VIF Webinar on “NEP-2020 and Nation Building”
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The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a milestone document in the context of nation-building. Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), a forerunner in policy planning for nation building has thus planned to take up issues arising out of the NEP-2020 which have a rather long-term bearing on the country’s development.

The first webinar in this series focusing on the theme NEP-2020 and Nation Building was conducted on 3 September 2020 from 11:00 am. The webinar was initiated by Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF. In his welcome address, Dr. Gupta stated that the NEP-2020 approved by the Cabinet is one of the most important educational reforms in the country, after a long time. The NEP-2020 will surely have a widespread impact on the nation and its academic system. According to him, a whole lot of deep thinking has gone into the preparation of this document with significant inputs from all stakeholders. He highlighted that this policy document was revolutionary in many aspects as:

  1. It covered school as well as the higher education system.
  2. It linked education with our rich culture and heritage, thus making our youth proud to be an Indian.
  3. The word Sanskrit has almost 20 mentions, whereas English has only 2.
  4. The document stresses on making our children holistic individuals with roots framed in our culture and heritage.
  5. The document also highlights the major lacunae in present higher education system.
  6. It also addresses the challenges in our school education including issues like increasing number of dropouts and affordability of education.
  7. The policy has reduced the load of the curriculum along with introduction of new paradigm for the choice of subjects.
  8. The evaluation and assessment part has also been dealt with the significant mitigation of the fear of examinations

After his brief welcome address, Dr. Gupta invited VIF’s Distinguished Fellow, Prof. K. K. Aggarwal, Chairman, National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and Former Founder Vice Chancellor, GGSIP University, New Delhi, to address the house. Prof. K. K. Aggarwal, started his address by stating that innovative ways & means have to be found for adequate resources to be allocated for proper implementation of so many revolutionary steps. According to him connecting NEP-2020 to nation building can be realised only when we connect our youth to the process of nation building.

Prof. Aggarwal identified NEP-2020 as a large disruption in our current education system. But unlike COVID-19, this is a positive academic disruption as it would empower our youth for the development of the country. The NEP-2020 policy defines the learning outcomes in terms of what we expect from our youth and then gives concrete implementation guidelines. He very rightly stated that the development and growth of any country has to be decided by the nation itself by identifying its unique strengths. He even cited examples like UAE deciding to work on their oil products, UK on textiles, Switzerland on Timber and Denmark on Milk products, etc. to be leaders in the world. For India, our USP certainly is the intellectuals with high value system and rich culture which is now being linked to our education system through the NEP-2020. He applauded the NEP-2020 for its many first initiatives like: unification of concepts from pre-school to highest education, up to the Doctoral Degree. This involved identification of pre-school as the most important age of learning and bringing it into the framework of formal education. Also the constitution of National Research Foundation (NRF) as a common body for controlling the duplication of research projects across the country to avoid wastage of funds is a welcome move. Prof. Aggarwal also identified that the NEP-2020 has taken into account the multidisciplinearity of education through which every child will be allowed to do what he loves to do as an important step towards nation building. Prof. Aggarwal reiterated that India has always given dividends in challenging times be it Green Revolution, Blue Revolution etc. He described the NEP-2020 to be the precursor for Grey revolution where the Grey brain matter of every youth could be utilised for nation building. Prof. Aggarwal described this policy to be a great game changer for the entire nation even if we are not able to realize some small part of its potential.

Dr. Gupta, thanked Prof. K. K. Aggarwal for the detailed elaboration on NEP-2020. He next invited Prof. J. S. Rajput, an educationist, writer and the former Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Dr. Rajput started his address by reiterating the UNESCO report on education in the 21st century. The report stated that, “A time has come when education is important not just for nation building but also our survival.” According to him, NEP-2020 is a transformational step where India took up the responsibility for nation building the Indian way. He identified how education had a fundamental role to play in human development as well as reducing poverty, ignorance, etc. He reiterated that all these factors have been well taken care of in the NEP-2020 policy document which has evolved over a period of 4 years with inputs from all possible stakeholders. He termed the NEP-2020 to be ‘man-making document’ that identified the requirements of the learner and his capacity. He also appreciated how for the first time the span of education has been prolonged from 3-18 years. He also applauded how the policy takes note of the child holistically and diffuses the difference between the curricular and extra-curricular divisions of the curriculum. The NEP-2020 has taken care to change the face of the curriculum from the fear of examinations to creation of multiple exit routes in Higher Education. He also brought to light how COVID-19 pandemic put great stress on our system. However, we responded to this emergency by teaching our pre-school and school teachers how to survive in the paucity of resources.

He further reiterated the fact that through NEP-2020, the concept of teacher would be re-established in India. He also cited an example of Finland where the teacher is the only VIP in the country. However, this is not the case in India. So now with the NEP-2020, the teachers need to be better prepared for conducting the courses. Resources for the same like where to teach and when to teach would be provided. Teachers will also not be burdened with the administrative tasks. Sayings of Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, etc have eternal value and education must be rooted in these values. India has a continuity of culture, where we are committed to generating new knowledge. All the three fundamentals of learning: Gyan, Buddhi and Vivek have been taken care of in this policy. The teacher has a great responsibility to ensure that a child learns. This policy will bring about that required change. Gandhi ji stressed on understanding the child through five universal values of truth, love, honesty, humility and forbearance. These values have been adopted in NEP-2020 and shall dominate the learning process where teachers will transform themselves into learning teachers.

Dr. Gupta thanked Prof. J. S. Rajput for reiterating the importance of value based education and the role of the teacher in the same. He next invited panellist Prof. T. V. Kattimani, Vice Chancellor of the Central Tribal University in Andhra Pradesh at Vizianagaram. He was a member of the Drafting Committee of the New Education Policy 2020.

He highlighted that the NEP-2020 had a straight strategy on nation building with the best education available where knowledge acquisition and work should go together. According to him, a student should learn something to earn something was the fundamental idea to support our villages, towns and cities. After completion of their degree, the student should be able to return to their habitat and support their family. This would inspire students to make a future in any industry of choice and change the societal hierarchy by instilling dignity in wanting to become a carpenter, an agriculturist, etc. This would also evolve the concept of home industries and even teachers will now think differently. The teacher would now become a lifelong learner or continuous learner through introduction of flexible knowledge system. The NEP-2020 also speaks about the knowledge systems and practices still alive in rural India and tribal India. So we must be ready to accept that all these are parts of our knowledge systems. It is only then that our research takes a right start and our future generations are strengthened.

Dr Gupta thanked Dr Kattimani for highlighting the concept of work and knowledge going together. After this Dr Gupta invited questions from the distinguished participants, who put forward many important questions like what was imperative to reinculcate the conventional Indian system of respect for teachers?, what would be the direction for new set of textbooks and books?, what would be the role of involvement of government and private institutions in implementation of NEP-2020? Further, how would the accountability of teachers at all levels especially in government schools be fixed? And what would be the implementation strategy of the Academic Bank of Credits to allow mobility of students, across different levels of the Institutions, as proposed in NEP-2020?

Answering all queries, Prof. K. K. Aggarwal stressed on the fact that our society still has respect for teachers but the teaching community would also have to put in efforts to be earning that respect. He reiterated that our teachers were called ‘Acharya’ in yesteryears as they were meant to be role models. He also highlighted that with NEP-2020 there would be no standalone technical or professional institutions. Further, to improve teacher accountability, social setup would also need to improve a lot. Talking about the credit transfer policy he accepted that mobility is a very fresh introduction in this policy, however its implementation will require lot of work as all Institutions will never come up to the same level and therefore, an efficient mechanism of grade ranking would need to be worked out. Prof. J. S. Rajput also stated that accountability should also be raised on state governments which have not regularised their teachers since the past many years as accountability cannot be raised in isolation and commercialisation of education and role of private Institutions also need to be assessed.

Finally, Dr Gupta invited Prof. K. K. Aggarwal to make his final comments. Prof. Aggarwal thanked all the distinguished delegates and appreciated the high quality questions asked during the discussion. He explained in reference to a question that private universities abroad like the University of Stanford, etc never had an owner but instead were funded by big philanthropists having huge corpus for its sound financial health, but the donors were never part of the academic and administrative decision making. We will also need to work out such a system for our country in the long run, where adequate corpus is there and reoccurring costs could be met through a flexible model where those who could pay should pay and those who could not afford should be given scholarships. He appreciated VIF for arranging this webinar on NEP-2020 and indicated organising more sessions in the future on varied NEP-2020 aspects. At last Dr. Gupta noted that the framework of the policy is sound but many aspects need to be worked out especially those including ecosystem accountability. The webinar proved to be an eye opener on the nature of NEP-2020. The webinar was well attended by very senior academicians and intellectuals from across the country.

Event Date 
September 3, 2020

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