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Can NEP overcome drawbacks in Higher Education?

The quality of higher education must aim to develop good,thoughtful, and creative individuals. Hence, there will be means so as to study one or more specialized areas of interest at a deep level-writes Rinitha CP on NEP (second part of series of articles on NEP-2020)

The Higher Education System of a nation contributes, at a large scale, in the development of the youth into powerful and responsible citizens of the nation. Through Higher education, more than learning a discipline, a person learns his/her position as a citizen and chooses the path of his/her life ahead. The character of a person is largely influenced during his/her higher education period. According to New Education Policy 2020 the existing higher education system in India has many severe drawbacks. They point out problems like : a severely fragmented higher educational ecosystem, less emphasis on the development of cognitive skills, a rigid separation of disciplines, a very limited access particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, with few Higher Education Institutions (HEI) that teach in local languages, limited teacher and institutional autonomy,inadequate mechanisms for merit-based career management, an ineffective regulatory system, large affiliating universities resulting in low standards of undergraduate education and such. The New Education Policy regarding the Higher Education System aims to overcome these demerits and lead to a better system of education. The NEP 2020, understanding the values of the Higher Education System of a Nation, focuses on the betterment of it through various means. The NEP 2020 claims to focus upon the quality of Universities and Colleges, to make it a forward looking Higher Education System. The education given through these Universities should fill the students with the knowledge about their own Nation’s Constitution and its values. The NEP aims to develop a democratic, just, socially-conscious, cultured, and humane nation upholding liberty, equality, fraternity, and justice for all. The students must be made capable of sustainable livelihoods and must work for the economic development of the nation. The system shall focus upon the 21st century requirements. The quality of higher education must aim to develop good,thoughtful, and creative individuals. Hence there will be means so as to study one or more specialized areas of interest at a deep level. The Education shall focus upon the development of character, ethical and Constitutional values, intellectual curiosity, scientific temper, creativity, spirit of service, and 21st century capabilities across a range of disciplines including sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities,languages, as well as professional, technical, and vocational subjects. They aim at making students learn constructive public engagement, and making them capable of providing a productive contribution to the society. Education must enable them economic independence. The motive of the education system is making the students socially conscious, knowledgeable, and skilled. They should be able to find solutions to the problems they face within the social structure in which they live. They should be able to contribute to a growing national economy. “The purpose of quality higher education is, therefore,more than the creation of greater opportunities for individual employment. It represents the key to more vibrant, socially engaged, cooperative communities and a happier, cohesive, cultured,productive, innovative, progressive, and prosperous nation.” The policy includes several key changes to the current system like moving towards a higher educational system consisting of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district, and with more HEIs across India that offer medium of instruction or programmes in local/Indian languages. The Policy aims towards increasing the faculty and institutional autonomy. Improving the curriculum, and reaffirming the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit- appointments and career progression based on teaching, research, and service. They aim to establish a National Research Foundation to fund outstanding peer-reviewed research and to actively seed research in universities and colleges. The governance of HEIs by highly qualified independent boards having academic and administrative autonomy. Increasing the access, equity, and inclusion through a range of measures, scholarships by private/philanthropic universities for disadvantaged and underprivileged students. Online education, and Open Distance Learning (ODL) shall be introduced. and all infrastructures and materials shall be provided to learners with disabilities.

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