A webinar to familiarise teachers on the nuances of the National Education Policy 2020 was conducted by Father John Ravi SJ, Principal, St Xavier’s Sr Sec School, Nevta, Jaipur. Father has conducted various training sessions for Principals, Managers. Teachers, Parents and Senior Students on a regular basis and is an excellent motivational speaker.
Father conducted a two-hour session with the Carmel staff, expounding on the various aspects of the NEP 2020. He guided the teachers through various parameters that form a part of it, shedding light on them.
He started with giving a brief historical background of education in India, and the various eminent personalities and policies that shaped it— from Dr Radhakrishnan, the Mudaliar Commission of 1963, to the Kothari Commission of 1968, the Rajiv Gandhi New Education Policy on Adult Education in 1986, Addition of Common Entrance Exam for Professional and Technical Programmes in 1992, New Education Policy based on Common Minimum Programme in 2005, right until the NEP 2020.
He mentioned both the strengths of the policy and the concerns raised by it.
Strengths of the Policy:
- Groundbreaking and progressive policy
- Aims to achieve 100% GER in school education by 2030 and 50 % GER in higher education by 2035
- Emphasis on multidisciplinary and holistic approach by making curriculum more flexible and open ended
- Creation of e-courses in regional languages and advocating for increased use of technology
- Based on pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability
- Attempts to raise the bar of Indian Education with that of global standards
- Creation of school and university complexes/ clusters
- Committed to increasing public expenditure on education to 6% of the GDP from the current 4.43%
- Lays more emphasis on the learner than the teachers
- Tries to bring in professionlism in both school and higher education
- Promotes critical thinking and innovative methods of learning and teaching
- Promotes conceptual learning
- Promotes community participation
- Timing of the release of NEP
- Are the vision statements, principles etc a rhetoric or reality e.g silence on the constitutional values represented by the words ‘secular and socialist’.
- Demolition of Federal character by Centralisation
- No comprehensive mention of earlier policies
- Early Childhood Education: Is three years too early to begin school?
- School Complexes: Will it necessitate children as young as 3 years to travel 5 to 7 km to school?
- Volunteers to teach in school: Will it give easy access to indoctrination of children?
- State School Exams at Class 3, 5 & 8: Is it a violation of child rights?
- School Accreditation: Can rural schools match urban schools?
- Higher Education: A minimum of 3000 students required to run a college. Will this lead to drop outs as number of institutions decrease?
- National Research Foundation for funding and support of research. All others will be closed. Will this lead to bias?
- Language Formula: Use of three languages, two of them Indian languages, but forced imposition of Sanskrit
- Cultural nationalism: Is it only promotion of upper caste culture?
- Omission of Medieval Period of education.Talk only of ancient or modern
- Status of Urdu: Urdu is the 7th most spoken language according to 2011 census, yet there is no mention of it
- Saffronisation of Education
- Fails to recognise the social and educational backwardness of a vast majority of the Indian society
- Omission of Fundamental Rights
Father John Ravi stated that the NEP 2020 seems to greatly increase the scope of private participation, ignore the country’s pluralistic traditions, further the neoliberal agenda of designing profit-oriented system that serves corporate interests. He talked about the key aspect of the new policy as having a disproportionate focus on “high quality” educational opportunities for the individual’s growth. He mentioned that it is the process by which quality education is sought to be provided that is questionable, stating that unless there is political will, mutual collaboration and consultation between the States and Centre, commitment towards the poor and the marginalised and loyalty towards the Constitutional values and provisions from all the stakeholders, access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability would continue to remain a distant dream not a reality. Education must be for the common good and the policy should spell out a clear roadmap for effective implementation.
He answered questions and addressed doubts of the teachers and left the staff with much food for thought.
Ms Seema, in her inimitable style paid a tribute to Father by narrating a poem in his honour.