“The aim must be for India to have an education system by 2040 that is second to none, with equitable access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background.”
2020 has been a year of surprises and shocks. While the COVID outbreak has taken the world by storm, the Indian National education Policy 2020 came out and shook the education stakeholders. Age-old policies that no longer served the educational needs and demands have been revised to work upon the much-needed changes in the education sector.
The response to these changes has been mixed. However, they do aim at ensuring quality and education accessibility for all. Living in an era where degrees are just not enough, there is a focus on skill-building in various spheres and art has been looked at as a subject and not just a hobby. Another important change is the revision of the 10+2 structure of school curricula is a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure. This corresponds to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. It will include 12 years of schooling and three years of Anganwadi and pre-schooling.
A lot of thoughtful addition and changes in the policy implies a better future where education in India reaches optimum standards. Needless to say, authorities have taken time to include the role of technology in making it even better. The role of education technology is prevalent in the following areas:
Due focus on the importance of technology for various teaching needs has been mentioned in the new policy. It mentions tech integration for aiding teachers, bridging the language barrier between teachers and students, creating digital libraries, popularizing language learning as well as ensuring greater access to education (specifically for differently-abled children). Another important addition is the emphasis on the skill of coding. The policy proposes that coding be introduced in school curriculums as an important skill that students must develop. The Policy also notes that technology can be an effective tool in facilitating teacher education and encourages the utilization of technology platforms for online teacher-training.
The policy around the initiative of digital India mentions working around digital infrastructure, development of tools and platforms for online teaching, creation of virtual labs, and digital repositories. It also focuses on training teachers to become high-quality online content creators, designing and implementing online assessments, establishing standards for content, technology, and pedagogy for online teaching-learning. New circumstances and realities require new initiatives. The recent rise in epidemics and pandemics necessitates that we are ready with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible. The following extract is from the NEP 2020:
“The National Education Policy 2020 recognizes the importance of leveraging the advantages of technology while acknowledging its potential risks and dangers. It calls for carefully designed and appropriately scaled pilot studies to determine how the benefits of online/digital education can be reaped while addressing or mitigating the downsides. In the meantime, the existing digital platforms and ongoing ICT-based educational initiatives must be optimized and expanded to meet the current and future challenges in providing quality education for all.
However, the benefits of online/digital education cannot be leveraged unless the digital divide is eliminated through concerted efforts, such as the Digital India campaign and the availability of affordable computing devices. It is important that the use of technology for online and digital education adequately addresses concerns of equity.”
Professional and Higher Education
The need to embrace technology in professional education (legal/health), as well as the incorporation of technology to expedite the aim of achieving 100% literacy (by introducing quality technology-based options for adult learning), has also been put forward. The Policy recognizes the importance of technology in addressing various societal challenges and seeks to promote interdisciplinary research and innovation.
“All institutions offering either professional or general education will aim to organically evolve into institutions/clusters offering both seamlessly, and in an integrated manner by 2030.”
Higher education institutions have been encouraged to set up incubation centers and technology development centers. The Policy envisages the establishment of the National Educational Technology Forum (“NETF”), which shall operate as a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment planning, and administration for school and higher education.
“Use and integration of technology to improve multiple aspects of education will be supported and adopted, provided these interventions are rigorously and transparently evaluated in relevant contexts before they are scaled up. An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration, and so on, both for school and higher education. The NETF will aim to facilitate decision-making on the induction, deployment, and use of technology, by providing to the leadership of education institutions, State and Central governments, and other stakeholders, the latest knowledge and research as well as the opportunity to consult and share best practices.”
As per the NEP 2020, The NETF will have the following functions:
- provide independent evidence-based advice to Central and State Government agencies on technology-based interventions;
- build intellectual and institutional capacities in educational technology;
- envision strategic thrust areas in this domain, and d) articulate new directions for research and innovation
Adapting to Artificial Intelligence
NEP 2020 addresses the challenges arising on account of the widespread use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and highlights the need to adopt changes occurring on account of increased use of AI across sectors. It has tasked the NETF with identifying and categorizing emergent technologies based on their ‘potential’ and ‘estimated timeframe for disruption’ and to present a periodic analysis of the same to the MHRD, who shall then formally identify such technologies which require appropriate responses from the education system. In light of the emerging ‘disruptive technologies’, the Policy is pioneering as it notes the need to generate awareness as well as to research various aspects of the emerging disruptive technologies, including concerns of data handling and protection.
On the whole, it seems that the key IT and tech solutions government is looking for are as follows:
- Content delivery in vernacular languages. The content to be available in electronic mode.
- Infrastructure-agnostic, cloud-based delivery models that can be accessed from anywhere for easy and complete access to education for all.
- Digital tools with a smooth learning curve to encourage rapid adoption by educators & students.
- Seamless administration solutions that can keep track of a learner’s growth from primary to university level.
- Intelligent counseling methodologies to identify the right learning track for students.
- Smart reskilling suggestion for educators to bridge the gap between classroom and industry.
All in all, I like how NEP2020 addresses some major concerns and gaps that existed in the education system. Apart from the importance given to tech integration, the inclusivity and value-based approach make me happy to see the future we are going to have if things go well in place.
What is your take on the NEP 2020? Are there any concerns around it that you’d like to share? Mention in the comments section below!
For your next read, hop on to the story on “What’s New in the National Education Policy 2020, What Ed Stakeholders Have to Say?”
Read about all the important features and know more about what education stakeholders as well as edtech founders have to say about the NEP 2020.