Expert panel suggests redesignation of MHRD, among other things

Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, National Education Commission, NHERA, NAAC, India, Education, Vocational training
For representational purpose only. Photo: Pixabay

Restructuring of undergraduate programmes with multiple entry options and constituting a National Education Commission are among the recommendations that the Dr Kasturirangan Committee has suggested the HRD ministry for a new National Education Policy.

The current education policy was framed in 1986 and later revised in 1992. The draft of the new policy was formulated by an expert committee led by Dr Kasturirangan, former chief of the ISRO. A new National Education Policy (NEP) was mentioned in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto.

The draft report recommends restructuring the undergraduate programmes by reintegrating professional education into higher education along with vocational education and training.

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“Preparation of professionals must involve an education in the ethic and importance of public purpose, an education in the discipline, and an education for practice — professional education must not happen in the isolation of specialty,” it said. It also stressed on the creation of pathways for multiple entry points into various disciplines of professional education programmes.

The report proposed to constitute an apex body, Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, to be chaired by the prime minister, for synergistic functioning of India’s education system and to deliver equity and excellence at all levels.

Redesignating MHRD

“The Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog will be responsible for developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating and revising the vision of education in the country,” it said. Besides, the report also proposed to redesignate the MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE) in order to “bring the focus back on education and learning.”

It also proposed a reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with early childhood care and education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education.

The Committee further recommended the extension of the Right to Education Act, 2009 to cover children of age 3 to 18 years, taking cognizance of the differences in the development of cognitive abilities in children.

It formulated a 5+3+3+4 structure, in which the first five years will be the foundational phase. “Access for children aged 3-8 years to a flexible, multifaceted, multilevel, play-based and activity-based education is of utmost importance,” it said.

Grades 3-5 will be the preparatory phase with basic education. The next three, grades 6-8, will be the middle school education involving the development of more abstract thinking and subject teaching. The final four years, grades 9-12, will be secondary school education that will facilitate multidisciplinary studies.

It also stressed upon having more interactive classrooms with less rote learning; adaptive and formative assessment; and how best to use tutors, remedial instructors, and technology.

Reduction in content load

Besides, the report also sought the reduction in content load in school education. “Reducing the curriculum content load — in addition to allowing greater room for nuanced understanding, analysis, and discussion in mandated curriculum — will also enable students to explore subjects beyond the current usual curriculum,” it said.

Further, the report stated that student-teacher ratio of 30:1 must be ensured in every school by filling teacher vacancies on an urgent basis.

On the regulatory structure, the draft said that “NHERA shall be the sole regulator for higher education, including professional education” and the “NAAC shall develop an ecosystem of multiple accreditation institutions (AIs) and oversee the accreditation processes.”

The report further recommended the promotion of Indian and classical languages and setting up three new national institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit. “Research on Indian languages, literature, language education, and related cultural areas will be supported by the NRF with adequate funds,” it said.

The draft also proposed to establish an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) as a constituent unit of one of the existing national level institutions or in a central university.

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