There have been a lot of talks around the educational sector concerning the New Education Policy, released by the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’. With all the barriers in the education sector in view, the policy was introduced with the objective of progressive reform. A long-awaited discussion on the integrity of the education sector was knowingly triggered by the policy. The policy proposal has been seen as a review of the country’s current education landscape, including the legal education sector, along the path of its objectives.
In addition to promoting the intelligent legal profession, legal education also serves as a link to legal education and is directly linked to the quality of the country’s rule of law. Where society trusts the law, the rule of law prevails and legal education acts as a medium to inculcate the values of law in the young generation. Concerning the importance of legal education for the country’s safety, peace and welfare, emphasis should be put on ensuring the quality of legal education. Several improvements and reforms have been made to the 2020 policy, which could have a large impact on legal education.
The NEP 2020 is a very ambitious and relatively progressive guideline set out by the government of Modi, which will replace the policy of 1986. The 1986 National Education Policy concentrated on access to education for everyone, while the 2020 new policy focuses on flexibility while delivering quality education. The new strategy reflects on the values of multidisciplinary, innovative, critical thinking in order to promote this. The emphasis on life skills, ethics, and constitutional values has also been placed. Public education is promoted in order to minimize the complete privatization of the education sector. One of the most appreciated proposals in this policy is the introduction of the Right to Education until the age of 18. All these sweeping changes by the Indian Government will change the future of legal education significantly.
Impact on Legal Education
• Inclusion of ethics and constitutional values: Ethics, morality, and principles are based on legal education. Morality, justice, and principles are some of the most significant keywords in the life of any law student. These values were also the most key components of our ancient Hindu education system. In traditional legal education, emphasis has been placed on maintaining the importance of justice in a format. But the gravity for such values has been depreciating with the changing time and change in the legal profession. We have several cases of immoral, unethical professional behavior in the recent past, one of which is the recent case of Prashant Bhushan, where famous lawyers were charged by the supreme court for the offence of Contempt of Court. All these offences arise from the vacuum created by the lack of ethical and moral values in the profession, such as contempt of court. In the case of legal work, the lack of inclusion of ethical principles in legal education may be one of the key reasons for losing the integrity of the profession. There is a famous saying that education moulds the future of that profession. The current legal education system, however, emphasized access to education for all, but ignored the quality assurance aspect by inscribing ethical and moral values. One of the primary aims of this new draft of NEP is “to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st Century education while remaining consistent with India’s traditions and value systems.” The policy also aims to provide legal education that is guided and informed by the constitutional ideals of social , economic and political justice. The importance of democracy, the rule of law and justice in the country will grow with the introduction of these values.
The legal profession is considered to be one of the most prestigious professions of all; it is the responsibility of legal education to maintain the same. To fulfill that responsibility, it is important to state that ethical and constitutional values should be an integral part of legal education. A commendable reform was made in the 2020 NEP to include these values in the curriculum while recognizing the long-term objectives of legal education.
• Multilingual education: Indian Constitution acknowledges 22 languages. India has even more languages than the number of states the country has, despite having just 22 languages in the Constitution. India’s multilingual existence provides the country with a distinctive character. Because of the variety of cultures and languages in the country, India has become popular throughout the world. A system of education at the foundation of any society. Society thrives on the educational sector’s development and growth. The drafted NEP 2020 is the prominent document in consideration of the same, when deciding the country’s future. The changes in the inclusion of various languages in the process of improving society. The policy stated that education in English and the language of the state in which the law school is located should be considered by the state institutions providing legal education. It has been speculated that by ensuring the ease of legal education at the comfort of law students, it will reform the education sector. It should be noted, witnessing the response to this initiative, that it will help to reduce the delay in legal outcomes due to the need for translation.
• For global common good: Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian thinker, once stated on “learning in a non-competitive and non-hierarchical ecosystem and discovering one’s true passion without any sense of fear.” She emphasized the element of critical thinking to make education as a means of achieving education as a public good. The ability for critical thinking derives from the ability for cultural differences to stand out. The ability would ultimately create the common good of the nation. In order to ensure nation-building, community development, education is a necessary public good. We have a rather exclusive society, which is witnessed by incidents such as the exclusion of the transgender community based on their sex. Legal education may be a major factor in making this society inclusive. As a public good, education will work in the fresh air to make communities alive. Ensuring access to education to every section of the public will produce sensitive, creative, and upright citizens, on whom the society could rely on the aim of an inclusive society.
The NEP policy draft can be seen as a medium to achieve this goal. The policy discourages the concept of stand-alone institutions, in the way of making the education a public good. In furtherance of the same, it states that “All institutions offering professional or general education will aim to evolve into institutions/ clusters offering both seamlessly organically, and in an integrated manner by 2030.” Through this initiative, multidisciplinary institutions will develop a holistic educational environment which, as a public good, will suffice for the purpose of education.
• Globally competitive and quality assessment: The policy ensures the inclusion of global education outreach in the education sector, which is a positive step towards India’s international recognition. The proposal for the establishment of a national assessment center, the PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), as a standard-setting body within the Ministry of Education indicates that the Government is keen to regularly monitor the education system. The set-up would assist states to ensure standardized assessments of quality. It is considered that legal education requires global competition. In order to achieve various social-economic responsibilities, legal education is required, such as creating future lawyers to establish justice globally. In the same way, in the most desirable move for educational policy, they are adopting global competition to ensure best practices and embracing new technologies for wider access to and timely delivery of justice.
• Social relevance and acceptability: The law as a profession has been losing its relevance with the increase in the unethical actions of legal professionals. The profession has lacked social acceptability and trust, ultimately influencing the trust of the masses in the judiciary. To cover these lacunas, the NEP policy stressed the importance of social relevance and acceptability. The draft stated that the policy relies on the culture and tradition of people, including legal history, literature, and mythology, to accomplish these elements. It states that universities should include in the curriculum the history of jurisprudence, principles of justice, the practice of jurisprudence, and other fundamental values. The initial aim of legal education for budding lawyers would be sufficient to enforce.
To conclude, it is pertinent to mention that the new National educational policy drafted by the Ministry of Human Resource development possesses some of the desired reforms for the sector. It is the complete restructuring of the higher education system through the introduction of a multidisciplinary undergraduate programs. The policy itself tackles various aspects of the education system and if this policy is implemented with full potential, then the country might witness major growth in the educational sector. Talking about legal education, specifically, the above mentions provisions in the policy give an overview that the policy has focused on maintaining and retaining the esteem of legal education with long term goals. The educational programs for lawful examinations must reflect socio-social settings alongside, in a proof based way, the historical backdrop of legitimate speculation, standards of equity, the act of statute, and other related substance properly and enough. It cannot be denied that legal education needed this reform for the longest time, and now that we have a progressive policy, the proper implementation should be emphasized. By and large the NEP strategy on legal education, as the majority of its different arrangements is very similar to a castle in the sky- pleasing to fathom yet unrealistic to be figured out. It changes things scholastically and hypothetically, however to actualize them, in actuality, will be an extremely cumbersome undertaking. This system ought to be proceeded in its spirit to comprehend its points of interest.