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Interview -The Aware Consumer 

The Aware Consumer-May 2022 issue

  1. NEP 2020 is a revolutionary and progressive policy that will change the face of education in India. As you have been instrumental in shaping this new policy approach, do you think the government will be able to execute the same or will it remain on paper just like the previous ones? What hurdles do you envisage and how can the authorities overcome the same?

Generally speaking, all policies are intrinsically vision documents and postulate reforms that cannot be self-limiting for reasons driven by pragmatism and operational factors. The National Education Policy 2020, as you rightly observe, is a transformative and aspirational Policy that seeks to empower students, teachers and educational institutions. It is comprehensive covering all levels and sub-sectors ranging across school, higher, technical, professional, vocational, teacher education, adult education. The gamut of recommendations, if implemented in letter and spirit, will reorient the focus on knowledge acquisition, skill development, developing individual potentials, competencies and capabilities as well instilling attitudinal changes suited to 21st century requirements. Educational institutions will be overhauled to develop with robustness permeated with greater flexibility and autonomy to achieve the goal of ensuring accessible, inclusive and quality education.  The NEP 2020 is aligned to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and its underpinnings resonate the multidimensionality of 21st century learning -to know, to do, to live together and with others and to be.  It inter alia includes universalisation of pre-primary education, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission, flexibility in the choices of courses for students at all stages/levels; examination, governance and regulation reforms ; accreditation for quality in public and private institutions; focus on inclusion of all sections, innovative use of technology, embedding vocationalisation at all levels and multiple pathways of learning, promoting Open and Distance Learning, policy for gifted children, revamping teacher education, National Research Foundation, learner-centric focus for the holistic development of students, developing India as a global study destination to promote internationalisation of higher education etc.

The success of any policy lies in its efficacy of it getting translated on ground. The paramount challenge invariably lies in the effective implementation of the NEP 2020 and your concerns in this regard are entirely justified. However, I would like to bring to bear two factors upfront! Firstly, the implementation of social sector policies is both long-term and time-taking, as stakeholder ownership and acceptance is critical to effecting the changes in a smooth cohesive manner.  Secondly, the character of reform lends itself to differential timelines. Structural changes take longer to implement as institutions, autonomous bodies, regulatory authorities and also the administrative structures from the Central, State, District and local levels require synchronized transformation in a coordinated and harmonious manner. This becomes even more daunting when new institutional structures are envisaged. As against this, academic reforms i.e. curricular, pedagogical, assessment related ones are relatively easier.  NEP 2020 recommends four new curricular frameworks of NCF for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), School Education (SE), Adult Education and Teacher education, which is already work in progress. The NEP itself stated that it would about 15 years to implement all the various recommendations. It is but logical that a phase-wise implementation is the way forward.  To put it in larger perspective, by the 42nd amendment, 1976, Education as a subject is in the Concurrent List making it the shared joint responsibility of the Central and the States. Hence it is imperative that a participatory approach in which all stakeholders, namely, Central Government, State/UT Governments, regulatory bodies, academics, autonomous bodies and institutions, private sector and all other players, work together. Implementing national policies, while respecting and incorporating regional aspirations with an inclusive growth agenda, is undoubtedly an arduous task.

It is worth noting that a comprehensive implementation plan for the D/o School Education & Literacy titled ‘SARTHAQ’ (Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education), is already released. It delineates as many as 297 tasks along with the agencies responsible with specific timelines and outcomes. A glance at some of the  initiatives include, Vidya Pravesh - three months school readiness module prepared by NCERT; NIPUN Bharat initiative with the aim of ensuring that all children attain foundational literacy and numeracy by 2026-27; Competency-based assessment framework for grades 3, 5 and 8 for CBSE schools; blueprint for National Digital Education ARchitecture – (NDEAR) an open, interoperable, evolvable, public digital education infrastructure that will keep pace with rapid expansion of technology; E-content for Hearing impaired for all grades and all subjects and Text, Sign and audio-based Indian Sign Language Dictionary of 10,000 words on DIKSHA; Online NISHTHA 2.0 - teacher capacity building programme of over 50 hours for all secondary school teachers of India in regional languages; strengthening and revamping existing Samagra Shiksha programmes to align it with NEP 2020; strengthening of vocational education initiatives, introducing key stage assessments for determining the health of the system and of learning outcomes through SAFAL (Structured Assessment for Analysing Learning), among others.  These changes are in consultation with the States which are taking necessary steps to initiate concomitant changes wherever necessary. In higher education too, Department of Higher Education has constituted an Implementation Committee and also a Review Committee. UGC and AICTE have brought out several new regulations aligned to carry forward NEP recommendations, some of which have been notified and some are in draft stage. Some of these include, by UGC {Academic Bank of Credits (ABC); Guidelines for multiple entry & exit in academic programmes in HE; Educational Framework for Global citizenship in HE, Internationalisation of Higher Education; Induction and Mentorship of Teachers in Non-Technical Stream; Credit Framework for online Course through SWAYAM; Joint Degree / Dual Degree etc.} and by AICTE [Twinning Program for the degrees in collaboration with universities abroad; Online Courses in Travel &Tourism, Management, MCA and specific engineering courses, such as AI & Data sciences; relaxed land norms for standalone institutions moving to multidisciplinary education and merger of Institutes approved from the existing 2 km restriction to within the city limits for multidisciplinary education; additional seats for students taking programmes in regional languages subject to the NBA accreditation; Bridge courses recommended for students entering in engineering from diverse background; Impetus for starting engineering colleges only in backward areas; internship portal thereby providing opportunities to students towards internships; Promotion of regional languages in technical education] among others. The regulatory reforms and those with legislative implications are still at a nascent stage.

States are in different stages in initiating steps to make their HEIs move towards multidisciplinary education. HEIs are autonomous bodies and they have the freedom to undertake academic reforms that leads to quality improvement and to ensure equity to enrol students from SEDGs. Private HEIs may find it easier to implement many of the reforms. Academic reforms related to curricula revision for application-based learning, contemporary relevance, linkages with other disciplines and skill-based education, 21st century skills, innovative teaching -learning methodologies, assessment reforms, embedding internships/apprenticeships can be undertaken. HEIs in public and private, sector have to prepare an Institutional Development Plan which is a strategic Plan of action.

For a country as diverse as ours, one has to realize that multiple implementation strategies are required as ‘one-size fits all’ is not workable and is counter-productive. I share the optimism that keeping the student at the centre of these reforms, all players will work towards making NEP 2020 a reality.  

2. The Right to Education has to be overhauled in line with the NEP? Do you think this will actually happen and what do you feel should be right direction to bring in the change?

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 gave a legal mandate to provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years. In light of the NEP 2020, the RTE Act, 2009 will need to be reviewed comprehensively. Here, I would like throw some light based on the  inputs from SARTHAQ which is the implementation plan for the D/o School Education & Literacy. Task 295 clearly states that the implementation plan for NEP would certainly require amendments in certain sections of the RTE Act, 2009 for its smooth implementation. This is proposed to be undertaken by holding consultations, followed by finalising the draft amendments and taking the amended legislation to the Legislature and the projected timeline is 2021-23. Task 68 with a targeted timeline of 2024-25, stipulates that alternative and innovative education centres will be put in place by States/UTs (after the amendment in Section 2(n) of the RTE Act) in cooperation with community, civil society, etc. to ensure that children who are dropping out of school are brought back into mainstream education. The sections of the RTE Act that need amendment are:  Section 2 (n): Where the definition of school has been defined, alternate model of schools as mentioned in NEP are to be added. Section 3: A child with disability referred to in sub-clause to be in line with the RPwD Act, 2016 which emphasizes on adapting the disabilities covered as per the Schedule of Disabilities mentioned in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016. Section 23: Qualifications for appointment and terms and conditions of service of teachers to acquire ECCE qualifications with minimal disruption to their current work. Sections 31 & 32: Monitoring of child’s right to education which need to be realigned with the roles and responsibility of counsellors and safety and security of children. Sections 21 & 22: School Management Committee and School Development Plan for realigning the roles and responsibilities of School Complex Management Committees (SCMC) in preparing school development plan in the context of school complexes/clusters. Section 25: Review of Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR).  Some other major areas of the NEP implementation to be included in the RTE Act are: To allow alternative models of education (the requirements for schools to be made less restrictive enabling open school courses equivalent to class 3,5 and 8); establishment of school complexes/clusters; curriculum and evaluation for emphasizing on holistic report card; other pilot models for schools, such as philanthropic-public partnerships; standard-setting/regulatory framework and the facilitating systems for school regulation, accreditation, and governance.

Bringing about these changes in the RTE Act are certainly time-consuming, especially as it involves in-depth and detailed deliberations with the States. NEP 2020 aims to universalize school education from pre-school to Grade 12 and the vehicle of the RTE is critical to achieving this goal. However, adding additional years to RTE to make it a justiciable right has not been done.

3. The medium of instruction being the local language/mother tongue is one of the best ideas of the NEP. But do you think this is achievable given the multiple issues like multi-language families and transferable jobs? How do you suggest we can overcome these basic issues?

To put this in the larger context, the benefits of multilingualism need to be understood. Research studies have shown that children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8 and also that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to young students. Further, young children learn and grasp nontrivial concepts more quickly in their home language/mother tongue.  Hence the recommendation that wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language. Knowing the assimilative learning benefits of multilingualism, NEP emphasizes on children being exposed to different languages early on, starting from the Foundational Stage onwards. Many developed countries are making an earnest effort to ensure that child studies in the mother tongue so that both parents and children participate in education in the early years of the child. All languages will be taught in an enjoyable and interactive style, with plenty of interactive conversation, and with early reading and subsequently writing in the mother tongue in the early years, and with skills developed for reading and writing in other languages in Grade 3 and beyond. High-quality textbooks, including Maths and Science, will be made available in the home languages/mother tongue. The RTE Act 2009 in section 29 (2) (f) states that the medium of instruction, as far as practicable, shall be the mother tongue. It must be also clarified that the nowhere the NEP talks about shedding the English language which will continue to receive adequate emphasis as necessary.

The fact that we are a nation of linguistic pluralism and we have more multi-language families today is an enabling reason to promote home language /local/mother tongue education. So also, currently too Kendriya Vidhyalayas (KVs) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalayas (JNVs) have students from all over India, not from a particular region or state and they pick up languages as they move. However, it’s a real challenge given the diversity of languages and intra-region variations that State Governments will find difficult to surmount. It would definitely require both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around the country, particularly, for those listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. SARTHAQ has outlined steps for phase-wise implementation which is practically doable: Linguistic mapping of each area; sensitization and orientation of educational administrators; orientation of teachers on multilingual education; creation of learning material in local languages; initiating the classroom teaching in mother tongue in certain areas on priority and thereafter phase -wise roll out.

4. How do you think the NEP will affect current research funding from multiple funding agencies of government? What will the impact of the multi- and trans-disciplinary approach be on overall innovation in India?

The apprehension that creation of the National Research Foundation (NRF) will limit funding from other funding agencies is unfounded. These multiple funding sources, be it government ministries or research councils /laboratories and HEIs will continue as status quo. It must be rightly understood that the NRF will catalyse research and innovation through the collaborations among higher education institutions, research laboratories and industry, promote interdisciplinary research, over and above the extant eco-systems of research that are operational today. NRF will also promote research in new and emerging areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning on one end of the knowledge spectrum as well as in in core areas of Indian knowledge systems, languages, Social Sciences thereby encouraging the cross-fertilisation of disciplines. The enhanced funding through NRF will also help our country to have better research outputs and join the league of nations which have higher research indices. Many studies have shown that designing courses, where one discipline learns from the perspective of another, or where the disciplines are integrated, allows for more context-specific programmes that better suit industry and prepare students for jobs, opening doors rather than closing them. The holistic multidisciplinary UG programme with flexibility to choose varied combinations that integrate the humanities and arts with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have consistently showed positive learning outcomes, including increased creativity and innovation, critical thinking and higher-order thinking capacities, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, communication skills, more in depth learning and mastery of curricula across fields, increases in social and moral awareness, etc., besides general engagement and enjoyment of learning. Research is also improved and enhanced through a holistic and multidisciplinary education approach. In a world where interdisciplinary research is of growing importance, the current monolithic structures are blocking the next phase in the evolution of universities. Multidisciplinary education and research will further knowledge dissemination and knowledge generation by creating a culture of research in our educational institutions.  This is most appropriate as today we are living in times where knowledge has the greatest premium to create productive individuals, caring societies, promote national development and sustainable growth in a globalised world.  The idea is to weave academics and research together while also developing their 21st century skills to face new challenges of a dynamic ever changing economic, industrial and technological society. 

5. What kind of competence and infrastructure support will the government need to provide to the institutions serving the major rural centres to implement the structural reforms of the NEP? How do you think universities can collaborate with the government in making the NEP vision a reality?

NEP 2020 has addressed equity and inclusion in two chapters of 6 and 14 covering initiatives to enhance the educational participation of the Socially and Economically disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) in school and higher education respectively. Data shows that certain geographical areas contain significantly larger proportions of SEDGs and some geographical locations that have been identified as aspirational districts. Both these regions require special interventions for promoting their educational development. NEP recommended that regions of the country with large populations from educationally-disadvantaged SEDGs be declared as Special Education Zones (SEZs), for targeted efforts in terms of academic infrastructure and other essential teaching learning materials, human resources essential for the educational development. Specifically, two initiatives will address education in rural areas so as to provide uninterrupted schooling and prevent dropouts. The first is to provide effective and sufficient infrastructure so that all students have access to safe and engaging school education at all levels from pre-primary school to Grade 12. Besides providing regular trained teachers at each stage, special care will be taken to ensure that no school remains deficient on infrastructure support. The credibility of Government schools shall be re-established and this will be attained by upgrading and enlarging the schools that already exist, building additional quality schools in areas where they do not exist, and providing safe and practical conveyances and/or hostels, especially for the girl children, so that all children have the opportunity to attend a quality school and learn at the appropriate level. Alternative and innovative education centres will be put in place in cooperation with civil society to ensure that children of migrant labourers, and other children who are dropping out of school due to various circumstances are brought back into mainstream education. Steps will be taken to strengthen the public education system so as to be able to provide quality education for all.

Establishing more high-quality HEIs in aspirational districts and Special Education Zones containing larger numbers of SEDGs is also a strategy. Universities must not only provide high quality teaching and research, ut also have community engagement. There have been evidences that village schools will function effectively only when the local community is active and participates in the functioning of the schools. In higher education, flexibility in devising new systems of curriculum design, review and pedagogy that incorporate elements of community engagement should be encouraged. Universities and other Higher Education institutions should be provided autonomy to make their programs, courses and initiatives more relevant to the needs of society. Such curricula flexibility would enable enhancement of the quality of knowledge produced by the university about communities and also help create new programmes. It is equally critical in the context of democratic decentralisation and greater community participation that the process of specifying operational strategies will percolate downwards to the grassroot levels with each district, block formulating an action plan of its own.

6. The proposal of introducing vocational education will equip students with skills for the real world. It may even cause students from marginalised backgrounds to drop out and take up jobs. How will this move play out in the future?

“Learning to do” pillar, one of the four pillars of the Delors Report (1996), “Learning: The Treasure Within”, seeks to enhance the employability of graduates, promote life‐long learning, provide training in job‐related social skills, and instill entrepreneurship. SDG 4 (Target 4.4) reads ‘by 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship’.

Quality vocational skill-based education has enormous potential for employment opportunities, and is critical for growth of our industries. Vocational education is considered “lower in status”, and in order to motivate more students to opt for them, it is important to enhance their status. The fear that students from marginalized sections will drop out of education to take up jobs, is a reality even today. What NEP does is that it truly facilitates the idea of re-entering education through a flexile UG programme and aligning NSQF with NHEQF for allowing lateral entry.

The overarching goal of NEP 2020 is to integrate vocational education into all educational institutions - schools, colleges and universities and provide access to vocational education to at least 50% of all learners by 2025.

NEP 2020 aims at re-imagining vocational education both in school and higher education. A flexible curriculum enables student choice with the possibility of switching subject areas at the secondary school level. NEP envisages introducing vocational arts courses between Grades 6 to 8 at Middle Stage   stating that every student will take a fun course, during Grades 6-8, that gives hands-on experience of a sampling of important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc., as decided by States and local communities and as mapped by local skilling needs.

In higher education, steps will have to be taken to bridge general education and vocational skills and competencies by embedding it in the multidisciplinary education. This would mean providing opportunities for college and university students in STEM areas, future skills in robotics, big data, digital and computer technologies and new course modules in IT, computing, life science, biotechnology, developing online labs etc. Further, focused efforts and strategies must be worked out to build synergies between NIOS, ITIs, Polytechnics, DDU Kaushal Kendras and HEIs, active academia-industry linkages. There is a critical need to embed credit-based apprenticeship in all VE courses, with hands on industry/ job exposure. An enabling educational eco-system of incubation centres, workshop facilities, modern and well-equipped instrumentation centres will have to be set up in HEIs with appropriate synergies of relevant government departments and in industry partnership.          

In higher education, it is desirable that the academic programmes identify the focus areas based on skills gap analysis and mapping of local opportunities, within the larger vision of holistic multidisciplinary education. Equally critical is the need for innovation in vocational education – to scale it, improve quality and employability, enhance access, etc. Strengthening the R&D in vocational education both by developing modern labs, fabrication, technologies for MSME sector and collaborative research in future skills of new and emerging areas is another strategy. Entrepreneurship education in HEIs will develop students with appropriate knowledge and skills to become innovators and become job creators, thereby propelling wealth generation and reducing unemployment. Finally, appropriate training of teachers across all levels to the more relevant and updated VE is important. Developing, designing and delivery of the training and re-training must be an ongoing dynamic process.  Identifying suitable institutional mechanisms for such training in collaboration with industry associations must be worked out with a clear road map of timelines and targets. In order to ensure effective implementation of the revamped vocational education, it is imperative that all relevant government departments, state governments, industry associations and educational institutions and other stakeholders come together to work in a collaborative and coordinated manner.

7. What reforms are in the works concerning the teacher qualification criteria of B.Ed. degree holders? Can we look forward to a more liberal approach that will encompass expert teachers who do an excellent job even without the degree?

The teacher is at the core of the educational system and the NEP has duly recognized the criticality of teachers, teacher preparation and through them the enhancement of quality of learning at all levels. Teacher Education is a major thrust area of NEP 2020 that recommends transformation which will empower teachers with the right qualifications, ensure their continuous professional development as well career growth. The range of recommendations cover varied models of pre-service teacher qualifications of B.Ed, making B.Ed multidisciplinary through integrated B.A./ B. Sc/ B.Com & B.Ed, teacher professional standards, new National Curriculum Framework(NCF) for TE, overhauling TE institutions through closure of stand-alone B.Ed colleges being the major ones. These modifications it is hoped will enhance the quality of teachers by equipping them with right competencies during their initiation in professional B. Ed programmes which can be of varying duration depending on the entry level qualification. By 2030, the 4-year integrated B.Ed. offered by multidisciplinary HEIs will, be the minimal degree qualification for all stages of the 5+3+3+4 pattern of school education. For the first time, a common guiding set of National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) is being developed which would outline the set of expectations, capabilities, competencies and roles of the teacher at different levels of expertise/stage. By making the B.Ed the essential qualification for all stages would help teachers to move up the hierarchy within each stage as also to other stages. Thus, a teacher who starts his/her career at Foundation can go on to become a teacher at secondary Stage or even as the Principal of a secondary school. Since the rigour of a professional teacher education qualification is intrinsic to the professional qualification and is critical to the quality of teaching, relaxations in the eligibility criteria for experts to be inducted as teachers is neither desirable nor recommended. The skills related to pedagogy, curriculum development, assessment must be acquired through conceptual and cognitive understanding and practical exposure and hence it would be incorrect to suppose/consider that expertise in other fields qualifies one for teaching. Such experts can provide value addition in specific/niche/ high end digital/scientific areas, or even as NEP has recognized traditional craftsmen for providing exposure to vocational crafts.

8. Do you think we can actually bring the Indian education system to global standards? What approach should higher educational institutions take to go global?

Education policies are aspirational documents that envision the long-term goals of reforming the teaching learning processes, making educational structures relevant and responsive to changes and moving towards creating a knowledge society. The NEP 2020 is a transformative policy that will propel our academic institutions to reach greater heights of excellence. Indian Universities have produced some of the best minds that are already contributing intellectually to global giants in education, medicine, industry, space and in cutting edge domains of communications technology and many more. Higher education is a critical contributor to sustainable livelihoods, economic development and plays an important role in improving human well-being, and developing the nation as a democratic, just, socially conscious, cultured, and humane society, with liberty, equality, fraternity, and justice for all. The aim of a quality university or college education must be to develop good, well rounded, and creative individuals. The NEP 2020 covers the entire educational spectrum from early education to higher education, vocational education, teacher education and adult education. The comprehensive overhaul of the sector includes rationalisation of the higher education institutions (HEIs); flexible holistic multidisciplinary 3-4 undergraduate education with flexible designs of Master’s programmes; setting up of a National Research Foundation for building research capacities; a single umbrella regulatory architecture with independent verticals for regulation, standard setting, funding, and accreditation; Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for the Socially and Educationally Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs); promoting internationalization, open and distance learning, online and digital learning at all levels; setting up Language academies; integration of Indian values and knowledge systems with emphasis on multilingualism, human values ,sustainable development, and the integration of vocational education. These path breaking reforms will create an enabling and reinvigorated educational eco-system which will be equal to the best in the world. 

9. How would you advise parents to shift their stance from the focus on results and acing competitive exams to more holistic learning?

We are living in a world which has seen the advent of technologies and new domains of artificial intelligence and machine learning, cutting edge research resulting in scientific discoveries and inventions that have propelled nations to higher levels of development. The jobs of tomorrow are not easily known due to the changes emerging out of industrial revolution 4.0. If we continue with discipline specific silo-based education without instilling the 21st century skills and only focusing on marks and competitive exams, there is a risk of our students not developing holistically. The dynamic nature of economy coupled with risks of the obsolescence of specific skills call for a relook at the way we prepare our students.  Accordingly, a learner -centric approach stemming from the need to recognise, identify and nurture each child’s unique potential and talent and provide opportunities for his/her holistic development is the cornerstone of NEP 2020. The emphasis on providing the much-needed flexibility in curricular choices coupled with innovative pedagogies that instills 21st century skills and encourages critical and cognitive thinking, promotes creativity and a spirit of inquiry, develops scientific temper and a hands-on application-based learning that tests individual competencies rather that memory will allow enriched learning experiences leading to better learning outcomes. This will make the students future ready equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of a dynamic knowledge economy. The NEP 2020 if implemented in it's true intent and spirit, one can expect to have a future ready education system, in which our students are empowered with the right capabilities, knowledge and skills that will help them cope with the new demands and challenges of the economy. Over the next decade, our country will have the highest population of young people in the world, and this demographic profile has to leveraged to a dividend by providing them with high quality education.

10. What further changes would you suggest in the education system in view of the grave learnings from the pandemic? By when do you think the NEP will be implemented completely across the country?

The unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. In India too, the pandemic has led to disruption in the school and higher education system in the entire country. The teaching-learning activities inevitably shifted from F2F to online and digital mode to curtail significant learning loss. The teachers and faculty resorted to conducting online classes by teaching either from their homes or schools, with the available and accessible digital devices /tools, such as mobile phones, laptops or social media platforms, or even communication channels, such as satellite TV, radio etc. both in synchronous and asynchronous modes. Similarly, the students learned to study with the help of these various communication devices, either by themselves or in case of young children with the help of parents, siblings, volunteers and peers. The ‘new normal’ has a huge impact on the learning across students in all age groups, but is more pronounced in the younger children and unfortunately the learning loss may be a harsh reality for many children. This disruption has required us to build capacities of all educational institutions, be it schools, colleges, universities; teachers and faculty, educational administrators and other stakeholders in a big way - capacity, not only for teaching with the help of devices, but also for ensuring that learning is taking place in the most challenging circumstances.

The NEP has recognized the need to move towards online learning models and hybrid/blended models as the way forward. However, this calls for bridging the digital divide both at the individual and institutional levels. Equally critical is the need to develop teacher and faculty capacities to leverage technologies for a more synchronous learning experience which is also enriching. Several efforts are ongoing to strengthen digital infrastructure in educational institutions, bringing out guidelines for online/blended education, broad basing existing educational platforms of DIKSHA, SWAYAM, SWAYAM PRABHA and also teacher training and capacity development of faculty.

As far the additional reforms in addition to those already covered, other transformations, namely , a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) ,a 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children: Foundational Stage; Preparatory Stage ; Middle Stage; and Secondary Stage; foundational literacy and numeracy; and a host of curricular changes and reduced content load in school education curriculum as well assessment reforms for all-round development of students; clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters are also critical changes.

In higher education too, the stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges, through a transparent system of graded accreditation, ; single umbrella regulatory architecture for entire higher education with separate verticals for regulation, standard setting, funding, and accreditation; treating private and public institutions on par; promoting internationalization; strengthening quality open and distance learning; promoting online and digital learning at all levels; technology integration in education; promotion of Indian and Classical Languages by setting up Language academies and an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI); the integration of Indian values and Indian knowledge systems in the 21st Century education system with emphasis on multilingualism, human values & sustainable development, promoting holistic development through focus on health & wellness, developing social responsibility through community outreach and humanistic, ethical, oral and universal human values and citizenship values are necessary. Suggested changes in healthcare education, agriculture education, legal education is important to make them more relevant and futuristic. These path breaking reforms will bring about a paradigm shift by equipping our students, teachers and educational institutions with the right competencies and capabilities and also create an enabling and reinvigorated educational eco-system for a vibrant new India.

The National Education Policy 2020 is expected to be implemented in a phased manner and by 2035, most of the proposed reforms must have been translated on ground. As mentioned earlier, only a phased implementation in consultation with the State Governments; autonomous bodies and stakeholders is desirable in keeping with the idea of cooperative federalism. 

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