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Universalizing Education In Light Of NEP And Changes Brought By Pandemic

In today's modern era many great discoveries have been made that have revolutionized human lives and education has become indispensable for the establishment of an egalitarian and just society and for the virtue to prevail over vice. But what if the education system of a country upon which its future rests is entangled in various challenges and the victims are none other than students. Ideally an education system should teach people how to think and not what to think, but sadly our schooling system follows the latter approach.

The right time to initiate winds of change is now. A transformation from the crude system of schooling to progressive system of schooling. In Chinese the word crisis is called Weiji  Weiji, where the first Weiji stands for danger and the second one stands for opportunity. The pandemic in a similar manner provides us with an opportunity to push changes.

As per the MHRD the all: India average dropout rate of primary students is 4.13 per cent and 17.06 per cent in the secondary levels. The Dropout rate for girls is considerably high as compared to that of boys, and this trend further aggravates for girls above 15 years of age. Most of the dropout of girls are from rural areas because their parents are concerned about their safety as they have to travel miles for hours to reach their schools.

However, there is a key to every lock and this problem can be effectively tackled by promoting online classes or virtual mode of learning. With virtual learning available girls can get educated even from their homes even if no schools are available in their villages, thereby not only reducing their dropout rates but also increasing the Enrollment ratio and literacy rates.

We all know the plight of migrant workers who along with their children were forced during the lockdown to reverse migrate to their villages. Due to this their children who were studying in schools in cities were also forced to take a break in their studies. However, this problem could have been effectively tackled have they been able to remotely access their classes using online platforms even from their villages.

We all know the extent of economic loss our economy has suffered, with many institutions predicting negative growth rates and World Bank predicting India's GDP to decline by 9.6 %. In such a scenario Investing in building a whole school or a set of schools will not only take years but will also be too much for the government to bear. Therefore, Government could effectively invest in Digital education as this would not only be cost effective but would serve a large segment of population.

This pandemic has taught us that in future also such crisis is possible therefore we must pour our resources towards building such a system that is resilient to such events. As technology is developing, so too the way we learn new skills needs to be developed. We live in the digital age. Digital technology is a powerful tool and, if used wisely by educators, parents and students, it can have positive impact on the user.

Using technology, we could also employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor student's performance and analyse it more technically and finding out in which parameter s/he needs help or improvement and what are his /her strengths and weaknesses. This is a definitely going to be a daunting task but not an impossible one if appropriate policies and measures are taken.

Apart from Universalising education there are myriad of other changes also that can be taken to ensure quality education for all like changing the assessment pattern and modifying some policies. No detention policy of the government has made the motivation levels of students relatively low and they think, there is the need for studying if they could pass their exams without even studying.

This could be the reason why when students reach the age of 15, find difficult to cope with education levels, and the stress of failure. Currently, students have to give one Final exam at the end of the academic year on which their future rests like Board exams for Class 10 and Class 12 students. Instead of assessing only once a year like boards exams do, assessment should be all round the year not only through exams but also through other means like Projects.

We know that different teachers give different marks to the same answer, even the same teacher gives different marks to the same answer on different occasions. How can we allow the future of students of our country to rest upon such a weak marking system? The practice of converting the worth of an answer into a number (marks) should be substituted with some other method that is objective, systematic and more organized. The NEP-2020 has emerged as a silver lining in this cloud. This is the first education policy of the 21st century of our country to replace the thirty-four-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.

It is targeting the universalisation of education from pre-school to secondary-level with 100 per cent Gross-Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.Several reforms proposed by NEP-2020 are introduction of 5+3+3+4 system replacing the 10+2 structure of school, teaching up to class fifth in the mother tongue/regional language, eliminating the rigid separation of students into streams, increasing the spending on education from 3.1 % of GDP to 6 %.

The past cannot be changed but the Future is yet in our power. Change will not happen in a day it will take time, sometimes weeks, sometimes months and sometimes even years. Thus, we should not let go this opportunity and utilise it to the fullest and transform our way getting educated.

We must cater to build skills required in the 21st century. The pandemic has ignited a spark of need for change and now it is in our hands to fuel it and convert it into a fire that would destroy all the evils that plague our education system.

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