NEP 2020: Student Empowerment and Accountability

The beauty of NEP 2020 is that it encompasses all the initiatives | in order to empower students and make them accountable too
NEP 2020: Student Empowerment and Accountability
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NEP 2020 empowers students. Students are on the demand side of education ecosystem. This article classifies education stakeholders into two groups based on supply side and demand side. The supply side stakeholders include teachers (preparedness), alumni (contribution) and governance (facilitator). On the other hand demand side stake holders comprise students (empowerment/accountability), parents (support), employers/industry (expectations) and civil society (eagerness). Until now supply side stake holders used to activate demand side stake holders. The magnificence of NEP 2020 is that focus is on demand side stake holders who activate supply side stake holders. The objective has been to accomplish betterment of society at large. This is similar to accreditation process where focus is on outcome (output) rather than effort (input). Of course, quality effort is important, but enriched processing is more important to add value and result in desired higher outcome. In our earlier write-ups teacher preparedness and alumni contribution published in GK have been discussed in detail.

Empowerment should be allied with accountability. Disconnect between the two may lead to chaos and confusion in an institution or society. Students empowered should be accountable for achieving preset goals and academic growth leading to success in their career. The article published by Prof. Geer M Ishaq (GK: 18th June, 2022) explains goal setting/goal achieving in a comprehensive way with due support of evidences from available literature. Goals shall be SMART (specific-measurable-attainable-relevant-time bound). Similarly, an empowered/accountable student is also SMART (systematic-motivated-accountable-responsive-transparent).

Of course, from time to time, several measures have been initiated to empower students by introducing vocational/skill oriented courses, work based add-on courses, choice based credit system (CBCS), learning outcome based curriculum framework (LOCF) right from National Policy on Education (NPE), in operation from 1986. The yield has not been obtained at desired level. However, the beauty of NEP 2020 is that it encompasses all these initiatives in order to empower students and make them accountable too. The intent is to churn employable pass outs-knowing and capable for doing as well. Empowerment is a tool for inspiration when students enjoy academic freedom in an open environment. NEP 2020-a sixty five page, concise but comprehensive document- offers at least 800 suggestions for implementation. The policy primarily focus on a shift from routine to unique, static to dynamic and similarity to differentiation.

Furthermore, there has been switch over from mind filling (rote learning) to mind forming (critical thinking); rigidity (course combination/forced choice) to flexibility (course basket/open choice); A to Z approach (teacher centered pedagogy/lecturing) to Z to A approach (student centric pedagogy/conversation); lopsided (content focus) to balanced approach (curriculum management); three year degree programme (knowledge dissemination only) to four year degree programme (Knowledge dissemination plus creation/research); 90 degree assessment (assessing cognitive ability) to 360 degree assessment (evaluating entire spectrum of competencies); compartmentalization (discipline specific course structure) to convolution (multidisciplinary course structure); marks sheet (simple/marks based) to score card (comprehensive/on-off campus academic credit based); affiliated colleges (under university academic control) to autonomous colleges (degree granting under self-academic control); equity (delivery of content/practice based on need wherever required) to equality (delivery of content/engagement in practice leading to egalitarian society); and so on.

Empowered students are free to offer their feedback with respect to different processes an institution is engaged in. The policy empowers a student but makes him accountable for presenting fair feedback. Accountability will restrain a student from indulging in unfair and unethical practices.

Empowered students are engaged in the process of making decisions as a variety of options are available to them. They act upon these decisions and it strengthens their academic work culture. The curriculum is managed in such a fashion that it provides scope for integrating academics with independent thought process, competition within and leadership skill set. They work together to solve real-life problems. They don’t live in ivory towers but in a real world.

To give voice to students in decision making process their participation in corporate life of institution is very essential. They should be provided an opportunity to perform on academic and administrative committees in an institution as members preferably member secretaries. They should be engaged in secretarial practices in all these committees to be trained in a specific skill set. Their participation in board of studies, academic council and the like- where they will be encouraged to express their standpoint on important academic/research matters. Responsive and accountable students always make a distinction between value added and non-value added activities. They manage their time/energy and engage in such activities that add value to the process. They skip activities that have a tendency to erode value. Thus they are not interested in futile media channel programmes and social media debates that have no relevance in a sensible and civilized society. This is empowerment in the real sense of word.

An empowered student is expected to make a proper work-life balance, a balance between physical-digital knowledge resources and on-off campus learning. Maxim Gorkhay in his book “My Universities” writes that field experience and practical exposure off the campus contribute to a greater extent in ones learning.

The swing should not be tilted towards only one source at the cost of another. The interaction between fellow students and teachers is essential. Of course, there should be proper interface with select digital resources. They should distribute their time in such a way between serious study and leisure as to make life enjoyable and stress free.

There should be zero tolerance for under or nonperformance because investment made by the society in students is expected to result in adequate academic/professional returns. The performance budgeting as propounded by Prof Hoover measures physical output per rupee of expenditure made. Thus, due care of hard earned money of tax payers should be taken care of.

Some activities leading to empowerment of on-going students may be conducted, as for instance:

» Workshops for writing/presentation/negotiating skills with heterogeneous participation may be organised under the guidance of subject matter specialists. The participation may be from matric student to Ph. D Scholar, male-female and in service-retiree. This provides a common platform to learn based on merit (youth) and experience (age). Such workshops on other focal themes may also be conducted. It is rightly said that child is the father of man.

» There should be a day dedicated to students in the internal academic calendar of an institution called Students’ Day. They shall be provided an opportunity to govern and run the affairs of institution that day. They shall perform in different capacities (Principal, H.O.Ds; Teachers, DSW, DPE, S.O., Accountant, Clerk, Librarian, Lab Astt; Driver, Peon- rather all positions). This way they shall be given a feeling of empowerment and accountability. The real work force shall perform as silent observers to watch performing of activities of these designated players.

» It is highly encouraging that the HED is launching a scheme for the best performing HEI. The canvass of this scheme may be widened by including a good number of students based on their exemplary performance in all areas of activities they are engaged in. They may be presented awards the memory of which they carry throughout their life. This can be a step towards empowerment based on outstanding performance.

To conclude, student academic empowerment/accountability leads to interactions in which they acquire relative control of the learning process based on independent sense of belonging to their institution. The campus will present a different look after operationalization of NEP 2020. The empowered/accountable students, thus, are productive-employable-responsible citizens. Hans Georg Gadamer sums up his article titled Education is Self-Education, “I still maintain that the humane capabilities are the ones to stress if one is to educate and to cultivate one self, and that only then when we succeed in that, will we also survive without damage from the progress of technology and technicity”. (Journal of philosophy of education Vol. 35, No. 4, 2001).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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