NEP (New Education Policy) 2020 is estimated to revolutionize the Indian age-old education system to meet up the growing challenges in the dynamic world.
The policy primarily focuses upon:-
- The creative potential of each individual.
- Access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background.
- Making education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centered, discussion-based, flexible, and enjoyable.
Without overelaborating the age categorization of the students and the exact details of the curriculum yet to be introduced, there are critical areas to be analyzed and addressed to effectively achieve all the above-stated objectives.
Education in India
The pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (Pragyaa), and truth (Satya) was always considered in Indian thought and philosophy as the highest human goal.
The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge as preparation for life in this world or life beyond schooling, but for the complete realization and liberation of the self.
This concept of ancient education has been elaborated in several relevant articles published before this.
Also read – Undoctored education slaving the youth aspirations: remembering the Gurukul.
Thereby the present discussion is confined to locating the shortcomings in the present education system.
Origin of English education
The present system of English education is credited to the British politician Thomas Babington Macaulay, who initially started the concept of government funding (₹1 lakh in 1835) to scientific education.
This was further expanded by Charles Wood Dispatch who introduced the concept of government and aided schools in 1854. These schools were (are) completely or partially run by the government (even at present).
The inception of flaw
The manifestation of malpractices that crippled every domain didn’t spare the educational sector, the Post-British era government had a maiden task of restructuring the entire nation, which couldn’t focus on the pointillistic creativity needed in education.
This was further exasperated by corruption these days (which is yet prevalent). Thereby the earlier education policies of 1986 and 1992 made no significant progress to address the need for modern education.
Issues in the schooling process to meet the requirements of NEP
There is no exception for either the Government schools or the Private schools to evade their taints, there are a substantial number of flaws in both of them;
As per the ASER 2018 report 35% of the students of rural private schools in grade 5 cannot read a basic grade 2 level paragraph.
And about 60% of the private schools across India don’t reach metric grade/classes up to Board Examination.
Further, several private schools are either unlicensed or under-licensed, operating in high-density urban areas without proper basic facilities for the students.
These schools have affordable fee structures but compromise on the quality of teaching, lab facilities, and sanitation for the students. And most of us have the experience of studying in these schools.
This is very certain in thickly populated urban areas, where there is no space for parking, expecting a playground for a school is insensible.
As per a survey, conducted in 2016, 62% of private schools (and an equal number of government schools) in India don’t have a playground. Particularly in cities like Bangalore (Karnataka), 1 in 3 schools doesn’t have a playground.
Further, there are non-geo-tagged schools in some loutish areas without proper standards.
This school cannot be located on Google maps but is seen in street view.
A more reprehensible fact is that a liquor shop is located within 80m from the school. Furthermore, there are several provisional stores and bakeries which can be witnessed just opposite this school that sell cigarettes and other tobacco products.
This is eluding the location records to breech ban on sale of alcohol & tobacco from 100m within the school.
While it is presumed that certain private schools are under efficient, there are a higher number of Government schools in the race to contradict this.
The Government school teachers themselves prefer not to study their children in a Government school, as they are well aware of the ground reality of slackness.
Other general issues
As per a recent survey involving 780 Government Schools in 13 states, key facilities (including toilets/ drinking water) were severely missing or in a savage condition.
In the survey, less than 5% of schools possess all the 9 facilities mentioned in the RTE act. Further, around 30% of schools had no toilets (this has the main reason for dropping out of girl students), and many of the schools didn’t have running electricity.
Washroom / Toilet
All over India over 13.3% of schools lack girls’ toilets and 8.8% correspond to boys’ with Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya performing worst (short is above 30%)
An average of 9% of schools in India don’t have access to drinking water, with Meghalaya performing worst (76% of schools lack drinking water).
An average of 26% of schools lack access to electricity.
An average of 35% of schools lack proper classrooms.
Internet and library
An average of 34% of schools had no library and similarly, 81% of schools don’t have internet access.
Imbalance of student-teacher ratio and student-classroom ratio
All India’s average student-teacher ratio stands at 27.25:1 across all grades, which is acceptable against the recommended standard of 30:1. However, the image goes skewed in higher secondary where the student-teacher ratio is 41:1.
And there are states like Uttar Pradesh, lacking faculties with only 1 teacher for 60 students, and Bihar having 80 students in a single classroom, needing attention.
Mismatch in the number of primary and high schools
The 2013–14 edition of the District Information System for Education (DISE) report reflects skewed figures in primary and secondary schools.
The primary schools are five times greater in number than the secondary schools. The worst performer in this regard is Bihar with a ratio of 13.3:1.
Lack of qualified teachers
The total number of vacancies in Indian schools stands at 11,16,846 and about 5% of primary schools and 4% of higher primary schools lack qualified teachers.
Issues in Anganwadis
- There are huge cases of food adulteration, as recently reported in 2019 Around 2,000 anganwadis in four taluks across India were supplied with adulterated food.
- The vacancies of staff in some states are more than 80%; Further, in over 12 states, more than 25% of Anganwadis lacked a supervisor.
They are Puducherry (85%), West Bengal (68%), Bihar (58%), Tamil Nadu (55%), Daman and Diu (50%), Uttar Pradesh (48%), Tripura (42%), Punjab (37%) and Rajasthan (36%).
- 45% of Anganwadi centers are still functioning from kutcha or mud-brick, buildings, and in at least five states, more than 15% of anganwadis don’t have a toilet.
- Most Anganwadi workers are not well-literate and their skill is limited.
- Anganwadis have an insufficient learning environment. Only a limited number of AWCs have facilities like a creche, and good quality recreational and learning facilities for preschool education.
Demotivating Service Conditions
The teachers in private schools are hugely unpaid or underpaid depending on the management.
While it is asserted that education in India is a non-profit business (that is to say, the profit earnt must be spent to improvise and not to pocket), most of the top positions in these institutions are held by family members circumventing the profit.
And most of the teachers suffered the worst during the COVID lockdowns either without proper salaries or losing their jobs.
This is also reflected in Anganwadi workers where most of the ASHAs and AWWs did not receive months’ worth of wages since the lockdown.
Areas of focus needed
As per the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012–2017), only a very small percentage age group of 19–24 (less than 5%) received formal vocational education. Whereas in countries such as the USA the number is 52%, in Germany 75%, and in South Korea, it is as high as 96%. This reflects the address needed.
GDP allocation on research
Despite this critical importance of research, the research and innovation investment in India is, at the current time, only 0.69% of GDP as compared to 2.8% in the United States of America, 4.3% in Israel and 4.2% in South Korea.
GDP allocation on education
Despite of recommended allocation of 6% of GDP on education, as envisaged by the 1968 Policy, (reiterated in the Policy of 1986). The current public expenditure on education is around 3.1% of the GDP.
NEP might be completely viable by 2030
By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree that teaches a range of knowledge content and pedagogy and includes strong practicum training in the form of student-teaching at local schools.
This needs huge reforms in the teachers’ training and graduating curriculum.
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