The new National Education Policy’s (NEP) acceptability among people is evident from the fact that no one in the country has yet insinuated that the policy is biased, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while addressing heads of higher education institutions.
The new policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on July 29 and is only the third since Independence, promotes curiosity and imagination instead of herd mentality, he said, urging all stakeholders to help in its implementation. He assured that the government has the political will to translate the NEP, a big reform on paper, into action.
“There have been no significant reforms in education for the last many years. As a result, our society started promoting herd mentality instead of imagination and curiosity. At one point, everyone wanted to become a doctor. Then another time, everyone was competing to become an engineer or a lawyer,” the PM said, adding it was important to wean education away from such “lopsided priorities”.
The NEP aims to provide students with the freedom to follow their passion and higher education institutions with autonomy, he said. In case students discover after starting an undergraduate programme that it doesn’t meet job requirements, they will have the option to exit the programme before four years with appropriate qualification. As per the policy, students can leave with a certificate after one year, diploma after two years, degree after three and degree with research after four years.
While there are two views on autonomy in higher education — one that argues for rules and the other that seeks more academic freedom — the NEP strives to walk the middle path, the Prime Minister said. “Quality education is the middle path between two debates. Institutions that work more towards quality education should be rewarded with more freedom. This will encourage quality and incentivise growth,” he said.
The use of mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction is one of the main thrusts of NEP. “When students are taught in their mother tongue or regional language, they learn faster. So till Class 5, learning in the mother tongue will help greatly. Once the understanding of a subject is there, then the future is solid,” the Prime Minister said.
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