Chapter II: Approach and Methodology
Approach and Methodology
2.1 Constitution of the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy
2.1.1 The Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy was constituted by MHRD vide Order F. No. 7-48/2015-PN-II dated 24 November 2015, in amendment of the earlier Order F. No. 7-48/2015-PN-II dated 31 October 2015, and entrusted with the task of formulating a Draft National Education Policy. The Committee commenced work in the first week of November 2015. The MHRD, GOI orders constituting the Committee, also indicating the extension for the period of the work of the Committee from time to time are reproduced in Annex IA (Vol.II).
2.2 Advance Steps Initiated by the MHRD for Preparation of the New Education Policy
2.1.1 Prior to the constitution of above Committee, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had embarked on a detailed process of initiating extensive consultations with various stakeholders in the country interested in the field of education, to elicit views on the reforms in the education sector, and calling for detailed recommendations in this regard.
2.1.2 Starting from the Gram Panchayat level and going up vertically and laterally, panning the entire educational system in the states and including institutions and organisations allied to the Ministry of HRD as well as non-governmental stakeholders and even individuals, all who had interest in the sector had been given by the MHRD an opportunity to contribute to the new policy formulation. Covering 33 identified broad subject areas (as briefly described in Annex IB), draft reports prepared by scores of expert groups and stakeholders were made available to the Committee as background material on which the policy could be based on. Extensive efforts had been made by the MHRD to reach out to every person, organisation and segment of society, affording anyone with an interest in the progress of education in India to contribute in making suggestions which could respond to diverse and emerging needs which had surfaced since 1986/92 when the last education policy was adopted. This year-long process had been embarked upon by the MHRD as the first step in initiating the necessary revision to the education policy of India.
2.1.3 A brief description of the scope, coverage, method and outcomes of the year-long consultation exercise of the MHRD is given in Annex IC, Vol. II. The Committee was provided with a large number of consultation reports, online feedbacks from individuals and institutions and other related material for its reference, the list of which is also given in Annex IIA, Vol. II. All these voluminous literature that emerged through this exercise contained many signals emanating from different parts of the country, from different kinds of stakeholders of the current state of education, the major need for reforms, and the directions it needs to take. It should be added that the base for the new policy was truly laid through the major preliminary steps undertaken by the Ministry.
2.1.4 Inputs from some of the above listed sources, arising from this exercise, continued to be received well after the Committee’s work, had commenced and were nonetheless taken into account by the Committee.
2.3 Approach of the Committee in Calling for Evidence, Data and Opinion
In its first few meetings, the Committee saw the documentation arising from the wide-ranging consultations. The Committee noted that a large number of suggestions, thematic prescriptions, and analytical approaches, were available in the documentation already generated through this exercise; even though much of the documentation was available to the Committee only after a time lag.
The Committee took note that many of the suggestions received through the above process were prescriptive in nature, and which often lacked specificity in terms of dimension of the treatment of the problem or its potential application on a wider scale, nevertheless were important pointers for the New Policy to take, and gave major impetus to the work of the Committee. The Committee also noted that while the suggestions often summarized or prescribed the desired course of action, it was not easy to comprehend the field circumstances underlying the recommendations.
The Committee felt that the mere extraction of ideas and recommendations put forward by stakeholders would have been relatively easy, but the policy would have lacked in-depth analysis in its recommendations, and would not have had sufficient gravitas or wider application possibilities. The Committee was satisfied that it was necessary to reach out to knowledgeable individuals, experts, scholars, and experienced educationists, to comprehend the imperatives which would lead to sufficiently nuanced conclusions, in making the necessary choices in policy making recommendations. The Committee decided to embark on inviting experts, renowned and experienced educationists, organizations and institutions which had experience in operating in the education field, with possibly widely differing perceptions and prescriptions, to understand the basis on which policy recommendations needed to be projected.
Accordingly meetings were organised almost on a daily basis and restricted to one-on-one conversations or small group meetings, which provided opportunities to raise specific questions, engage with the issues posed by the committee and seek specific ideas and suggestions across the table. A number of doubts and contradictions could thereby be ironed out, and simultaneously claims which were based on limited experience could be disregarded. Because the discussions were with a cross-section of experts and experienced practitioners, including people representing different interest groups, it was possible to get a feel to distinguish what was important from a policy point of view, and isolate them from recommendations which essentially arose from irritants encountered by specific interest groups.
2.3.5 As mentioned, the Committee had decided at an early stage, that it was necessary to meet various experts, academics, administrators, expert groups and other related stakeholders from all over the country to evolve a relevant and meaningful education policy. In fact, the Committee took a conscious decision to invite people likely to have totally different viewpoints on various subjects, to get a bearing on the optimal path to be recommended; even groups with extreme views were invited and heard. All those who were keen to meet the Committee were accommodated. Recommendations and recipes, received in bits and pieces from different protagonists/experts/interest groups were reconceived and taken on board in the appropriate context by the Committee. The Committee expresses its gratitude to all those who helped it, in different ways, particularly by giving new ideas and insights to deal with current challenges in the education sector in India
2.4 Consultations with State Governments and Central Government Officials
2.4.1 Even though the MHRD consultation process included eliciting formal views from all state governments, the Committee was desirous of hearing the views of state governments, first hand, to get a full picture of the main- springs which could lead to revised policy formulation. The Committee recognized that no organisation can provide the feel for the scale and scope of the issues confronting the education sector, as effectively as the state governments who are in daily touch with these issues, and who exercise authority and bear responsibility for the administration of education. Close interactions with the state representatives were therefore organised in batches so that every state in the country got an opportunity of meeting the committee and responding to specific issues raised. The committee was indeed fortunate to have had the opportunity of directly discussing the feasibility of taking forward certain ideas with the senior-most representatives from the state education departments, who were accompanied by selected Vice Chancellors and education experts, particularly in a relatively informal atmosphere. The Committee satisfied that they learnt a lot from the various educational officials and experts and vice chancellors from various states that they came across in the course of this exercise.
2.4.2 The consultation strategy adopted by the Committee included: (a) holding regional consultation meetings at Gandhinagar, Gujarat (for western region), at Raipur, Chhattisgarh (for eastern region), Guwahati, Assam (for north-eastern region), and NUEPA, New Delhi (for both northern and southern regions); (b) Visits to institutions of higher education and school visits in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat; (c) consultations with national level institutions like NUEPA, NCERT, AICTE, UGC, NCTE, IGNOU, NIOS, etc.; and (d) consultations with more than 300 educationists, Vice-Chancellors, experts, CSO and NGO representatives, and representatives of education providers in the private sector at NUEPA, New Delhi. The details of regional consultations and consultation meetings with institutions and individuals by the Committee are given in Annex IIB, Vol. II.
2.4.3 The regional meetings held at various centres and at Delhi, discussed specific issues raised by the Chairman and members of the Committee, and the response elicited from the State representatives; as also to listen to the concerns and prime questions confronting the state authorities. Since parts of these meetings were conducted in a semi-formal format, it was possible to get a feel for the thought processes of the state officials, who were encouraged to express their views in an informal atmosphere. These opportunities facilitated the Committee to test out numerous ideas which had emerged additionally, consider their acceptability, feasibility and the willingness of the states to implement the suggestions, before they could find place in the policy. The State governments on their part used the opportunity to highlight specific strategies and innovative practices which had yielded positive results. Many of these have been referred to and recommended for adoption in the draft policy and framework of action. The Committee needs to place on records its valuable experience in having heard the collective knowledge of the state representatives, who had a vivid picture of the ground level issues confronting them.
2.4.4 The regional visits also enabled the Committee to undertake a number of field visits in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat. During its field visits, the Committee visited a number of schools, colleges, universities, state and district level resource organizations and talked to students, teachers, parents, school/college management representatives and local officials. In each regional centre, a series of consultation meetings with educationists, experts, NGO representatives, CSO representatives, private education providers and national level resource and regulatory organizations, which proved to be very valuable to get a cross-section the views of educationists and others of that region.
2.4.5 The Committee also organized detailed meetings separately with the higher education and school education departments of the MHRD, to get a perspective of the issues which the Ministry considered important; and also to get an opportunity to interact with the senior officials of the meeting on various initiatives, issues and problems, and directions for taking the policy forward.
2.4.6 The Committee also consulted all departments of the MHRD, and other related Ministries like the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Skill Development, and others and had the benefit of the advice and suggestions from them.
2.5 Documents Presented to the Committee
2.5.1 The Committee also received important comments and suggestions for drafting the New Education Policy. In total, the Committee received 107 documents of varying length and substance on various thematic areas concerning school, higher and technical education, including their governance aspects. The list of inputs/material directly received by the Committee is given in Annex IIC, Vol. II.
2.6 The Committee’s Thanks go to a Large Number of People
The Committee has to thank a very large number of people, who have shared in different ways in evolving the draft of the new education policy. Many ideas reflected in the report have emanated from the various experts, educationists, organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders, who met the Committee; the Committee has borrowed freely from these meetings, the exchange of ideas and information, and also from the suggestions received from those who generously gave the Committee advice. The Committee is unable to thank each one individually; but wishes to emphasize that the work of the Committee has been made easy by so many people who contributed to it.
The MHRD had requested the NUEPA to function as a Secretariat of the Committee. The Committee wishes to express its gratitude to the Vice Chancellor, NUEPA, and through him to the faculty and other staff of NUEPA for rendering them all possible facilities to undertake the meetings and to pursue the work of the Committee to its conclusion in an extremely efficient manner.
Prof. K. Biswal of NUEPA was nominated as the Secretary to the Committee. The Committee acknowledges the dedication and quality of work contributed by Prof. Biswal in this assignment; it expresses its thanks to him for the services rendered.
The Committee received full support in all its aspect of work from the Ministry of HRD; the Committee wishes to thank the Secretary, Higher Education, and the Secretary, School Education, as also all officers of the Ministry for the assistance rendered whenever approached.
Above all, the Committee would like to thank the Honourable Minister for HRD for providing the members, the unique opportunity to study a field of critical importance to the country, and give its recommendations on a theme that constitutes the most significant investment that any country can make in its own future.