Analyzing the Impact of the NEP, 2020
The National Education Policy 2020 was released into the public domain on July 29th, 2020. The new policy is much needed, the pre-existing one having been formulated in 1986.
The motivation behind the institution of NEP is to implement radical changes in all levels of education in India and the betterment of the essential understanding of education in the country. It also focuses on implementing changes in the way the intermediaries of education- schools, colleges, and teachers are trained and their approach towards education. As stated under the official document, the aim of the policy is to “produce engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society.”
A few highlights of the NEP that have garnered a great deal of attention from citizens include an overhaul of the curriculum to instigate overall personality growth, bedimming the distinction between Science/Arts/Commerce streams, improving the number of multidisciplinary institutions in every district, affordable fees to ensure more participation from the lower class families, and extensive changes in higher education in universities and colleges, etc. It also suggests changing the selection processes for premiere education institutes like IITs, encouraging the use of merit based results form National and International Olympiads.
The article dwells on a few such topics with a focus on the impact the new policy would have on the curriculum and working of the Institute:
Optimal Learning Environments and Support for Students:
To make learning more effective, the policy aims at providing a more appropriate curriculum to students. This may mean a change in the grading and evaluation system for IITs. Currently, a large chunk of our grades is decided based on written examinations. We can expect a shift away from the typical methods to more learning and knowledge-based evaluation. Here are a few changes that may be implemented in accordance with the New Education Policy:
- Revising the contents of outdated courses. Further, improving the relevance of courses by stressing their application in real life.
- Reduce class sizes to increase the attention of individual students, and hence ensure more comprehensive learning.
- Trying to integrate simulations and mathematical models, in order to enhance the understanding of concepts. For example, ANSYS Fluent (software which simulates flows) can be taught alongside fluid mechanics courses.
- Ensuring continuous assessments through regular vivas, assessments, tutorials and mini-quizzes (as can be seen during the online semester). This may help in continuously tracking the effort taken by students for the course.
- Increase in the number and weightage of course projects in order to get more hands-on experience.
Intending to emulate ancient Indian universities such as Takshashila and Nalanda, the NEP plans to “Combine subjects across fields” to make education in Higher Education Universities more holistic. Referring to IITs specifically, it speaks about how the integration of Humanities and Arts in STEM fields can result in positive learning outcomes, in terms of research, creativity and engagement with the outside world. This could point toward a change in the way various courses here at IIT Bombay are taught. A few possible examples would be:
- Increase in the availability of Humanities and Arts courses for engineering students.
- Increasing the size of the HSS department in terms of staff and faculty to provide novel and engaging course options.
- Undergraduates may be required to spend more time on courses based on literature, languages, economics, music, and history (as is implemented in MIT’s curriculum).
- Incentivising holistic learning by awarding credits and ensuring funding for projects involving the integration of STEM and humanities fields.
- Increasing the number of options and scope of credit-based courses and projects in areas of community service and environmental education.
Academic Bank of Credits
A major change suggested in the NEP is the establishment of an Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognized HEIs (Higher Education Institutes), so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned.
- Students can easily transfer credits across different HEIs in case they need to change universities for any reason.
- It will also provide greater mobility to students in India who may wish to visit, study at, transfer credits to, or carry out research at institutions abroad, and vice versa.
- Credits acquired in foreign universities will be permitted, where appropriate as per the requirements of each HEI, to be counted for the award of a degree.
These changes are likely to facilitate research collaborations and student exchanges with high-quality foreign institutions. The ability to transfer credits across universities will greatly simplify the process for students trying to map courses for semester exchanges.
Further, for students who are forced to drop out of college for any reason, this facility will be massively helpful, since they will be able to transfer the credits they have completed to another university whenever they are able to continue their education. As of now, these credits are useless, and a student has to start from scratch to earn a new degree, if they drop out of a course.
National Research Foundation
Despite the critical importance of research, currently, the research and innovation investment in India is, only 0.69% of GDP as compared to 2.8% in the United States of America, 4.3% in Israel and 4.2% in South Korea.
The establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF) is for the purpose of changing the research culture in India. As we can see on a global scale, the best research is done at the top global universities like MIT, etc. Through the establishment of the NRF, the policy aims to support research at universities, and enable top Indian universities to compete at a global level. The primary activities of the NRF will be to:
- Fund competitive, peer-reviewed grant proposals of all types and across all disciplines
- Encourage and facilitate research at academic institutions, particularly at universities and colleges where research is currently in a nascent stage, through mentoring of such institutions;
- Act as a liaison between researchers and relevant branches of government as well as industry,to allow breakthroughs to be optimally brought into policy and/or implementation
Multiple Entry and Exit points
The NEP 2020 aims to make the UG courses of Bachelor’s degrees multidisciplinary by allowing students to choose whether they want a 1 Year, 2 Year, 3 Year or a 4 Year course. The policy proposes a system where students will have the flexibility to join or leave a course as per their convenience. They would also be able to change degree courses if they wish to gain knowledge about a different sector in accordance to their future career needs.
Even on exiting without completion of the full duration of the program, students will have the option to re-enter the program from where they had left off, at the same or in a different institution. The NEP also offers multiple exit points in studies, which implies that one could apply for employment at different stages- different ages, different times, and different levels of education.
The features of the NEP 2020 have had a mixed response from the public. While some call it idealistic, the policy is being considered laudable by others as it demonstrates resilience and future-readiness. It looks highly ambitious to us, given the radical changes suggested. But the fact that such a structured policy was articulated shows, at the very least, an attempt to change the current structure of education in India, which was long overdue.
Most of these changes are student-friendly and aim at making our lives better. Even the most basic implementation of these ideas will be a much welcome change from the status quo, and we sincerely hope for the policy to be successfully executed.
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