP 2020 states that India should be promoted as a ‘Global Study Destination’ providing premium education at affordable costs and restore its role as a Viswa Guru. Currently, there are around 50,000 foreign national students studying in India who belong to various parts of the world such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, some African countries. The Government of India has announced plans to increase this number to 2 lakhs in the short run.

The NEP also encourages Indian universities to build strong partnerships with international universities, it is believed that the exchange of ideas between Indian and international institutions will lead to innovative curricula and the construction of knowledge society.

NEP on construction of ‘Knowledge Society’

As stated by Aga Khan “The spirit of knowledge society is the spirit of pluralism-A readiness to accept the other, indeed to learn from him, to see differences as an opportunity rather than a threat”.

Knowledge society shares and generates knowledge to all its members and thereby improves their life condition. This society has an insight to the future in which social and economic development is increasingly based on knowledge. Knowledge society was often seen as a product of technological developments in the information and communication sector as well as economic developments in the service and knowledge intensive sectors. Governments of many countries view knowledge societies as a part of national development.

The concept of knowledge societies includes a social dimension also. It emphasises on social, economic, political, cultural and institutional transformation from a pluralistic approach.

The goal of a knowledge society is to support sustainable development, gender equality, protecting the rights of weaker nations and weaker sections of societies by more equitable distribution of resources.

There are various measures to assess whether a society has transformed itself into a knowledge society. It can be measured by its knowledge assets, ICT and knowledge infrastructure, mechanisms in place for creating new knowledge assets, and infrastructure for assessing knowledge resources. There are various factors which are contributing towards the development of a knowledge society. They are technological progress, globalisation of the world economy, increased importance of specialised knowledge, increased awareness of the importance of knowledge for country´s economic development and creation of new jobs.

Knowledge society, is one of the three largest economy in the world. If India is to become a global leader, it is very important to raise a strong knowledge society. The vision of NEP 2020 is to transform India in to an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower According to K Kasturirangan, chairman of committee who drafted NEP2020, said “NEP is the need of the hour. It is not just reading of the document, but understanding, analysing, interpreting and getting a picture of it several steps we need to put together,”. NEP 2020 looks to change higher education system of India by improving the quality of universities and colleges. Higher education significantly contributes towards sustainable livelihoods and economic development of the nation. As India moves towards becoming a knowledge economy and society, more and more young Indians are likely to aspire for higher education. The vision of the Policy is to develop knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions that support responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global well-being, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen.

Challenges in implementation of NEP 2020

One of the less debated yet most consequential recommendations of the recently released National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is in regard to the internationalisation of higher education sector. The policy has frequently mentioned the desire of the government to bring Indian Education at par with global standards. It has also mentioned that India should become ‘Vishwa Guru’ in upcoming years. The suggestions to materialise this aim has already been discussed above. It raises pertinent concerns regarding quality education, inclusive education and the commodification of education.

  • Lack of infrastructure and human resource

In the context of higher education, NEP is trying to introduce four years of multidisciplinary undergraduate course with multiple entry and exit options. This pattern of exit, entry and re-entry has been borrowed from western countries. But, how applicable this pattern would be in India, is a matter of doubt. India does not have adequate infrastructure where this kind of multidisciplinary set up can be created. The reason is that students in India come from diverse  socio-economic background. Unlike western countries, most of the students in India are financially dependent on their families for their education. The proposed pattern that aims to multidisciplinary education, will need more infrastructure and trainers, which will eventually lead to higher cost of education. The question is how many parents in the country will be able to finance higher education with increased expenditure.

Para should be changed, you r talking something else P.S. Jayaramu opined, ‘more importantly, the four years programme itself would allow a certain level of higher learning to students, as it envisages a research degree also to students who take up project work as part of their stint in the College. Here again, over 45 percent of the vacant teaching positions in colleges and universities need to be filled up on a priority position to ensure quality teaching and research guidance.’ [[[3]]]

  • A step towards global discrimination

NEP talks about giving permission to top fifty foreign universities to set up their campus in India. The objective behind it is to provide ‘global education’ to the learners. It raises a concern regarding ‘global discrimination’. How? Write how will create hierarchy? More the hierarchy we create among universities, more discrimination we promote. These foreign universities will provide costly higher education that will only be affordable by elite group of people in the country. It will lead to commercialization of education. How? The already existing gap between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ learners will get enhanced further through this step. NEP also talks about providing them academic autonomy. ‘While they can be allowed academic autonomy, there should however be appropriate regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with national requirements.’[[[4]]]

  • Homogenisation in education

As the main thrust of the policy regarding higher education is to end the fragmentation of higher education by transforming higher education institutions into larger multidisciplinary universities, it completely ignores the significance of diversity among universities in India. The sociocultural diversity, decentralised autonomy of the universities, and the reach and scope of affiliated colleges that have been catering to the needs of students in urban and rural areas are negated in a single stroke with the label of “fragmentation.”[[[5]]] This will lead to homogenisation of higher education which is very dangerous in a multicultural country like India. The hyped concept of international education might be desirable for the government but it is important to increase accessibility of this world class education to pave the way for better life.

  • Paving way for privatisation

The policy aims for 50% grade enrolment ration which was 26.3% as per AISHE report of Govt. Of India 2018. It is impossible to make 200% growth in 15 years’ time span without privatising higher education. The kind of higher education institutions government aims to create can only be built by big international companies. This paradigm shift suggested by government is nothing but direct transfer of power to multinational corporations and bug industrialists. This will lead to commodification of education as the education sector would be seen as an area of corporate ‘investment’ to generate economic returns.

  • Delimits political exposure of students

Campus life is not only for increasing knowledge base but it is also for learning to be a better social being. Students get exposure to various social and political ideologies in their college life. The question arises that how will students studying in private institutions get this exposure? Academics is important, but, since students also shape   their political opinions at this age, university campus should provide them space for development of leadership qualities and formation of political opinion.

  • Reiterates already existing structure for teacher education institutions

The policy aims to have educationally sound, multidisciplinary, and integrated teacher education programmes in force by 2030. NEP 2020 talks about inclusion of only those teacher education institutions into the educational structure of the country which can meet basic educational criteria. But since the criteria ‘for this inclusion’ are not specified, it makes the statement vague in nature. It also talks about introducing 4- year teacher education programme which will be dual major holistic bachelor’s degree. The idea of four-year integrated programme is not new. We already have such a programme functioning in 8 colleges of university of Delhi known as Bachelors of Elementary Education which has not been mentioned in the policy anywhere. Therefore, the NEP 2020 doesn’t offer anything innovative and, in fact, reiterates the existing structure with use of new terminologies.

  • Teachers are directionless about integrated curriculum

The most important stakeholders of teaching-learning process are teachers. They work with children in dynamic scenarios. They are clueless about the aims of NEP 2020 as they look more like a dream of utopian world that doesn’t care about the current status of higher education in India. In the absence of deep knowledge about Integrated curriculum teachers are confused about ‘what’ needs to be integrated which leads to random addition or deletion of content.

  • What is ‘knowledge society’ and is India ready to move towards it?

The development of knowledge society is very much dependent on information and communication technology (ICT). Though the internet penetration rate in India has risen in the last few years, still more than 50% of our country can’t have internet facility, it raises a pertinent question that ‘how much work have to be done to have knowledge society? Do we really have the required infrastructure and resources for it?’.

It is also very important to have a look on the adverse side of having a knowledge society. It might lead to a new form of hegemony and dominations in the society. How, may be digital divide can be referred here. It might bring in new architecture of power, new form of exclusion, polarization, inequality, new landscape of conflicts etc. as studies on knowledge society indicate a growing ‘digital divide’ within and across communities.

Conclusion

NEP 2020 seems a wonderful idea without a road map for implementation. The policy that aims to pave the way for transformational reforms for higher education systems of India to make it a global knowledge superpower must answer the question of how can this aim be brought into action? In this ‘global society’ it becomes important to maintain a balance between competing at global standards and maintaining the individuality of the country. The constant commercialisation and massification of education will not make the learners critical thinkers. Hence, it can be concluded that NEP 2020 has contradictory stand from the perspective higher education. If it is not supported by clear road map for execution, it will just remain a wishful thinking.

Bibliography

  • New Education Policy 2020: Advantages and disadvantages of NEP, OneIndia correspondent, July 31, 2020
  • National Education Policy 2020
  • Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 37, New Delhi, August 29, 2020,The New Education
    Policy: A mixed bag | P.S. Jayaramu
  • Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 37, New Delhi, August 29, 2020, New Education Policy:
    Duties Before Implementation | Prem Singh
  • ‘Knowledge Society’ as Academic Concept and Stage of Development – A Conceptual and Historical Review,Anna Katharina Hornidge, April 2011, Research gate
  • Critical Review & Reflection on Draft of NEP – 2019MS. JAYA CHETWANI,
    Coordinator, Darshan Academy, Pune, Educational Resurgence Journal Volume 2,
    Issue 3, Jan. 2020
  • A Critical Analysis and a Glimpse of New Education Policy -2020, Deep Kumar
    Assistant Professor Research Scholar, Aryabhata Knowledge University, Patna,
    International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 11, Issue 10,
    October-2020

[1] New Education Policy 2020: Advantages and disadvantages of NEP, OneIndia correspondent, July 31, 2020

[2] National Education Policy 2020

[3] Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 37, New Delhi, August 29, 2020

The New Education Policy: A mixed bag | P.S. Jayaramu

[4] Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 37, New Delhi, August 29, 2020

The New Education Policy: A mixed bag | P.S. Jayaramu

[5]  How Does the National Education policy accelerate the privatisation of education?, Lakshmi Priya, Economic and political weekly, Vol. 55, Issue No. 30, 25 Jul, 2020

Bhumika Rajdev is a student of Masters In Education, Jamia Millia Islamia


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