The New Education Policy (NEP) has seen steps like the focus on early childhood education and on promoting teaching in the mother tongue till middle school. These steps are being seen as good steps for school education.
The increased importance of vocational education at the school level has been garnering different views.
The Nursery- Class II has been defined as pre-primary by NEP, Class III-V as primary, class VI-VIII as middle school, and classes IX-XII as secondary education. Anita Rampal who is the former Dean, Faculty of Education at Delhi University said that the NEP has segregated Class I and II with the Anganwadi education.
She said that this step carries the danger of the two school years being minimalized. Some institutions might consider them as mere play years. When provided with resources, children aged five and six years can handle things in challenging ways.
The principal of Mount Abu Public School, Rohini, Jyoti Arora called the NEP a progressive policy that gives proper guidelines on comprehensive and continuous evaluation. The push to vocational education has made some experts unsure.
Rampal said that the policy document wants school and college education to ultimately have 50% of students going into vocational education. He also explained that vocational education is not as creative and meaningful in India as in other countries.
She pointed out that in India, the vocational courses are not designed by educationists, but by the industry. Because of the clubbing of the four years, it seems at though telling students that they can opt for vocational education if they are not good at something.
However, the principals of other schools believe that vocational education is a step in the right direction. Ameeta Mulla of Springdale’s School, Pusa Road, said that NEP has dignified vocational education. It has provided opportunities to children and there are many professions children can take up.
Wattala also believes that an end to rote learning and the obsession with marks will be brought about by NEP. The principal of Springdale’s said that since learning will be experiential and holistic, it will bring about a closure of the coaching institutes. Inquiry and research will be the basis of education. Children will develop a scientific temper as they will be catered to in a personalized manner.
The principal also said that currently, there is a huge gap between the type of children who are emerging from our education system and what the industry wants.
Director Ahlcon Group of Schools, Ashok Pandey, said that NEP not only talks about acquiring degrees but also of community building. He also said that India is a signatory of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The NEP will help India in the achievement of the fourth goal which is to quality education for all and lifelong learning.
The Former vice-chancellor of National University for Educational Planning, R Govinda said that according to him, the NEP has not bridged the disconnect between the ground reality in India and the system.
He also said that the implementation of the mother tongue and supporting early childhood education sounds good to the ear. But it has to be taken into consideration that what has worked and what has not. The attainment of learning for all children in school is the most important thing. The policy does not describe how they are going to change the system.
Govinda said that an organization being set up at the national level will not make the village boy learn better. He said that there is a disconnect of some sort with the reality, and that is what bothers him.
He said that there is a need for structural reforms but how can the structure be changed when the existing system does not work? Organizational strengthening is the need of the hour.