None of us are new to the debates which have surrounded the educational system in India. There has always been a lobby stating that our education system needed a major overhaul and that we needed to make our children more industry and practical life ready.
Multiple changes in the curriculum were done to reflect this mindset as well. The introduction of subjects such as Informatics Practices, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology at the 10+2 levels, way back in the year 2005 was one such step. The history and geography of the world were significantly cut down upon. While many public-school going generations grew up reading about the Roman and Brazilian empire, no later than 2000 were the kids found studying only the relevant bits about Indian history and geography. Civics and Economics were given more focus upon as well to provide the foundation for kids looking at a career in public policy or humanities.
However, a lot still had to be done. Mere dilution of the course, easing out the exams and change of the curriculum wasn’t enough. The education system needed way more than that. Coming to the degree programs as well, the situation was no different. The drop-outs couldn’t get a degree, and adult-education options were limited. Most students who dropped out of school ended up being unskilled or semi-skilled workers. The situation was such a major Catch-22 that if one dropped out of school or college once, the chances of them getting back to education or even generating enough resources to enable themselves for it were tough.
So, those were some of the major problems that plagued our education system and prevented the countrymen from garnering a decent education. The Newest Educational Reforms, however, is set to change that.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW REFORM
While we shall cover almost all the points in the new policy in detail below, here are some major notable mentions-
- 10+2 board structure has been dropped and replaced by the 5+3+3+4 structure. The first five classes will be pre-school, then mid school, the senior secondary and class 12th onwards it will be graduation. The schools will follow the semester system too for examination.
- The initial education can be imparted in the respective mother tongue.
- All the Degree programs will be 4 years and vocational courses will be available class 6 onwards. The students will have the option to choose the subject of their interest from class 8th and onwards.
- All higher education will be governed by only one authority and UGC & AICTE will be merged. There will be a universal grading system as well which will be followed across.
- The Ministry of HRD will now be known as the Ministry of Education.
- The New Education Policy has also opened doors for Foreign Universities to open their campus in India.
Now, let us have a look at the details of major changes that the reform brought in and how they fare in terms of making the students future-ready.
FOCUS ON LEARNING OUTCOMES
One of the biggest challenges that the country has faced with respect to its education system is the sync between the educational level and the corresponding learning outcome. This problem has been more glaring especially in the context of the government schools where despite the provision of all the possible resources, the students didn’t know as much as they should at their specific class level.
The new education system, however, focuses on activity-based learning for the same. There are also strict parameters put in place which will make sure that the kids are monitored gradually and so are the teachers too. Such a kind of monitoring will make sure that proper checks are placed on the students’ learning outcomes and embedding some form of knowledge in them is ensured.
MAKING THE STUDENTS’ INDUSTRY READY
A lot of students, because of their personal or financial reasons opt for vocational training at a later stage. Finding such relevant training is tough and even if it is found, the quality isn’t necessarily guaranteed. However, with the new educational system, vocational training will be imparted right with the usual curriculum. Thus, if there are students who because of any financial constraints aren’t able to take up studies further, they will still have the option to pursue a career.
IMPORTANCE OF STREET-SMARTNESS
The holistic report-card approach is a step towards it. It hasn’t been uncommon that the section on the right side of the report-cards which graded the students for their physical fitness, communication skills, smartness and other soft-skills is taken for granted. Most decent students score well on that and parents do not even bother to look at it.
It will not be an exaggeration to say that it is because of this attitude that most academically stronger Indian students end up being not so street smart. However, with the new education reforms, these soft-skills will be mandatorily included in the curriculum. Such a step will ensure that the students grow not just academically but on an overall level too.
PEER TO PEER EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
There is great relevance which the best of the schools in the world place on peer to peer learning. It is a very good step to take and for all practical purposes, the best of the Indian institutions for higher education lay significant stress on the same. The same will now be included at school level too through the medium of activity-based learning. The classes will be interactive and hence the students will learn not just from the books but also know about handling different perspectives too.
BRIDGING THE GURU-SHISHYA DIVIDE
One commendable step that this new education reform has taken is in terms of monitoring the teachers too. Such a step will ensure that only the qualified teachers get a chance in shaping the future of the kids and no quacks are able to break-in. With all due respect, there have been times when the entire teaching community had to face the brunt of the wrongdoings or inefficiency of a single teacher. The new reforms will prevent that from happening. Also, the constant evaluation will keep the teachers on their toes and will ensure that they keep learning and in-turn imparting that learning too.
DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC TEMPERAMENT
Another commendable step, the entire education system is being touted to be the one that inculcates the scientific and mathematical temperament at an early age. We all must have seen the ads about firms offering coding or technical education to kids as young as 6 years of age. While one could have considered this to be a gimmick for the rich and privileged, the same will now be included in the school curriculum too.
Thus, if your kid has the temperament for the same, a scientist or technical expert will be developed right from an early age.
IMPORTANCE OF EVERY STEP TOWARDS EDUCATION
There are two parts to this. First is that the students will have the option to choose and hence excel in the subjects of their interest right from the middle school level. The second part of this lies in the fact that any degree program will not be just a degree program. It will instead have multiple steps towards completion and a certificate program, diploma or degree will be awarded on the basis of that. Also, if someone chooses to leave their program in between, they will still have the option to begin with, it again at a later stage and pick from where they left.
This is an essentially important aspect for those who consider distance learning at a later stage to give a different aspect to their career
Having said that, let us look at option 1- the option to choose subjects right in school will help kids to excel in one field rather than being a jack of all. This option, since it will be provided at the degree level as well, will also ensure that the students, even if they are pursuing an engineering degree do not have to look elsewhere for a career option or fit into a job not conducive to their degree. The ability to choose multiple subjects, not necessarily relevant to the degree program will create professionals which are very diverse in their perspectives. For a country like India, this would mean that there will be no dearth of options for skilled people and neither will any positions will remain vacant just because the firms couldn’t find a good resource.
CONCLUSION: A STEP TOWARDS BRIGHTER FUTURE OF INDIA
One biggest highlight of the proposed educational reforms is the focus on distance learning. As an organisation which has been working closely in this domain, we have seen how a lot of people want to grow in their field or acquire additional skill sets but cannot because they have professional and personal commitments to address. The focus and directive of the Government asking all the important educational institutions to make distance learning mandatory by 2030 is a really welcome and much-needed move!
As we conclude on this piece, we feel that the government has taken a lot of good steps and tried to fill-in multiple gaps through this approach. Execution of such a major overhaul will be a major challenge but we are sure that with the right planning, partnership and understanding, the same will be achieved too.