Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the Centre’s New Education Policy would mark a shift in India’s education system where students will be encouraged to focus on “how to think” instead of “what to think”. “There is an avalanche of information in this digital era, and thus, we have tried to filter out what’s not needed,” Modi said.
He was speaking at the Conclave on Transformational Reforms in Higher Education under National Education Policy. The conclave was organised by the Ministry of Education and University Grants Commission. The prime minister joined the event via video.
Modi claimed the New Education Policy will herald a “New India” or “India of the 21st Century”. “We have given extra impetus to this national policy for ensuring that it makes Indians more empowered and easily attractive to opportunities,” he added. “It will prepare students for the future and with the knowledge that will be needed for the 21st Century. Under this policy, when today’s students will join tomorrow’s workplaces, it will help India grow and take the lead in many areas.”
The prime minister said the new directives are based on a holistic approach that will focus on understanding a subject, its practical implementation, critical thinking and innovative thinking. “When a student is equipped with this, then they will be able to help a great deal in the growth of India,” he added.
The world is talking about India’s new education policy, the prime minister said. “It has invited a healthy debate,” he added. “But I have not witnessed any sector questioning on the policy of it being biased.”
The prime minister said that while the aim of the government is to shape students to become “global citizens who have global standards”, it is equally important to keep them connected to their Indian roots. “When students are taught in their mother tongue or regional language, their understanding of the subject becomes that much better,” Modi explained. “So, till Class 5 learning in the mother tongue will help greatly. Once understanding of a subject is there, then the future is solid.”
Modi added that under the new education system, a student will have the freedom to study what they want, and at the same time, also have the option to leave a subject or course midway to take up something else. “Students of today will be prepared in future to be able to even switch careers at a later stage, instead of being stuck with only a certain type of job,” he said.
Besides this, he said the NEP will also play a crucial role in merging education with research. It would focus not only on empowering students, he said, but also on empowering the institutions of higher education. “And moment you empower an institution, it leads to autonomy,” Modi said.
In that context, Modi said the New Education Policy will also give importance to the dignity and respect of teachers. He said the training of teachers is a big focus of his policy because “when a teacher is empowered, a nation leads”.
The New Education Policy
On July 29, the Centre announced sweeping reforms in the country’s education system under the NEP. This included a plan to allow foreign universities to open campuses in India and a single regulator for higher education institutions, except for law and medical colleges.
The reforms also included directives such encouraging the use of technology, the study of Sanskrit, and teaching in one’s mother tongue or regional languages up to Class 5. The policy also said that the various educational boards will continue to conduct 10th and 12th Board exams but the stakes of these exams will be minimised.