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Draft National Education Policy 2019 & New India

Oraganized by
Intellectual forum of North East and the Center of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESME) under
Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT), IIT Guwahati
in collaboration with
Department of Higher Education, Govt. of Assam on 10th August 2019 at Center for Educational Technology IIT Guwahati 
1st Technical Session

1. Prof. Hemanta Kumar Baruah (Ex Vice Chancellor of Bodoland University) started his speech on the one day symposium on Draft National education policy, 2019 saying that the education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world. And the new Education policy is designed in such way that it would be applicable for coming two decades. He pointed out some of the most important points in the NEP, 2019. (1) The restructuring of the schooling system into 5+3+3+4 where the last 4 years of secondary classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 would be changed to semester system. (2) Inclusion of Liberal Arts which means all the branches of education system will have certain humanities subjects including Mathematics and Science. (4) Formation of three types of higher educational institutes. Type-I: Multidisciplinary research Universities. Type-II: Multidisciplinary teaching Universities and Type-III: colleges. The objective of all existing affiliated colleges must be to develop in Type-I or Type-II higher educational institutions by the year 2032.  This meant that there will be no affiliated colleges after 2032 and if a college itself does not become an university of either type, it would have to merge itself with a University concerned. Prof. Hemanta Kumar Baruah thinks such a situation could lead to lot of apprehensions among different college authorities.  (4) At the school level, there would be no hard separation between Arts and Science subjects. A three language formula would be used to teach in schools and Science subjects would be taught bilingually. There is also a plan to teach foreign language in schools.
2. Prof. S P Singh (Vice-Chancellor, Royal Global University) from Royal Global University gave a glimpse about the role of private sector in education in India as a key-note speaker in one day symposium on “Draft National Educational Policy and New India” organized by IFNE on 10th August at IIT Guwahati. Though the private sector has played an important role in the education sector since 1960s and growth of IT industry in India, it receives step-motherly treatment by the government. Some of the difficulties faced by private players are illustrated below.
  • NAAC and NIRF are the government organizations which assess and rank different colleges or universities in India. However Prof. S. P. Singh pointed out that these organizations should have a level playing field for private institutions while ranking them with government institutions. It is unfair for 3 to 5 year old private institutions to compete with 50 year old government-run institutions. Therefore he suggested that all institutions should be categorized according to their age and be ranked within the group.
  • Prof. Singh also pointed out that grants given by government should not be restricted only to public institutions. Such rules and regulations create unfair competition in favour of government run colleges and Universities. Any kind of grants should be given according to quality of research done which would create healthy between all educational institutes.
  • There is a general perception that the private institutions charge lot of money from students. However, Mr. Singh pointed out that fees of students in public institutions are highly subsidized and the cost to the tax payer per student in government institutions is higher than the fees collected by private institutions. To correct such situation, prof. Singh suggested that government should transfer the subsidized money to students directly which would give them to choose their colleges from public and private sector. 
3. Prof. Nani Gopal Mahanta (Registrar, Gauhati University) spoke on Draft National education policy, 2019 and its importance.   He said that new policy was aimed to address the challenges of: (i) access, (ii) equity, (iii) quality, (iv) affordability and (v) accountability faced by the current education system. The draft Policy also seeks to break the compartmentalisation of education and bring about a multi disciplinary approach in the study. There would be structural changes in early child care, current exam system and the education regulatory framework. The speaker mentioned that the NEP also seeks to set up a National Education Commission, increase public investment in education, strengthen the use of technology and increase focus on vocational and adult education. Focus will be on strengthening teaching skills through provision of teacher training and ensure high quality research with a goal to achieve the standard of Nalanda University.  The speaker also mentioned that the new policy revisited the history, heritage and culture of India in terms of arts, science, mathematics in regards to creations and innovations. He mentioned that the prime focus of National education policy is Shiksha and Diksha. The speaker also opined that governance of higher education needs to be changed and must not be concentrated at the hands of bureaucrats. Instead eligible individuals from education sector must get the responsibility of governance of higher education. Speaker viewed that India needs more universities to reach the Gross enrolment ratio target.
4. Prof Polly Vauquline (Associate Professor, Women Studies, Gauhati University) had put forth her views on how Draft National Education Policy 2019 facilitates women in education sector. The speaker saw positive role in women involvement in education sector while urged to include chapter on women studies in the curriculum. The author gave her opinion on giving more importance to women studies as a part of curriculum.
5. Dr. Dayanand Borgohain (Chairman, Assam Higher Secondary Education Council) spoke on Draft National Education Policy 2019 and its probable implications on primary education. He said that the new policy will ensure the maximum enrolment and attendance of students in primary schools. He had put forth his opinion on giving prime importance to study of history and geography in primary schools.
Special Session:
The session started with the opening speech By Prof. Sunil Khijwania (Head CET, IIT Guwahati) who gave a brief introduction of the programme from CESME, PMMMNMTT, IITG. Thereafter Dr. Gargi Saikia also gave a brief speech on introduction of Intellectual Forum of North East (IFNE), its aims, objectives and works accomplished till date.
1. The main speaker of the special session was Hon’ble Governor of Assam Prof. Jagdish Mukhi ji.  Stating that “Education is the backbone of country’s progress”, Jagdish Mukhi ji said that draft NEP 2019 aims to establish sustainable equity and vibrant knowledge in India. He opined that the policy proposed to provide student with more flexibility to choose between arts, science and vocational studies. According to the speaker, higher education, the NEP will bring about a multi-disciplinary approach in education with a broad base so that students can develop deeper expertise in one or more subjects. He also mentioned that NEP 2019 has a liberal approach which can confirm to the diversity of the education system. The draft NEP 2019 will also focus on quality research. He also mentioned that Rashtriya Shoksha Aayog will be created to look into the matter.
2.  Director, IIT Guwahati Prof. T. G. Sitharam highlighted major policy proposals of draft NEP 2019 such as several new policy initiatives for promoting internalization of higher education, strengthening quality open and distance learning, technology integration at all the levels of education. He mentioned that the path breaking reforms recommended will bring about a paradigm shift by equipping our students, teachers and educational institutions with the right competencies and capabilities and also create an enabling and reinvigorated educational eco-system for a vibrant new India. Prof. T. G. Sitharam also highlighted major academic achievements of IIT Guwahati and its commitment for integrating itself to NER states in order to facilitate academic excellence for entire north-east. He highlighted that soon, IITG is starting Young Engineer’s Program for NE states and Sikkim. 
2nd Technical Session
1. Dr. Dulumoni Goswami (Education Dept, Gauhati University) had put forth his opinion about the NEP and opined that it seeks to bring a liberal approach in education which will not merely focus on scoring marks but will help students to develop both physically and spiritually. He opined that the NEP ensured harmonious development of individuals as it aimed at cultivating values in individuals. The speaker highlighted that the prime motto of the NEP is multidisciplinary approach in education and revisited ancient educational heritage of India through laying emphasis on liberal education which is the need of the hour in India.
2. Dr. Bhibash Ch. Nath (Vice President, Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal) opined that NEP will help equip children to grasp all qualities to contribute to India’s social political and economic development. He also said that MHRD must have been named as Shiksha Mantran. 
3. Dr. Atul Bora (Director, Technical Education, Govt. of Assam) had put forth his view that NEP ensures the quality of life without degrading the environment to meet the sustainable development goals. He opined that Rashtra Siksha Ayog is the need of the hour and must be chaired by Prime Minister himself.
4. Considering it as the perfect education policy, Prof. Noni Gopal Mahanta (Registrar, Gauhati University) said that the policy is very comprehensive in nature. However he looked into the question of effective implementation and desired benefit out of the policy. He made certain suggestions on which Government of India should ponder over. The suggestions are as follows:
  • We need lot of preparation from now onwards to develop perfect mechanism for implementation of the policy since ten to twelve years the colleges will become autonomous.
  • In the light of nation higher education regulatory authority, we should immediately constitute a state higher education regulatory authority to make preparation for the implementation of the policy. The authority should start mentoring and identifying the colleges which need push ups for development as most of the colleges do not have sufficient infrastructure to stand as an autonomous college and prepare their own syllabus. Therefore the state higher education regulatory authority must take sufficient effort to prepare these colleges for the policy implementation.
  • The speakers also suggested that the clustering of colleges which has low enrolment of students. This step will help sustain the college rather than being wiped out or simply turn to a building of study centre.
  • The authority should start human resource mapping to identify domestic potential for development. We need to identify how act east policy would benefit the region. We also need to understand the domestic market. We need to assess the potential of service sector and IT sector and how it would help growing of education sector. Through this we can understand what kind of subjects would be relevant in days to come to provide maximum employment opportunities to the students.
  • All private sectors must reserve 10-15% jobs for social science.
  • One semester must be kept exclusively for field work in villages to make the students aware of ground reality.
  • We need to regulate the private educational institutions regarding the quality of education, salary structure, infrastructure so on and so forth.
  • Assam needs lot of popularisation of science education.
  • Educational governance needs to get restructured. Educational sector cannot be left alone in the hands of IAS or ACS officers. We need to put educationist in the administration of education in secretariat.
  • The higher education regulatory authority must look into online system of accessing journals, books etc to meet the present global technological development.
Following are suggestions made at the last session:
  • There must be proper guidelines from the government’s side to implement the NEP 2019 or else there will be a mess among institutions and faculties.
  • There are some colleges where the teacher to student ratio is 1:400 which makes it impossible to teach. Such irregularities should be corrected. Sometimes Principal is bound to appoint short-term contract teachers as regular replacements are hard to find in such scenarios.
  • Semester system in secondary education will not be helpful to students because there will be no repetition of knowledge which is demanded by grammar studies, science and mathematics.
  • Indigenous traditional knowledge present in all parts of Northeast must be channelized and then taught in the school system.
  • Creation of good quality library should be stressed to inculcate self-learning skill and reading habits among students.
  • 4- Year B. Ed course should be introduced in Assam.
  • What were the loop holes in previous educational policy because of which the targets were not achieved? Either the government or some agency should make a detailed analysis on failures on implementation of previous educational policies.
  • Government should ensure that infrastructures such as buildings of colleges/ universities and road connectivity should be ready to ensure implementation of the Educational policy.
  • Enrolment in the colleges are declining at an alarming pace, pushing the colleges towards extinction. This should be addressed by concerned authorities with immediate effect.
  • It was suggested by the audience that the bureaucrats and officers involved in the policy formulations of higher education should be more sensitive towards the functioning of government colleges and fulfilling their duties to inspect the schools and colleges. Therefore prominent educationists must be appointed along with bureaucrats to govern the higher education.