The draft National Education Policy (NEP) was released on 30th May 2019. NEP aligns itself with the SDG 4 which seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. This 400 page document is by far the most ambitious effort on revamping the education system. The policy addresses the key issues and challenges of current education system pragmatically and has also demonstrates a path of preparing the children and youth for the future. As it is said “proof is in the pudding “ policy provides detailed time bound action plan for implementation of the key proposals.
Some of the notable proposals include:
1.Incorporation of 21st century skills like critical thinking, communication, scientific temper, art appreciation in the curriculum and recognizing the need for social and emotional learning.
2. Inclusion of compulsory early child education within the ambit of RTE and increasing its scope to 18 years.
3. Making vocational education an integral part of schooling and higher education.
4. Removing difference between extra-curricular and co-curricular activities and ensuring that all arts, crafts and sports activities are considered as curricular.
5. Recognising the interconnectedness of fields, proposes a liberal arts approach to education and encourages postponement of specialization early on.
6. Revamping the assessments with use of adaptive assessments in the school years and making board exams flexible, providing multiple attempts and levels of difficulties in different subjects.
7. Setting up of National Testing Agency for all university level entrance tests.
8. Strong Reliance on technology for providing quality education to all with a special focus on improving access to disadvantaged groups, continuous professional development of teachers, teaching learning and assessment of students and managing the education eco-system. It suggests setting up National Education Technology Forum which will be repository of information on break-through technologies available for education.
9. Invites volunteers at the community level through its Remedial Instructional Aide Program and encourages peer to peer learning through National Tutor Program.
10. Providing for multiple entry and exit for students across secondary and higher education to promote life-long learning and opportunities for re-entering the education system.
This is great opportunity for ed-tech companies with proven expertise in providing curriculum solutions integrated with 21st century skills, sports facilities, online courses, vocational skills, teacher training, after school enrichment solutions, assessments and other technology solutions for efficient management of teaching, learning and assessment. This will also increase demand for trained teachers in erstwhile extra-curricular activities such as sports, dance, arts, yoga and music.
While NEP doesn’t explicitly refer to the private sector solutions or ed-tech entrepreneurs it would do well to collaborate with them to achieve the ambitious goals which it has set for itself such as “providing foundational literacy to all children by 2025”. With only quarter of children in rural Government Schools in Grade 3 at grade level proficiency and 31% of children studying private schools ignoring private schools and service providers will be at its own peril.