Taking a drastic step, the Union cabinet has taken a shift from the 1986 policy by making a pitch for a 5+3+3+4 design responding to the age groups 03-08 years (foundational stage), 08-11 years (preparatory), 11-14 years (middle), and 14-18 (secondary).
As the preschool education for children of the ages 03-05 has also been brought under the ambit of formal schooling, the mid-day meal programme shall be extended to preschool children with children until the level of primary will be taught either in their mother tongue and regional tongue. Interestingly, under the four-year undergraduate programme in Delhi University as per the guidelines of National Education Policy, 2020 the students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma, and after three years with a degree of bachelors. During the vice chancellorship of Professor Dinesh Singh, there was a lot of uproar against the FYUP ( Four Year Undergraduate Programme) being later held by the centre in 2014.
The argument was that it will open the door of possibilities for the students in upgrading their analytical calibre and capacity building upon their academic and research potentials for them to become productive and valuable citizens of the country. Providing impetus to the current policy outcome, NEP’s objective is to overhaul the shape and structure of the existing educational faculties and institutions- in terms of ensuring participation and representation of each and every strata and section of the population.
The master’s programme will continue to function as they were doing earlier but the focus will be on encouraging the student to opt for Direct PhD courses and programme. In universities like Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge pursuing research after completing masters is one of the most common practices. Through this, students get a chance and occasion to explore the available options. They can fine-tune their ability, action and approach.
But, for our universities, transformation is going to be mammoth and herculean considering the prevalence of wider gaps illustrated in the Sociology of community, Geography of location, Economics of income and Politics of identity. Restricting access to a wide variety, be it for affordable housing and healthcare, cheap education and above all, basic minimum dignity for survival, sustenance and livelihood is almost missing from our scene.
As with the ruling regime at the Centre proposing their faith in the neoliberal core of crony capitalism and privatization education is but both a casualty and commodity to turn us into disciplined, obedient and conscientious consumers. Priorities other than being a rightful citizen excites and inspires our thought process and wisdom as we give up on interrogating and investigating the claims made on the part of the state failing to make any dialogue and deliberation.
This is though natural given the tendency and characteristics of the modern-day state like India is no exception with a populist right-wing government and authority at the helm of affairs intent upon doing away with the constitutional sets of morality and ethics. This could be broadly understood by the attempts being made by the ruling dispensation to do away with the merits and benefits of social welfare provisions and programmes designed for the socially and economically deprived, dislocated and vulnerable sections of the society.
How will we be able to justify affirmative actions if reservations are attempted to be done away with impacting their entry to seats of higher education? Secondly, this will prove to be detrimental to their class and groups interests, rights and objectives. Education is a harbinger of social change and transformation for other backward and scheduled castes in the country as any palpable shift in the policy on education should not be seen isolating and excluding them from the mainstream.
Look at how private educational hubs by way of donations purposely admit scores of students in professional and non-professional courses as one,s merit and ranking at all matter. In this scenario how can we imagine spaces of presence and participation of scheduled caste and other backwards castes in premier and top-ranking private universities and colleges if not for the intervention by the agencies and apparatus of the state?
The whole idea of granting autonomy to the UGC recognized colleges in Delhi University brews a great sense of discomfort for humble background students especially for those hailing from reserved community denied affordable access to research and academics unable to pay the price for it. When during the lockdown it was found how the digital divide unequally affects and influences us in many different ways and manners despite the assurances by our Prime Minister on the promotion of Digital India.
There exists monumental mismanagement in each and every policy action and decision if we were to make an overview of the much-hyped GST and demonetization legislation as there is an urgent need to correct the ills for presenting a sound and substantial policy pitch abstaining from procedural rhetorics, techniques and tactics as the centre ought to take steps rectifying their repeated errors.
Policy legislations should represent the faith and beliefs of all the stakeholders with a proper set of framework and guidelines. Consultations and dialogue with experts and eminent luminaries will certainly be advantageous in the long run. Also, the government should give up on its high handedness when it comes to handling the policy affair by sidelining the senior officers and bureaucrats who informally act as spokesperson of the Centre.
Concerned ministries and departments should own the blame and charge for fixing and plugging the loopholes by not passing the bucks if for the faulty implementation of any programme and policy legislation. NEP is bold and better on paper, but practically lacks reason and rationale which ought to be addressed and dispelled by a panel and board of experts and educationist- if the centre is willing to walk the tightrope becoming their new normal.
Dear government, any policy statement should reflect the sentiments of the people as there ought to be an assessment and scrutiny of the impacts and challenges presented by it. In the case of the NPE, an attempt should be made to arrive at a consensus.