The National Education Policy, 2020, has been making headlines ever since its launch. Whether it is about the revamp of the Indian education system or putting India’s modernised curriculum on the global map, NEP 2020 has had everyone, especially teachers and students, looking forward to its implementation.
India is turning a new leaf with this policy underway, and is striving toward offering quality education to Indian students with a practical-based foundation, and a new pedagogical structure (5+3+3+4). The policy emphasises no rigid distinction between the arts and sciences, curricular and extracurriculars, and vocational and academic streams; thus granting students the freedom to opt for their preferred subjects. The NEP promotes multilingualism, and aims to provide an inclusive, equitable, and premium education to students.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on this Teacher’s Day, announced a new initiative – the Pradhan Mantri Schools For Rising India (PM-SHRI) Yojana – to enfold the spirit of NEP 2020. The initiative strives to develop and upgrade 14,500 schools across India, which will come into force as model schools under the policy. The Centre has, therefore, embarked on its journey to globalise Indian education.
Turning The Tables: How India Can Become A Key Player In Edu-Tourism
Pursuing education overseas has been the trend amongst the youth. On an average, Indian students spend Rs 45,000 crores on foreign education, according to a study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. While India is home to educational superpowers like IITs and IIMs, a lack of proper infrastructure, flexible courses, and guaranteed employment have sidelined it in the education tourism sphere. The diverse job opportunities, Master’s completion in a shorter duration, higher salaries, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle are just some of the reasons why the younger generation turns away from Indian education and prefers studying abroad.
Be it Microsoft’s Satya Nadella or Google’s Sundar Pichai, Chanel’s Leena Nair or Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi, the Indian diaspora has produced flag-bearers of holding executive positions in multinational companies abroad. Sadly, India loses most of its cream talent to foreign countries, especially to the West, to pursue careers in MNCs. Indian professionals are moulded after facing a nip and tuck affair in the education system, are taught to persevere with diligence, and adapt in cultural diversity. As opposed to this, life in the West is rather simplified, and so, Indians come prepared to dive head first into making money and climbing the rung to the C-suite. The success of the National Educational Policy could reverse this trend, where Indians could run companies in their homeland itself with equally fruitful opportunities.
Unarguably so, the changes brought in by NEP 2020 would create a myriad of these prospects for students from abroad and in India. The changes proposed by the policy run parallel to the foreign education institutions, prioritising a diverse portfolio of subjects and specialisations. Under the banner of the NEP, foreign institutions may set up their campuses in India, which could provide a taste of both foreign and Indian education. The entry of foreign universities into the Indian educational domain could empower students to avail world-class education locally, at a substantially lower cost. This would not only reduce the number of students migrating to foreign lands for higher education and/or job prospects, but could also regulate the influx of foreign students. Transnational collaborations like these could help India redesign the curriculum, and work its way through the implementation of the policy, taking cues from global institutions.
Through this, India is likely to emerge as a key player in education tourism by connecting with other institutional hubs, and contributing in creating a global village. Countries like Dubai, Singapore and Qatar have also employed such policies, and ensured a smooth rollout by providing financial incentives for foreign institutes as the host countries.
Nonetheless, a country like India cannot undertake finances on such a level with a background of a diminishing budget allocation per capita in higher education. This opens avenues for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) for developmental purposes. Only considerate and systematic implementation can fuel the NEP.
Rose-tinted Glasses Or 20/20 Vision?
This raises a plethora of questions over how would the government ensure proper execution of the policy, and how will westernising Indian education impact the system. India is a country that celebrates diverse cultures, polity, and a prolonged history. This makes higher education complex and difficult to standardise across the country. The government must safeguard the traditional values and not alienate the Indian roots in the process of globalising education. The risks of commercialisation and educational imperialism must be weighed in before establishing international institutes.
The NEP discusses the accessibility of education to students in the regional languages and the mother tongue. To polish the application of the policy, a teacher training board will be set up for all courses, to make sure that the teaching staff efficiently adapts to the change. This is paramount as a majority of the teachers and students are still unaware of the broad provisions of the policy. Undoubtedly, an extensive regulatory framework is the need of the hour to turn NEP into a reality.
In the end, it all boils down to the fact that execution of the NEP can be quite a task for the government, and could be difficult to completely revamp the existing 34-year-old education policy. All in all, it sounds promising and rosy on paper, but when it comes to implementation, could the government be biting on more than it can chew?