This article is written by Kishore V, pursuing LLM from Warsaw Bootcamp.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt. Offices, schools, colleges, entertainment – everything we interacted with in our physical world on an everyday basis – was forced to move online. During the same period, India’s new National Education Policy was introduced, marking the shift of the Indian education system’s hitherto traditional approach to a modern, practical and clinical pedagogy. The new policy brings the Digital India initiative to the education system to keep pace with the changing times, making technology the front and center of India’s new education model. This opens up new doors and unprecedented opportunities for the incorporation of technology into education. This article presents a brief of the National Education Policy, 2020, with a special focus on its technological reforms, in an attempt to capture the new face of India’s education system.
The National Educational Policy, 2020
The National Education Policy, 2020 (“the 2020 Policy) was introduced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in July, 2020, incorporating changes at all stages of education, ranging from lower kindergarten to Doctorate. The 2020 Policy aims to provide universal access to quality education to achieve Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It builds upon the traditional value systems of the country while simultaneously introducing major reforms to make the education system more experiential, scientific, flexible, creative and individualised to meet the unique needs of each student. It aims to lessen the burden of education by making the students choose their educational careers on their own rather than creating a burden on parents or teachers. These changes have been made with a futuristic view so that it is able to cover the issues that might materialize in the future.
Previous National Education Policies of India
The first National Education Policy, introduced in the year 1968, undertook the challenge of reconstructing the Indian education system, which was seen as key to economic and cultural development and an integrated, socialist nation. The second National Education Policy was introduced in 1986 by adapting the previous policy to provide compulsory education. The same was modified in 1992, making entrance exams for all professional fields of education for colleges a mandate to maintain professional educational standards and ensure the improvement of standards and quality in the education systems.
Use of technology in education by the 2020 Policy
The 2020 Policy discusses the future of education in India, empowered by technology. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions had to incorporate online modes due to the pandemic. The Policy addresses and recognises the same, with a view to making this integration of technology into education stronger in order to establish an alternative mode of education when the traditional, physical methods cannot be availed. While acknowledging its potential risks and dangers, the importance of leveraging the advantages of technology is recognized by the National Education Policy, 2020. It considers the benefits of online/digital education, recognising that the initiatives under it must be carefully initiated, designed and formulated not to have a negative impact. In order to make education available and accessible to all without discrimination, the 2020 Policy recognizes the need to overcome the issues associated with technological and practical aspects. The location should not matter; be it a city, village or any other remote area, stable internet and electricity along with a competent academic professional and laptop device should suffice. With the help of the Digital India campaign, it is possible to execute everything in accordance with global standards.
The key technology-powered changes brought by the 2020 Policy are summarized below.
The National Educational Technology Forum
One of the major changes introduced by the 2020 Policy is the establishment of the National Educational Technology Forum to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration and also the management of the same. With the innovational aspects of the 2020 Policy, new and latest technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, smart boards, computing devices, adaptive computer testing for student development and other forms of educational software and hardware will be integrated into all levels of education to improve classroom process, support teachers’ professional development, enhance educational access for non-benefited groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management. The 2020 Policy also talks about integrating existing e-education platforms like SWAYAM and DIKSHA into schools, colleges and universities.
These changes will become accessible very soon in all educational institutions, and the knowledge of students and teachers will also be upgraded to the latest standards. The major functional obligation of the NETF is to advise the Central and State government to educate the students through technical and technological methods. It has been established to build more intellectual capability and institutional capacity in the education’s tech areas.
The 2020 Policy utilizes technology by providing access to e-libraries to both teachers and students for easy access to books, materials, question banks, the latest syllabus, journals and manuscripts. These services can be availed by teachers via their devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc, which will have access to the digital library. Similarly, students can use any of their educational institution’s authorised devices to access the digital library.
The 2020 Policy also targets public libraries in order to give access to everyone to enable flexible reading. Rather than staying at their institutions for longer hours, the students and teachers will have the choice of studying at a convenient time and place. For students and teachers with a disability, whether visual or physical, a separate access and service team monitors them to give them these benefits. Training sessions will be held with teachers, students and library teams to use these platforms and technology to raise awareness of the latest educational standards. The 2020 Policy also endeavours to provide assistive devices and technology-based tools to help specially-abled children integrate better into classrooms as well as interact with their teachers and classmates.
Virtual labs entail carrying out experiments in a lab remotely through the internet. Virtual labs provide better access to experimental aspects related to scientific and technical areas using the internet. A normal lab would have limited access to students, and also the materials would be insufficient. In comparison, a virtual lab will have unlimited access irrespective of availability and timings. The major advantage is that there are more experts helping the students and the teachers to have a better exposure in this regard. The 2020 Policy utilizes virtual labs for students to focus more on practical and technical aspects than theoretical aspects.
Academic Bank Account
The 2020 Policy finally opted for a digital credits storage database system called the Academic Bank Account. This mainly focuses on storing the student’s certification in a digital database where it is secured without causing any tampering and misrepresentation. All certificates, diplomas and degrees will be issued based on this cumulation of credits. This also means that undergraduate programs will have multiple exits and entry points, enabling students to explore vocational training in addition to their professional studies. Digital certification would be more globally recognized irrespective of the countries and other barriers. In terms of assessing the work, it would be easier. If anybody moves abroad to have their career, then this plays an important role in showing that their recognition is equivalent to foreign standards.
Linking technology and professional education
The 2020 Policy specifically emphasizes incorporating technology into agricultural and legal educational institutions. Agricultural institutions will be mandated to establish Agricultural Technology Parks in order to educate graduates and technicians on sustainable methods through technology incubation. With respect to legal education, the 2020 Policy recognises the growing need to embrace new technologies for competing globally and ensuring better access to and delivery of justice.
Technology in the administration of education
An interesting facet of the 2020 Policy is its focus on utilizing technology to ensure efficiency and transparency of regulatory bodies such as the State School Standards Authority, the Higher Education Commission of India as well as its four verticals: the National Higher Education Regulatory Council, the National Accreditation Council, the Higher Education Grants Council and the General Education Council. Incorporating technology in the administrative and regulatory areas of education will reduce human interference in the system, thereby increasing efficiency and transparency.
The 2020 Policy has appropriately assessed the demands of educating a generation brought up in the age of technology and the internet. It departs from the traditional view where technology is seen as a distraction to learning and attempts to integrate technology into education to reap unimaginable benefits. A step in the right direction, the 2020 Policy provides a firm foundation to build new systems and efficient processes and empower an entire generation of students and teachers. The penetration of technology into every sphere of life is now closer than ever; thus, using technology for the right purposes is the need of the hour.
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