Asserting that the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 brought in by his government was free from any “bias or inclination” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly backed initiatives like using the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in schools in the much-awaited reform.
Addressing senior educationists in the Conclave on Transformational Reforms in Higher Education, organized by the HRD ministry and the UGC, PM Modi said rather than effect changes in the teaching-learning system, the new policy could even lead to changing the way the society thinks.
“After the NEP came, there was no allegation from any region or segment that it had any kind of bias or inclination. This is an indicator that the changes people wanted to see for years in the education system, they have got to see,” the Prime Minister said.
He said now there was the question of the implementation of the NEP and as far as political will was concerned, he was completely there.
“Every country aligns its education policy with its values and carries out reforms keeping in mind the national goals. The aim is to ensure the education system can make the coming generations future-ready,” PM Modi said.
The NEP will prepare the foundation of 21st century India, he said adding areas like skills had been given special focus.
“For a long time there were no major changes in our education system. Rather than promote curiosity and imagination, the emphasis was on a rat-race whether it was to become a doctor, engineer or some other profession,” the Prime Minister said.
A new world order and standard is evolving with time, said PM Modi adding we have to make our students global citizens but also stay connected to the roots.
“There is no debate that the children when they are taught in school in the same language that is spoken at home, their pace of learning becomes faster. This is a major reason, wherever possible, permission has been granted to teach students till class V in their mother tongue,” the Prime Minister said.
Language was a major contentious aspect in the NEP and the HRD ministry has tried to steer clear of controversies by repeatedly emphasizing that no language would be imposed on any state or region.
In his speech, the Prime Minister said the focus in the country’s education policy in the past was ‘what to think’.
“In the new policy the focus is on how to think,” he said adding students should get a chance that they should follow their passions. And if the student wants, he or she, should be able to leave it, he said.
The Prime Minister said it was important to know – what to study – in an age when all kinds of information is available on the phone itself. We are also moving towards an era where a person may not stick to a profession throughout life and re-skilling and up-skilling are important aspects, he said.
The Prime Minister also delved into the issue of social mindset.
“We have to think how in a country with a rich culture did evils like upper and lower classes, considering labour as less dignified – creep into the mindsets of people. One reason is that the education was disconnected with a segment of our people,” said PM Modi.
He said there are concepts like virtual labs, introduction of coding and others in the NEP 2020. This can help in changing not just the education system but the thought processes of the entire society, he said.
The National Education Policy is not a mere circular but requires thorough strategy and roadmap for proper implementation. Willpower is needed for its implementation, he said.
An attempt has also been made in the policy that the talent of India should stay in India, he said. Speaking further PM Modi said the route to good quality education falls somewhere between autonomy and government control. The National Education Policy (NEP) has focussed highly on student education and dignity of labour, he said.