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Our education’s aims are broadly threefold: aesthetic, economic and cultural.

While these are constant, the practice has to be revisited every so often for review. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 was thus eagerly awaited.

A commitment to treat the Sciences, Humanities and Arts as equals is a much desired step. Indeed the ministry of human resource development and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had already set the skill vision more than a decade ago: critical thinking, the capacity to synthesize ideas, and the use of multiple intelligences were always at the forefront.

However, the gap between intent and execution in the assessments of the present final board examinations is evidence that they do not adequately correlate. In particular, they still tend to test passive rote learning. The new education policy has rightly said it intends to address these shortcomings.

Moreover, students continue to face competitive entrance exams for higher education, meaning, there is a parallel system of cramming through coaching centres to meet the demand.

The classes 11 and 12 can seem redundant to students choosing between two imperatives. The new design, emphasizing core concepts and focusing on quality of understanding, is very welcome, and will lessen the need for coaching centres. Modifying textbooks in line with the new style of assessment is also welcome.

Teachers crucially influence our young in their early years; improving the skills and quality of teachers is essential.

Teaching is the crowning jewel among all other professions and, one hopes, a cadre of high-quality teachers can take India to the forefront of learning as in earlier times.

The decision to introduce local languages as the medium of instruction for these early years will help to preserve Indian tradition and culture, but a broader approach may be called for.

I believe that the wealth of India’s ancient literature, if expounded well, should infuse the context for a valid cultural identity.

Understanding how ancient intuitive systems of knowledge adapted over time to today’s rational, discrete forms of knowledge is enthralling.

It would allow students to see the development of knowledge within India and to place themselves in this broad context. Knowing India’s unique contribution to the world’s store of knowledge is a source of unifying national pride.

Several of the themes in the new policy build on previous educational policies, but I am extremely happy that our respected thinkers have addressed the gaps they saw and made bold changes.

The themes in the new policy connect to one another and, as in any proper strategy for change, reform in one area, such as in the assessment methods, will have a multiplier effect on all others.

Nirmala Raja is correspondent, Arsha Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School

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