“India will emerge as a superpower of knowledge”

says Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Minister of Education, in conversation with AABP. Excerpts.

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AABP: Congratulations on the HRD Ministry being renamed as the Ministry of Education. Please share your views on the same.

Minister of Education: While I thank you for the same, I would instead like to congratulate all the students, teachers and parents of the country, as this step was long due. Under the iconic leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narender Modi ji, the National Education Policy brings the focus back on education and learning. Thereby, making it desirable that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) be re-designated as the Ministry of Education (MoE). India will emerge as a ‘superpower of knowledge’ while stepping towards embellishment of Shreshth Bharat.

AABP: The NEP policy has been formalized. According to you, what would be the key takeaways?

Minister of Education: For the first time, students are kept as the ‘focal point’ of the entire policy. The policy reflects the 5 ‘I’s – Indian, Internationalism, Impactful, Interactive and Inclusive – while beholding itself on the principles of equity, quality and access. Through the policy we will bring transformational changes for students making them adapt to the skills of the 21st century at both school and higher education levels.

AABP: What would be the short-term and longterm impact due to its implementation?

Minister of Education: With the National Education Policy 2020 coming in effect, as Honourable Prime Minister proclaimed that the policy emphasises on making ‘job creators’ instead of ‘job seekers’. Through the policy, we are hoping to transform education and putting a significant thrust on learning about how to think critically and solve problems, how to be creative and multidisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and absorb new material in the novel and changing fields. Pedagogy is expected to evolve to make education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centred, discussion-based, flexible, and, of course, enjoyable. The new curriculum will include basic arts, crafts, humanities, games, sports and fitness, languages, literature, culture, and values, in addition to science and mathematics, to develop all aspects and capabilities of learners; and make education more well-rounded, useful, and fulfilling to the learner. NEP aims to build character, enable learners to be ethical, rational, compassionate, and caring, while at the same time prepare them for gainful, fulfilling employment.

The gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is required will be bridged through undertaking major reforms that bring the highest quality, equity, and integrity into the system, from early childhood care and education through higher education.

The long-term aim will be for India to have an education system by 2040 that is second to none, with equitable access to the highest quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background.

AABP: The government has declared 6% GDP to be used for education? How will this be done?

Minister of Education: NEP has proposed to raise the expenditure on education to 6% of GDP. Considering the funding needs of the sector and the complexity in the different categories of funding, sound diversification of the funding streams for higher education is needed. This includes Government funding (both Centre & State), Government guaranteed loan mechanism for institutions (Higher Education Financing Agency, HEFA), Philanthropy (Corporate, individual, alumni etc.), Flexible Student Loans, Performance-based Matching Grants system by Government, Outcome-based Government funding, use of technology to maximise philanthropic outreach (e.g. crowdfunding), facilitating legislative reforms, collaborative arrangements with private sector in institution creation and operation etc.

Further, fine tuning would be done to optimize the mobilization of funding from such avenues. Both existing and alternative mechanisms require a set of functional, structural & governance measures to be instituted for educational financing to attain higher levels so that quality, adequacy and equity. There will be an all-round assessment of education to enable students to become global students.

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