This human capital is nothing more than a high point in education. This capital creates future innovations, productive ideas, creative products and processes, which in turn contribute to economic growth.
Our greatest investment priority for the future should therefore be education. How do I plan for the future? A Confucian proverb answers it best. It says: If you want to plan a year, plant some rice. If you want to plan for the next ten years, plant a tree. If you want to plan for a hundred years, raise your children.
The New Education Policy (NEP) announced this week is not too early. And it’s not the first either. The first was passed by Parliament in 1968 based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission. The second was adopted in 1986 and revised in 1992. The present is the third. It is essentially a paradigm, a framework that defines certain priorities and priorities. It is to be implemented together with the states over the next 20 years.
Some of the key features are that school exams become “easy”, transition from 10 + 2 to 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 with multiple exit and entry flexibility, and more emphasis is placed on learning and critical thinking (rather than memorizing) on supervisory authorities at the highest level, such as the University Grants Commission or AICTE, which increases national spending on education to 6 percent of GDP. Some of them are revolutionary changes, although they only take effect when they are implemented. Until then, these are just suggestions.
There are some features that are controversial. The big one is about English medium. The NEP says that students up to grade V should be taught in their mother tongue or a national language. This suggestion appears to contradict local reality. First, education is on the simultaneous list of the constitution, so the states have as much influence as the center in deciding whether the English language should be banned up to class V. Second, people “vote with their feet”. Whenever there is an affordable high quality English middle school option, parents climb up to it.
The urban elites will move heaven and earth to ensure that their descendants are admitted to a prestigious school, all of which have English classes. Even the poor willingly pull their children out of free urban schools and enroll in English middle schools, even if the quality is not particularly good. English is ambitious. It is a passport for global mobility. As the economy becomes increasingly digitized, the lack of English will be a major obstacle. Google did a great job when it was possible to enter the Indian language on Android devices, but is still using the English keyboard.
Teaching social science in the local language is feasible, but science and math will not be easy.
Thirdly, we have to recognize that more than 100 million people are migrants who move from one language country to another. English is then a portable language for such frequent and annual migration. After all, there may be no incompatibility between early language teaching, native or native, and English. Learning two or three languages in early childhood is much easier than later.
India’s level of education at school level, as documented in the annual Status of Education Report for more than a decade, is grim compared to any East Asian peer. Even a fifth standard student has no reading or math skills of a second standard child.
This is a mountain full of challenges. One of the weak links is the lack of highly qualified, motivated and well-paid teachers. Another weak link is the lack of any role or autonomy for key stakeholders and beneficiaries, i.e. H. The parents. How can we build human capital when the foundation is so weak? India “imports” high-quality education valued at $ 10 to $ 12 billion (nearly $ 1,000,000 rupees) each year. This is the amount that is spent annually on posting children abroad for bachelor’s degrees and higher education. No wonder that foreign universities look forward to welcoming Indians with student visas every year. We can only reverse this if high quality options are available in India.
Educational reform and progress are a long way off. It’s like planning for the next hundred years.