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The National Education Policy (NEP) is a comprehensive reappraisal and revamping of education that is adapted to the changing needs of today. It has the potential to forge a transformative vision that is bound to impact the grassroots micro-narratives that radically change and create fresh possibilities for constituting a new national identity.

The NEP has thrown up several new points that seek to position education as a cradle of innovation and change during a time of great transformation in our life and society.

Primarily, the education system envisaged here focuses on critical thinking and problem-solving through an emphasis on experiential learning to negotiate a future consistent with India’s rich history and heritage.

While education is brought centre-stage of a person’s life through a visionary understanding of India’s past contribution to knowledge, it is heartening to see that the NEP considers access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability as the pillars of such a vision.

Universal access to education is an unavoidable goal if we have to imagine equal opportunities to all.

In view of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, the policy recognizes the special and critical role that women play in society and in shaping social mores—not only in their own generation but in the next one too. Therefore, providing quality education to girls is the best way to increase the education levels for current and future generations.

Equitable access to quality education and effective vocational education into mainstream teaching curriculum is enabled through the recognition of competency-based skills in subjects such as traditional arts, vocational crafts, entrepreneurship and agriculture.

It states that the National Skills Qualifications Framework will be detailed for each discipline/vocation and it is expected that by 2025, at least 50% of learners in schools and higher education would have exposure to the vocational system. The arts and other creative industries are a part of a fast-growing, economically productive sector that factors increasingly in the nation’s ability to compete in global markets. The demands of conservation, tourism and intercultural communication call for new professionalism to be created through education.

Second, the policy speaks about digitally enabled classrooms and digital literacy, expanding the digital marketplace, and the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, it is felt that the potential of digital technologies and phygital (bridging the divide between the physical and digital worlds) processes have not been reflected adequately.

I am happy to learn that many recommendations I had made during my tenure as the chairman of the National Skills Development Agency and National Skills Development Council find a place in the NEP. However, I must reiterate that all stakeholders—the government, educational institutions, corporates, NGOs and a plethora of experts and practitioners from all associated fields—must collaborate to ensure its successful implementation.

S. Ramadorai is former chairman, National Skills Development Agency and National Skills Development Council


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