University Grants Commission’s decision to permit undergraduate, post-graduate and diploma course students to pursue two academic programmes concurrently is to keep with the New Education Policy’s welcome thrust on eliminating silos in education.
An eligible student studying for a degree in a science subject should even have the chance to be told the intricacies of a discipline within the humanities, social sciences or commerce, and vice-versa. Currently, the upper education regulator’s rules don’t allow simultaneous enrollment in two programmes.
This inflexibility is commonly cited as a serious cause for the shortage of meaningful conversations across streams of data. The deficit is especially glaring because a spread of latest challenges — from addressing temperature change to designing employment programmes that cater to local has to making workplaces more inclusive — require the broad-basing of experience.
The reform is, therefore, much needed and if done well, can go a protracted way towards fulfilling one amongst the key objectives of liberal education — broadening outlooks and expanding the perspectives of scholars. Implementing it’ll, however, pose challenges. it’ll place demands on academia and need hand-holding by policymakers.
A growing body of literature attests to the explosion of aspirations after the liberalisation of the economy but the country’s educational institutions have struggled to try to to justice to the pedagogical needs precipitated by the far-reaching transformations.
Teachers are, by and enormous, still not trained to try to do justice to students coming from a range of social and economic backgrounds. The new reform could compound this predicament, especially because instructors will now be required to style courses and structure teaching practices to cater to students with core competencies in diverse knowledge streams — for example, a history classroom can have students who are currently specializing in physics or commerce, besides those with a grounding in an exceeding science discipline.
UGC will draw up training programmes for teachers to enable them to adapt to the changing character of the classroom. The regulator will need to do that without becoming overbearing — its record isn’t too inspiring on this count.
The NEP involves “critical thinking” and free inquiry. Reforms towards that end, including the most recent changes envisaged by the UGC, must begin by addressing a vexed issue: Autonomy, or the shortage of it, for institutions yet as for teachers. Institutions have their own ethos, studies and comparative advantages as the base.
The thrust towards multidisciplinary training should address deficiencies but it must even be careful to not undermine the benefits of institutions. The task for the implementation of the NEP’s vision has just begun. The UGC must allow education institutions to line their own pace, a minimum of initially.