Part 1: School Education First, and brief journey in history so that we get the complete picture
I believe that the Education reforms articulated in the National Education Policy 2020, is comprehensive and has a strong positive intent. The intent is strengthened by the clear mention of Implementation timelines, but also logically staggered.
I believe that such radical reforms in our Education system was long overdue. It is time that we upgrade our system to be contemporary and competitive with Educations systems in other parts of the world.
It is nice to see that it is pragmatic, inspired by best practices from other education system, and draws heavily from our ancient system of Education, and wisdom.
India being a country of diversity, and multiplex of local languages, history, and culture, the NEP 2000, provides space for adequate localisation.
The special focus on skills and competencies, particularly going beyond the current school education paradigm is refreshing.
Walking through the Memory Lane!
A bit of history and recollection of my own experience when I was in school, particularly 8th grade to 10th grade.
I cannot help but reflect on my school days. I belong to the first experimental batch of AISSE when it was introduced in 1975, when I got promoted from 7th Grade to 8th Grade. My batch was part of the state curriculum and had to take the public exams as final exam for 7th Grade.
It was a radical paradigm shift when we entered the 8th Grade, and I can see a lot of similarities from then to the NEP 2020. The focus and intent of the new curriculum was going from ROTE to real learning. In fact there was nothing like one text book per subject. The teachers would select multiple books that were available in a well-stocked library, and reference section. The curriculum was about setting a direction, and providing freedom to teachers to keep it malleable. In addition to being introduced to problem solving approach, higher order thinking, logical decision making in learning of sciences, social sciences, Mathematics, Humanities, activity based learning and an excellent infrastructure and facilities. This was a Demonstration school, attached to Regional Institute of Education, and there were only 5 of them in the country at that time. So, facilities were in abundance, and Teaching resources were also drawn from the Regional Institute of Education.
There was a lot of focus on skills and Vocational training, interleaved into the curriculum. We did Carpentry, Sheet Metal work, Smithy, Foundry, Liberal Arts, Sports, and even Engineering Drawing! All this was inside of the timetable, which means time management was clever, and we did not have to do extra hours at school.
When many of us switched to the state curriculum for 11th and 12th, it was a lot easier, the curriculum being less intense. In fact, the few semesters of Engineering was also a breeze as we had already done that level of Math, better language proficiency, most labs we had already done during 8th-10th Grade.
When I was reading through the NEP 2020 documentation, I couldn’t but help revisit my experience of school Education. Assessment was continuous, and not too much stress due to Final Exams. It was more Grading for measuring performance, and it was less about scores. The teachers also had to go that few extra miles to meet the challenge of a fairly major reform and change of paradigm.
We had a student bank, where we actually experienced banking with small savings, updating passbooks etc. Library was a very important part of the school education system. And the education paradigm required extensive use of library and reference, including regularly subscribed journals and magazines for that Age group.
Subsequently somewhere, at sometime, I presume the curriculum and the delivery process got diluted.
I founded and run a CBSE school for the last 10 years, where we tried to bring in a lot of aspects from my school education days. We designed the school to incorporate contemporary education, focus on experiential learning, active learning in classrooms, Focus on sparking curiosity, encouraging creativity, and Innovation, blended education, with optimal use of Technology in Education, communication skills, competitiveness, self-confidence, pride of belonging etc., All the the Good stuff!
Many activities we do in the above areas, is difficult be accommodated within the framework of the timetable. We do bring in lot of activity and experiential learning into the classroom sessions and Lab sessions. Anything more has to overflow into extra hours, projects, etc.
With NEP 2020, there is an opportunity to bring diversity, creativity, innovation, and freedom to children to chose from various tracks and subjects, to pursue their passion, and talent will flourish. Socially responsible individuals, and eventually evolve into a global citizen.
The New Education Policy is structured well and covers all stakeholders, Students, Teachers, School Leadership, Governance, communities, School Complexes and Clusters, Teacher Training, integration of vocational education into mainstream schooling.
We have started to rehash the National Education Policy2020, we have a stakeholders approach.
By extracting from NEP2020, all content that matters to the, Teachers as a separate document. And similarly, separate documents for students of different age groups, and their respective parents, School leadership, School Managements.
This is more about how select school educational systems were when AISSE was introduced.
In the next part, I will start writing about the key topics of School Education part of NEP2020. It will require 2-3 parts.
Post that will cover the Higher education, and the Vocational training part.
Finally, I feel the NEP2020 is serious about implementation, as key milestones with dates have already been announced. Action start next academic year 2020-2021.
The planning and preparation for that will have to start NOW!