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Educationally Speaking

NEP sounds like a wishy-washy policy

Aditya Mukherjee

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The NEP 2020 is an extension of the ongoing Right-wing agenda and incorporates a lot of what these forces in the country want. None of it is new though — dropping c h a p t e r s , c h a n g i n g textbooks, this has always been in place. This is a complete reversal of Nehruvian ideals, and we had been doing great so far. The talk of granting autonomy to colleges and introducing fouryear programmes is also about a disturbing shift towards privatisation and Americanisation of higher educational institutions, which would work towards excluding the poor.

The shift towards such a foreign neoliberal model is totally unsuited for the majority of the population.

This is also a considerable attack on good central universities in India. The move towards regional languages as the medium of instruction is also doubtful. Moreover, the language of educational materials and skill training has not been developed to accommodate this. Can you imagine learning about nuclear physics in Hindi? Overall, the NEP sounds like a wishy-washy policy.

Aditya Mukherjee is a historian and JNU professor. As told to Poulomi Paul.

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Educationally Speaking

In Briefs

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Pear Academy partners with prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design

Pearl Academy has collaborated with Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) — a creative education institute with nine campuses across Europe to launch an international study module with IED for its post-graduate (PG) students. “We are proud of this exclusive collaboration with IED. Global exposure is a significant element in one’s education today because it leads to a wider outlook and enhances skills like teamwork in a cross-cultural environment, problem-solving, communication etc,” said Professor Nandita Abraham, president, Pearl Academy. This 50-contact hour international module with IED will help Pearl Academy PG students earn global academic validation as their performance will be assessed by IED faculty members and will receive a certification along with performance & assessment report.

Jodhpur school students organise virtual concert for charity

 Greenwood High International School grade 11 student Ainesh Mohan initiated the setting up of a musical group ‘Musical Messiahs’, along with his friends and performed a virtual concert recently to raise funds for food supply to students of a residential school and NGO, Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN) in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The non-profit initiative aimed to raise funds for people in need by conducting music concerts. The students were able to mobilise funds of over Rs 1.6 lakh, through crowd-funding websites and support from many others for the school, which is home to around 500 children. The school provides underprivileged, disabled children, coming from far off villages, a safe environment to learn and grow so that they can adapt to the outside world.

Israel opens borders for international students

 The Council of Higher Education, Israel, has announced that the country has opened its borders for international students for the 2020-21 session. The announcement follows a government enacted restriction in mid-March that prevented nonIsraeli visitors from entering the country. Since then, the Council for Higher Education of Israel has been working closely with senior officials in the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Population and Immigration Authority on the issue. Throughout the pandemic, Israeli universities and colleges have made significant efforts to provide the necessary support for international students and ensure their health, safety, and academic success. They are now focused on guaranteeing their students’ arrival in Israel. International students will be required to complete a 14-day self-isolation period upon arrival to Israel under the supervision of their academic institution, in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

MDI Gurgaon announces scholarships for PG students

MDI Gurgaon, a Indian business school, has joined hands with RSPL Welfare Foundation (RWF), a charitable trust from Kanpur, to offer a scholarship programme — ‘Poonam Gyanchandani Memorial Scholarship’ — for the students of MDI’s PGPM Programme (Post Graduate Programme in Management).The purpose of this scholarship programme is to provide financial support to the students of PGPM programme of MDI Gurgaon on the merit-cum-means basis. Pawan Kumar Singh, director, MDI Gurgaon, said: “We are proud and happy to collaborate with RSPL Welfare Foundation to offer this merit-cum-means scholarship programme. This is a unique initiative to help meritorious and needy students in carving a bright future for themselves.” The scholarship amount of Rs 35 lakhs will be equally disbursed to the selected seven students, wherein each will be getting Rs 5 lakh. The students eligible for this scholarship will be selected by the duly formed committee including members from MDI Gurgaon and RSPL Welfare Foundation.

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Educationally Speaking

Five easy but proven methods to enhance recall memory

Uttam Singh

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Retention in simple terms is the process by which new information is transferred from our short-term memory to long-term memory just like making a new knowledge stick. Did you know? About 70% of any new information is lost within 24 hours if we do not make an effort to retain it. In order to excel in any field whether you are studying, running a business or working as an employee, having a good recall memory is a must. For a good memory, not only a good diet and meditation for a healthy brain is required but also a set of techniques to help retain.

Memory is the part of the central nervous system of the human brain and has three different classifications: short-term, long-term and sensory memory. All the three types of memory have specific, different functions but each one is equally important for the memory process. Sensory information is transformed and encoded in a certain way in the brain, which forms a memory representation. This unique coding of information creates a memory. Processes of memory and learning are much interconnected and are often considered as the same. Psychologists have determined these as two distinct processes.

Learning can be defined as the acquisition of knowledge gained through experience or studying, which can modify behaviour. Memory is essential for learning new information, as it functions as a site for storage and retrieval of learned knowledge. There are many ways of retaining information in memory. Here are some of the tips and knowledge retention techniques we can build into our learning programme that can ensure the content we study is not just memorable, but unforgettable.

 Reading less, grasping more

 A major cause of having poor knowledge retention ability after reading any matter is having too much information to absorb. The effective learning process should follow the rule that less is more. So in such cases try to make bite-sized learning goals, ones that are highly focused on a clearly defined outcome.

Story format

One of the great ways to improve our knowledge retention statistics is to exploit the fact that we remember things better when we are emotionally connected to the things being learned and a great way to create that link is by storytelling. But how? To create a narrative, with situations and characters that students can relate to, it helps to get across key learning objectives in engaging and easy-to-absorb ways. Never get too carried away and end up creating an over-complex story. It’s easy to get carried away with too-detailed narrative and forget about the learning objectives.

Apply learning in real world

The more complex a concept is, the harder it is to be kept in mind. This is because we find it difficult to memorise things that seem to be unrelated or irrelevant to our surroundings or requirements. So it’s useful to create learning units that are directly applicable to our lives. This can also be fulfilled by creating active participation of learners to discover the usefulness of the concepts that they are studying for themselves.

Repeat to retain

Another simple trick to boost learning retention in a way is through good, old fashioned repetition. This might sound boring, but that’s how one can get learners to reiterate which is important. The old saying that practice makes a man perfect needs to be taken seriously, repeating new knowledge or tasks is crucial in allowing the information to move into a learner’s longterm memory. This doesn’t mean to write the same thing 10 times. Repetition can be achieved using techniques such as simulations and role-playing or having regular refresher units. Learners should get a real feel of different skills can come together to address a situation

Examine, quiz, ask

 One of the simplest knowledge retention techniques is to incorporate a quiz in the learning content. It helps to keep the learner’s track of progress and lets them see what they have learned and retained. It also provides the mentor with the data about how effective their learning module is, and to keep a check if it needs any improvement. A final test is never enough, to maximize learning retention, one should again follow the rule that less is more and test more often and after each module or unit they study. In this way, one is able to test more tightly defined learning objectives and the learners will find it easier to focus and remember the specified material rather than a whole complex thing.

 The author is the Principal of Jindal Public School, Delhi.

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Educationally Speaking

Aspiring to be a writer? Here’s all you need to know

Vishnupriya Pandey

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Do you always feel like putting down your feelings and ideas on a piece of paper? Do you know the appropriate usage of words and phrases while writing down your thoughts? Do you have the art of conveying complex ideas and intriguing your reader with the help of soothing words? If your answer is ‘yes’, then here are some tips on how you can make a scintillating career in the field of writing.

Required Skills to become a writer

Writers work across different genres, from news to fiction, prose to poetry as writing offers an extremely diverse multi-faceted career. Moreover, to become a writer, you must be creative enough to shape up your abstract imagination in the form of concrete and conveyable language. Apart from being crisp and brief, you require a passion for writing, command over language and a capacity to put down the opposite words artistically to capture the attention of your readers. The flair for writing is not always God-gifted but can be easily inculcated and developed with the help of certain habits and techniques. If you want to know the most effective technique to become a writer, it is nothing but to be a voracious reader.

To write a news copy you need to start with the most important ‘W’ that simply refers to what, when, where, who and why which may be followed by a ‘how’. While writing a feature or an article it is mandatory to understand the overall context of the topic along with the ultimate purpose of writing that piece. While introducing any topic it is expected from a writer to have a proper understanding of the theme of which the topic is just a part.

The writer is supposed to stick to logic and examples to move forward while writing. Deciding the tone is also an essential step in giving your write-up the desired flavour. Each paragraph of your write-up must be based on different aspects of your topic where all these facts, examples and logic are woven together to give the required structure to your story. Some other important points are the ‘throws’ and the ‘concerns’ of your write-up. The write-up must be concluded with the right throw showing the right concern. Apart from writing skills, writers are also expected to know different research methodologies because research is the foundation for original and authentic writing.

Eligibility to become a writer

 Apart from the skills discussed above there are few courses which can be pursued to make writing a career. Some universities like IGNOU provide certificate and diploma programs in creative writing. Even Bachelor’s and Master’s in Mass Communication and Journalism enable students to opt writing as a full-fledged career. To write fiction, literature is the best option at graduation and post-graduation level.

The author is an academician at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

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Educationally Speaking

NEP 2020: Imparting global outlook without negating Indian ethos

It is for the first time in independent India that a sincere and serious effort has been made to usher in far-reaching transformations in India’s educational system.

Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar

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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.

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Educationally Speaking

NEP 2020: Explained in 20 points

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1. 10+2 board structure is dropped.

2. New school structure will be 5+3+3+4.

3. Up to 5 preschools, 6 to 8 mid-school, 8 to 11 high school, 12 onwards graduation.

4. Any degree will be 4 years.

5. 6th standard onwards vocational courses available.

 6. From 8th to 11th students can choose subjects.

 7. All graduation courses will have major and minor (example: science students can have Physics as major and Music as minor also. Any combination he can choose).

 8. All higher education will be governed by only one authority. 

 9. UGC AICTE will be merged.

10. All university — government, private, Open, Deemed, Vocational, etc — will have the same grading and other rules.

11. New teacher training board will be set up for all kinds of teachers in the country, no state can change.

12. The same level of accreditation to any college, based on its rating college will get autonomous rights and funds.

13. The new basic learning programme will be created by the government for parents to teach children up to 3 years at home and for preschool 3 to 6.

14. Multiple entries and exit from any course.

15. Credit system for graduation for each year; student will get some credits which he can utilise if he takes a break in the course and comes back again to complete course.

16. All schools exams will be semester-wise twice a year.

17. The syllabus will be reduced to core knowledge of any subject only.

18. More focus on student’s practical and application knowledge.

19. For any graduation course if the student completes only one year he will get a basic certificate, if he completes two years then he will get a diploma certificate, and if he completes the full course then he will get a degree certificate. So no year of any student will be wasted if he breaks the course in between.

20. All graduation course fees of all universities will be governed by a single authority with capping on each course.

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A much-needed change to meet 21st-century challenges

Niranjan Kumar

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Embodying the great legacy of Indian tradition, inspired by the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, and committed to the Constitution, given by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 seems well-prepared to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. This is a significant change in the Indian educational policy owing to the changing needs of the country and the world, after 34 long years.

NEP 2020 is a democratic policy, coming into play after wide consultations from stakeholders from every nook and corner of the country. Another important development and the need of the hour is the renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education. With the term ‘human resource’, one conceives human beings as physical resources devoid of human sensibilities and ‘sanskars’ (values). However, the term ‘education’ retains all the qualities of a human being including physical, cultural and of course psychological.

Perhaps the most revolutionary feature of NEP in terms of formal school education is to have regional languages as a medium of instruction till at least 5th grade or preferably till 8th grade and beyond. English will now be taught only as a subject. Researches of educational psychology as well as UNESCO Report 2008 suggest that one can cognise and communicate better, faster and easier in the mother tongue. Besides, it will prove to be a boon in strengthening Indian languages and culture.

Additionally, there won’t be any special distinction between academic curriculum, extracurricular activities and vocational education in schools. Vocational instruction, rather, will be an integral part of the former. Also, from grade 6, children will be trained in coding which is an efficient means of futureproofing them. Vocational education will continue to be a part and parcel of university learning too, a useful move to prepare the youth for selfemployment and entrepreneurship.

 Inflexibility in stream separation at the higher secondary level has been done away with instead students will now have the luxury to choose two unrelated subjects. For instance, Majoring in Chemistry with a Minor in Performance Studies. A student of Science or Commerce will have the opportunity to study the Arts and Humanities as well. This system will continue at the undergraduate level too. Another major feature of NEP is the introduction of special incentives and provisions for meritorious SC, ST, OBC, women, ‘divyangs’, and EWS students. Efforts will be also made to provide larger numbers of fellowships and scholarships to these sections in private sector higher education institutions (HEIs), besides the public one.

At the higher education front, NEP opens doors for new possibilities. Apart from flexibility of streams, where students of Science, Commerce or Humanities would be allowed to study each other’s subjects, or inclusion of vocational education in college, a salient feature of the bachelor’s program is a multi-entry and multi-exit scheme. Currently, we have a three-year bachelor’s degree. In case a student is unable to complete said degree and has to leave mid-way, more often than not, money and hard work go in vain. Now even after completing one year or two years, if required, a certificate or diploma will be given. She or he can complete the remaining studies by coming back within a time limit. After three years of study, one will get a bachelor’s degree.

NEP however, has parlayed a four-year bachelor’s degree, a ‘Bachelor with Research’ degree, a necessity for those interested in pursuing post graduation and/or PhD. Such a four-year system has had positive effects in developed countries like America, Japan, and Korea etc. NEP also provides students the freedom to leave a course in between and take admission in other courses.

NEP also emphasises on holistic and multidisciplinary education. All single-disciplinary institutions such as Law, Agricultural studies, Rural Studies et al, will be converted into multi-disciplinary institutions. Premier engineering institutes like IITs will move towards a holistic and multidisciplinary direction with greater coordination of arts and humanities, an important step towards interdisciplinary research. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the USA, one of the best Global HEIs, is a good case in this context.

NEP targets to invest 6% of GDP in education, a longcherished goal since the Kothari Commission. Overall, NEP 2020 has lofty vision and goals and will prove to be capable of meeting the needs and challenges of India in the 21st century. The only challenge would be its implementation.

Niranjan Kumar is a Professor in the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi.

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