India is seeing a change in educational policy after 1986! Yes, I know it’s a long gap for education reform. HRD ministry named by Rajeev Gandhi’s government will be renamed as an Education ministry. To judge the new policy effectively, let us understand a few concerns Indian citizens had about the old policy. Listing few complaints, which Indians had across all the age groups include education we receive don’t yield jobs, studying subjects which are irrelevant to one’s life, exam centric, commercialization of education, corruption in the system. I am not complaining but growing up in a middle-class Indian family, I was not given many options for my higher education. The popular choice is being an engineer or doctor. The education system needs to be blamed as it has been designed to favor growing certain courses and not given enough options for students. Our system needs to be designed in such a way that every student needs to be given equal exposure and equal opportunity for growth.
Finally, an attempt has been made to make board exams easy and school curriculum to be reduced to core concepts. Under the new policy, education is considered to holistically level which means extra curricular activities will also be considered to evaluate a student. The standard 10+2 is now being revamped to 5+3+3+4 model with 3 years of pre-primary. Focus is being shifted on higher-order skills like analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. Interestingly, with new policy emphasis on extra things like coding and vocational things like carpentry will be introduced from class 6. I am quite jealous! The shift to the vocational skill with which they can start a venture of their own. The hard barrier between arts, science, and commerce will be broken with the option of major and minor. Multiple exit and entry will be provided which means you can stop and start whenever one wishes to. Education standards are set to meet international standards. Foreign universities will be allowed to set up campuses in India which raises the bar for the competition which forces Indian universities to improve education quality.
Indian government promised to spend 6% of its GDP on education. As of now, India is spending only around 3% of its GDP on education compared to its counterparts China, South Korea. India spends far less on R&D compared to even private companies, China, Korea. In 2008, India invested 0.84% of GDP on Research and Innovation but now it has dropped to 0.6% of GDP. Carefully reading the policy one will realize that attempts are being made to centralize education. This is a good way of judging students based on common ground. But, many argue that India is a vast nation and it will ineffective if a central body controls as needs differ from region to region.
One of the controversial points with new policy is medium of instruction meaning what language to be used to teach students. Stating the policy word to word “Wherever possible the medium of teaching will be in mother tongue or the local, regional language”. Learning in local language or mother tongue is a great way of knowing one’s culture but this does not provide equal exposure. If this policy wishes equal growth then the Indian government needs to design all higher education including post-graduation studies in regional language. Then there is a possibility of a student being born in a village will be able to reach the level where a student from urban has reached with English as a medium.
Except for a few points, this policy looks great on paper but implementation will be hard with current India’s educational infrastructure. We need to wait and watch.