The New Education Policy 2020 is set to be a landmark in India’s history of education

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu  (Twitter Photo)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu (Twitter Photo)

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu’s article on New Education Policy 2020 as published in The Times Of India

The New Education Policy 2020, that will certainly be a landmark in the history of education in India, has been approved by the government after wide ranging consultations. The policy is comprehensive, holistic, far sighted and will certainly play a great role in the nation’s future growth of the nation. I must commend the TSR Subramanian Committee in 2016 and the K Kasturirangan Committee for having done a stellar job.

The policy places a welcome emphasis on a holistic, learner centred, flexible system that seeks to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society. It rightfully balances the rootedness and pride in India as well as acceptance of the best ideas and practices in the world of learning from across the globe.

I note with great satisfaction that one of its loftier goals is to bring two crore out-of-school children into the school system and reduce dropouts. Reduction in the burdensome syllabus, focus on vocational education and environmental education are crucial aspects well covered by NEP. Students will be much more empowered and have the opportunity to choose the subjects they wish to learn.

Another welcome step is an attempt to improve governance by bringing in a single regulator to look after all institutions barring medical and law colleges. The policy gives a fillip to holistic education by envisioning the convergence of science and arts streams. The focus on ethics and human and Constitutional values will go a long way in the creation of an enlightened citizenship essential for deepening our democratic roots.

The policy also expands the scope of foundational education, increasing the school-going years from 3 to 18 instead of the prevalent 6 to 14. This will enable a more holistic development of children in the formative age group of 3-6 years. Setting up a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is a much needed, timely step to improve the quality of education at the primary education level. NEP recognises the importance of nutrition to the all-round development of children and has therefore included a provision for an energy-filled breakfast, in addition to the nutritious mid-day meal, to help children achieve better learning outcomes.

A much-discussed stipulation in the new education policy stresses that the medium of instruction until at least fifth grade (preferably eight grade) will be in a regional language that is recognised as being native to India. This is a welcome step, as mother tongue plays a highly critical role in the overall development of the child. Mother tongue, which a child hears right from the moment he or she is born, provides personal identity, connects with culture and is crucial for cognitive development.

Education in mother tongues will also help children develop an interest in regional literature and culture and help them understand better the customs and traditions that are indigenous to a particular region. I am glad that the policy also places great emphasis on classical languages of India.

India is a large and diverse country with a cornucopia of languages, dialects and mother tongues. A number of developed countries in the world educate their children in mother tongues. When world leaders call on me, they prefer to speak in their mother tongues even though they are proficient in English. Great scholars prefer to write and speak in their mother tongues. There is a certain pride associated with speaking one’s mother tongue and we must inculcate this sense of pride in our children.

In spite of the stress laid on regional languages, the policy states clearly and unequivocally that there would be no imposition of any language and no opposition to any language. This is indeed a welcome move.

This education policy was long overdue. Now focus needs to shift to its efficient and effective implementation. States and the Union government have to work together to make the change happen in the classrooms. I am confident that if implemented well, this policy is the way forward to make India a thriving knowledge hub.

While NEP aims to increase public investment in education from the current 4.3% to 6% of GDP, we must have a time frame for this to be implemented.

I hope that all the states will lend their whole hearted support in the effective implementation of this policy.

(Written by M Venkaiah Naidu as published in The Times Of India)