As NEP implementation nears, colleges scramble

As NEP implementation nears, colleges scramble

They expect guidelines on September 6 and will have to be ready by October 1

With just a month to go to implement the National Education Policy (NEP), colleges are rushing to put things in place.

Karnataka is the first state to implement the policy, and institutions are preparing to make their courses more flexible.

The new policy allows more exit points to students—for example, they don’t necessarily have to complete three years of a bachelor’s course to be eligible for a certificate—and can choose subjects cutting across the arts, science and commerce streams.

Dr Sabitha Ramamurthy, president and chancellor, CMR University, says the NEP makes students ‘job-ready’ and helps them build on their strengths. 

The multidisciplinary approach is the way forward, says Dr Tristha Ramamurthy, provost, CMR University. “Implementation comes with many challenges like curriculum design and coordination among faculty, to name a few. An entire curriculum design and development team is working to ease the transition, says Tristha.
  Fr Augustine, principal, Kristu Jayanti College, believes the NEP will transform the educational system. “The multi-disciplinary approach is adopted to realise the full potential of all students. It brings flexibility in learning as there is no hard separation among science, arts and vocational courses. The skill enhancement courses, ability enhancement courses and practical components will empower the students with the required skill set to face the myriad challenges of the contemporary world,” says Fr Augustine.  

Much depends on how institutions can restructure their courses, he observes.

The policy gives students an opportunity to remain connected to subjects that interest them, says Kiran Jeevan, PRO, St Joseph’s (deemed-to-be university).

“As one who has lived and studied abroad, I must say that one big difference in Indian and international education has been academic flexibility, which I believe NEP will offer Indian students,” he says.

Need clarity

Some academics believe the government should have waited at least till next year to implement NEP. Vijeta, faculty at the English department of an autonomous college, says, “We haven’t been given any blueprint on how to go about implementing it. Making parents understand NEP and getting students to read the documents is a task in itself.”

She wonders why the government is rushing into these changes in a pandemic year when students are away from the campus.

Many come from villages with poor WiFi connectivity. “How will they understand this drastic change when they can barely manage to attend class,” she wonders.

The centralised curriculum also affects autonomy, she fears. “What is the point of having autonomy if the state is going to interfere? We have put our experience and energy into drawing up a syllabus and now we have to redo it according to the NEP. This is unfair,” she says.

The principal of another prominent college agrees NEP could have waited for a year.  “The NEP syllabus will be reaching us by September 6 and we will have to implement it by October 1. We have to be ready with the electives and even recruit faculty, if necessary,” she explains.

Biz dimension

Shivasundar, activist, says NEP will lead to commercialisation of higher education and non-
formalisation of primary education.

“This is a total withdrawal of the state from its obligation of giving quality and universal education. There is no concrete idea about providing scholarships. All colleges will be self-financing and the University Grants will be withdrawn. This will give private colleges the power to decide on their fees, but who will put a cap on them?” he wonders.

At the school level...

Prof B K Chandrashekar, former minister for education and chairman of the Legislative Council, says the shortage of more than 11 lakh teachers at the school level is worrying. “And in the NEP, learning outcome burdens are shifted to the teachers,” he says.  The National Higher Education Regulatory Authority will be the sole body overseeing all higher education, including professional education. It regulates governance and will have quasi-judicial status. “It is empowered to shut down, de-recognise and penalise institutions for failure to comply with regulatory norms,” he says. He feels aspects like this contradict the principles of higher education: academic and administrative autonomy. “The Union government will hold the reins of all higher education institutions,” he adds. 

‘Employability will get a boost’

The new policy will improve the employability of graduates at a global level. The existing curriculum can be realigned to conform with NEP, says B Thimme Gowda, vice chairman of the Karnataka State Higher Education Council and former vice chancellor of Bangalore University. Students are free to choose different credit programmes that suit their interests. They can also seek a course in another college. NEP aims to bring in quality, equity and inclusivity, he says.

NEP highlights

- Undergraduate students can drop out and switch courses at any point and still get a certificate. 

- Students can mix and match subjects from across streams, without boundaries of arts, science and commerce.

- Students can study in multiple colleges and consolidate their credits.

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