Corollaries to the NEP 2020:
A corollary is something that naturally follows from a proposition. In Mathematics for example, the cosine law can be used to find the third side of a triangle if we know the lengths of two adjacent sides and the angle between them. The Pythagoras theorem is a corollary of this law if the angle in question is a right angle.
Corollaries are not only in Mathematics. When Shelley says “ if winter comes, can spring be far behind” he is also drawing a corollary from the known patterns of movement of the earth round the sun.
A policy such as the New Education Policy 2020 would naturally be followed by a detailed program of action, and maybe a few amendments of the policy.
The corollaries that I am listing here are what may be seen as inevitable consequences of its goals, in a broad sense rather than the details of its implementation.
I am for now limiting myself to just 10 corollaries, and more will occur as we delve deeper into the implications of the New Education Policy 2020.
Corollary 1: It follows from India’s vision ( stated in para 0.14) and ambition of striving to be a knowledge superpower, that its citizens must become knowledge seekers with an entrepreneurial disposition to develop knowledge products, in contrast to the erstwhile agricultural, manufacturing or services, which while continuing to be present, will give way to the more valuable Knowledge products. In a knowledge economy, the raw material is knowledge, the skill is knowledge processing and the final product is also knowledge. The alchemist who will transform the existing ill prepared youth from being liabilities to assets in the fourth Industrial Age is the educator.
It is therefore imperative that a significant proportion of educators at both the School and higher education stages are well versed in AI and it’s impact and are not helpless passive observers but the active agents leading the transformation.
Corollary 2: NEP recommends lifting rigid restrictions on the subjects that a student can study at a given stage. Since most of the restrictions arise because of logistic constraints of space, time and other physical resources, it follows that the only way to achieve this goal is a purely 100% digital learning and evaluation ecosystem. I have experienced this 60 years back when for my Senior Cambridge examinations, I wanted to pursue both Physics and English Literature, and was explained the scheduling constraints that could not permit this, although the Principal agreed that I could have learnt both the subjects well. In the 1980s, as adviser to the Allahabad University for development of its computerised admissions and examination systems, I tried to find out the academic principles that determined the various 3 subject combinations for B.A., B.Sc, and B.Com. There were none. The combination of subjects was determined by the availability of rooms and faculty. And when the IGNOU was created, it espoused that one could study Physics with Philosophy. It has several constraints today, because it is not yet a fully online learning environment. Here is an extract from its BA programme guide: “In addition to the language core courses, the BA programme has eight core courses from any two disciplines of your choice. Currently, twelve disciplines of the School of Social Science, School of Humanities and School of Sciences are part of the BA programme. It is important to note here that the two disciplines you have opted to study in the first semester/year of the programme will have to be studied in the subsequent semesters/years of the programme to complete the required number of Core and Discipline Specific Elective courses of the BA programme. You cannot change the disciplines of study in the second or third year of the programme.” And this is an “ Open University” now open for about 35 years.
The New Education Policy therefore has a consequence of creating a modern 21st Century education that is fully digital and accessible 24×7, frm School to higher education. And the primary mode of access will be through the mobile.
Corollary 3: Since the goal is to achieve a GER of 50% by the year 2030, ( para 10.7) it is imperative that the last 4 years at the Secondary school stage are used to transform the learner from a passive learner to an active learner. The teaching-learning model would need to change from the traditional pedagogy in the early years to Heutagogy at the Secondary stage. We have to stop infantilising our youth. It is not enough to teach coding at the School stage. Information technologies are now past the stage of traditional procedural algorithms, to learning algorithms and now to Quantum algorithms. Developments like GPT3 (https://towardsdatascience.com/gpt-3-demos-use-cases-implications-77f86e540dc1) have almost sounded the death knell of low level code plumbers in any language. The students while in classes 9 to 12 need to be introduced to the Quantum world in both Quantum Computing and the emerging area of Quantum Biology. This is in alignment to the announcement of substantial allocations in this year’s budget to Quantum Technologies.
Corollary 4: It follows that the middle school stage of classes 6,7 and 8 is used to build ‘learning power’ and reduction of the repertoire of learning skills at the earlier stages. Building learning power will equip these young learners to become autonomous self-directed learners. Exposure to Computational Thinking and design thinking that have been referred to in the Policy help in building learning power.
Corollary 5: Just like in the case of self-driving cars, the regulators have approved 5 levels, self-directed learners may also be at different levels. If we treat autonomous learning as a skill similar to a language skill, we may use the 9 bands like in the IELTS framework or the 6 levels like in the CEFR. Or we could draw an analogy to a learning maturity level like the 5 levels of the CMM framework. The skill of Ultralearning will be essential at the topmost levels of being an Autonomous learner. This has interesting consequences for the cost of education. The more a learner can learn on one’s own, the less the cost of education. The more external help needed for learning, the higher the cost of education. There will therefore be an economic value to developing learning power.
Corollary 6: It is acknowledged in para 23.8 of the policy that this policy is being formulated when disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence are ready to transform education. It is important that all educators are conversant and familiar with these technologies, and some are fluent with them. The adoption of technology in education should be spearheaded by educators, as suggested by Anthony Seldon in his recent book “ The fourth Education Revolution”.
Corollary 7: The issue of languages has been referred to at several places (4.9,4.10,4.11…..) in the NEP document. As a matter of fact this has been resolved in an earlier 2014 document with a foreword by the PM. This is “India 2035” brought out by the Department of Science and Technology, where on page 31 it states “ Schools, colleges and universities as currently constituted will be redundant in 2035. https://www.anilkakodkar.in/assignments/Technology-Vision-2035.pdf Instead, we will have institutions of learning that are virtual/meta/open in character. …..All learners would be able to study in the language of their choice, thanks to cheap real-time translations services.”
Corollary 8: Often a significant barrier to the spread of digital learning has been identified as the lack of appropriate technical infrastructure. The most appropriate digital access device is the mobile phone.UNESCO has for the past eight years been holding a Mobile Learning week to discuss the potential of the mobile phone for universal access to learning. The online edition of Mobile Learning Week 2020 will be held from 12 to 15 October 2020. It will facilitate the sharing of experiences drawn from the COVID-19 education response, and explore emerging issues relating to technology enabled futures of education and learning. India already has a very high mobile phone density and is growing very fast. We first learnt to use the mobile, and we will now use the mobile to learn, through WhatsApp, other mobile apps and MOOCs which are also available as apps.
A corollary of the NEP2020 is therefore “ first you learnt to use the mobile;then you use the mobile to learn”.
Corollary 9: It is stated at para 0.13 that the principles on which this policy is based are: flexibility, for learners to choose their learning trajectories and programmes, no hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, to ensure the integrity and unity of knowledge and eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between, different areas of learning. Information theory becomes the common thread….in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies…. Information theory can provide answers to profound complex questions. What is the information content of the genome? The human brain? A black hole? The universe? Time and again, the concepts and laws of information reveal breathtaking insights into the workings of nature, even as they lay the foundation of astounding new technologies.
Corollary 10: The roots of Artificial Intelligence lie in the Turing test. Seventy years after it was proposed, we should embrace its spirit and the role of the National Testing Agency, could be certifying the learning outcomes achieved irrespective of the learning path or trajectory pursued. The management of such credentials could be as digital badges if they are not high stake or through Blockchains if they are more high stake valuable credentials. The issue of limited seats in any educational Institute thus becomes redundant. Commercialisation opportunities in education will happen only by better ways of supporting the learner, and not because of capacity limitations.