With the Government announcement on National Education Policy (NEP), it is unclear that it is implemented from the academic session, 2021. It is based on the report submitted by the Kasturirangan Committee on a national framework to present the blueprint of the future of education and work in India. Education is one of the crucial aspects of human life as it gives directions, and prepares the basis for the development and growth of our future generations, their societal contribution, personal growth, and livelihood. The education system envisioned with NEP is structurally transformational and has multidimensional implications, especially in the domain of skill enhancement and employment. NEP framework and implementation need to address the rapidly changing societal demands locally and globally and future challenges due to technological advancements such as Artificial Intelligence(AI), Automation, Industry 4.0 technologies, and digitization. These technologies altogether will transform our life extensively and society structurally, and would have far-reaching socio-economic, political, moral, and ethical implications on individuals, communities, societies, organizations, private and public, and governments at multiple levels. For instance, taking jobs and employment dimension, As per the world economic forum(WEP), the 21st century needs new skill sets and jobs as most of the traditional jobs, repetitive jobs which already exist in large numbers and provide employment to a large section of populations, will be automated reduced in numbers or eliminated due to high expectations of high levels of productivity and efficiency ensured by the AI-driven intelligent machines. Debate on Man and Machine in the context of such jobs and employment opportunities favor machines as machines have been able to develop human-level intelligence in some fields. For instance, Stanford University developed an AI model named CheXNeXt, which outperformed radiologists in readings of X Rays for breast cancer. What will happen to the radiologist jobs or some other such traditional jobs? Therefore, in such a technologically driven era and rapid developments, NEP framework and implementations have to address many urgent and important questions specific to India, one of the most populous countries, ambitious in utilizing its demographic dividend.
Various study reports show that due to the implementation of NEP, some sectors may be disappeared, some may see a decline in demand for workers and some new sectors may emerge in this technological-driven socio-economic revolution. An important question to consider here is, what are the needed future skills? How to identify them and incorporate them into the education framework? How to train the faculties and teachers to impart such skills? How to upgrade the Indian higher education system which is lacking in terms of research and innovation and which produces engineering students which mostly do not have the required skills for even present-day jobs? How to deliver 21st-century skills to the present and future generations’ youth in order to empower them to face future challenges of automation and job losses? How will the NEP implementation address the up-gradation of content and streamline the educational content from school to higher education? How the stakeholders especially the faculty members and teachers will update themselves and how the educational institutions will cater to the demands of this transformational change due to technological advancements? Such questions posed serious and very challenging situations and far-reaching implications in India due to its untapped potentials of demographic dividend which may turn into a demographic disaster if not utilized in coming decade one or two properly. India is an emerging economy but recent unforeseen COVID-19 and its management has caused severe damage to the Indian economy. We need to be more proactive due to the fact that India is not properly industrialized and still more than 55 percent of the population is dependent on the primary sector and Manufacturing and Industrialisation have not taken off as expected. Automation and Intelligent machine will be more adverse to agriculture and manufacturing jobs which provide livelihood and social security to large sections of society.
NEP has a multidimensional role to play in nurturing and inculcating 21st-century relevant skills and aptitude in youth for professional, personal and social development to prepare them for future needs and making them employable. Future generations will need skilling and reskilling in relevant domains as enforced by the technological revolution. According to the WEP, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as the adoption of technology increases. New types of jobs will emerge which are highly skilled and which are in the caring industry. Some of the required Future skills are based on the assumption that machines can not compete with us on human skills. The ability of critical thinking, problem-solving aptitude, self-management, active learning and relearning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, creativity, emotional intelligence, Judgement and decision making, and cognitive flexibility are 21st-century skills.
Providing such skills needs the practical and experiential knowledge, impairing agents must themselves be experienced. More important things about the future are that NEP should develop curiosity and a lifelong learning attitude in students as this will help them to prepare and take their life into their own hands. Students may be given the freedom to design their own degree by selecting the subjects they want as much as possible. This will make their outlook diverse and inclusive and will be better prepared for future dynamic situations. Education must be freed from the clutches of the rigid framework and predetermined choices of courses and streams. This is an outdated educational philosophy that worked when students were trained for industry jobs and completes the predefined tasks and not express themselves creatively. Our NEP implications and the executive must keep in the center the creativity and curiosity of the youth should remain intact and enhance for future challenges and employments.
To that end, I would like to conclude by saying that NEP adoption and its implementation must address the future challenges of jobs and prepare the new generation to face them easily. It must provide and recruit the new age of skill importers and hedge new relationships with excellent proven independent skilled experts and educational institutions keeping the courses and subject curriculum loosely structured promoting more freedom and creativity of the individuals.