7 PM | Education system in India – How to make it more equitable and inclusive. | 4th July, 2019

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Context: Insights on the National Education Policy 2019.

National Policy on Education:

The National Policy on Education was framed in 1986 and modified in 1992. Since then several changes have taken place. The Government of India would like to bring out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.

Problems with the Current School Education:

  • In addition to problems of access, the Kasturirangan Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the early childhood learning programmes, like:
    • curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children
    • lack of qualified and trained teachers
    • sub-standard pedagogy.
  • Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.
  • The Committee noted that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures.
  • According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016, the proportion of all children in Class V who can read a Class II level text (book) declined to 47.8% in 2016 from 48.1% in 2014.

Recommendations in the Draft National Education Policy on School Education:

  • Strengthening Early Childhood Care and Education with the objective that every child in the age range of 3-6 years has access to free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education by 2025.
  • The Right to Education Act 2009 will be extended to the age group 3-6 years old child to assure availability of free and compulsory quality education for all.
  • Ensuring foundational literacy and numeracy among all children
    • By 2025, every student in Grade 5 and beyond has achieved foundational literacy and numeracy.
    • Nutrition and learning are inextricably linked. The midday meal program will be expanded – both a nutritious breakfast and a midday meal will be provided to preprimary and primary school students.
    • A pupil-teacher ratio under 30:1 will be ensured at the level of each school.
  • The curricular and pedagogical structure and the curricular framework for school education will therefore be guided by a 5+3+3+4 design:
    • Foundational Stage (age 3-8 years): Rapid brain development; learning based on play and active discovery
    • Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Building on play and discovery; begin the transition to structured learning
    • Middle Stage (11-14 years): Learning concepts in subjects; begin navigating adolescence
    • Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Preparation for livelihood and higher education; transition into young adulthood

Problems with the Teacher Education: There has been a steep rise in teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes. 

Recommendations on Teachers:

The Policy treats teachers as the ‘most important members of our society and the torchbearers of change.’ Thus suggest following recommendation:

  • The practice of ‘para-teachers’ (unqualified, contract teachers) will be stopped across the country by 2022.
  • All teachers will be able to move into either educational administration or teacher education after a minimum number of years of teaching experience.
  • Merit-based scholarships will be instituted to undertake the four-year integrated B.Ed. programme.

Status of Higher Education:

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18.
  • The Committee identified lack of access as a major reason behind low intake of higher education in the country.
  • The Committee observed that the total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.  India also lags behind many nations in number of researchers, patents and publications. 

Recommendations on Higher Education:

  • Revamp the higher education system, create world class institutions across the country – increase Gross Enrolment Ratio to at least 50% by 2035 from current level of about 25.8%.
  • There will be three types of institutions based on a difference in focus
    • Type 1 which focus on high quality teaching across all disciplines
    • Type 2 which focus on research
    • Type 3 which focus on undergraduate education
  • Mission Nalanda and Mission Takshashila will be launched for catalyzing this new institutional architecture. A few pace-setting institutions, the Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts/ Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, may be set up as part of these Missions.
  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) will be set up as an autonomous body of the Government of India. It will be given an annual grant of Rs. 20,000 crores (~ 0.1% of GDP)

Other Issues:

  • In 2017-18, public expenditure on education in India was 2.7% of GDP. The draft Policy seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years. 

Recent Initiatives in School Education System.Recent Initiatives in

  • Samagra Shiksha: A comprehensive programme subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE). For first time, it also includes provisions for support at pre-school level, library grants and grants for sports and physical equipment. The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education.
  • Swayam platform offers 10 courses of Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed) and more than 13 lakh unqualified teachers have enrolled for this diploma.
  • UDISE+ is an updated online real time version of UDISE (Unified District Information on School Education) has been launched with three additional features – GIS mapping, data verification through third-party mobile application and data analytics.
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched a 70-point Performance Grading Index (PGI) to assess areas of deficiency in each state’s school education system so that targeted interventions can be made at every level from pedagogy to teacher training.
  • ICT driven initiatives: Shaala Sidhi (to enable all schools to self-evaluate their performance), e-Pathshala (providing digital resources such as textbooks, audio, video, periodicals etc.) and Saransh (an initiative of CBSE for schools to conduct self-review exercises).

Way Forward:

The National Education Policy 2019 envisions an India-centred education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all. We must ensure that the Policy is implemented in its spirit and intent, through coherence in planning and synergy across all bodies involved in education.

Source: https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/opinion-towards-a-more-equitable-and-inclusive-education-system-1562171558490.html

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