“Students in India must have access to the best books and digital content”

opines Himanshu Gupta, Managing Director, S Chand & Co, while sharing his valuable views on the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019.

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The Committee for Draft National Education Policy (Chair: Dr. K. Kasturirangan) submitted its report on May 31, 2019. The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017. The report proposes an education policy, which seeks to address the challenges of: access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability faced by the current education system. Here, Himanshu Gupta, Managing Director, S Chand & Co, shares his valuable views on the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019.

AABP: The Draft National Education Policy has been released. In your opinion, what are the positive initiatives in the same?

Himanshu: Some of the positive initiatives in the draft NEP are as follows:

1. In school education, a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education as an integral part of school education.

2. No hard separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extra-curricular areas.

3. All subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc. will be curricular.

4. Exposure to three or more languages in schools and flexibility in the choice of languages. A two year course on a classical language in Grades 6-8 with the option to continue through secondary education and university.

5. Introduction of course on critical issues facing the community, the country, and the world for all students in Grades 7-8 and a course on current affairs for all students in Grades 9-12.

AABP: What are the shortcomings in the NEP in your opinion?

Himanshu: The recommendations made for NEP have not emphasized the need to equip our students to compete globally. It is important that students in India also get exposure to high quality content that is available to students in other countries. The policy recommendations seem to overly emphasise on reducing the cost of the content. This will have a huge impact on the quality of content, both printed and digital, that students will use. Mandating schools to buy only books written by NCERT/SCERT will lead to monopolizing the textbook market. In the long run, this is harmful for the education sector.

AABP: What suggestions/changes you recommend?

Himanshu: The government’s focus should be to define the K12 curriculum for the nation or their state. It should then invite everyone to create the best possible content to enable schools to deliver the required education for students to achieve the learning outcomes. Controlling prices of the content should be left to the market dynamics, competition, and the judgement of individual schools. This will ensure that students in India have access to the best books and digital content available globally.

AABP: How will the NEP be beneficial to the publishing community?

Himanshu: The draft New Education Policy (NEP) comes after a long gap of 15 years since the last released National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in 2005. A syllabus revision allows the publishers to make their content more up to date which is beneficial for the whole ecosystem of students, teachers, publishers etc. Also, this 15 year lag translates into a huge market of second hand books being present in the market. The new curriculum would lead to publishing of new books and would lead to strong growth for publishers since the 2nd hand book market gets redundant for couple of years to follow.

AABP: Talking of the K-12 segment, how will this policy open new avenues for publishers?

Himanshu: Some of the opportunities that we foresee from this draft NEP are as follows:

1. Mandate for regional variations gives rise to new content opportunity from customisation for “local flavours”

2. Enlargement of the market for workbooks and side books on languages and maths in Grades 1 to 5 for “writing hour,” puzzle solving, etc.

3. Development of new series for art integration and 21st century learning subjects.

4. Development of new market with focus on classical languages.

5. Larger market for regional languages adoption in schools.

6. Introduction of new courses – Languages of India, Vocational Skills and Crafts, Ethics and Moral Reasoning.

7. Moving extracurricular subjects to core subjects should lead to higher adoption rates – Sports/Yoga, Music, Dance, Art, etc.

8. Fixed syllabus for pre-primary to help regularise this segment.

AABP: What timeline do you foresee to implement NEP by the government?

Himanshu: The government has announced that the new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) should be released by end 2020. This would lead to creation of new books during CY2021 and adoption of new syllabus books from Academic year 2022-23. In case the NCF is released earlier ,then we can see adoption

of updated books from Academic year 2021-22 as well.

As a publisher of international repute with a longstanding presence in India, we welcome the new direction that the impending NEP promises to usher. It is heartening to see the explicit and strong focus on themes such as foundational literacy & numeracy and curriculum & pedagogy. Our view is that the NEP in its final form should ensure that the choice of learning and instructional resources rests with school, teacher and the learner, as applicable. After all, learning is best enabled when there is freedom to choose and adopt learning pedagogies, mediums and platforms of one’s preference and ability.”
–Sivaramakrishnan Venkateswaran, 

Managing Director, Oxford University Press India

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