Industry experts have often raised concerns over the employability of Indian youth as they struggled to find people with the right skills. With the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, many believe it is up for a change.
With the new policy emphasising the exposure to vocational jobs, digital literacy, coding, computational thinking, design thinking and skill-based learning, people in the tech and education industries believe that it would enhance skills of students and thereby increase their chances when they graduate.
Many doubted whether the emphasis on mother tongue or local language would discourage students from learning English and thereby affect their employability. But the experts believe that since the three-language system would still be in place, it may not affect the students much.
“The policy does not bar states/schools from teaching English. The three-language formula would still remain in practice. So, the fear that English will take a backseat is not right and it will die down soon,” Former Infosys director and chairman of Manipal Global (education) Mohandas Pai said. “If the schools do not teach English, one cannot blame the policy.”
The NEP 2020 said the three-language formula would continue to be implemented while keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions, the need to promote multilingualism and national unity while providing for greater flexibility.
A 2016 report titled ‘Aspiring Minds – National Employability Report’, a national audit of employability of three-year bachelor’s degree graduates noted that 47 per cent graduates in India are not employable in any sector of the knowledge economy.
“Their lack of English Language knowledge and cognitive skills were identified as the major obstacles. About 84 per cent of graduates were found to lack the right levels in cognitive ability and 90% did not have required proficiency in English communication,” the report had said.
Mayank Kumar, the founder and CEO of UpGra, India’s full-fledged online education company, said that out of nearly eight million completing higher education every year, not more than one million would be getting white-collar jobs. So, the English-language concern is just a tip of the iceberg, he said.
Mayank added that in the present scenario many did not even understand the basics of how things worked. He believed that teaching in mother tongue would address that concern first and once they learn they will be able to communicate (in English) as they progress higher up.
With the NEP’s focus on lifelong learning and continuous education even for adults to enable them to progress personally and professionally, he opined that the system would turn to benefit the students.
“The government also focused on online education and credit-based courses. So it’s upbeat for edtech companies like ours where we will be able to partner with colleges and schools and offer student skill-based learning with a focus on employability,” Mayank said.
NEP suggests that curricula must be renewed with an opportunities to engage them deeply with technical education, and also prepare professionals in cutting-edge areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3-D machining, big data analysis and machine learning among others.
Prof. T V Kattimani, who was part of the Dr K Kasturirangan Committee that was instrumental in preparing the New Education Policy, says, with technology and science-based education to be introduced from class 7 onwards, it certainly would enhance their skills and help in employability.
“Our education system is not ready to accept the language ability of the students. By virtue of practice, we will be capable of handling this concern. The school curriculum will also include chapters on village innovators/innovations and build the minds of students towards entrepreneurship,” Kattimani said.