Over a year has passed since the union cabinet cleared the much touted New Education Policy (NEP-2020). Right from Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to the academicians have batted for the implementation of NEP in Jammu and Kashmir. The LG recently stated that the NEP would enable our children to become ‘proficient in modern education as well as the values of our ancient traditions and culture’. Interestingly, the policy lays a lot of thrust on invoking the ‘rich heritage of ancient and eternal Indian knowledge’ besides emphasis on mother tongue/regional language as the medium of instruction. It also says the teachers will be encouraged to use a bilingual approach, including bilingual teaching-learning materials, with those students whose home language may be different from the medium of instruction. After taking over as the first woman Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kashmir, Prof Nilofar Khan called for collective efforts so that ‘we can take a lead in NEP implementation in this university and its affiliated colleges’. The government officials have been saying something similar. Principal Secretary Higher Education Department Rohit Kansal maintained that the NEP-2020 had laid out a clear road map and vision for progressively greater autonomy of all Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs). He further said that it was for the HEIs to follow suit and take advantage of the opportunities made available by the NEP.
While the intent of implementing the NEP is there, it is important that the institutions make public the roadmap in this regard. The time for translating words into action has come. True, the year 2030 has been set as the deadline for its full implementation for school education and for higher education by 2040, but all need to make a tangible start. Interestingly, this is India’s third education policy. The first education policy was passed by the Parliament in 1968 when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister of the country and the second in 1986 under Rajiv Gandhi. The second policy was later revised in 1992 when PV Narsimha Rao was the prime minister.
The NEP now promises a range of sweeping educational reforms ranging from ‘overhauling the curriculum’ to opening up Indian higher education to foreign universities. Recently, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) Vice Chancellor, Prof. Farooq Ahmad Shah chaired a meeting of all the Deans of Schools, Heads and Coordinators of the department where he underscored the need of organising workshops on NEP for sensitisation and awareness of the faculty members. Prof. Shah further said the varsity had already constituted an NEP-2020 implementation committee and asked its members to implement the policy in letter and spirit. Therefore, it is imperative that other educational institutions form similar committees and also put their respective roadmaps in the public domain. Once the roadmaps are made public, there is a need of having discussions by the teachers’ as well as the students’ communities. There is no need to hurry up but all stakeholders including the private educational institutions should be taken on board. There have to be wide ranging discussions about the way forward and the implementation should not be one-sided.
Private stakeholders of the education sector in the past have often complained that their views are not considered before taking policy decisions. Therefore, private stakeholders have to be taken along while implementing the NEP in Jammu and Kashmir. The participation of students in the discussions in paramount too as the primary objective of the NEP as per Prof. Shah is to move from ‘teacher centric to student centric, information centric to knowledge centric, marks centric to skills centric, examination centric to experimental centric, learning centric to research centric, and choice centric to competency centric’. CUK registrar, Prof. M Afzal Zargar too made interesting observations regarding the education policy at a recent programme. He said the NEP-2020 implementation committee has already chalked out a map for the teaching departments for starting holistic and multidisciplinary education in a phased manner. He said holistic and multidisciplinary education would aim to develop capacities of human beings -intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional, and moral in an integrated manner. Prof. Zargar asked the teaching departments to get the requisite approvals from the School Boards and Boards of Studies, before the policy is implemented, in respective departments.
Similarly, the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar too said it started the process of implementing National Education Policy (NEP) 2020) on the campus for which the High-Power Committee (HPC) has been constituted. The High Power Committee comprises all Deans, Heads of the Departments. They will study the report and come up with the probable methodology for implementation of NEP2020 in the Institute. Interestingly, the Kashmir University recently issued its first Under Graduate (UG) admission notification under the National Education Policy for which the registration of students for their admission in colleges will commence from June 15. Other stakeholders too need to come up with clear roadmaps so that the vision of the policy is realised. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already termed the NEP ‘futuristic and as per world standards’ and aimed at fulfilling ‘Dr S Radhakrishnan’s vision of education that empowers a student to participate in national development’. Also, the stakeholders should set realistic goals and implement it in a phased manner after debates and consultations. Director NIT Srinagar, Prof. (Dr.) Rakesh Sehgal has rightly stated that the year 2022 should be celebrated as a ‘year of transformation’ in academics and that they were going to implement the NEP 2020 in a phased manner. The process has to be gradual as the NEP cannot be implemented overnight.