How the NEP 2020 can make India a superpower
By Ashok Pandey
The National Education Policy 2020, announced in July last year, has celebrated its first anniversary. The NEP, with significant suggestions for reforming both the school and higher education level, is India-centred, transformative and optimistic about catapulting the country to a global superpower.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading from the front, inviting citizens’ participation and laying the foundation for robust, outcome-based policy implementation. Earlier this month, he addressed the conclave on ‘School Education in the 21st Century’ as part of the Shikshak Parv 2021, and dedicated September 7-17, 2021 as the second edition of the Shikshak Parv 2021, while addressing the nation through videoconferencing.
His inspiring address proved a master class on the NEP 2020. He lauded India’s value system and centuries of knowledge system. He acknowledged the high pedestal teachers occupy in our society; traditionally, teachers in India have selflessly imparted skills, knowledge and values—teaching generations to pursue gratitude, greatness and duty to the society.
The PM cited teachers’ relationship with students as being very special in Indian ethos. He pointed out that teachers’ care and concern for students is life-long, unconditional and non-discriminating in our system. They are both partners in learning, enlightenment and in reaping the fruits of learning. He emphasised how art integration, higher-order thinking and a competency-based learning approach can have a transformative impact on learners. Progress through mastery demonstration, explicit, measurable, transferable and empowering competencies is the hallmark of quality education. Students must receive timely, differentiated support based on individual needs to make education equitable.
The PM emphasised that ‘giving knowledge’ is the most incredible ‘giving’. He pointed out that the vidya-daan is a unique opportunity for citizens to share their knowledge and experience with the children. Volunteering is a noble cause, and one’s involvement in children’s service is an unparalleled investment in the community. The Vidyanjali 2.0 portal was launched for facilitating education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors for school development.
While expressing his respect for teachers, the PM was effusive about the contribution teachers made during the pandemic. He exhorted teachers to adapt to new technologies, integrative pedagogy, and curriculum and assessment designing flexibility. NISHTHA 3.0, an integrated teacher training for change portal, the PM said, will help teachers learn about new systems and technologies.
The success of the NEP 2020 demands a commitment to ensuring all learners master learning expectations. The North Star for each child is lifelong learning and success. The focus should be on proactively and meaningfully engaging those with special needs and the marginalised to dismantle systemic barriers to equity and helping all learners to succeed. Indian Sign Language Dictionary and Talking Books were launched to benefit Persons with Disabilities. This dictionary, a collection of more than 10,000 words, will be a part of the new curriculum. The PM alluded to a universal design of learning, based on equity, empathy, repurposing education, fostering student agency and future-proofing students, as the soul of the NEP 2020.
The PM’s master class takeaway is to guide, coach, advocate, and be a resource manager for learners. He also wishes schools and community to connect and collaborate for any meaningful change to fructify. He is pinning hope on the private sector, which is under stress, and only a great and swift stimulus can energise the sector hit hard during the pandemic.
The author is director, Ahlcon Group of Schools in Delhi, and chairperson, the Council for Global Citizenship Education