NEP 2020 and Moral Education

Samarjit Kambam *

The National Education Policy (NEP) was launched in 2020 by the Government of India. It was crafted and designed by the National Educational Policy Panel under the Ministry of Human Resource Development depending upon the suggestions/outputs by the various other Ministries of Education, and finally approved and launched by the Govt. It encompasses the all-round educational unification of diversified subjects and aims at achieving full human potential and developing an equitable and just society.

The policy lays particular emphasis on the development of the creative potential of each individual. It is based on the principle that education must develop not only cognitively but also social, ethical, moral and emotional capacities and dispositions.

The NEP 2020 interweaves on the all-encompassing entities of education viz, advancement in science and technology, art and culture, vocational education, sports, ethos and moral values and transparency with a holistic approach. The distinctive spirit of this policy is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought and action, possessing compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper and creative imagination, with sound ethical moorings and values.

The policy aims at producing engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and pluralistic society.

The previous NEP was launched in 1986. During the time, the then Government laid special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalise educational opportunity especially for Indian women, weaker sections of communities through scholarships, adult education, recruiting more teachers from the SCs and STs, incentives for poor families to send their children to school regularly, development of new institutions and providing housing and services as a means to achieve such a social integration. The policy expanded the system to improve primary schools Nationwide and promoted 'rural university' and open university such as IGNOU.

However, compared to NEP 2020, the previous one was quite raw, filled with loopholes and consisted of educational politics that were almost impossible to implement. The Govt of India thus tied up with various Ministries of Education to come up with a National policy whose implementation will have a palpable and tangible effect, a kind where the present generation of students will actually gain and have positive impact on education alongwith the drive of having a competitive advantage over their contemporaries belonging to other parts of the world. Hence, the NEP 2020.

The significance of NEP 2020 is to bring down the curriculum from 10+2 to a 5+3+3+4 system. It was devised taking into account the cognitive development of children who are not intellectually bright. That's why trainings of school heads and teachers are given main importance on Child Pedagogical Learning by CBSE as well as teaching programme on Child Psychology. Being holistic in its approach, the NEP 2020 blends in the Indian Vedic culture values wherein the highest minds of the world ruled the roost.

The policy also holds dear the tradition of Shanti Niketan where students were imparted education and life skill and human values by being close to nature. No doubt, the CIET-NCERT, CBSE and other organisations under the aegis of Ministry of Education have come up with many daring innovative approaches such as NISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers' Holistic Advancement) thereby honing the skills of teachers throughout India.

The responses were overwhelming benefitting many teachers and school heads in bringing up better education system in India. Then, there have been training programmes on Artificial Intelligence Learning, Action Research Programme, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) popularly known as SWAYAM, PMeVIDYA-One Class-One TV Channel, i-Radio, IVRS, Learning Management System (LMS) and a host of other courses and programmes to provide education on 24x7 basis.

Recently, the CBSE has worked with Ajim Premji University to develop a set of standards also known as the 'Learning Standards Framework' for Class XI and X which outlines the competencies, samples of pedagogical processes, assessment tools and techniques which the Board would strive to achieve through its curriculum.

As a part of the 75-week-long Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav campaign by the Government of India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) launched the Training of Master's Trainers Programme in Community-based Participatory Research under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0. The program has synchronised with the mandate given by NEP 2020 on fostering social responsibility in higher education.

The overall projects were based with the intrinsic aim of successful implementation of the NEP 2020. Though there were hindrances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of India and all stakeholders did a commendable job to bring up the level of holistic education to the next level.

Though the NEP 2020 integrates the traditional old age Indian culture in its fore, the advancement in technology will make it a herculean task to foray into the minds of the students the moral values as the competitions and training programmes will definitely have a paradigm shift towards more technological aspects such as "Coding" on Artificial Intelligence, futuristic app applications, robotics etc.

This will become the prime reason for degradation of our beautiful Indian traditional human values which India is famous for and adopted by other western countries. This is where moral education should come to the fore as the saviour for humans from falling into the abyss of self-centricity, egoism, hatred and vehemency. Moral education is basically a training which shows us the right and just way to lead our lives.

With humans becoming more of a corporatized mechanical machine, moral values have been kept at the backburner. In our middle schooling, Moral Science cum Moral Education was a compulsory subject upto middle school. The impact that subject had on us can be considered dramatically positive in terms of human values. In my opinion that particular subject like other subject such as Science and Maths has its essence to a high quality of life.

Moral education declined in schools because it was considered unnecessary as it has a religious connotation with the word "moral." With each society having a set of morals, it was felt that the moral values would overlap and would lead to a detrimental cascading effect.

If you'll notice the way the world works nowadays you'll realize that there are clashing sets of morals. And if everyone has a different set of morals, whose do we pick to teach our students ? The moral values I am referring to is the one that is universally accepted, those beyond the realms of religious beliefs and narrow minded stereotypes. Say, helping the elderly, sharing food with others, love for others, love for nature, respect to elders and teachers, being generous, showing consideration, being compassionate etc., are universally accepted moral values.

It is strongly felt that moral education to the students by inculcating such moral values will act as a fillip in making the students to proceed with the journey of their life by the principles of truthfulness, honesty, charity, hospitality, tolerance, love, kindness and sympathy.

Success cannot be measured but to make the NEP 2020 a highly successful and accomplished one, all concerned stakeholders (CBSE, CIET-NCERT and state SCERTs) need to revive moral education as a compulsory subject at least upto the 5+3 level. The students should be mandatorily made to take up various projects based in this aspect.

Mention may be made of moral quiz, moral crosswords, school board decoration, creative writing, painting, story-telling, spelling bees and drawing competitions on moral values etc. Programmes such as character development programme and moral enrichment programmes need to be initiated.

Projects can be launched wherein the students visit old age homes and orphan homes and study the nature of life they are leading and put forth their opinions for improvement of their livelihood through social and various means of mass media.

It's time the Government take up initiatives for training programmes on moral education sessions to the employees who are working in various organisations, institutions, businesses and companies.

With moral education as a subject accompanied by many initiatives on programmes, courses and project works by concerned stakeholders on moral values doesn't stop me from hoping that the NEP 2020 will become a really successful and accomplishing one bringing Indian education many levels above which will be envied by other Nations.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 07 2022 .

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