Vedic-verse to Meta-verse, Miracle or Mirage

NEP 2020, a policy of a century for a century
"The National Education Policy reclaimed the Vedas and the Vedic Maths and their wisdom." [Representational Image]
"The National Education Policy reclaimed the Vedas and the Vedic Maths and their wisdom." [Representational Image]File/ GK

Mythology is a wonderful world that one can escape to when her mind needs a break from daily life. Fables are a much-loved part of folklore and one of the most enduring forms of folk literature. Almost every country has its collection of fables that has become an important part of its literary history.

Once there was a ruler of an empire in ancient India, who had three sons. The king, named Sudarshan, was quite intelligent and powerful, yet his sons were not a source of pride to him. The sons had no inclination or ability to learn anything.

They were quite unimaginative, slow, and rather stupid. Kings Council suggested to him that rather than having the princes learn scriptures and texts, it would be better to directly teach them the essential attributes conveyed by those scriptures and texts. the most likely man to take on that task was Vishnu Sharma, an aged scholar.

The method Vishnu devised was to gather and adapt ancient stories that had been told in India. He then created an interesting, entertaining work of five parts which he called the Five Principles and that became the Panchatantra. Pancha means “five,” and tantra means “treatises.”

Like The Separation of Friends, The Gaining of Friends, War and Peace, Loss of Gains, Considered Action/Rash Deeds. These five principles are a succession of animal fables where each fable is woven into the next fable. The princes learned and became wise, and ruled the kingdom after their father.

From the five principles of Panchtantra and five fingers and toes to Punjab, the land of five rivers and the most common number of petals in a flower, the mystical five stare at us all around, with Panchabhootas (space, air, fire, water and earth) to Panchatanmatras (touch, form, smell, taste and sound) from Panchajnanedriyas (ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin) to Panchakarmendriyas (speech), hands/dexterity, feet/locomotory, rectum/excretory and genitals/reproductory) from Panchaprana to Pandavas, from Panchakanya to Panchayatana from Panchamrita and panchakarma to Panchatantra, there was a great significance of the number five in ancient religion. In ancient India, education was a medium for not just acquiring knowledge but also for realising and liberating oneself.

Enabling that vision, the policy of 2020 plans to research, enhance and put these rich legacies to new uses through the education system and aims at transforming education systems in schools and higher education institutions based on the significance of number five as its pillars or principles: affordability, accessibility, quality, equity and accountability. NEP also aims at making education continual learning.

National education policy apart from what is undoubtedly apparent in its documentation has vibrant objectives which are in perfect harmony with the Government’s previous initiatives since 2014 like Self – reliant India (make in India, skill India, start-up India and latest being Atma-nirbhar India), Sustainable development goals (SDG 2.4 of quality education), Education as Economy booster (knowledge economy), Internationalisation of Higher Education (exchanging Credits), Digitalised pedagogy and classrooms (Digital infrastructure and NETF), A layered Accreditation system (online distance learning and Autonomy to HEI) and Equipping teachers with latest technology and education methodology (pre-service and on job Teacher Education from Digital Training to 50 hours Continuous Professional Development), everything compliments the enterprise.

The National Education Policy reclaimed the Vedas and the Vedic Maths and their wisdom. The Policy has brought to the vanguard historical references to our ancient Universities and education system and brought it back to Indian education claiming a scaffold for all the futuristic and innovative objectives of education.

The magnificence of ancient universities is being restored to its former glory by the NEP 2020. Shiny over some of the references and prerequisites to go back to ancient times to reconstruct the future, forces us to turn back to the chronicled pages of the past and comprehend and appreciate the establishment of these Universities and their functioning and revisit the concept of residential schooling as Gurukuls. Just to Seize a few learnings from the perspective of the modern-day educator.

From courses apart from the Vedas to Upanishads to courses ain Religion, Law, Medicine, Astronomy, Science, Theology Grammar, and others. A comparative study, research, and innovation, Philosophy, Theology or Logic, Language skills to pedagogy, arguments, the study of cases, guest talks, debates, group discussions, experiential learning and examination based on tasks, projects and assignments surely prepare the soils of our futuristic Policy on Education and Programme of action.

As we know the biggest paradigm shift that NEP 2020 took is the shift from content mastery to competency mastery. A similar kind of competency-based learning helped the princes of Panchatantra to lead a successful life in that era.

The 5+3+3+4 edifice recommended in the new policy is not a physical reform but is more about reform in the curricular aspects and pedagogy. It gives flexibility; the focus is on a multi-disciplinary approach; and more importantly, there will be no sealed sections.

Learners can select subjects, according to their choice. From a pedagogical point of view, it gives importance to the development of skills and competencies, particularly learning life skills. Prior, the emphasis remained more on mastering the content, as learners were supposed to score good marks in the examination.

But The focus of NEP 2020, however, is on the development of the competencies of a learner. Because it has been putative that to flourish in this world of the 21st Century, endurance manoeuvres alone will not be enough, Learners need special skills, which have to be taught and nurtured from a very early stage.

The traditional way of education will equip kids to survive in the world, but the 21st century demands special skills which will equip them to master every aspect of life, from Learning skills to Literacy Skills, from life skills to digital skills towards the challenges of uncertain probabilities the future holds. In ancient times these skills might have been mastered by the Vedic studies or Panchatantra and today we again need ways to develop 21st Century skills in our learners.

The NEP 2020 has done well by loudly recognising the challenges faced by gendered categories, transgenders, girls, minorities and children with special needs.

It has also done well in terms of proposing a series of laudable steps including the establishment of Special Education Zones (SEZs) to address the structural challenges of education in inaccessible regions. Yet, the new policy is ambitious and errs on multiple fronts.

But the proper implementation will make it worth a go as the year 2021 saw a bundle of measures being espoused for the implementation of the NEP, with differing results at the early and higher education levels and in 2022 SARTHAQ defines activities associated with each recommendation of the NEP 2020. It delineates 297 tasks, identifies the agencies responsible for taking up each one of them, and also specifies the timelines and intended outcomes of these tasks.

As per the National Education Policy, 2020, four National Curriculum Frameworks (NCFs) have to be developed. These are National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCFECCE) National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) and National Curriculum Framework for Adult Education (NCFAE) In this regard, all states/UTs are preparing their State Curriculum Frameworks (SCFs) passing through the process of district level consultations, mobile app survey and development of position papers by the State Focus Groups in 25 areas/themes identified as per the NEP, 2020. These draft SCFs provide inputs to the development of NCFs. 

Reforms in school curriculum to allow vocational skill training, preparation of holistic report cards and local language as a medium of instruction are part of the initial reforms. But SARTHAQ, NIPUN Bharat, VIDYA PRAVESH (A School Preparation Module), Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat, Bhasha Sangam, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat are the initiatives that are being run to implement NEP 2020 in letter and spirit. However, it will have its challenge in terms of funding, resources and huge scalability.

Many features have been inserted in NEP 2020 from the Vedic verses and fables of ancient times to prepare our learner for the virtual world of Metaverse in future times using the ground of existing digital infrastructure of blended technology, whether learner escapes in the wonderworld of mythology and fables or explore the virtual world in Metaverse just not to take an escape or break from daily life but to cater all the competencies required in 21st Century life, NEP 2020 gives learner imagination and technology, competency and framework to visualise and reconnoitre the mythos and supernatural world of virtual reality, artificial Reality and Augmented reality. 

The Author is senior academic officer at JKSCERT and divisional coordinator school leadership academy

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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