Civil Society: A Driving Force

Conducting seminars, conferences and workshops regularly by academic institutions is essential
Representational Image
Representational Image File/ GK

Civil society is a third sector in between governance and business. This has watch and ward role to play and enjoys a prerogative to suggest measures for the growth and evolution of the society as a whole.

It has also to keep an eye upon the possible deviations that might be harmful for sustainable social health.

Civil society is a stakeholder in the education echo system. Keeping this in view the present article highlights significance of the civil society as it has not only to be watchful of the supply side stake holders but is also expected to keep an eye on the demand side stake holders in an education system.

Governance being facilitator must have taken care of the HEIs to overcome the bottlenecks in their physical and intellectual capacities by now. Of course, the UGC has come out with draft regulations but final regulations with regard to policy implementation are awaited as on date. These regulations are expected to be issued at the earliest.

However, HED at state level should have started working on Institution Development Plans (IDPs) submitted by colleges covering short-medium-long term plans.

What immediately is required is to see that short term plans are to be implemented in order to facilitate operationalization of NEP 2020 right from August 1st 2022.

It can be done by finding alternate options enabling colleges to perform hustle free under New Policy. Of course, restructuring for transformation requires substantial investment which can be made phase wise.

This transition period is very crucial, so short-term measures need to be initiated based on sharing of resources wherever required till bottlenecks in capacities installed are permanently removed.

It is appreciable that HED very recently organized a two-day conference on the focal theme NEP 2020: Preparedness and Implementation. The report on proceedings that appeared in GK 4th July, 2022 is now in public domain.

The HED should have assessed objectives of the conference with regard to preparedness for implementation. The organizers where shy to invite Chamber of Commerce and Industry, DICs, Heads of Technical Education Institutions, students, alumni, local craft organizations, civil society, etc. on a common platform for conversation with academy.

The new education policy adopts an integrated approach where different stakeholders are provided a wider canvas to share their preparations for implementation of the Policy.

This article subscribes to the report on proceedings vis-a-vis theoretical discussions that have now the least scope. The conceptual frame of the policy has been under discussion for past more than half a decade.

A simple argument put forth is that panel experts/subject-matter specialists should have engaged participants through case studies exhibiting strategies identified and models designed for implementation of the policy. However, preparedness for implementation has to be focus of any workshop hence forth.

This article also suggests that the construction of focal themes should be arrived at after due thought like preparedness for implementation rather than preparedness and implementation, research for development, restructuring for transformation, and so on.

As per media reports the only beauty of the conference was the key note address presented by an ace bureaucrat that pushed guardians of academy to the back seat.

The first step for implementation has been initiated with the issuance of notification for common academic calendar in sync with national academic calendar. However, there are miles to go for which preparations are yet to be made.

There has been a mismatch between what industry demands and what academy produces because of the disconnect between the two. The industry has been complaining that the pass outs from HEIs are not equipped with adequate skills. It is also a fact that only five percent of students as per the 12th five year plan survey were skilled in India.

This figure is at the lowest ebb when compared with some select countries where the figure ranges from 50% to 90%. The academic institutions have been producing shelf items which can be analyzed under A B C categories like fast moving, slow moving and nonmoving items respectively.

The C or non-moving items find their place generally in drudgery jobs. The present policy provides an opportunity to industry to have pass outs available on-demand with its due participation in developing students for utility oriented work force/leadership role.

Further, much has been talked about academy-industry interface in yesteryears but with no concrete outcome. The fact is also substantiated by Prof Satish Deshpande in his article in Indian Express dated 6th July, 2022 as he says, “…four decades of neoliberal restructuring of the global economy have broken the link between higher education and employment”.

This disconnect is being bridged up when HEIs are asked to engage with National Skill Development Corporation and other technical institutes for internship and apprenticeship for students towards their employability.

To conclude, civil society is a driving force in a democratic set up to effect corrections wherever required. Thus, it is suggested that:

Conducting seminars, conferences and workshops regularly by academic institutions is essential being pedagogical tools for research sharing. However, the deliberations shall always be focused and directly related to the well thought over themes;

Organising brain storming sessions in each and every department of an HEI where every teacher is expected to contribute his/her bit in the laying out of a road map for the transaction of academic programs should be a regular feature.

Now the time has come to highlight special features of models developed by the faculty at individual and institutional levels with regard to preparedness for implementation of the policy enabling them to enter into the classroom on 1st August, 2022 with something substantial and different;

Organising national level conferences on NEP 2020 implementation by various colleges should entertain all abstracts/papers to be a part of conference souvenir. However, the papers dealing with application part of NEP 2020 may be selected for presentation.

Discussing on merit models designed and developed with a wide range of functions like infrastructure model based on resource sharing, content delivery model, evaluation model, FDP model, student development model, industry expectation model and so on for implementation of NEP 2020 shall find a space on the campus during forthcoming academic activities.

Encouraging participation of experts from manufacturing and service sector should be an inalienable part of academic bodies for their effective and significant contribution. An integrated approach is to be adopted by engaging all these stakeholders to be prepared for playing their respective roles towards implementation of the policy;

Publishing of articles in dailies, magazines and journals on the policy implementation besides teachers by all other stakeholders would benefit mutually from a pool of diverse ideas;

Asking for stoppage, by some people, of seminars/workshops and writing articles would lead to a paradoxical situation. This encourages those who are not interested in these academic activities. At the same time this discourages and demotivates those who present papers and share thoughts through their writings.

Lastly, in a democratic setup to ensure rule of law a vibrant civil society plays a significant role.

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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