India can become a true knowledge society and economy only when it comes out of the shackles of Lord Macaulay’s Westernised education system so deep rooted in our country. It is for the first time in independent India that a sincere and serious effort has been made to usher in farreaching transformations in India’s educational system. This new National Education Policy (NEP), announced by the government, is geared towards preparing our students for meaningful and satisfying lives and responsible citizenship roles with a global outlook but rooted in Indian ethos.
What is strikingly unique about NEP is the extent and magnitude of consultations that were carried out before finalising the education policy. Stakeholders from across the country — nearly 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, 6,600 blocks, 6,000 urban local bodies, 676 districts — were consulted for their feedback. The draft NEP was translated into 22 languages. Consultations were held with the state governments and members of Parliament. In JNU too we held a one-day workshop on draft NEP and had consultations with faculty members. Our feedback was sent to the MHRD and we are glad that some of our suggestions were positively considered. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that this NEP is clearly a democratic outcome of the collective efforts of all the stakeholders.
The NEP is very exhaustive with futuristic approaches to uplift and transform the education in India. NEP deals in detail with all aspects of education in India right from school education to higher education, from quality of teaching learning processes to high quality research in universities, from teacher training to governing structures of educational institutes, use of technology, promotion of indigenous knowledge systems and many other important issues that confront education in our country. However, I would like to focus on how NEP addresses a few important issues that are close to my heart.
Let us first see how NEP caters to the disadvantaged sections. We know from National Statistical Office (NSO) reports that about 12 per cent of girls drop out of school to get married and another 32 per cent for domestic reasons. Nearly 35 per cent of boys drop out for financial and employment reasons. We must end this trend of dropping out from school. There are three ways in which NEP aims to address this issue of drop out. First, by making efforts to incentivise the meritorious students belonging to SC, ST, OC and other socially and economically disadvantages groups. Private HEIs will also be asked to play a role by offering larger numbers of free ships and scholarships. Second, NEP encourages HEIs to offer Open and distance learning with a target to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio to 50%. Third, and this is the most important aspect, is the integration of vocational education and multiple entry/exit points. Depending on the family or financial situation, students will have the opportunity to take breaks in their education and come back to complete their education. Further, NEP outlines the establishment of alternative and innovative education centres to help students who drop out of school are brought back to education, particularly the children of migrant labourers.
Swami Vivekananda said, “The men and the women are the two wheels of the society. Hence, we need education for the females as we need for the males.” Unfortunately, even decades after Independence, we still do not see a larger participation of girls in higher education. To enable more girls to be part of higher education, the NEP proposes that the Government of India will develop a ‘Gender-Inclusion Fund’ to build the nation’s capacity to provide quality and equitable education for all girls. The aim is to make sure every girl in the country is part of the schooling system and high proportion of the in higher education by fostering gender equity and inclusion. Here, educational institutes too have to play a proactive role by engaging with the civil society to adopt best practices and inculcate girl’s capacity for leadership. NEP envisages that all schools develop appropriate mechanism to eschew discrimination, harassment and intimidation of women and girls. The NEP suggests that the gender inclusion fund will be made available to the States to address local context-specific impediments which come in the way of providing access to good education to female and transgender children. To prevent drop out and provide suitable and safe environs, free boarding facilities are planned to be built for students who from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and particularly for girls. The idea is to ensure that every student who will come of school is proficient in at least on skill.
One important segment of our society on whom we have so far not paid significant attention in making them enabled workforce is the people with disabilities. NEP has given a great emphasis on establishing resource centres for learners with severe or multiple disabilities at village/ block level to provide skills to these learners. There is also a proposal to develop a common Indian Sign Language in addition to encouraging the local sign languages. To the students with disabilities, language-appropriate teaching-learning materials will be provided so that they can seamlessly integrate into the school eco-system. If differently-abled students in school education can progress to higher education with financial support from scholarships for talented and meritorious students as planned in NEP, it will create greater opportunities to them to be part of India’s economic growth.
The emphasis given by NEP to impart early childhood education in either mother tongue or in one of the local languages will have a far reaching positive impact on students and their thinking process. It is well known that the choice of language for instruction in early years of school education decides educational outcomes. Research shows that learning outcomes are best when education is imparted in a language familiar to the early learners, which invariably happens to be their mother tongue or local language. NEP aims to raise the status of all Indian languages and their literature. There is strong endorsement of the three-language formula in the education policy which will enhance national integration. If advanced countries can preserve their languages in the face of internationalisation, why can’t India preserve its truly rich languages and literatures?
The plans mooted by NEP for introducing holistic and multidisciplinary education with emphasis on flexibility make it the best and truly the first National Education Policy that India has ever envisioned after Independence.
The writer is Vice-Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE
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.
‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’
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
ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW
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.
JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED
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
EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING
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.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC
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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