Since the drafting of the first education policy (university education commission) way back in 1948, Indian education sector has come a long way. Post-independence, several successive governments have drafted policies demonstrating progressive and forward-looking measures.
In spite of these policies that enabled in narrowing existing gaps at various levels of school education, disparities remained. Most noticeably was secondary level of school education, primarily among the socioeconomically disadvantages strata that have predominantly remained under-represented in education.
Since the last amendment in the policy way back in 1986, it took almost 34 years for the new policy to take the present shape.
Considering the vast population involved in the education sector, effective implementation of this policy would remain a major challenge. Effective implementation will require various initiatives and actions that are to be responsibly undertaken both at the micro as well as the macro level, requiring synchronisation of will and action
The policy is a pivotal policy on many fronts. Its forward looking nature embeds within the pillars quality, innovation and research from basic school education to higher education with a primary focus on holistic transformation of an individual.
Further, the realignment of school curriculum and pedagogy in a new format of 5+3+3+4 design, aims towards a more holistic, integrated, enjoyable and engaging Learning.
The interdisciplinary nature of the policy effectively is directed towards a well-rounded approach with sharp focus on arts, sports and humanities along with vocational training, providing students with the much-needed array of choices to make with a renewed emphasis on experiential leaning and critical thinking.
Finally, the proposed choice of language as proposed to be in regional, Hindi and English language broadens the forward-looking nature of the policy.
One of the key features of the new education policy deals with vocational education. India’s latest 5-year plan revealed a small fraction of Indian workforce in the age bracket 19-24, representing less than 5% of the total workforce received formal vocational education.
Well defined pathways
The primary reason for this abysmally low numbers is because vocational education focused on grade 11 and 12 and those who dropped out from grade 8 onwards. Additionally, 11th and 12th graders with vocational subjects lacked well defined pathways that could help them choose higher education in their areas of vocational studies.
This is a stark comparison with other developed countries that provides a significantly more percentage of workforce receiving vocational education: US 52%, Germany 75%, and South Korea 96%.
This clearly indicates the necessity and urgency of vocational education among a larger mass of the society. Thus, the policy addresses the major skill gap and focuses on real world application of the skills which primarily lacks today.
With an increased focus on problem solving and emphasis on technology at every level, the new proposed curriculum ensures that every graduate is aligned with the requirements catering to industrial revolution 4.0.
Penetration of technology
With the penetration of technology at every reams of education, the new policy’s aim towards the adaptation and integration of technology with an objective in enhancing multiple aspects of education is notable.
Regular interventions, robust and rigorous infrastructure and transparency in evaluation will facilitate the scaling up of technology at every granular level of technology. The principles and pillars of this policy will enable learning, assessments and planning of this policy at both school level as well as at higher education level.
This policy will have a serious impact on the Indian expatriate student population. With the inclusion of vocational courses as early as grade 6, students will start getting acquainted with real life skills as compared to rote learning methods. This is turn will prepare them better for higher level education.
Today, many students from Indian curriculum find it extremely difficult to adapt to the fast changing needs of the industry, and the new policy addresses this very issue. At the same time, given the country’s massive student strength, the major challenge would remain in its timely implementation.
On a macro level, the commitment towards more active investments across the education sector would lead to more accessible education and ensure that everyone moves towards a skill-based society, the need of the future.
Considering the vast population involved in the education sector, effective implementation of this policy would remain a major challenge. Effective implementation will require various initiatives and actions that are to be responsibly undertaken both at the micro as well as the macro level, requiring synchronisation of will and action.
Overall, the policy is a clear indication that education in India will gradually move from an existing commoditised good towards a more affordable and meaningful public good.
Dr. Arindam Banerjee is the Associate Professor, Deputy Director (Dean) — MBA programs and Director — Student Recruitment, S P Jain School of Global Management, Dubai