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Karnataka most likely to form Education Commission to implement NEP

26 November, 2020

“A perspective on the readiness of Karnataka school education system to face the challenge of NEP implementation.”

Post-Independence, Karnataka having successfully accomplished numerous firsts, it is not at all a wonder that it is one of the first States to take quick action to implement revolutionary NEP over a decade of time span.

Karnataka being the front runner in implementing the most awaited new National Education Policy (NEP) since decades had set up a task force in March 2020 headed by Former Chief Secretary of Karnataka Mr S V Ranganath for effective implementation of NEP. The task force has now submitted a report to the Government on the State’s plan for implementing NEP and recommended the establishment of Karnataka Education Commission (KEC) to implement the policy efficiently in next ten years.

Karnataka would face a greater challenge especially in the school education as there are over 1 crore students studying in schools which is roughly around 1/6th of the total population of the State. Though implementing NEP is quite an uphill task for the Government, the report on school education (2018-19) brings bundle of positivity. The past performance is a great indicator to measure the success of the future and in this regard, the State’s primary and secondary education department is doing things better in their scope of activities to revive the overall education system in the State.

As per the report by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education, Karnataka has over 77000 schools, 1.03 crore students, and 3 Lakh, teachers. The report shows a gradual improvement in some of the key indicators across the districts. ‘Greater understanding of the learning levels’ through the C-SAS (Census based state achievement survey) and the ‘improvement in SSLC (10th grade) results’ are a few examples of these indicators. The department has taken several initiatives to improve the access and strengthen the Government schooling system. Initiatives such as launch of English medium schools, revitalising special education, starting of Karnataka Public Schools are the highlights of the report. Here, we must notice that the success of Government schools is directly proportional to the success of most underprivileged social groups who access Government schools.

Karnataka being above the national average in most of the Performance Grade Indicators (PGIs) which is aimed at helping students understand where they may be lagging behind and prioritise areas for intervention to ensure that the school education system is robust at every level. There is no hesitation in hoping that Karnataka will successfully implement NEP and as we know it is the need for 21st-century skills. Let us look at couple of key indicators where Karnataka’s average is better than the national average. The State scores 100 out of 150 points where the national average is 96 in ‘infrastructure and facilities indicator’. In the other indicator pertained to ‘learning outcomes and quality’, the State scores 160 out of 180 points which are way ahead of overall national average of 137.

In an indicator related to education, the report highlights that, 72 percent schools in Karnataka are funded by the Department of Education which accounts to 55 percent of the enrolments in the State. The above indicator highlights the role of government in the financial aspects of the education institutions and their overall enrolments compared to private schools.

The major challenge to the State is to increase the enrolment ratio from the primary level to the secondary level. Only around 30 percent of the students who enrol at the primary level continue to the secondary education. Mr SV Ranganath who is also the head of the task force that has submitted the report to implement NEP smoothly, in one of the National Convention on Higher Education opines that, “India should increase the higher education gross enrolment ratio to 45 to 50 percent to make a decent impact.” With this background, increasing the enrolments to the secondary education is highly essential.

Coming back to the roadmap for implementation of NEP, The Chief Minister should chair the commission (KEC) and should convene a meeting at least twice a year or as often as is deemed necessary, to review the progress of education in the State in its totality, and to appropriately empower and motivate the KEC as needed through his/her authority. The State Higher Education Minister as well as the School Education Minister should be the Vice-Chairpersons of the KEC.

The report includes 500 points on school education and 200 on higher education which NEP outlines. The task force report will be placed in the cabinet for its approval shortly said, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan. The report would be discussed with the stakeholders for their opinions and suggestions to make it practical. The State will begin the implementation of the report in the year 2021, he added.

To bring more accountability, the task force has recommended separation of powers within the existing bodies in the education department. It also states that curricular reforms should drive the transformation of the current structure of schooling to 5+3+3+4 (Foundational, Preparatory, Middle and Secondary stage). Setting up of various councils has been among the recommendations of the task force committee. The curriculum will also undergo a revision and foundation level of schooling will begin at nursing (instead of Class 1).

Finally, all the above points and many more indices and its organisational capabilities give us the much-needed confidence that the State of Karnataka is all ready to implement NEP and bring revolutionary changes in the state’s education system.

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