TAKEAWAYS FOR PUNJAB IN NEW EDUCATION POLICY
New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a radical document. The challenge is how to implement it, and how the Punjab government can implement it while following an independent line in the best interest of people of state.
Committee for Implementation
Punjab government must constitute a committee to suggest effective implementation of NEP 2020. NEP offers many good things in principle but devil lies in details.
Higher education commission of India (HECI) and Need for Education Federalism UGC and AICTE shall become thing of past. HECI shall be single regulator for all kind of universities and colleges. Only BCI (for Law) and MCI (for Medical) shall remain relevant in respective field.
Currently UGC’s position on final term exams and states opposition fore-grounded one fact that states have little say in education
federalism. Now when HECI comes into power, states must ensure that they have some permanent say in HECI. It should be remembered that HECI shall be more powerful body than UGC.
End of discipline based Apartheid
NEP recommends bulldozing the walls between disciplines and demolishing all hierarchies among academic, vocational and extra-curricular. In a way, it announces the end of educational varna asharam which treated students of science, commerce and arts differently and treated vocational as inferior to academic, which treated curricular as superior to extra curricular.NEP is going to be a great leveler, if implemented with care and planning.
From Static to Mobile, From Rigid to Flexible
Flexibility in attaining higher education is the key focus of NEP. Punjab specially needs this flexibility because youth here do not believe in spending long continuous years at campus after 10+2. Multiple entry and exit points (certificate after one year, diploma after two, degree after three, hons. after four)and Academic Bank of Credits shall make it possible to leave and join campus at will and earn one’s degree in more flexible way. Now the challenge before Punjab shall be to implement it because here academic bureaucracy is highly rigid in its approach.
FOUR YEAR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM
Introduction of four year degree program as suggested by NEP shall be especially helpful to Punjabi youth who wish to study abroad. International system does not recognize three year degree in a favourable manner.
Multi-discipline and end of the labels
NEP encourages specialized universities (agriculture, technical, sports, law) to adopt multidisciplinary approach and offer subjects other than their core areas. Universities confined to STEM should go STEAM way. This will be a challenge in Punjab because specialized universities have been living in a cocooned culture. It will be a great service to the students as we see that students studying engineering are making great achievements in art, literature, journalism, startups etc. The challenge shall be to make sure that students do not become victim to the apathy, authorities usually display towards any change.
Punjab and the Challenge of Gross Enrolment Ratio
NEP plans to increase GER in higher education up to 50% in next 15 years. It will be a challenge for Punjab due to IELTS culture. At the same time, Punjab needs to seriously address the issue of less number of graduates in rural population and especially among Dalit sections. Punjab with its 3.02% graduates in rural population (18-23 years) is far behind:
Jammu and Kashmir (3.24)
(Source: Socio-economic census 2015)
Gender Inclusion Fund
NEP announces GIF. Punjab can use this fund to encourage enrolment of girls, especially rural Dalit farm workers and small peasant, landless farmers and other economic marginal sections.
Death Knell for Affiliating Colleges
NEP announces that affiliating colleges are going to be a thing of past in next 15 years. There will be either constituent colleges, or degree granting autonomous colleges. Right now we have autonomous colleges in Punjab( Khalsa College ASR etc.) but these are not degree granting colleges. How Punjab dismantles its affiliating college system in the next 15 years, is the main challenge. Majority of aided colleges and self financed colleges shall not be able to stay in business after 2035. Punjab shall face a double challenge. Unviable colleges shall closes down and at the same time there will be need to increase GER upto 50%.
Vocational Education no more an inferior choice
NEP announces that vocational education shall be integral part of mainstream education. In this case, Polytechnics and ITIs can become
more relevant service providers to students of degree colleges and secondary schools.
Indian Knowledge System
NEP announces special focus on Indian knowledge system. Students of science must learn Indian languages so that they can make use of old manuscripts describing the knowledge of medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, architecture, chemistry etc. Dr. Leitner’s book A history
of Indigenous Education in Punjab (Education under Maharaja Ranjit Singh) is much discussed document in Pakistan but policy makers in
India are totally silent on this work. Patiala state archives and other manuscript collections should not be left at the mercy of few historians. These archives have a treasure trove for traditional knowledge systems. Punjab government must form a separate committee to explore how Indian knowledge system available in Gurmukhi can be utilized in this case.
End of Bureaucratic/ academic Self isolation in Education
In the end, this policy announces that the days of water tight compartmentalization are over. Teachers must leave their comfort zone
of teaching one or two papers for the life time. Bureaucracy must also stop acting like a feudal lord acting in one’s fief. There is no coordination between Punjab school education department and Punjab higher education department. While Captain Amarinder Singh wrote a letter to the PM that Punjab can not conduct online exam for few thousand final semester students due to digital divide, secretary, school education was conducting online bi-monthly exams for one million school students. In a way, secretary school education was dismissing CM’s argument with his practice. In Punjab, the hand handling higher education does not know, what the hand handling school education is doing and vice versa is also true. NEP requires greater coordination across compartments. This will be a key challenge for Punjab.
Centre has made the policy. Cabinet has passed it. Now Punjab government must start brain storming over its implementation. History will remember how Punjab responded to such historical changes.