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A brief reflection on the new national education policy

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Dr. Aditya Malik

The policy promises to transform the very idea of education and learning into a process of self discovery, independent and critical thinking, creativity and the expansion of both the intellect and vocational, hand-on skills says Professor Dr. Aditya Malik, VC, KR Mangalam University, Gurugram in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

The New Education Policy is a remarkably forward and progressive charter that lays out the future of education in India in an inspiring and far-reaching direction. Although a number of key features of the policy have been discussed – an indeed practised – by some educationists and educational institutions for several years, even perhaps for decades these have not been enshrined in an explicit manner in a national policy document until now. Some of these key features include the emphasis on trans-disciplinarily, experiential learning, teaching in regional languages, project-based learning, designing one’s degree from across different disciplines, an innovative ‘exit and entry’ system and so on. The policy promises to transform the very idea of education and learning into a process of self-discovery, independent and critical thinking, creativity and the expansion of both the intellect and vocational, hand-on skills.

Also read: Industry experts laud National Education Policy 2020

The NEP thus lays down the parameters for both the content as well as the method of providing education and learning. While historically speaking there have been varied systems of imparting education, the root impulse of an educational system – no matter what the origin of the system may be – must be the spirit and practice of rigorous enquiry into the inherited assumptions concerning a particular question, subject or field of research. A philosophical enquiry into what it means to be human and the relationship that human beings have to other human beings and their social and physical environment is the beginning of all other fields of enquiry and diverse academic disciplines. This was certainly the case in two of the most significant educational systems that arose in the world – in Greece with thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; and in India, particularly at Nalanda, with thinkers such as Nagarjuna, Dignaga, Dharmakirti and Shantideva. It is such an enquiry that led to a sustained and deep interest into both material and nonmaterial features of the world. Other disciplines such as physics, astronomy, mathematics, law, history and so on, therefore, arose initially out of a rigorous philosophical enquiry. In a sense, one could state that the disciplines we are familiar with today were part of an integral system of knowing, understanding and acting in the world that arose out of an enquiry into the nature and substance of what it means to be human both in the social as well as in the material world.

The NEP in its quest for a holistic, fluid and ‘real-world’ connection promises to take us back to the original substance of learning and education that anchors a student in a deep understanding of the nature of ‘self’ and its relationship to ‘world’. In essence, then the NEP has set itself the significant task of not only re-imagining education but also – once implemented – the reimagining of what it means to be a human being-in-the-world.

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