September 24, 2023


Truth Triumphs

Dumping National education policy 2020, a huge step backwards for Karnataka

GUEST COLUMN: Dr N Prabhudev 

There are two educations. One teaches us how to make a living and the other how to live!

The unfortunate decision of the Karnataka government to dump the National education policy as announced in the budget would be a great disadvantage to the students of Karnataka. Yes the subject of education is on the concurrent list. I feel that personal prejudices should not be the consideration for policy changes. Vibrant democracies such as India, where ‘education’ is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution, require deliberations, debates and discussions at all levels of the government and education players.

Traditionally, education in India has been under the purview of government and private non-profits. It is based on the outdated theory that fundamental purpose of an educational institution is to educate, not to make profit. For years, the education sector in India has been characterized by traditional ideals and goals, but limited by inadequate state funding and the restricted reach of not-for-profit system.

Sure, both for-profit and non-profit systems have their pros and cons. Covid-19 has become the catalyst for change in our educational institutes, which are opening up to online education. Students are shooting videos and sending it to their teachers as “homework”. With high-speed technology becoming more prevalent, we have been witnessing learners and solution-providers truly embracing the ‘learn anywhere, anytime’ concept of digital education.

There is a major digital divide within the country across states, cities and villages, and income groups. Children who should be in school aren’t. The education system is built with a focus on IQ, memorization and rote learning. 

We have a low-quality, pro-private, hierarchical school system. A vast majority of marginalized parents are not even sure if the education their children get will help them realize a decent living. The Right to Education Act after the 86th constitutional amendment did not propose radical structural reforms to provide equitable quality education to all.  

NEP has introduced structural reforms in the academic system of India starting from the school to college level.

The gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is required must be bridged through undertaking major reforms that bring the highest quality, equity, and integrity into the system, from early childhood care and through higher education. The previous policies on education has focused largely on issues of access and equity. After 75 years of Indian independence why are we still struggling to provide universal, equitable, and quality elementary education to our children?

This policy envisages that the extant 10+2 structure in school education will be modified with a new pedagogical and curricular restructuring of 5+3+3+4 covering ages 3-18. Currently, children in the age group of 3-6 are not covered in the 10+2 structure as Class 1 begins at age 6. In the new 5+3+3+4 structure, a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education from age 3 is included aims at promoting better overall learning, development, and well-being. 

I urge the govt to have meaningful discussion across all the stake holders before jumping the gun.

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