What are the Main Features of National Education Policy?

1. Role of Education

Education is responsible for the all round development of the individuals. It is also responsible for cultural assimilation and provides strength to democracy, secularism. Education constructs the nation at every level, creates self-sufficiency and search new areas of development.

2. National System of Education

Though Education is a state subject, this policy provides a National System of Education, i.e., 10 + 2 + 3 system.

3. Equality

This policy provides equal opportunities to all for education. Navodaya schools have been opened for socially and economically deprived but to talented children Regional imbalances are also being removed.

4. Education of Scheduled Castes

Socially and economically deprived scheduled castes are the backbone of our society. They need proper development and place in the society. Scholarships, hostel facilities, adult education programmes are being introduced.

5. Women Education

New Education Policy gave special emphasis to Women Education. This statement owes that women are the keys to nation's progress Education of illiteracy vocational curriculum, nutrition and child care courses, home management, etc., are given priority

6. Education for Tribes

This policy gave main emphasis to the education of tribes. Residential Ashram Schools have been opened for them; scholarships for higher education are given.

7. Adult Education

Education Policy gave a programme for adult education to remove the illiteracy from the masses. For this, adult schools, libraries, distance education, T.V. programmes are being introduced.

8. Education for other Backward Classes

A large number of backward classes, minority classes have not been given any opportunity for education. These classes have a very crucial situation. They are socially and economically deprived due to their profession, but they usually linked themselves with higher varnas thus upper castes do not give them social sanction.

Education is the only way to give them chance to co-operation with the society.

As far as the secondary education is concerned, vocationalization of it is introduced. At Higher education stage, autonomy will be given to good colleges.

Though, New Policy gave a new direction in the field of education in the light of national unity and development this is the preparation to welcome the 21st century. Life deal, family structure, social organisation, national consciousness is influenced by the scientific and technological advancement.

Moral, social, ethical and human values need development. This is a felt need of our new policy. Common man is on the cross roads. He does not find his way to destiny. Growing population, expansion of social distances and economic disparities put some questions before the new policy. Those questions are as under:

1. Whether new policy will create class difference?

2. Is this policy competent to shape the socialistic society?

3. Will it be possible to make free and compulsory education to all the children upto the age of 14?

4. Reservation policy will not give the passage to new policy.

5. What will be the shape of future? This indication is not given by the policy.

6. How will this be helpful to reconstruct the nation?

7. Will social justice be possible through it?

8. Language problem is a very big problem before new policy?

9. No equality is possible through it.

Though these questions are before our policy makers, even then they are much hopeful to build new India. In the word of our deceased Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi-"We will have to build our society, such a society where education must be honoured.

Education does not end after learning school or college. It is a lifelong process. We cannot progress until our education is honored and we could not face the challenges in future to save our country."

In the end past is gold, present is full of dust and future is indefinite. New Education Policy is the determination of youth. This will create a faith for future, develop our determination, thus distance will be dispersed.

Integrated education for disabled children

It has been established scientifically that disabled children with mild handicaps make better progress academically and psychologically if they study with the normal children.

To integrate these children with others in common schools, a revised scheme of Integrated Education for Disabled Children was started during 1987-88. Under it, cent per cent financial assistance is given to State Governments/ UT administrations/voluntary organisations for creating necessary facilities in schools.

Admissible items of expenditure are books and stationery allowance, transport allowance, uniform allowance, readers allowance (for blind children), escort allowance (for orthopedically handicapped with lower extremity disabilities), equipment allowance and wherever necessary hostel charges.

Besides, the scheme also provides, among other things, to meet cost of salary and incentives for teachers, setting up of resource rooms, carrying out assessment of disabled children, training of teachers, and removal of architectural barriers in schools, development and production of special instructional material for them.

Assistance is also given through the University Grants Commission to the selected universities/institutions to run training courses in special education for teachers of handicapped children.

Training facilities are also provided by NCERT and four regional colleges of education. The scheme is at present in operation in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Daman and Diu. By the end of 1993-94 about 40,000 disable children in over 9,000 schools were covered under the scheme.

Educational concessions to children

The Centre and most of the State Governments and Union Territories offer educational concessions to children of the defence personnel and paramilitary forces killed or permanently disabled during Indo-China hostilities in 1962 and Indo-Pakistan operations in 1965 and 1971

During 1988, these concessions were extended to children of IPKF/CRPF personnel who were killed/disabled during action in Sri Lanka and children of the armed forces personnel killed/disabled in action in 'Operation Meghadoot' in Siachen area.

Education of SC/ST/OBC

Pursuant to the National Policy on Education, the following special provisions for SCs and STs have been incorporated in the existing schemes of the Departments of Elementary Education & Literacy and Secondary & Higher Education:

(a) Relaxed norms for opening of primary schools;

(b) A primary school within one km walking distance from habitations of 200 population instead of habitations of 300 population;

(c) Abolition of tuition fee in all states in government schools at least up to primary level. Most of the states have abolished tuition fee for SC/ST students up to senior secondary level;

(d) Providing incentives like free text-books, uniforms, stationery, school bags, etc., to these students;

(e) The major programmes of the Department of Education, viz., District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), Lok Jumbish, Shiksha Karmi, Non-Formal Education (NFE) and National Programme for Nutritional Support to Primary Education accord priority to areas of concentration of SCs and STs;

(f) Reservation of seats for SCs and STs in Central Government institutions of higher education including IITs, IIMs, Regional Engineering College, Central Universities, Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas, etc. Apart from reservation, there is also relaxation in the minimum

Qualifying cut off stages for admission in universities, colleges and technical institutions. The UGC has established SC/ST cells in 104 universities including Central universities to ensure proper implementation of the reservation policy;

(g) To improve academic skills and linguistic proficiency of students in various subjects and raising their level of comprehension, remedial and special coaching is provided for SC/ST students.

IITs have a scheme under which SC/ ST students who marginally fail in the entrance examination are provided one year preparatory course and those who qualify are then admitted to the First Year of the B. Tech. Course;

(h) Out of 43,000 scholarships at the secondary stage for talented children from rural areas 13,000 scholarships are exclusively reserved for SC/ST students, seventy scholarships are exclusively reserved for SC/ST students under the National Talent Search Scheme;

(i) SC/ST candidates are provided relaxation up to 10 per cent cut off marks for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) test and all the SC and ST candidates qualifying for the JRF are awarded fellowship;

(j) 50 Junior Fellowships are awarded every year in science and humanities including social sciences to SC/ST candidates who appear in National Eligibility Test (NET) and qualify the eligibility test for lectureship;

(k) UGC provides relaxation of 5 per cent from 55 per cent to 50 per cent at the Master's level for appointment as lecturer for SC/ST candidates. The Commission has also reduced minimum percentage of marks required for appearing in the NET examination to 50 per cent at Master's level for SCs/STs;

(1) The Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore has a scheme of development of Indian Languages through research, developing manpower, production of materials in modern Indian Languages including tribal languages.

The Institute has worked in more than 75 tribal languages; and

(m) 146 districts have been identified as low female literacy districts to be given focussed attention by the Centre as well as States/UTs for implementation of programmes/ schemes.

The allocation of Rs. 889.98 crore and Rs. 436.54 crore have been made under the Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) for SCs and STs respectively. This accounts for 16.33 per cent and 8.01 per cent of the total outlay.

Minorities Education

In pursuance of the revised Programme of Action (POA) 1992, two new Centrally-sponsored schemes, i.e., (i) Scheme of Area Intensive Programme for Educationally Backward Minorities and (ii) Scheme of Financial Assistance for Modernisation of Madrasa Education were launched during 1993-94.

The objective of scheme of Area Intensive Programme for Educationally Backward Minorities is to provide basic educational infrastructure and facilities in areas of concentration of educationally backward minorities which do not have adequate provision for elementary and secondary schools. Under the scheme cent per cent assistance is given for:

(i) establishment of new primary and upper primary schools, non-formal education centres, wherever necessary;

(ii) strengthening of educational infrastructure and physical facilities in the primary and upper primary schools; and

(iii) Opening of multi-stream residential higher secondary schools for girls belonging to the educationally backward minorities.

Can literacy can be expanded through distance education

Peter says-'Distance education is a method of indirect instruction, implying geographical and emotional separation of teacher and taught whereas, in main stream education, the relationship between a teacher and student in class room is based upon social norms, in distance education, it is based upon technological rules.

Jack Foks stated the Distance education-'Distance education is a mode of learning with certain characteristics which distinguish it from the campus based mode of learning.

Growth of distance education in India

About 25 years ago, correspondence education in India was started as a pilot project in the University of Delhi. The success of this experiment encouraged other universities to take up instructions through the distance education.

By 1985, 31 universities adopted this scheme. About 40000 students at various levels were enrolled by the universities under this scheme. Though the universities are providing education through this media, but there was a great demand for an open university. As a result in 1985, the Govt, of India decided to set up Indira Gandhi National Open University. The focal points of this university are as under:

(i) To promote Open University and distance education system.

(ii) To determine the standards of teaching evaluation and research in such system.

(iii) To allocate and disburse grants to colleges, whether admitted to its privileges or not, or to any other university or institution of higher learning as may be specified by the statutes.

Indira Gandhi National Open University is providing Degrees in B.A., B.Sc. and B.Com., Diploma Course in Distance education, Creative writing, Nutrition, Management, Local Self-Government, Library Science, Banking, etc.

Separate Radio and T.V. channels have been started to broadcast and telecast the educational programmes.

As a measure for implementation, the programme of Action has also favoured and recommended Open Universities System to provide higher education through non-formal channel. The main suggestions and recommendations of this Action Programme are given as under:

(i) Action Programme suggested the Open University System. This should be cost-effective, flexible and innovative.

(ii) Indira Gandhi National Open University has been established and is running effectively.

(iii) Non-formal education system should be structured on modular pattern.

(iv) Network of course is framed.

(v) Quality of programmes be ensured.

(vi) Minimum level of learning should be objectively assessed.

(vii) Separate Radio and Television channels are used for the use of distance education.

(viii) Financial Assistance will be ensured very carefully.

Advantages of distance education

National Education Policy, 1986 has rightly stressed that distance education will provide many opportunities for education and will lessen the burden of formal education. The advantages of Distance Education are as under:

1. Reliable

Distance education is reliable. It has the cost- effective alternative and new means of communication.

2. Education at Learners' Door

Distance education is the only way which provides the education to the learner at his door. It provides equal educational opportunities even to those who used to live in remote areas.

3. Beneficial to Adults

Distance education provides many benefits to adults. They may up-to-date themselves for the development of skills and knowledge.

4. Variety of Programme

Distance education provides variety programmes according to the needs of the learners.

5. Co-ordination

Distance education is the co-ordination of various educational factors, i.e., general, basic, professional, technical, life-long, in-service and expansion.

6. Learner Centered

Distance education is learner-centered; therefore, there is no doubt in its success.

7. Freedom

This system provides freedom to learner. A learner learns according to his needs, conditions and facility.

8. Minimizing Pressures

Distance education minimizes the educational pressures caused by the explosion of population.

9. Educational Needs

Distance education fulfils the need of society through variety of educational programmes.

Distance education is still in experimental stage. Even then nobody will disagree that this system will be helpful to solve our educational problems and minimize the pressure of population over the traditional system of education.