Written by: Sayani Kundu
As soon as the National Education Policy amendment has been announced, it became the talk of the town. The government had initiated for an “inclusive, participatory and holistic approach, which takes into consideration expert opinions, field experiences, inquiry, stakeholder feedback, further as lessons learned from best practices”. The policy claims to supply promising results. However, what’s the reality of the situation?
Does the policy effectively provide accessibility of education to the underprivileged section?
Efforts to attain universal primary education has become threefold over the last decade. Although the units are accessible, they’re characterized by the need for multi-grade classroom management as a result of low enrolment, few teachers, and shortages of teaching and learning resources. This frequently ensues in poor educational quality, high rates of drop-out and low rates of retention.
The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 divided schooling years into several sections with program outcomes specified for each level. It talks about target discovery, preparation, abstract thinking and multidisciplinary learning.
Before jumping to accept the NEP, we must take a deep dive into the current challenges that India’s education system faces at the grassroots level.
What are the challenges?
The challenges include
- Enrolling the children from urban slums and rural areas into schools
- Retaining students, especially the girls, in schools
- Enabling teachers to deliver the NEP-imagined curriculums
- Building sufficient infrastructure and providing technological assistance
- Delivering the committed education budgets to implementing authorities
- Ensuring that each educated Indian is employable.
The important thing to consider here is to ensure that the new policy does not exacerbate the present educational divide between the marginalized and the privileged, and the rural and urban children.
Since there’s a severe dearth of trained personnel, the NEP relies on Anganwadi workers, who are already overburdened with numerous public health responsibilities for delivering quality ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’.
The education system of rural areas has had much room for improvement — yet, the numbers show disappointing results. According to the District System for Education (DISE) data, only 53% of total government schools have electricity connection. In the total numbers, only 28% of schools have a computer while a mere 9% have an internet connection. The proportion is further low for government schools in rural areas.
The digital revolution and the new policy might change the face of urban education — however, rural schools might continue missing out on the suggested benefits.
With 70% of India’s workforce residing in rural areas, it is this population that will form the bulk of tomorrow’s workforce. Infact, according to NITI Aayog, half of the overall population of the country is predicted to be living in rural India by 2050.
The lack of teachers, proper infrastructure and the ever-increasing income gap raise the question about the feasibility of the NEP. The need of the hour is the execution of operations that will kickstart the desired development in the rural areas than the implementation of a policy that only benefits the cream of the society. This is why NGOs like UPAY strive harder every day to work with communities at the grassroots level to increase literacy and awareness of their rights.