“The quality is more than quantity is a sound theory because it is true in practice. Instead , I hold that what can not be proved in practice can not be sound in theory “ Mahatma Gandhi”.
“What can not be sound in practice can not be sound in theory “ – I recollected Mahatma Gandhi’s thought on theories & practice came , when I read the India’s New Education Policy 2020 ( NEP2020) Document, conceptually well designed, crafted well and futuristic in nature. It encompasses “most wanted” reforms aiming at disruption in present ailing system of education, not in tune with changing times and digital technologies. It’s full of impressive promises , enormous possibilities and yes many more problems in terms of converting it into a reality in present troubled times of Corona calamity.The Government of India under leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared the adoption of NEP 2020 Policy after a gap of 34 years. In the year 1986 then Rajiv Gandhi Government such a Policy , it too was a very powerful change-seeker Document;but we know it could not deliver expected outcomes of quality education in true sense , though we could see some noteworthy additions and changes in infrastructure due to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan ( SSA) – Primary Education Mission , followed by Middle -High School Education Mission and lastly Uchhtar Shikha Abhiyan ( Higher Education Mission ) during Congress , NDA & UPA Governments rule. It is observed by all experts and academicians that , since Dr. Kothari Commission all policies were crafted well with ambitious and innovative visions and plans but when it comes to fullest possible execution of of them , India has failed miserably, though we had crossed a few milestones. The failures happened due to not providing resources and human capital required. We always speak of generalisation of quality education ; but hardly we could create tiny minority of quality institutions. The dream of establishing globally top 200 ranked universities in India was never fulfilled during last three decades due to failure of execution of vision and mission which was achievable but not converted in to workable. Why this has happened because we could not allocate required resources and education was not a priority area of our Governments , may it central or state. What we have done is we played with figures but facts were different. It doesn’t mean that nothing has happened or no progress is achieved, the pace was not as expected.
On this background of big and ambitious dreams not converted in reality , New Education Policy 2020 poses again such question mark “ Can we really attain the goal ? “ Always we have miserably failed in an appropriate resource allocations. For example 6 % of GDP budget for education discussed and recommended in all previous Education Commissions and Policy Documents but it never became a reality . Now in NEP 2020 also assures of 6 % GDP Budget to education but for provisions and implementation the NEP 2020 document only says , Central and State Governments will make efforts for such allocations. When the Central Government is facing resource crunch during global slowdown of economies and Covid -19 severe and negative impact of economies becoming standstill , how one can expect that during the revamping of economies education sector will get due share ? At least next 3/4 years are challenging for countries recover their economies from Covid-19 impact. Will really the Government of India and debt-ridden, financially weakened and over-stressed state governments can make provisions of 6% of GDP ? At least next five years in my assessment it is impossible to become a reality. Then how India can become a fully developed Knowledge Economy? It’s not negativity , I am very positive person. Such kind of futuristic policy was need of the hour , no doubt about that. Is there any possibility that , education sector will get priority like Defence Sector, Transport and Railroad sector ? When our central government under leadership of PM Narendra Modi can invest nearly one lakh crore or 10 million rupees on one single route of Bullet Train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad , if there is political will ; yes we can invest 50 million to 100 million rupees for education sector , which is future Social Defence and Development action plan for India during next decade till 2030. University Structural Changes
The New Education Policy 2020 adopted four tier system of universities in India , which is to be implemented in coming decade.
1.Research -Intensive Universities ( RIU ) : university categories having focus on research and development . The NEP 2020 expects these universities concentrate on Research and Development Quality Output. We have already such stand alone institutions in India such as Bhabha Atomic Research Institute (BARI) , Indian Institute of Science ( IIS ) , National Chemical Laboratories( NCLs) , Tata Institute of Fundamental Research ( TIFR) , Tata Institute of Social Sciences( TISS) and many others. Is Government of India is planning to establish additional 50 or 100 universities of this standard , NEP 2020 is not having clear policy path beyond categorisation. Only after Action Plan comes out one can comment on that.
2.Teaching Intensive Universities ( TIUs) : Under this category those universities Focussing on quality of Teaching. At present 90 % Universities are TIUs (Teaching Intensive Universities). How these TIUs will be different from the present universities yet to be clarified. Is there plan to go for reforms in quality and infrastructural improvements in existing universities that is not mentioned. We have to wait for Action Plan. Is this a categorisation only ? Then it will not carry a value as such.
3.Degree Awarding Institutions/ Universities ( DAUs) : This category is new one . Present Higher Education Institutions ( HEIs) i. e. colleges and institutions; which have got autonomous status by UGC and having BoS ( Board of Studies) , Academic Council and conduct their own examinations and only degrees are awarded by university to which they are affiliated, will be in this category. They will be accorded status of universities and can award degrees of their own . There are more than 600 such autonomous colleges and institutions in India and thus they will become “ Degree Awarding Universities or institutions. It is expected that by this move we will have additional 600+ universities in India and in next 5-10 years India will have around 1500 universities as imagined and stated -expected by Knowledge Commission led by Dr. Sam Pitroda. It’s a good and logical idea to upgrade colleges and institutions with A grade and above and having autonomous status. Again NEP-2020 is silent about funding structure and support to these upcoming universities.
4. Multidisciplinary Education & Research Universities ( MERU) : There is one more ideation in NEP 2020 , that is transforming singular disciplinary universities in to “ Multidisciplinary Education & Research Universities “ ( MERU) . It’s really ambiguous and timely move. We are in the age of multidisciplinary knowledge and research. Singular discipline universities in India , which are either dedicated to medical sciences , engineering, Business Management , Performing Arts, Design , Technology are now expected to become a multidisciplinary education -research providing universities both in public and private sector. Transformation of singular discipline universities into multidisciplinary universities, require huge investment in terms of infrastructure, laboratories, human capital , academicians and other staff. Is it possible for the central and state governments to invest millions of rupees to enhance infrastructural facilities and liability of additional salaries in public universities? Can they give priority to this , when economy is not in good shape ? The private sector universities are profitable organisations .Mostly seen that they invest in professional programs and education , where they can earn profit. Would they invest in disciplines like basic sciences, arts, social sciences, humanities, where income generation is not possible. Would they expand their universities in multidisciplinary direction ? Some may come forward but not all.
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