“The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) is a long term investment" as was repeatedly emphasised by Dr. Sasmit Patra, Member of Rajya Sabha representing the political party from Odisha, Biju Janta Dal during the webinar organised by Curiosity Gym on 12th December 2020. The conversation revolved around the New Education Policy 2020 and its implementation challenges for the governments and educational institutions. Led by Mr. Girish Nair, Founder of Curiosity Gym, the one-on-one conversation with Dr. Patra focussed primarily on how India has to ramp up its education and learning ecosystem holistically. It’s time that the country takes lead in upbringing innovators and creators where the mindset of thinking is nurtured at a very tender age. Only when the country invests heavily on its human capital that's when it is best prepared to be a world leader, said Dr. Patra.
The stark fact stated during the webinar was that India currently has less than 0.5% of GDP expenditure in education. With existing dismal resources at disposal, achieving 6% of GDP expenditure for the education sector as envisaged by the policy document is a herculean and an ambitious task. If taken in priority, it will still take India at least 2-3 years to generate enough economic resources to infuse into the implementation of NEP. India needs a process and plan which is not resource intensive and is supported by a strong willed government with a committed budgetary allocation to make the NEP outcomes achievable. Stressing on the urgency of action, Dr. Patra emphasised that the implementation of revamping of our education needs to start as soon as possible. India needs to have strict timelines and deliverables else the NEP will be another good policy on papers only. With small pilot steps in every state facilitated by the central government would be more than enough to achieve just the aspirations of NEP.
For a diverse country like India where every region has its own culture and language, localisation of educational content and curriculum in line with the local environment of every region along with local language is the means to achieving the learning outcomes. To cater to these myriad differences, technology and digitalisation would be the biggest facilitator to ensure the benefits of NEP reach the masses across the length and breadth of the country. To reiterate the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity, Mr. Nair mentioned the efforts Curiosity Gym has been making to make student learning and teacher training curriculum and modules multilingual so that no one region is left behind from enjoying the fruits of technology.
As was aptly put by Dr. Patra, the buck stops at teachers. Just like you cannot throw a baby out with the bathwater, likewise teachers efficiency, capacity building and content assessment has to be taken into account by all the stakeholders to make implementation real. Training and capacity building of the teachers is of the primary importance for NEP to happen in letter and spirit. It is of primary importance to teach teachers how to teach correctly for them to be more facilitators in a world where technology is dominating the everyday teaching and learning. Teacher training is in fact one of the most important roadmaps in the process from policy to implementation because it being- less expensive, more doable, easier to influence, and most effective to impact teaching quality.
Mr. Nair succinctly threw light on the unavoidable 21st century skills of scientific temper, computational thinking, problem solving etc that also take major mention in the new policy document. He described how these skills are not elite concepts but a matter of mindset just like the way a farmer is innovating and experimenting everyday in his field to increase the yield without any degree in innovation. Likewise, ideation, investing in innovation and nurturing the creativity of children rather than pushing them down the log of syllabus and marks is also a matter of mindset that needs to be normalised for the system to change.
As quoted by Mr. Nair, “Failing is a part of a success story” that became the highlight of the evening. He stressed upon the fact that if one has not failed and learned to accept failure then one has not learnt enough. That's what our education ecosystem has been lacking immensely, he added. However, Curiosity Gym is laying down the foundation of one-of-a-kind learning and makerspaces that creates room to experiment, fail, and repeat for its learners in order to be a cog in the wheel of the emerging education ecosystem in the country.