Decolonising Indian Education With National Education Policy

The NEP 2020 aims to underline the link between school education and the needs of society

Decolonising Indian Education With National Education Policy
Decolonising Indian Education With National Education Policy
Sunit Gajbhiye - 26 February 2021

The Union government has come up with the new NEP (National Education Policy 2020), which aims to educate the coming generations of this country. The transformational school and higher education activities not only draw their inspiration from the past policies pursued by different governments over the years but also the values and practices pursued during the ancient times. This will help the country to face the challenges presented by the challenges both in the world and within the country.

In ancient India, students began their education with the ‘Upnayana’ ceremony, which marked the beginning of the period of stay at their teacher's gurukul’ to gain mastery in various streams. This was done at the age of five. The NEP 2020 treats humans as independent, free-thinking and sentient beings rather than considering them as a ‘resource’ that needs to be developed, which is against our ancient cultural ethos. The NEP is thus an attempt at decolonising Indian education and gives out a roadmap to reclaim our Indian-ness and rearticulate it becoming global leaders. Just as was the case with ancient times, the NEP 2020 aims to underline the link between school education and the needs of society. In other words, it will try to educate youngsters in such fields that are needed by society to progress. It is what the ‘gurukul’ education did in the past. The new education policy also reasserts the importance of knowledge as imparted in ancient India and ‘lokvidya’ but with scientific methodologies. An emphasis on competency-based models for teachers and teaching through a tenure-track system and continuous professional development of teachers is another feature of the NEP 2020.

Since in ancient India, the emphasis was always on teaching the youngsters in their mother tongue, the NEP recognises the fact that a multilingual country like India needs to develop all its vernacular languages equally. Hence it emphasises the adoption of the three-language formula, foundational literacy, vocational education, and tracking the progress of students’ vis-à-vis learning outcomes, apart from 360-degree reforms in the assessment systems. A new structure for higher learning would be built in the country through NEP 2020, which provides for four-year graduation. It also provides for multiple-exit options, and a one-year masters’ programme to meet the global aspirations of the young generation. The National Research Foundation proposed to be set up under the NEP 2020 will promote community-oriented seminal research on subjects and issues that are of national importance.

All-round growth of every student in scholastic and co-scholastic domains will be ensured under the new national education policy with emphasises educating the students as well as their teachers to nurture their potential so that they go on to serve the nation. The flexibility offered by NEP will allow the pupil to select the preferred field of study and subsequent path in life as per their academic inclination and interests. The policy hopes to dismantle hierarchies and barriers that have come up between different knowledge streams over the years through easy and accessible methodologies. It will also promote co-curricular activities, as was done in ancient India.

The NEP will also tend to replace rote learning, as was promoted by our colonial masters to produce ‘clerks’ and rather emphasis on conceptual understanding of subjects and issues to hone the analytical skills that were emphasised upon in olden times. In the end, it will try to strengthen moral and basic education and offer us opportunities for equitable and qualitative development which is sensitive to particular cultural contexts. According to the government, the policy is in tune with the ideals of Swami Vivekanand who advocated education as a manifestation of perfection which is inherent in all human beings.

The author is Co Founder of Financepeer