A motivated faculty having the required experience and expertise is the single most critical factor for providing an efficient and productive Higher Education ecosystem.
The advent of the fourth industrial revolution places us in the midst of continuous disruption by digital technologies. This revolution is expected to transform economies, jobs, and the society itself through new technologies and processes. With education being the key component in shaping the future workforce, the academic system needs transformation.
The Indian education system will need to focus on creativity and lifelong learning, essential for a career with continuous disruptions. It is envisaged that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. Accordingly, it is important to imbibe a culture of knowledge seeking and lifelong learning during the formative years.
The Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 seems to have been primarily developed based on the above premise.
A key highlight of NEP 2019 in the area of school education is the proposed structuring of school education as Foundational (comprising 3 years of pre-school & grades 1-2); Preparatory (comprising grades 3-5); Middle (comprising grades 6-8) and High (comprising grades 9-12 in 2 phases of grades 9& 10 and 11&12). The structure takes cognisance of a child’s developmental journey and ensure s critical characteristics like knowledge seeking, logical thinking, social skills like communication, teamwork, etc are imbibed. This also transitions away from the current culture of rote learning.
The proposed transformation will require changes in pedagogy; teachers will, thus, need capacity development. Teaching and learning approaches are expected to be more interactive through discovery, discussion and analysis-based learning. Teachers will need to be provided career progression plans, greater autonomy & responsibility. NEP 2019 discusses the courses for teachers’ training including shorter duration courses for skill & expertise upgradation.
The initiative to move the higher education system to large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and higher education institution (HEI) cluster is a key highlight of the NEP 2019, with institutes proposed to be categorised as “research oriented” or “teaching oriented”.
Institutions and faculty should have the autonomy to innovate on matters of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment— informed by a broad overall framework of higher educational qualifications that ensures consistency across institutions and equivalence across programmes, both in Open & Distance Learning (ODL) and the traditional ‘in-class’ learning.
NEP 2019 proposes multidisciplinary learning which entails integrating humanities and arts streams with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Integration of multidisciplinary courses is expected to result in increased creativity and innovation, critical thinking and higher-order thinking capacities, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, communication skills, deeper learning and mastery of curricula across fields, and increases in social and moral awareness.
A motivated faculty having the required experience and expertise is the single most critical factor for providing an efficient and productive Higher Education ecosystem. NEP 2019 proposes measures to be adopted for improving faculty effectiveness and responsiveness through increased & diversified faculty, reduced student-teacher ratios, flexibility and autonomy in curriculum design and pedagogical approaches which are likely to also help keep the faculty motivated and invested.
The National Education Policy, 2019 aims to bring the higher education sector in India on par with the international standards and contemporary practices. It has clearly articulated the intentions in striving forward with a retrospective analysis of the traditions of India. The policy also endeavours inclusivity, and accessibility for all the socio-economic classes of the society with the agenda of ‘Development for All’ and creating the future workforce for India and the world.
(The author is partner, Deloitte India. Views are personal)