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September 22, 2020 Tuesday 10:58:32 AM IST

‘Visitor’s Conference on Implementation of NEP 2020 in Higher Education’

Policy Indications

The Visitor’s Conference concludes with the commitment of successful implementation of National Education Policy. The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind addressed inaugural session of the virtual ‘Visitor’s Conference on Implementation of NEP 2020 in Higher Education’ last Saturday. The Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’; Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre, Secretary, Higher Education, Amit Khare, Chairman, Drafting Committee of NEP Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Chairman UGC Shri D.P. Singh, Vice Chancellors of Central Universities, Directors of IITs, NITs, IIITs, NIDs, IISERs, SPAs and other Institutions of National Importance were present on the occasion.

Pokhriyal said that the Public funded Higher Education Institutions are the significant platforms of creation and dissemination of knowledge and hence play an important role in bringing alive elements of the NEP 2020. He said that the ‘Visitor’s Conference provided an opportunity to the head of the institutions of Central Universities and Institutions of National Importance to deliberate on various aspects of NEP with regard to its implementation. The conference deliberated on the various aspects of the NEP 2020 and the next steps for the effective implementation strategies and action plans to be carried out in a phased manner with prioritization to key areas of higher education that needs urgent reforms, he added.

The Minister of State for Education, Sanjay Dhotre valued the enriching deliberation in the Visitor’s Conference and hoped these insights will surely help in implementation of the National Education Policy effectively. Shri Dhotre also thanked all the participants of the Conference.

Prof. K. Kasturirangan, Chairman, Committee for draft NEP delivered a Special Address and spoke about rigorous process in formulation of this policy. Prof. Kasturirangan highlighted the need of aligning with skills of 21st century and providing universal access to quality education. He mentioned the focus of the policy on pedagogical reform, 4-year degree programmes, multidisciplinary and holistic education and pure and applied transformational research. He said, India has rich legacy on holistic education but our present undergraduate system is mastered on silos, and this is out of step with a world that is rapidly changing. Prof. Kasturirangan also stressed on importance of moving away from the narrow conception of vocational education.

Emphasising on use of technology, Prof. Kasturirangan said, technology will not only help expanding our Gross Enrolment Ratio, but also improve our response to the disruptions we are facing today. Prof. Kasturiranga also highlighted the importance of sharing of resources by clustering of institutions and our Inter University Centres are good example of sharing of resources between our Universities. He also stressed upon the need of internal reconfiguration of our HEIs; institutions restructuring; national mentorship by making use of eminent retired academicians in education; and cultural transformation and outlook change of our HEIs in taking this policy towards action at the ground level.

Presentations were made by different sub groups of the heads of institutions on five different aspects of Implementation of National Education Policy. Prof. E. Suresh Kumar, Vice Chancellor, EFLU presenting on “Multidisciplinary and Holistic Education” reflected on the Integration of Humanities and Arts with STEM, cultivating higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and communication skills, the pre-requisites of the twenty first century. While illustrating on the “Networking of Institutes”, the presentation covered the creation of custom-designed courses requiring the premier institutions like the IITs to move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education for a more spherical academic development. Prof. Kumar also suggested various innovative combinations of courses.Prof. D.P. Singh, Chairman, UGC emphasised that education at its core is holistic and multidisciplinary and aims at creating value strong, competent and responsible human beings. Prof. Singh highlighted the need of doing away with silos among disciplines, integration of experiential learning, community engagements, and field based learnings. Prof. Singh called for Re-imagined, Reoriented, Revamped, and Reenergised Higher Education to implement NEP in letter and spirit.

Prof. Mini Shaji Thomas, Director NIT Trichy, made a presentation on the theme “Research, Innovation and Digital Transformation in Higher Education” and highlighted Centres of Excellence and centralized instrumentation facilities can be created by pooling the in-house resources in every Institution. She said, ideation should be encouraged by allowing the students to understand customer need by making internships mandatory for all. She underscored the role of digital transformation in higher education in increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio. On her presentation, she remarked, Institutional readiness, faculty readiness, student readiness and library readiness are important for effective transition to digital technology. Prof. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Standing Committee on IIT Council made his observation on the Presentation stressed that our priority focus should be on creating Intellectual Property Rights for India. Prof. Radhakrishnan highlighted the need of moving forward in global innovation index and global competitiveness index and said HEIs has a major role to play in this regard. He called upon the leaders of HEIs to have innovative funding process with accountability and autonomy to meet all their aspirations.

The Third Session was on “Equity, Inclusion and Capacity Building for Outreach and Excellence”. Prof. Najma Akhtar, Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia during her presentation emphasised that Institutional Outreach and excellence can be achieved through Equity, Inclusion and Capacity Building. She said the need of the hour is to disseminate information about educational opportunities, prospects of employment and support systems that have been put in place by the government to the youth. She emphasised, capacity building should be across all domains of knowledge and special emphasis should be put on the development of soft-skills. She added, empowering faculty through freedom for curriculum design and pedagogical approaches along with institutionalized incentivisation would go a long way for the actualisation of excellence. Prof. Vasudha Kamat, Member, Committee for Draft NEP made 4 observations on the presentation.  She emphasised on the education of Socially Economically Disadvantage Groups (SEDGs) and bringing them into mainstream of education; importance of community outreach and excellence; capacity building of faculty; and importance of national mission on mentoring by large pool of eminent and retired faculty.

The next session was on ‘Indian Knowledge Systems, Languages, Culture and Values’. Prof. B. Muralidhar Sharma, Vice-Chancellor, National Sanskrit University, Tirupati while presenting said, from the collegiate education to the research level programmes, everywhere the necessity of unveiling the Indian Scientific Legacy and Heritage’s relevance in meeting the 21st century’s global needs can be attended with keen involvement. He emphasised these knowledge system can promise research aspects such as Eco-Protecting satellite townships connecting villages and the cities, protecting the environment balance, purifying river system and can lead to peaceful coexistence and high values can be safeguarded. He added, protection of multi lingual environment of the country will pave the way for “ONE NATION – ONE PEOPLE”. While noting his observation, Prof. Manjul Bhargav, Member, Committee for Draft NEP urged the leaders of the higher education institutions to immediately take steps to help promote Indian arts, culture and language raising quality of higher education. To this end he suggested four measures – establish departments on humanities, languages and cultures in each HEIs; develop bilingual programmes; promote local arts, crafts and artisans; and Integration of Indian knowledge system accurately and suitably.

The final presentation was on “Internationalisation and Global Rankings” by Prof. Gautam Barua, Director, IIIT Guwahati. Prof. Barua referred to the challenges of increasing number of foreign students in India. He said, more emphasis  will have to be given to admitting post-graduate and PhD students from abroad. He made many suggestion with regard to internationalisation and called scholarship to foreign students, opening of research staff in sponsored projects to foreign students, building International Hostels and hiring of foreign faculty.  needs to be made easy. Prof. Anil Sahashrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE observed that there is a need to expand traditional subjects like Indology along with focus on modern subjects like artificial intelligence to attract foreign students. He suggested that we should focus on recruitment of faculty from abroad, change in pattern of examination system, creating a joint portal for attracting foreign students, education fair abroad to attract foreign students to India. Prof. Sahasrabudhe also emphasised on the need to work on the ranking aspects while noting that Parameters of International rankings are not favourable to India.