The National Education Policy announced in 2020 has not been able to take even a start in several regions. The major reason is the lack of required information and training to those responsible for implementing it. The information has not percolated down to the universities, higher education institutions, teachers, students, and their parents.
Maharashtra Government recently announced that the National Education Policy (NEP) will be implemented progressively from the academic session 2023-24. Accordingly, all the universities were ‘directed’ to implement the NEP from the ensuing academic session. The results of Standard XII have been announced and admission for undergraduate courses has started. The college managements, principals, and teachers, however, are not fully aware of the proposed new format of high-education at under-graduation (UG) and post-graduation (PG) levels. Only the duration of UG – 4 years and PG – one year have been announced. Under the NEP a large number of optional courses are to be made available for the students. Emphasis is laid on vocational subjects, practical training, and field placements.
The Board of Studies and Academic Councils in the university are in a dilemma. Designing the curriculum is the major function of these university bodies. As the university bodies have become dens of politicians, dedicated academicians remain away from them. Designing a curriculum with academic acumen becomes a difficult task for the politically motivated teachers who hold positions in the university bodies.
Recently some higher education institutions in Mumbai and Pune have expressed difficulty in implementing the NEP, for want of adequate classrooms. This excuse was an indication of the reluctance of teachers in implementing the NEP. The issue of additional classrooms would arise only after three years when the four year of UG course starts. Those with PG courses may not face the issue, as one year of PG has been reduced. The earlier scheme of 3-year UG plus 2-year PG has been changed to 4-year UG plus 1-year PG. The total period of five years is the same.
Dr Swati Dharmadhikari, Officiating Principal of Tirpude College of Social Work said that the non-availability of classrooms is a wrong excuse. Her college is ready for the implementation of NEP.
Dr Urmila Dabir, Principal of Rajkumar Kewalramani Girls College said that the admission procedure has already begun. But there is no clarity about the NEP. The colleges have not received any detailed information about the implementation of NEP.
Dr Sanjeev Patankar, retired Principal and a Co-opted member of the Board of Studies in Microbiology of RTM Nagpur University said that various dimensions of the NEP have not been explained. A large number of optional subjects have been offered. However, working out the proper combination of subjects is essential. For example, Chemistry is essential if a student opts for higher studies in Microbiology; a student in Computer Science must study mathematics and physics. The study without such combinations becomes meaningless. The students opting for other easy studies lack knowledge of the application of the subjects he/she has studied.
The Board of Studies has either divided the syllabi of three years into four years or added a vast list of optional subjects, without considering the availability of faculty and facilities for practical training. In rural areas, the situation can be more serious. Even the students holding high-ranked engineering degrees lack the application of mind and vision for future development.
The committees for informing universities and teachers of colleges have been formed. However, even the members of these committees are not fully aware of the methods for implementation of the NEP.
The ultimate goal of NEP may be very good. But its implementation needs careful scrutiny before it is actually implemented. The mess created in higher education may lead to malpractices for securing higher marks. Failure of the students in the market may add to their frustration.