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Govt needs to look into gaps in NEP 2020

There are many areas in which the government needs to rethink and find solutions if it wants to truly create a document that will not only transform the education sector but also make India an education hub in the world.

Rustom Kerawalla

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The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a path-breaking document that will transform the entire educational system in the country. The new policy has many firsts to its credit including bringing pre-primary education and vocational studies into mainstream education while aligning Indian education with global trends to bring it up to global standards. At the same time, it has highlighted the rich heritage of Indian education which will continue to guide the future generations. 

One of the key takeaways of the policy is that it effectively takes the initiative to distance Indian education from the age-old rote learning process to a more logical, inquiry-based, projectled ecosystem of education and talks about creating an enabling framework for this. What is heartening to see is that there is a strong emphasis on promoting digitisation, and technology integration in the classroom. The policy also highlights the need for online education which has become so important in the times of Covid-19. However, there are many areas in which the policy leaves gaps which need to be filled considering the needs of society today. While digitisation and technology have found preference in the policy, the policy seems to have fallen short in taking them to their logical conclusion.

 While the policy pushes for the use of technology in the classroom, there is no mention about the use of technology in schools beyond mention of three things: Gamification and apps, online teacher training and smart class. Leveraging technology specifically for online teacher training is good. But the policy is not talking about technology in the schooling section. There should have been more thought on technology in classrooms which has become so relevant in today’s time and will become increasingly important and part of education going forward. Schools will also need to embrace ed-tech widely to avoid dissonance with higher education curriculum in the future.

 Next is the inclusion of vocational studies in mainstream education. While this is a welcome move and will help train students in vocational skills right from the school level, there is no mention of vocational training beyond the school level where it is important to train students for jobs. About 280 million job hopefuls are expected to enter the job market by 2050 and they would need to learn newage skills. In this scenario, a clear roadmap for vocational studies beyond schools was required. The policy is pretty silent on this aspect. 

One of the biggest disappointments in the new policy is regarding its funding. By all means the policy makes Indian education a highly regulated but poorly funded sector. The policy has increased the funding for education to 6 percent of the GDP. This is a welcome step considering that we are currently spending a little over 4.5 percent of the GDP on education.

 However, considering the ground realities and requirements of today’s times, especially at a time when integration of technology and digitisation has become a necessity, it is too little too late. The government’s intent on increasing digital intensity in education needs to be backed by adequate fund allocation. Most developed countries are spending up to 20 percent of their GDP on education.   

Another important miss by the policy is in implementation of the proposals. While it makes many recommendations for transforming the education sector, it has not provided a roadmap for their implementation without which the proposals will remain on paper. And while the new policy talks about the role of the private sector in Indian education, it has not gone into implementation of many of its proposals in the ‘Public-Private-Partnership (PPP)’ mode. The policy also lays a lot of emphasis on higher education, but there seems to be little thought on primary and secondary education which is the foundation of education for students. There is not much in the policy which talks about this. Plus, even while there is emphasis on higher education, what is of concern is that today there is an under-supply of quality education especially at the higher education level. Today 26 percent of Indians go for higher education. The target is to double it by 2035 but the roadmap or supply has not been defined making it uncertain as to how this will be achieved.  

The policy talks about augmenting physical infrastructure. That is not what the education sector needs today. There is an adequate amount of infrastructure present in the Indian education sector which can be effectively utilised. Plus, with the coming of GST, many taxes have been subsumed within it making many offices redundant and making a lot of physical infrastructure available. All that can be repurposed for the education sector rather than spending resources in creating fresh infrastructure. Resources should be used in creating digital and technology infrastructure in schools.

 The NEP rightly puts a lot of emphasis on the role of the private sector in Indian education. While this is a welcome move and will improve Indian education in a large way, what is conspicuous by its absence is the sheer lack of attention to government schools which is required at the moment, especially in context of technology and e-learning. Government schools have been lacking in improving their technology and digital infrastructure and are far behind private schools in this respect. The policy should have laid emphasis on this aspect to bring them at par or closer to that of private schools.  The other important aspect is the proposal to teach in three languages. While this and education in the mother tongue are progressive moves, there are practical difficulties. Some states like southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu may have difficulties in the three-language policy and may be opposed to it. This could bring in serious centre-states issues. Similarly, the interdisciplinary approach, which has been borrowed from developed countries like the US, sounds pretty good on paper but may have implementation nightmares. Although this will take time to settle down in India, there will be issues in implementing this in specialized technical institutions like the IITs and IIMs or in medical colleges.

 There are many areas in which the government needs to rethink and go back to its drawing board as far as the NEP is concerned and find solutions if it wants to truly create a document that will not only transform the Indian education sector but will make India one of the most progressive education providers in the world. 

The author is an educationist and chairman of Ampersand Group.

Educationally Speaking

HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE

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Hiring activity in India rose by 24% in September 2020 as compared to August 2020, as seen in the Naukri JobSpeak Index. At 1755, the job index marked a great improvement of 24% in September as against 1413 in August after the sharp drop in April 2020 due to Covid-19. “The last quarter has seen significant uptick in the hiring activity, growing at 14% compared to 8% decline in AMJ’ 20. While the hiring is yet to touch last year levels and is down by 23% in Sept’20 versus Sept’19 but this is also a marked recovery from a 35%-60% decline that we have witnessed in the last few months,” Pawan Goyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com The 24% M-O-M growth is being propelled by industries like Pharma (+44%), FMCG (+43%), Education/Teaching (+41%) and IT (+32%). Further opening up of the economy with unlock measures and increased mobility has led to an improvement in hiring activities in industries like Real Estate (+44%), Auto/Ancillary (+29%) and Hospitality/Travel (+48%) versus August’20.

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Educationally Speaking

‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’

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The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow schools in different states to reopen from 15 October depending on the state government’s decision, but as per a study by SP Robotics Works from last month named ‘Kids under Covid’, 78% parents are ready to skip a school year, but not ready to send their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sudden transition to online learning and prolonged screen time with no outdoor play and limited social interaction, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown on children’s mental and physical health remains dubious. To arrive at the insights of this survey, SP Robotic Works conducted a survey over the month of July and August among 3600 parents and an equal number of children in the age group of 7-17 years

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ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW

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Indian Army has invited applications for SSC Officer posts. Candidates who are interested can apply at joinindianarmy.nic.in. The number of positions vacant positions is 191 posts. Candidates can apply till November 12, 2020. Unmarried male and unmarried female engineering graduates, final-year engineering students can apply. The course will start in April 2021 at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Opening date of application is 14 October, 202, while closing date of application is 12 November 2020. Candidates will be put through two-stage selection procedure. Those who clear Stage-1 will go to Stage-2. Those who fail in Stage-1 will be returned on the same day.

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Educationally Speaking

JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED

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Jamia Hamdard has extended the last date to fill and submit the online admission form to 25 October. Earlier, the last date of application form 2020 submission was 20 September. Candidates who wish to take admissions to UG and PG courses offered by the university can fill the Jamia Hamdard application form 2020 till the new extended deadline. Candidates must note that they also have to upload their qualifying examination mark sheet while filling the application form. Students who have passed class 12th exam can apply for its UG courses while those having a bachelor’s degree can apply for its PG courses. Aspirants can apply for admission to the university online at jamiahamdard.edu. This year, the admission process has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The admission form submission deadline was extended as there were many students who were seeking admissions in engineering and diploma courses but were not able to fill out the forms timely

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Educationally Speaking

EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the newly built Golden Jubilee Building of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, on Tuesday through a virtual platform. Speaking at the occasion he said that NIT Rourkela is a premier institution of our country and has been producing the best brains for the country. The newly constructed NIT Rourkela building is a symbol of the varsity’s prestige. Pokhriyal said that institutions like NIT Rourkela have a very important role to play in the implementation of the New Educational Policies (NEP). The minister also added the building amplifies the glory of Rourkela city as it is one of the tallest buildings around. The magnificent structure is indeed metaphorically and geographically, ‘the heart of NIT Rourkela’, added Pokhriyal. The minister also highlighted that the vision of having this building will fulfill one of the essential mottos of the Institute to enhance efficiency in the administrative functioning and amalgamate technology with this process to make it more people-friendly.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

Narendra Shyamsukha

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The Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organisations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As most people still stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted, there has been a shift to a space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organisations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organisations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive as compared to those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship are adjusting the “new normal”:

THE AGE OF WEBINARS

As live conferences and face to face engagement activities take a backset, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

INCREASED USAGE OF DATA ANALYTICS

In a digital age, data analytics has always been a valuable proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organisations now need to create valuable databases, analyse them and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking pattern of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analysing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be totally promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

The writer is founder & chairman, ICA Edu Skills.

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