NEP-2020: Riding a revolution?

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PROF. IMTIYAZ-UL-HAQ

KNOWLEDGE is the ultimate power and those who champion the knowledge of economy are the ones who have the innate ability to govern the world to the best of their advantage. In this regard, the transition to New Education Policy 2020 (NEP-2020) in India is going to be a revolutionary measure aimed at radical restructuring and revamping of the entire education system with far-reaching consequences and implications.

The NEP-2020 policy document emphasises in length and breadth the step-by-step approach to reform the traditional education system right from the base to the top. In fact, fundamental to the traditional education system is the mismatch of the supply and demand of the educated workforce. What the educational institutions supply are no longer needed by the society and what the society requires are not produced by these institutions leading to what is known as structural unemployment.

Apart from that, it is argued that traditional knowledge is embodied with a type of technology that does not augur well with the natural resource endowments and human resource base of the country. This malady afflicting Indian education has been well-diagnosed, though belated, with an attempt to get rid of, through several measures to be implemented phase-wise over a period of time.

Of all the levels, however, the most crucial and challenging to the policy makers would be revamping the elementary education as it constitutes the foundation of a knowledge-rich society. It is crucial in the sense that an elementary level teacher has to educate and cultivate a tender human brain. The amount and the quality of skills required are enormous. It is scientifically established that 80 percent of a child’s brain develops before six years of age.

The personality development, body language and socialisation are critical areas that have a vital impact in the evolutionary process of a primary level student. The moot question is – do we expect to have such quality teachers from the pool of available human resource? Unfortunately the education sector, especially the primary education sector, has always been considered as dumping ground for the low quality human resource employment. Policies like ‘Rehbar-e-Taleem’ stand testimony to this fact. Not only human but also physical infrastructure is required on a massive scale.

However, to some extent, it might be possible to spend the resources to raise the buildings, laboratories, classrooms, furniture and so on  in a relatively short run, but the provision of human capital is going to be a medium to long run problem.

 

 

Table -1: Government expenditure per student (% of GDP per capita) 2013

Country Primary Secondary Tertiary
India 9.79 16.85 49.27
United States 19.72 22.59 20.41
United Kingdom 23.15 22.60 40.21
Türkiye 13.20 11.77 41.20

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Table-2: Education spending of G-20 major countries -2020
SNo Countries  % of GDP 
1 Saudi Arabia 7.81
2 South Africa 6.19
3 Australia 6.1
4 USA 6.05
5 UK 5.53
6 France 5.5
7 Canada 5.17
8 Argentina 5.02
9 Germany 4.66
10 India 4.47
11 Italy 4.27
12 Russia 3.73
13 China 3.57
14 Indonesia 3.49
15 Japan 3.42
16 Turkey 3.36

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (http://uis.unesco.org/)

A look at Table-1 indicates that India tends to spend less than 10 percent of the average income per student at primary level as compared to about 50 percent of average income per student in tertiary education. In contrast to some developed countries this situation is quite opposite. For example, United States spends round about 20 percent at primary level and almost the same amount at secondary and tertiary levels. United Kingdom also spends about 23 percent at primary and secondary level each.

Thus the experience of the developed countries also demonstrates that these countries are developed because of their focus on the basic education. Table-2 demonstrates that India also needs to increase the overall budget allocation to the education sector to more than 6 percent so that all of the critical targets and goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be achieved.

 

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