National Educational Policy (NEP) – 2020 was adopted by Union Cabinet on July 29, 2020 replacing the National Policy on Education, 1986. The vision of the new policy is to change education system into modern, progressive and equitable one befitting 21st century requirements and beyond. The policy aims to transform country's education system through execution in totality by 2030. It is a welcome change that will transform the education system of the country to be at a par with global standards. Definitely the execution of this policy will ensure developments and changes in the education system it envisages. The present write up thus focus on execution of this policy with regard to certain dimensions. Of course, this execution will take place in phases as it is not possible to implement it in one-go.
One of the distinguishing features of the policy is that it abolishes the century old compartmentalization of knowledge in terms of different streams like Sciences, Social Sciences Humanities etc. The focus of the policy is on multidisciplinary approach across all academic disciplines. This will enable creative and innovative combinations of subjects for study, overcoming the boundaries and providing new possibilities for life-long learning. Now, a learner has an open choice to identify any course of study form any academic discipline for his study to complete a degree programme. The degree will not be categorized as B.Sc., B.Com., or B.A., but simply a bachelor's programme. Here, some constraints may be confronted with, while offering a choice because in college sector all the colleges don't offer every subject so it may not be an open choice within college but an open choice within the system. A learner may obtain credits of a course of study offered by another college to avail this opportunity of selecting any course of study for his academic pursuit in any branch of knowledge. In this multidisciplinary learning, Cluster Universities – an amalgam of different constituent colleges are expected to provide a suitable way out as students can choose any course of study offered in a Cluster University. Concept of Meta-Universities will also make a paradigm shift in the implementation of the new policy. Cluster Universities and Meta-Universities will serve as platforms to cooperate collaborate, and ensure optimal utilization of the resources, physical and intellectual, so as to enhance learning and innovation based on the principle of synergy. Like there has been a practice that University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia offer M.Sc. in Mathematical Education under Meta-University concept. The students are free to obtain credits from both the universities to complete their program. The system has its strength to fulfill this requirement; however the players have to play with all prudence and wisdom in identifying course combinations.
The policy talks about the system of multiple parameters for assessment and evaluation. The 360 degree evaluation and assessment reflects a complete cycle both horizontal and vertical. It is multidimensional and multi aspectual. Until now, a learner was evaluated by teacher only but present policy provides an opportunity that different stake holders have a role in assessing a learner including assessment by learner himself, by peer-group and the society of which he a part. The multidimensional performance report or score card will reflect each learner's uniqueness like his cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. It will not only reflect intellectual capability attained by the learner but emotional stability as well, as revealed by the behavior of a learner or his interpersonal relation that is why peer-assessment of a student is essential. It will not only reflect scholastic achievements, however it includes non-scholastic attainments of a learner as well and the values and the skills gained by a learner. In this way, this write up extends the canvass of assessment beyond 360 to 720 degree. There was an informal practice, a B.Ed. examinee after appearing in the papers evaluated his performance and at the completion of the examination, he prepared a complete score card of all the papers he appeared in, thus assessed himself and submitted this score card to the assistant controller examinations in the university. At the declaration of the result, a difference of 5 marks was observed. When the policy tells about 360 degree evaluation it means that all the stake holders are provided an opportunity to evaluate a learner on equal footing and arrive at the total score based on mean score. Most of the students used to assess themselves but it was not accounted for. However, under this policy this assessment will be a component in the aggregate evaluation.
The policy also focuses on skill development at college level. This write up first draws a line of distinction between hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are to be gained at school level right from class 6th. These skills need specific workshops, so School department has to work in tandem with ITIs and the polytechnics to fulfill these requirements. There has been wisdom in assigning School Education and Skill Development under one administrative control at present in J & K. However, at college level the focus has to be on soft skills, at least 20 soft skills have been identified and the learners must enjoy an open choice to select any one or two to be a part of their progamme. These skills can be imparted only by the professionals who have obtained extensive exposure in imparting these skills. The academicians who are interested in imparting these skills shall be groomed by UGC-HRD centers. The training of trainers has to be innovative and modern based on activity based learning, training in groups, role plays and meeting challenges and with constant feedback. These skills are learnt better in roundtables rather than usual classroom setting. Thus, HRD centers have now an added role to play. The physical labs, spiritual labs, business clubs, literary societies, language labs and so on are to be strengthened so that students stay in colleges and are engaged in practical and practicums.
The write up is open for debate and discussion so that more aspects of this policy document are deliberated upon in light of their execution, thus to facilitate formulation of program of action. LOCF 2018 will also be helpful in this regard.
(Dr. Shah Ubaid-ullah is Assistant Professor (Biotechnology) at Govt. Degree College, Baramulla. Dr Nazir Ahmad Gilkar is a former Commerce teacher. The views expressed are their own)