Webinar Notes: Unpacking the National Education Policy

Sannam S4 organized a webinar on the newly unveiled National Education Policy for India with Dr. Leena Chandran Wadia, who was a Consultant to the NEP Committee and a Senior Fellow at ORF. These are the summary notes I took during the webinar.

Sannam S4 organized a webinar on the newly unveiled National Education Policy for India with Dr. Leena Chandran Wadia, who was a Consultant to the NEP Committee and a Senior Fellow at ORF. These are the summary notes I took during the webinar.

Unpacking the National Education Policy: Summary Notes

Dr. Leena Wadia, Senior Fellow, ORF

  • MHRD to be renamed as Ministry of Education
  • Change in education led by change in higher education
  • Access, equity, acceptability, affordability, availability and quality
  • 3 language formula
  • 5+3+3+4 à Hopefully end high stakes board exams
  • Embracing of the liberal arts education for all, breaking silos
  • Institutions overseas will have a role to play
  • Multidisciplinary Bachelor’s degree
  • Academic digital bank of credits – verification and transfer of credits made easy
  • Light but tight regulation under one body
  • Establishment of National Research Foundation
  • Study in India – Stay in India
  • Top-100 universities to operate in India
  • Acceptance of edu tech through National Edu Tech Forum
  • Integration of vocational education from school to higher ed levels
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio to go from current 26% to 50% by 2035

QnA Session

  • What is the key reform that will bring transformational changes?
  • Focus on the youngest children
  • Foundation of education is weak, children not attaining foundational literacy and numeracy
  • 3-year-old children brought into the ambit of the policy
  • Focus on early childhood literacy and numeracy
  • Did the committee debate on going from the input-oriented approach to the outcomes-oriented approach in the NEP?
  • Matter of ongoing debate, need consensus on what is meant by outcomes
  • Even with outcomes-oriented approach the system can be gamed
  • Assessment at Grade III, followed by Grade V, to identify foundational numeracy and literacy
  • Assess readiness for secondary school education at Grade VIII
  • Splitting of 10+2 to 5+3+3+4
  • Abstract learning, perceptive learning, conceptual learning to be focused
  • Framework which is flexible but focuses on foundational education
  • Length of UG/PG and Integrated Bachelor/Master’s degrees
  • Focus on liberal education – freedom to explore
  • Break the silos
  • 3 years may be too short for UG level expertise development. Optional 4th year of training is kept open. May be adopted over time
  • Not enough research experience in current Master’s degree
  • Emphasis on research, keep Master’s degree for specialization
  • Current experience of running 5 year integrated courses in IISER/IIT
  • If you did a UG degree with honors, can directly go for PhD
  • If you did a 4 year UG degree with 1 year of research, can go for PhD
  • What is the outlook for the 3 or 4 year degree in the horizon of 15-20 years?
  • 3 year UG degree remains in force for the foreseeable future
  • Bachelor’s degree is aspirational, diploma is not
  • Likely to continue for a period
  • NEP has committed to free compulsory education till 18 year age; then education may be priced
  • Will have to see how the scenarios play out over the next few years
  • There are >1000 universities in India; every district should have a higher ed institute; what mechanisms are being considered to accommodate the rise of GER form 26% to 50% using the 4 type of institute approach?
  • 4 categories of institutes: Research-intensive, Teaching-intensive, Autonomous degree granting colleges, Multidisciplinary education institutes
  • Till date, only uni are allowed to grant degrees in India, not colleges
  • Colleges are constituent or affiliated to unis
  • Research institutes may enter UG teaching as research-intensive institutes; Teaching unis may enter research as teaching-intensive institutes
  • Good colleges that have the capacity to grant degrees can become autonomous and provide degrees
  • MERU – Multidisciplinary education and research units; pace setting institutes. Like the IISERs, if they added liberal arts training in addition to science training
  • Overall will help to build research and edu capacities
  • What parliamentary approvals and processes are needed for these changes, specifically with respect to setting up of International universities in India?
  • Foreign Uni Act may need to come through parliament
  • UPA govt had a Foreign Uni bill which fizzled out as clauses related to funding generation and repatriation were contentious
  • Although it is more favorable to repatriate funds now but this battleground still lies ahead
  • Indian students and their money is anyway going overseas
  • Higher Ed Commission of India bill is being drafter and is more or less ready and may be tabled in the parliament soon to address all these issues
  • How will the top-100 universities be selected? What principles of categorization will be used?
  • Basic question: Are Indian institutes ready to compete with foreign universities for good students?
  • Institute autonomy essential to compete for good students against global standards
  • 100 is just a suggestive number, likely to be discussed in the Parliament
  • Need quality standards, cannot allow fly by night operations to set shop
  • The criteria and conditions are indicative; consensus on standards will emerge from Parliament
  • All stakeholders in edu should approach the GOI as and when apt
  • Foreign unis should bring quality, innovation
  • If good quality unis come to India, then parents are willing to spend every last penny to get the best education for their children
  • PM Modi has championed Make in India. Proposed set up of the National Research Foundation – is it an endorsement for Research in India? How will it be funded? Could institutions from outside India seek funding support from the NRF?
  • Although this has not yet been considered, international universities may access NRF funds if their work is centered in India. This is a prerogative of the NRF and its board as and when it gets established
  • NRF is going to be funded by the GOI to start with
  • Only 0.7% of the GDP is spent on research. Funding the NRF will initiate the process of expanding this
  • Over time, money will have to come in from industry sources as more collaborations get put in place
  • Overseas unis often have bursaries to support research, not the usual structure in India
  • Model of running the NRF will be the US National Science Foundation. Many countries have borrowed this model and this is a global gold standard
  • Although vocational education has never been considered a prestige level till date, the NEP has several references to this. What are the plans around this issue?
  • This perception needs to change as countries with high GER often have as much as 70% enrolment in vocational training
  • In India vocational training was 5% at the beginning of the 12th Planning Commission; likely no higher than 10% currently even with the Make in India and Upskill India movements
  • Circles back to the class/caste structures in Indian society. Kothari Commission was a strong proponent of vocational ed.
  • We have had ITIs for over 50 years, but implementation went awry
  • ITI initially established for drop outs. After ITI ed students did not have a pathway into higher ed. Led to the perception that vocational ed is for students who are academically weak
  • Not enough funding available to support learning by doing
  • To bring a culture of LBD, appreciation of skills, every child must take a vocational course with higher skill levels
  • Schools and colleges to set up local connections, expose children to ideas and opportunities
  • How will the academics be skilled for accommodating these changes?
  • This is a big challenge. There are many faculty members who will champion the changes and rise to the occasion, and there will be some who will not. This has been seen during the ed scenario during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Formal teachers’ training program is being renamed and revamped
  • Top down methods cannot work very well. Institutes should also endeavor to train their teachers using the local settings
  • Teachers should also respond and rise in response to these challenges
  • NEP emphasizes on teacher training programs and will be rolled out across the country. It looks at teachers in the entirety of their profession – from recruitment, TORs, career pathways, etc.
  • NEP efforts to reinvigorate excitement of teaching as a career; cannot forget that teachers are the main owners of the relationship with students.
  • What about the children who are already in the 10+2 system?
  • This is a pedagogical restructuring and would not be a challenge to realign the current students. No reason to initiate ASAP
  • Waiting for 2 things – national curricular framework and school curricular framework
  • Teacher ed framework will come in a year
  • School curricular framework will come from NCERT
  • Overall timeline for implementation 2-3 years
  • National curricular framework 2005 is a fantastic document
  • Plan and get ready for change; should take 1-2 years
  • Twinning arrangements are allowed in India now. Given the transnational ed efforts, did the committee look beyond India?
  • Not very familiar with this part; not involved with it deeply
  • Focus of internationalization – what is it that we can do to make it more attractive for students to study and work in India
  • Why do students leave? Compared to 37 million enrolled in India, only 300,000 leave to study abroad. Very small number
  • Lot of inputs sought and consultations taken
  • Twinning is already running in private institutions; higher ed is mostly private players – 69% enrolments and 78% institutes; many have international collaborations
  • Most models work well; may be incorporated as twinning but regulatory cholesterol, particularly in granting degrees, will need to be removed from the system

Skeptic Oslerphile. PhD Student in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Past: 1) Public Health Scientist and Program Manager, Translational Global Health Policy Research Cell, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 2) Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; 3) Senior Research Associate, Public Health Foundation of India. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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