World civilization may have relied on India for cultural education until about the eighth century AD. The world-renowned educational universities of the time, such as Gandhara, Ujjain, Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila and Kanchi, were the cradles of universal culture. However, foreign powers often sought to overthrow the Sanatana Dharma culture and impose Western culture. The most important of these is the Macaulay education system. The Indian education system is conducive to the holistic development of an individual. At the same time, it was aimed at harmoniously integrating and nurturing the family, society, nation and the universe. But Macaulay’s method of education, on the contrary, was aimed at the Indian citizen in the interests of British imperialism and in securing the fabric of Western civilization. The British education system was instrumental in promoting political and intellectual slavery in colonial India while the masses sustained the strength of Indian cultural traditions. That is what motivated our cultural heroes Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahayogi Aravind and Father of the Nation Mahatmaji to formulate a comprehensive national education plan along with other constructive programs associated with freedom struggle.
But the reprehensible failure in formulating a Bhartiya Model of education needs close. This is because India has not been able to break out of the framework of the education plan designed and implemented by Lord Macaulay. That failure affected the entire infrastructure, as education was the cornerstone of nation-building. The current curriculum and plans in our country are based on the national education policy of three and a half decades ago. But time has shown that we have failed to carry forward generations in line with our Bhartiya goals of education. It is in this context that the concept of national education becomes relevant. The main function of Indian education was that, it nurtures and sustains constructive thinking and research skills of an individual and at the same time it serves as the cornerstone of nation building. Though, today it is not possible to revise Indian philosophies of education as they did in ancient times, the National Education Policy (2020) announced by the Government of India, recognizing the uniqueness of Indian philosophy and incorporating Indian values to the fullest extent is the need of the hour.
Early childhood education
In this way, the existing 10 + 2 structure will be removed and replaced with a new structure of 5 + 3 + 3 + 4. As a result, a new cluster will be formed by including preschool classes that are outside the existing school curriculum with first and second standard. Thus, from the age of three, a child becomes part of the formal education system. This is the first stage of the formal education system. The policy assesses the period from 3 to 8 years as the foundation stage before the start of actual education. During this period, values such as learning through play, good behavior, personal hygiene, and cooperation are emphasized. This ensures the proper growth and development of a child’s intellect. In doing so, the policy aims to strengthen the link between education and life.
Preparatory Stage: Role of mother tongue
The second stage is the preparatory stage from 3rd to 5th class. Here the emphasis is on learning through games and activities. Special emphasis is placed on writing, reading and mathematics. Similarly, the policy stipulates that education should be in the mother tongue till the fifth standard. The role of the mother tongue is very important for the intellectual, emotional and spiritual development of a child. Mother tongue becomes mother tongue not because it is the language that the child’s mother speak, rather, it is a source of strength for the child’s mental and physical development as a mother. Through the mother tongue, it is possible to foster and nurture the vision, emotions, creativity, analysis and reactions of any child to the maximum. Moreover, only the mother tongue can make knowledge an experience. That is why the policy stipulates that education up to the fifth standard should be in the mother tongue.
Vocational education, as envisioned by Gandhiji, is included in classes 6 to 8 (middle stage). During this period learning is made possible by teachers who are proficient in each subject. Thus, in order to give students a clearer understanding of the subject matter, and to integrate knowledge and action with elementary education through an internship that is defined along with the study. It has been recognized that over time, education has shifted from being a practice for exams to being the lifeblood of life.
Sense of questioning and the intellect of inquiry
The means to acquire any kind of knowledge is the sense of questioning and the intellect of inquiry. The curriculum incorporating this is envisaged in the fourth phase, classes 9 to 12. This period gives a student the opportunity to choose and study a subject of his choice. This gives each group the opportunity to use their creativity to find space for growth and development. It enables in-depth study, the ability to think critically and pay more attention to the purpose of life.
In contrast to the existing education structure as described above, the new National Education Policy aims to bring the children within the age group of 3 to 18-year olds under formal education and thereby universalize it. The policy aims to eliminate school dropouts by 2030. At the same time, it is to be welcomed that 6 per cent of GDP will be earmarked for the upliftment of the education sector in the long run as knowledge is a necessity of nation building.
The uniqueness of this century is the vision that emphasizes study, research and discovery at all times. Aware of this, the policy aims to ensure equal opportunities for all, from Anganwadi to higher education, regardless of social or economic differences. Similarly, the education policy envisages bringing Bharat back to its real glory and excellence by providing quality education at a reasonable cost and thereby returning her to the status of ‘Vishwa guru‘.
Education and the role of the governing body are crucial in determining the fate of the people of any nation. Successive rulers must be convinced of development paradigms in the country and how it should shape generations. In that sense, the new national policy of India will enable the development of a scientifically conscious young generation that will uphold truth, justice and righteousness.
At the same time, the policy has the vision of generating job creators instead of existing job seekers. In this way, students will be able to achieve what they want to learn and what they want to become through a diverse and interconnected field of study. Thus, there will be a change in the current situation which is not beneficial to oneself and the nation despite having education. The new National Education Policy is an inevitable step towards regaining the title of ‘Vishwa Guru‘ by imparting knowledge in all fields and transforming India into the land of ‘youth‘ who will never bow down to obstacles in life.