On 13th of August, 2020 a Webinar on New Education Policy 2020: Bridging Policy and Practice was organized by Department of Economics, Christ (Deemed to be University), Central Campus, Bangalore. The webinar was delivered by Dr Chetan Singai currently a Deputy Director and Associate Professor Ramaiah Public Policy Center (RPPC), at Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bengaluru and a Member, Draft committee National Education Policy constituted by MHRD, GoI. The topic of the webinar is very crucial and apt, as India has taken the first step to structurally transform its Education System.
Dr Singai started his talk by outlining the various concerns with the Indian Education system. He touched upon issues like equality, equity, autonomy, accountability and governance that are important to support the Indian education system. He also referred to various committees who envisaged to fix some of the loopholes but could not deliver as some of their approaches were not holistic but rather fragmented. He recalled how Indian academic fraternity referred to Indian education as a product of half-baked capitalism and half-baked socialism.
He stressed upon the need of pushing the target of Gross Enrollment ratio from the current 25% to 50% in Higher Education. India needs to let go of its rigidity in disciplinary boundaries and adopt a flexible approach where the students will have the choice to opt for any combinations of subjects. He opined that India has to adopt merit and research-based learning approach so that the innovative ability among the youngsters be pushed.
After outlining umpteen number of challenges in the Indian Education system, he set out to give how the National Education Policy 2020 looked at these issues as an opportunity. The committed recognized the teachers to be central and adopted a light but tight policy under NEP-2020. He mentioned how regulation is relaxed and greater autonomy is given to institutions. He listed various initiatives taken to support and promote quality teaching-learning experience and underscored the importance of its implementation.
The talk was very well received by the participants (about 550 attended the talk). There were many questions which Dr Sigai very patiently answered and discussed. Some of the interesting questions were
• Does this policy have some kind of mechanism to tackle issues such as the pandemic? Since there is a lot of limitation in terms of the different sections of the societies trying to attain education, can such concerns be also introduced in the policy?
• Will allowing schools to be profit-making organisations lead to world-class investments in the education sector? Does NEP highlight this?
• Will the changes proposed for IITs, IIMs to move towards liberal arts, lead to lower quality of education in top institutes as well
• Do you think India has the required/sound infrastructure to compete with the global standards of education?
• Is there some kind of mechanism to control the fee structures across the country in the new scheme so that education can be accessed by all, be it private or public university?
• With master program reduced to one year program and MPhil removed, don't you think that students enrolled in the PhD program will be less prepared for research?
Dr. Singai’s talk was very informative, analytical and laid a path for further research. Before ending the session, Dr Singai beseeched the participants to read the policy document, critically analyze, write, and publish so that it can better reflect the aspirations and hope for India.
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