An Analysis of India’s National Education Policy (2020) in a Post-Pandemic World
‘Nothing could be more crucial to democracy
than the education of its citizens. Through education, young citizens form, at
a crucial age, habits of mind that will be with them all through their lives.
They learn to ask questions or not to ask them; to take what they hear at face
value or to probe more deeply; to imagine the situation of a person different
from themselves or to see a new person as a mere threat to the success of their
own projects; to think of themselves as members of a homogeneous group or as
members of a nation, and a world, made up of many people and groups, all of
whom deserve respect and understanding’
—Martha C. Nussbaum (2006)
This article analyses India’s National Education Policy, 2020—and how this nation (India) of more than 1.3 billion, supposedly poised on the cusp of a massive self-reinvention—is attempting to embark upon this journey. India’s National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP),]. In its rather short life thus far, it has already garnered a lot of attention within the country and generated a lot of interest internationally. This is not entirely unexpected, given the long lead-up to the NEP, the timing of its release with a global pandemic raging across the globe, and its eventual content.
While it addresses education in India holistically, one area that has been of particular interest among students as well as institutions of higher learning in India and other countries is the NEP’s references to foreign education and foreign universities.
There has been a shift wards viewing ‘knowledge’ as almost a commodity of sorts for providing policy solutions to grand societal challenges—has placed higher education, research, and innovation at the centre stage of ‘smart’ multi-level policymaking. But unfortunately, what continues nevertheless to refuse to be satisfactorily put to bed in this increasingly sophisticated target-driven approach, happen to be the politically salient discussions concerning access and quality.
Every goal in the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills, and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies. Ambitions for education are essentially captured in Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the 2030 Agenda which aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on across the world, understanding the concept (and salient determinants) of vulnerability assumes renewed significance, as social and political discourses seek to productively build upon the essence of the same. Identifying the factors that render one vulnerable, or further exacerbate pre-existing vulnerability, therefore, directly contributes to fashioning suitably preventive and/or alleviative/corrective policy that is as pragmatically efficient, as it is sensitive and inclusive.
The post-COVID-19 context—where crucial pedagogical tools and indeed, occasionally the very methodology of traditional modes of teaching have either had to be entirely dispensed with, or significantly altered, often resulting in direct consequences on student performance/output, which in turn, sets off a predictable chain of domino-effects both in academia and eventually, the procurement of desired employment—does in fact, provide the most appropriate environment in which to reconsider past practices that may have influenced the nature and modalities of global academic performance.
A shift towards a hybrid model where the intrinsic purpose of higher education is equally acknowledged along with its instrumental purpose, is something that needs to be appreciated not by policy makers alone, but by all levels of implementors as the way forward to create educational systems that are more inclusive and societies that are more just.
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Equitable Access to Higher Education: An Analysis of India’s National Education Policy (2020) in a Post-Pandemic World
Paramita DasGupta, Saurya Bhattacharya
First Published November 13, 2021 Research Article
From Asian Journal of Legal Education