Finland which often tops global PISA test to judge school level competency among children made music teaching mandatory for first six years of education. It is believed that music enriches, the “experiences, exploration and excitement” of the children and they do well in other subjects as well. Vietnam, did not withdraw from PISA test, used ranking to find its weaknesses and then came up almost near Finland in global ranking. The NEP could have reflected on such experiences, and found out the reasons for persistent neglect of quality of school education by most states. There are only six times word innovation has been used as against regulation or regulatory about 30 times. Lesson is clear: better regulation is the missing piece and not the innovation. There is no reference to databases like inshodh.org at IIMA which has experience of more than 15000 innovative government school teachers, and 4000 videos on specific subjects in Indian languages. NEP has also not drawn upon the experience of those government schools and teachers in places like Gadchiroli by innovative school headmaster like Sudhir kumar. There is a waiting list for admission a year after, in his school. There are government schools where students have moved in from private schools including in Gujarat. Why are we so hesitant in learning from the excellent experiences where Indian state has done so well?
The fact, that in most disciplines the top institutions of higher education are in public sector, should have led to strengthening the capabilities and autonomy of such institutions. These should have been asked to set up more branches, expand capacity, get huge resources for online teaching etc. The reality is the MHRD is far more intrusive in such outstanding institutions including the IIMs. What is the point. Should not MHRD and states focus on improving the quality of those institutions which despite (or because of) remaining under their complete control have done poorly. Once we appoint a mediocre as vice chancellor/Director, one does not have to do much to deteriorate the quality. Clear enunciation of steps for restoring meritocracy in such matters is needed in NEP.
Majority of the members of educational regulatory or policy making bodies should be outstanding academics. So also the chair of such bodies. Let me summarise some other steps to improve educational quality: a) the scholarship for post graduate/doctoral students should be indexed as the salaries of the academics are done; b) children of education department secretaries, directors and other senior policy makers should be admitted to government schools only, if we really want to improve the conditions there, c) the science labs, book/video libraries, music infra and playgrounds must be made available in every school; d) Navodaya Vidyalaya in every block within next three years, e) compulsory vocational education credit for all is a good step, create proper infra for it; f) multiple exit points for students in higher education is must; g) those faculty who have not published any paper in refereed respected journals in the last ten years must be retired to make way for the bright youth; h) those departments of existing public universities have done exceedingly well in research, teaching and innovation must be given much more autonomy and funding than at present. Generally, no university achieves excellence in all disciplines; i) every public/private institution given land on concessional rate or other facilities by state must be obliged to make minimum quantity and quality of open source content available at national open education site; j) multi-media, multi-language high quality content on innovation value chain and stories about life of contemporary grassroots and other innovators must be included in curriculum; k) similar stories about outstanding technologies, institutions and innovations should be included in textbooks ( at present there is a substantial gap on this issue). How many people know that white revolution would not have taken place if Amul did not have access to CSIR technology from CFTRI to make powder out of buffalo milk; or the hundreds of thousand acres in which improved HMT paddy variety developed by a dalit farmer late Dada Khobragade honoured by the Honey Bee network and NIF had not spread?