NEP-2020 is paving the way for a shift in the way we educate which is quite path-breaking and in alignment with sustainable development goals. Along with “Sarva Sikhsa” there is a thrust on “Samagra Siksha” i.e., on the all-around development of the child, holistic education with a comprehensive approach. The drive is more on building competencies rather than the content. Covering modules is of primary importance rather than completing the textbooks. Again, a big push is given to continuous comprehensive holistic, 360° evaluation giving less importance to summative assessment. The major push is on teachers’ empowerment rather than simple teachers’ training. It is designed to meet future challenges through present experimentation and past experiences. The goal of the policy is to provide quality education by 2030, not only for life-changing but also mind crafting and character-building experiences along with building a big knowledge base. It is to have an educational system based on Indian ethos by transforming Bharat into a global knowledge superpower. Quality education with skill and a vocational base is being pursued.
Expected outcomes are clearly mentioned in the policy in different chapters.
- Universalization of access from ECCE to the secondary level.
- Ensuring equity and inclusion in education.
- Bringing back two crores of school children to school to ensure sustainable development goal (SDG-4).
- Retaining all children in schools until the completion of secondary education.
- To thrive in foundational literacy and numeracy by putting best efforts in the coming years.
- For quality improvement in schools, resource sharing by forming school complexes and schools should become centers of social change with community participation.
- Another important aspect is accountability in education through effective governance by distribution and delegation of powers and setting common norms.
- Planning to overcome the language barrier is also another aspect as multi-linguism has given a big scope.
- Fixing common standards for public and private schools in educational administration to make them more responsible.
Accountability in Education:
Accountability is the primary concern of the educational policy because of which they said goals, outcomes and quality education is becoming a myth. The NEP-20 clearly is of the view that the educational system must be more accessible, equitable, affordable, accountable and qualitative. These are the five guiding pillars of this path-breaking policy. The whole system is to be made answerable, responsible, and accountable for which a periodical review assessment and evaluation with corrective measures at the macro & micro level and outside & inside the school activity are very much essential.
Need Better Governance:
We know that governance is a process by which organizations are directed and held to account. It includes authority, accountability, leadership, direction and control exercised in the whole system. It is proper to declare that success is achieved by good governance – principles and practice, which are given here.
Principles of Governance:
- Involving all the stakeholders:
Education is a concern of all. Hitherto all the stakeholders viz Alumni, parents, the community around along with teachers and management, were not involved judiciously at the implementation of policies and schools governance. Matrubharathi of Kerala in our schools has a vital role in improving the quality of education. In the same way during this pandemic, Vidya Bharati’s old students did participate in strengthening, mobilizing resources, teaching and skilling, holding tuitions etc.
- Improving inputs:
Providing all necessary inputs required at the school level paves way for better output and outcomes. Basic resources, infrastructure and other facilities shall improve the quality of education. Buildings, Laboratories, Library, Toilets, ICT facilities are to be provided in all government and nongovernmental schools. We should never forget that without reforming the government schools no major change in the education system is possible. As per the latest report and recommendation of state of education report for India- 2021 by UNESCO, there is an immediate deficit of 11.16 lakhs teachers and it is going to grow further in future. During the next decade 30% of working force need to be replaced.
- Empowering the teacher:
Quality of education is the core challenge of next decade when it comes to overall education standards, retention, transition and equity in academic achievement. Hence the focus of this decade is on teachers and teaching. Teacher is a front-line warrior, who can translate policy recommendations into practical actionable points in the class room transactions through teaching-Learning process. He should be empowered, upskilled and updated through number of training programs. Continuous professional development should also include periodical training at the school level as well as personal mentoring. Teachers are to be provided with meaningful ICT training and develop governance through consultative processes based on mutual accountability. It has also suggested a restructure of pre-service professional development strengthening curriculum and pedagogical reforms.
- National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) and National Mentoring Mission (NMM):
As per the NEP – 20, NPST (National professional standards for teachers) and NMM (National Mentoring Mission) would improve the quality of nearly 1.5 crore teachers across India. Committees are formed to finalize the modalities, for which Vidya Bharathi has submitted its detailed report. This would be a forerunner of many good things to come in the future.
- Enhancing digital infrastructure:
The future would be that of Hybrid learning – a blend of classroom and online learning – which necessitates, proper technical support and digital infrastructure to make teachers and students updated and upskilled with required training. Access to the internet in schools is only 19% of the course in rural areas it is 14% only, leaving a big space for the government’s initiative.
- Motivating the entire government education machinery:
More than 10 lakh schools excluding Anganwadi Kendras are run by the government. Without reforming these 2/3 of schools in India, the summary transformation of education is impossible and quality education remains a distant dream. Only solution is to motivate education machinery and make it more accountable and answerable. SCERTs, DIETs and all other agencies at all levels are to be delegated and accredited with powers to correct, penalize, reward and discipline.
- Setting clear outcomes goals and progress charts:
In our Vidya Bharati, we have Manak Parishad (system for enrichment of school quality) which undertakes an annual assessment procedure in which 4 areas viz. governance, administration, leadership and classroom transaction are assessed through 12 parameters 40 indicators and 139 standards. Based on the inspection report goals shall be reset for the next year. That is how schools’ education quality index is monitored by us. Of course at the national level, PARAKH (Performance Assessment Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic development) is established. At the state level also a regulatory accreditation and performance body is being set up, which closely supervises the progress of schools.
- Schools to be developed as centers of social change and service:
Schools are not simply ivory towers or islands and are disconnected to the society around them. They are the lighthouses to spread light across. Moreover, education is a powerful tool to achieve social justice, harmony and unity. Programs for community involvement in the school and other stakeholders outside the school as a part of social responsibility and social consciousness are to be planned. We conduct Bala Sanskara Kendra, Tuition centers, Matrumandalis and other training programmers in villages. Even during the pandemic, we also did hold Mohalla Vidyalaya and vidyardhi vikas kendras for the students of 29 villages. Our staff members, old students and parents got involved in it in a bigway. They were all students studying in government schools around.
- School Complexes:
N.E.P recommends school complexes to face many challenges in governance at micro level viz. large number of small schools and single teacher schools etc. It ensures sharing of best practices along with both physical and human resources, soliciting cooperation among schools. School managing committees are to be formed for effective governance, monitoring, support, innovation and better coordination.
- Internal self-correctives in the system:
School operations should provide internal self-correctives in the system to identify, diagnose, correct and change courses of action that are inappropriate, ineffective, unproductive, irrelevant and not in tune with expected outcomes. School-based systems, processes and procedures are to be evolved as per the local initiatives and requirements.
- Building a team – leadership:
Team leadership creates an environment among the staff members to become more accountable rather than a single leader. From decision-making to the distribution of work team promotes collective responsibility. In our school effective governance was possible by building a team, which meets every week to exchange views, and ideas, conduct critical reviews and decide further courses of action. Better performance and optimum outcomes are possible when there is collective wisdom and skills. Participatory governance has always paid us dividends.
Creating an efficient and powerful network of governance involving as many as possible with special underlining on ‘Teachers and teaching’ would improve accountability in education.
– D. Ramakrishna Rao
(Author is a Retired Principal and National President of Vidya Bharati)