Date & Time: January 21, 2021 at 04:30 pm

Chief Guest: Dr Shakila Shamsu

Moderator: Dr D Dhanuraj

Proceedings Report

  • About the Event: The Centre for Public Policy Research organised a webinar on NEP & Higher Education: Translating Policy into Action, in the context of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020. The new National Education Policy introduces several changes in the Indian education system from the school level to the higher education level with an objective to sustainably transform the country’s academic system into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society. The session’s objective was to bring together a wide spectrum of stakeholders to discuss the higher education landscape, understand the problems faced by the stakeholders in the implementation of the NEP 2020, and the impact of COVID-19 in the educational landscapes.
  • The Key Speaker: Dr Shakila Shamsu, Special Advisor at CPPR. She was formerly an OSD (New Education Policy) in the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education. She has been the Secretary to the Committee to Draft National Education Policy. Her core areas cover education planning and policymaking, teacher education, ICT and Open & Distance Learning, and inclusive education.
  • Moderator: Dr D Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR, Kochi
  • Ms Nissy Solomon, Senior Research Associate at CPPR, concluded the session with a vote of thanks.

Discussion Summary

  1. The discussion on NEP & Higher Education: Translating Policy into Action focused on the pages 33-66 of the National Education Policy, 2020 which talk primarily of the reforms in the higher education institutions.
  2. Dr Shamsu set up the premise by explaining that the current education system of rote learning has become heavily outdated. One of the main principles of the new policy is that each child is individualistic, hence the system must optimise itself to help them realise their full potential. She talked about a “holistic multi-disciplinary approach” that will enhance the main stakeholders (faculty and students), with an emphasis on inclusivity.
  3. The policy holds both private and public institutions to the same standards and allows to leverage their strengths through a robust board of governors, promotion of international collaboration and research to promote entrepreneurship.
  4. While elaborating on the institutional overhaul, she talked of the light but tight regulatory system. The policy establishes four independent verticals — regulation, academic standard, accreditation and funding — which will no longer reside with the same body.
  5. She further explained that the current regulating bodies will concede their regulatory powers to the Higher Education Council of India (HECI) and their laws will be nullified. The National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) will be the first regulatory vertical for higher education. Accreditation will be given by the National Accreditation Council (NAC) which will subsume NAAC and other accreditation agencies within the country. Funding will be taken over by the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for both general and technical institutions and all institutions will become multidisciplinary. Academic standards will be set up by professional standard bodies and a sizable number of courses will fall under the General Educational Council (GEC).
  6. While addressing the certification/graduation process, she mentioned the principle of doing away with the distinction between curricular, co-curricular and extra activities, and discipline-specific learning. The new cross-curricular 4-year graduation programme introduced in the policy allows students to receive credits for courses while giving flexibility in the medium of instruction. She said that the policy also allows for flexibility in the time taken to complete a degree and various exit options; 1-year certificate, 2-year diploma, 3-year Bachelor’s Degree in one major and minor, 4-year Bachelor’s Degree in two major subjects or 4-year Bachelor’s Degree with a research project allowing students to pursue PhD surpassing masters.
  7. Addressing the method of testing, she talked about a criteria-based assessment focusing on fixed learning outcomes through National Curriculum framework and National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF). She said that the learning process will undergo a breakdown where testing will not be an end in itself but a tool for testing one’s own capabilities and strengths, breaking the concept of coaching centres and the stress of the current systems.
  8. She also recognised the challenges that institutions will face while reconfiguring themselves, but pointed out that it will not happen from top-down. Institutions will have the freedom to choose to be research-intensive, teaching-intensive or autonomous degree granting colleges and recommended all intuitions to start making Institutional Development Plans.
  9. She mentioned that there will be various incentives for the teachers to pursue research, including fast-tracked promotions and monetary incentives.
  10. When asked about the funding aspect, she pointed that apart from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), the corporate sector also needs to be incorporated with the educational systems through philanthropy and alumni funding, industry chairs, incubation labs, sports infrastructure, activity clubs, etc. She also said that through the National Research Fund and other research opportunities there will be inter ministry funds to promote research.
  11. She also stated that many students from agrarian background are held back from achieving progress as many institutions give more priority to the English language and expressed satisfaction on the inclusion of the 22 Indian languages in which higher education will be imparted.
  12. To a question on the institutions located in remote areas and having less resources which may face difficulties to convert themselves to multi-disciplinary institutions, she added through the creation of special education zones, social-inclusion funds and gender-inclusion funds that this issue can be addressed and thus remove various social and economic imbalances in educational participation.

This report was prepared by Angira Shukla, Policy Articleship Intern, CPPR.

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