A Peep into Draft National Educational Policy 2019

 In Education, Human Resources

On the 31st of May, 2019, the Committee for Draft National Education Policy submitted its report that charts out a plan of action for reforming the educational in institutions in India. The draft policy, led by Chairman Dr. K. Kasturirangan provides comprehensive reforms for all levels of education over the next five years.

Attaining quality higher education plays a key role in helping students set up sustainable livelihoods and economic independence. This, in turn, also contributes to the economic and social development of the country. In order to optimise the benefits of the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in India, the policy suggests changes that will enable institutions to provide students with multidisciplinary education and modern-day and relevant skills, while also helping them develop specialised knowledge in their chosen field of study.

The policy maps out certain issues that the current educational system presents and presents a range of solutions that can be implemented to tackle these problems. Some of the challenges identified by the policy are as follows.

  • Fragmented Higher Education: India currently has over 800 universities and over 40,000 colleges. Among these colleges, 40% of them offer only a single program of study such as medicine or engineering. This makes it difficult for students to express their creativity or develop skills outside the rigid boundaries set by the institutions. This form of study produces students who have no knowledge beyond a specific subject.
  • Limited Access: While the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in India has improved in the past decade, it still stands at around 25%. At present, higher education still remains inaccessible for a number of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and areas.
  • Inadequate Teacher Management: Most institutions do not offer much scope for innovation with regards to teaching and research. This, combined with inadequate career management, makes it difficult for teachers to stay motivated or introduce innovative ideas and methodologies. Furthermore, the lack of funds available for research ideas and proposals prevents teachers from pursuing research.
  • Substandard Governance and Regulation: Governance and regulation of HEIs usually lie with external bodies. This has led to a host of problems with regards to the management of institutions and given rise to corruption, political interference and proliferation of fake colleges. This has stifled innovation and creativity and led to the commercialization of education.

Introducing Change

The Committee for Draft National Education Policy has presented an array of changes that can be adopted by Higher Educational Institutions in order to improve the quality of education. The challenges, as presented, have been stated to hinder the quality of education that students receive. The policy proposes an overhaul of existing systems that may lead to innovation and multifaceted education for students.

  1. Restructuring Higher Education Institutions

One of the main changes proposed by the draft policy is the introduction of multi-disciplinary universities and colleges. The policy suggests that 3 types of HEIs be set up. Namely, research universities focused on both research and teaching, teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching and colleges that focus only on teaching at undergraduate levels. Additionally, the multi-disciplinary setup will also make it easier to set-up active research communities as resources would be better distributed across various fields of study.

Along with setting up multi-disciplinary universities and colleges, the policy also presents an initiative to set up multi-disciplinary education. This will enable HEIs to produce students who are well-rounded and knowledgeable in fields ranging from arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and professional, technical, and vocational crafts while also helping them gain specialised knowledge in their chosen field. This form of curricular structures will enable students to graduate with unique and individual skill-sets that can be applied effectively to further grow the economy.

  • Improved Curriculum and Teaching Autonomy

The Policy aims to tackle the issue of low faculty motivation and poor research facilities by setting up systems that enable HEIs to maintain institutional academic and administrative autonomy. This will be done with the help of public funding. Private institutions will be responsible for their own funding under the condition that they publicly disclose their full academic, administrative, and financial details.

The autonomous nature of these institutions will allow the faculty to adjust the curriculum and testing methods to one that best help students achieve their educational goals. Instead of rote learning, students can be encouraged to put their knowledge into practice in a form that promotes innovation. In addition to this, HEIs will be encouraged to offer quality higher education in Indian Languages in order to improve access to education across regions.

In order to motivate teachers and ensure that students receive the best education, colleges will be required to ensure that all employment is done solely on the basis of merit. This move is designed to improve the quality of education and encourage innovative teaching, research, and community outreach from the faculty at HEIs.

  • Establishing a National Research Foundation

One of the key initiatives of the policy is to promote robust, peer-reviewed research proposals across various disciplines. In order to facilitate this growth, the policy suggests establishing a National Research Foundation (NRF) that will grant funding based on peer reviews and the success of proposals. Through this process, the NRF will also work to facilitate research in institutions where research is in its nascent stages.

As part of their role in encouraging research and innovation, the NRF will also work to recognise outstanding research accomplishments with the help of prizes and seminars. This will help them gain recognition amongst a wider audience while also incentivising scholars to produce quality research proposals. 

  • Improved Governance Methods

In order to tackle issues such as poor governance, fake institutes and the commercialisation of education, the policy suggests stringent and merit-based appointments for leading positions in HEIs. This includes roles such as the Board of Governors, the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor and more. This will work to reduce external interference in the governance of the institution. Institutions will be required to set up a system of accountability that prevents instances of corruption and political interference.

As part of the shift to improve governance in institutions that offer higher education, the policy suggests that one regulator must be responsible for all higher education. Moving forward, all regulation will be carried out based on accreditation. Responsibilities such as managing funds, accreditation, and regulation will be conducted by independent bodies in order to prevent conflict of interest and commercialisation of education. Preventing the commercialisation of education will also make education accessible to students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and areas.

India is set to have the youngest population in the world by the year 2020. In order to ensure the future of the country and make the most of the demographic, it is important to make reforms to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to achieve excellence in various fields such as science, technology, academics and industry. These policies that have been drafted for the next five years provide steps that can be taken in order to achieve this goal.

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