Dimensions of education
Just when the draft New Education Policy (NEP) came open for analyses and commentaries, there surfaces a refreshing piece of news from Uttar Pradesh. A 12-year-old child prodigy from the state has written 135 books on subjects like religion and biographies of well-known personalities—including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath! This child is Mrigendra Raj who started writing books at the age of six and his first accomplishment was a compilation of poems. Mrigendra already has four world records to his credit and writes under the pseudonym 'Aaj Ka Abhimanyu'. He informs that he has written books after analysing 51 characters of the Ramayana. His books run about 25 to 100 pages. Twelve-year-old Mrigendra Raj's accomplishment has even earned him an offer from the World University of Records in London for a doctorate. It is very pertinent to mention here that his mother is a private school teacher in Sultanpur. She says that her son developed a keen interest in writing upon her encouragement. Mrigendra's father is an employee in the state's Sugar Industry and Cane Development Department. The child prodigy wishes to become a writer when he grows up and write maximum number of books on various subjects and genres.
This story is interestingly a very timely entry as intellectuals, analysts, and thinkers engage in understanding the draft NEP for the novel changes it intends to introduce. Among the components that the draft policy enlists, a boost to research and innovation appear to be a massive move— with an annual grant of Rs. 20,000 crore for research is recommended and to be increased with time; professional education to be part of higher education. The draft policy is said to have laid strong emphasis on catalysing and energising research and innovation in all academic disciplines with particular focus on State universities and colleges. On a more elementary level, the draft NEP talks of foundational literacy and age-appropriate pedagogical practices. This means more than revamping the current educational structure; it refers to promoting large-scale teacher education and professional development reforms. Remedial education is an important aspect that the draft covers. The draft NEP is largely a promising proposition given the state of affairs education is in today. There is a stark disconnect between quality and purpose of education and the failure of the education system on two crucial fronts: the market value of the education received with respect to procuring reasonable jobs, and economic dividends from the existing education system. Addressing this issue has to be the first step in upgrading the system. And the beginning of this has to be conditioned by a healthy social environment conducive to learning. Education at different levels must be dealt with separately and specifically for their unique requirements. What is of utmost importance is to encourage an environment of learning.