The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently launched a novel initiative, ‘NEP SAARTHI – Student Ambassador for Academic Reforms in Transforming Higher Education in India.’ The programme has been designed with the objective of engaging students in the implementation and promotion of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which has been introduced by the Government of India, is a comprehensive and visionary framework that seeks to bring about an innovative transformation in the educational system of the country. The NEP 2020 is a comprehensive framework that aims to establish India as a knowledge superpower. The policy is founded on the principles of accessibility, equity, quality, and employability. NEP 2020 provides a roadmap for transforming the Indian education system to align with the changing needs of the 21st century. The policy envisions a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to education that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. The policy also emphasises the importance of developing a skilled workforce that can contribute to the nation’s economic growth and development. Overall, NEP 2020 represents a significant step towards realising India’s vision of becoming a global leader in education and innovation. The NEP 2020, with its focus on student-cantered pedagogy and comprehensive development, has the capacity to fundamentally transform the educational landscape of the country, making it the 21st century education.
NEP 2020’s emphasizes on a comprehensive and interdisciplinary education in the country. The policy acknowledges the importance of developing students’ analytical and creative abilities as well as their social and emotional well-being. It promotes interdisciplinary research, giving students the opportunity to learn about and apply concepts from many different disciplines. NEP 2020 gives students a head start on the complexities of the modern world by incorporating arts, humanities, and vocational education into the curriculum.
The goal of NEP 2020 is to give students more freedom over what they study and how they learn. It replaces the traditional 10+2 system with a 5+3+3+4 curricula structure, where the foundation stage (ages 3–8) is all about learning through play and activities. The policy also stresses the importance of mother tongue and regional languages in early education. This is to make sure that children have a strong foundation in their first language and to encourage them to learn more than one language. By recognising that India has a number of languages and cultures, NEP 2020 protects India’s linguistic heritage and helps people feel like they belong.
Innovative technology has been given an important place in the NEP 2020. It has advocated for the creation of a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to help teachers and students; and teachers to evaluate how innovative technology is being used in teaching, learning, and evaluation. The policy encourages the development of digital infrastructure, open educational resources, and e-learning platforms, which make possible for people from all over the world to get a good education. By using digital tools and resources, NEP 2020 makes it possible for students to learn in a way that fits their needs and gives them the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.
In the education ecosystem, NEP 2020 lays a lot of emphasis on multi-disciplinary research. It calls for the creation of research foundations to help universities, businesses, and research institutions to work together. The policy encourages research-based learning to be a part of the curriculum. This helps students learn to think critically, solve problems, and to be inquisitive. The goal of NEP 2020 is to make India a global centre for cutting-edge research and technological advances by encouraging a culture of innovation.
The UGC has introduced a programme called “NEP SAARTHI” at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to promote student engagements and increase their awareness of the various reforms in the higher education system. The present initiative underscores the need to integrate students as proactive contributors in the implementation of the NEP 2020. The objectives of this initiative is to create awareness about NEP 2020 among the students on campus, to encourage and motivate students to actively participate in implementing the NEP 2020, and to establish a feedback mechanism for the UGC to examine and analyse the impacts of NEP 2020 on students and address their grievances and concerns.
This programme is open to all students who enrolled in higher education programmes at different levels. This includes students pursuing certificate, diploma, undergraduate, and postgraduate degrees. The UGC Chairperson said, “The nominated students are expected to have an outstanding personality, possess excellent communication skills, organisational capabilities for conducting outreach programmes, creativity, and sense of responsibility along with being a team leader.”
The UGC has already solicited from all Vice Chancellors, Directors, and Principals of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to nominate three students from their respective institutions. The UGC is set to identify and appoint 300 NEP SAARTHIs from a pool of student nominees, following which the selected individuals are to be notified and communicated. The selected students is to be provided with comprehensive training and orientation to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their ambassadorial roles effectively in the promotion and implementation of NEP 2020.
The responsibilities of NEP SAARTHI are to serve as an ambassador for NEP 2020 to enhance public awareness, disseminate information and promote NEP 2020 initiatives on social media, collect student feedback to improve NEP 2020’s implementation, and provide students and other stakeholders with advice on how to make the most of opportunities created by the NEP 2020. The SAARTHIs are assigned important roles to educate people about the NEP 2020; connect with groups of students; get students, teachers, administrators, and the UGC too engaged in meaningful conversations with each other. These roles can be performed through by organizing the events, debates, discussions, competitions, quizzes, Nukkads, and Chaupals along with use of the social media for the same and set up help desks for the NEP at colleges.
Synergy Between NEP 2020 and NEP SAARTHI
NEP SAARTHI is an initiative that aims to provide a platform for stakeholders to participate in the policy formulation process. The NEP SAARTHI portal was launched in August 2020 by the Ministry of Education, and it allows users to submit their suggestions and feedback on the NEP 2020. The portal also provides access to various resources related to the policy, including reports, research papers, and case studies. The NEP SAARTHI is an important step towards ensuring that the education policy formulation is inclusive and it is effectively implemented. It provides a platform for stakeholders to voice their opinions and contribute to the development of the education sector in India. The NEP SAARTHI portal also helps to create a culture of transparency and accountability in the policy formulation process.
The NEP 2020 stands for completely revamping and transforming of the educational system of the country by 2040 by introducing innovative changes. The first step in this direction is to enhance the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of post-secondary students from 26.3% in 2018 to 50% in 2035. The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is to be created to serve as centralised governing body for all post-secondary education outside of the fields of medicine and law. In order to promote multi-disciplinary research, universities would be dedicated to multidisciplinary education and research (MERUs) on par with IITs and IIMs. Undergraduate degree programmes with multiple entry and exit points for students with the necessary credentials will be introduced in phased manner. The M.Phil. has been phased out in favour of a new four-year undergraduate multidisciplinary programme with flexible completion requirements. Credits earned at different institutions can be stored digitally in a “Credit Bank,” allowing students to transfer them with ease. Establishing a National Research Foundation (NRF) to award grants for the best research proposals across disciplines that have undergone a rigorous review process.
The policy proposes a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) to ensure high-quality higher education institutions. The policy emphasises faculty development and technology to improve teaching and learning. NEP 2020 also emphasises autonomy. Higher education institutions would have freedom to design their own curriculum, admission criteria, and course offerings under the policy. This promotes higher education innovation and multi-disciplinarity. Students are allowed to choose courses from different disciplines and earn credits under the policy. Students can pursue their interests and learn a variety of skills. The policy proposes a National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund multidisciplinary research. The policy emphasises academia-industry collaboration to promote research and innovation. Finally, the NEP 2020 seeks to reform India’s higher education system. Higher education policy seeks to improve access, equity, quality, autonomy, multi-disciplinarity, flexibility, innovation, and research.
In order to provide inclusive education, the NEP emphasized the spending of 6% of GDP would be provided for education by the Central Government. In higher education, NEP 2020 seeks to improve the following areas: access, equity, quality, autonomy, multidisciplinary approaches, adaptability, innovation, and research. The policy proposes equal opportunities for all students regardless of socio-economic background, gender, or religion.
The Role of NEP SAARTHI to Make Education Ready for 21st Century Learners
The 21st century education is being characterized by the importance of equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and mind-set necessary to be relevant in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing and uncertain world. This education must have key elements such as comprehensive and flexible curricula, experiential learning, multi and trans-disciplinary research, innovative and technological driven pedagogical approach, multilaterally relevant, holistic learning, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and adaptability, as well as embracing technology like artificial intelligence, virtual reality etc. It should also foster a global perspective to encourage international collaboration, and promote ethical and responsible education. Accessibility and inclusivity should be celebrated to promote and celebrate diversity. NEP SAARTHI and NEP 2020 are important steps in making Indian education ready for the 21st century.
The NEP 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century that aims to address the developmental imperatives of the current century. Whereas on the other hand, the NEP SAARTHI aims to involve students in the implementation of the NEP 2020 and foster an environment where students can engage meaningfully and come together as active participants. The NEP SAARTHI further strengthens the inclusivity and equity by collaboration and innovation among students and other stakeholders. The NEP SAARTHI reflects the spirit of the NEP 2020, which is to make education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, learner-centric and equitable.
At the last, it is concluded that NEP 2020 and NEP SAARTHI are closely linked, with the former focusing on holistic, learner-centric, and equitable education. NEP SAARTHI promotes student engagement and participation, while also fostering transparency, accountability, and inclusivity. Together, they aim to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century by embracing multidisciplinarity, innovation, technology, and global perspectives.