The National Education Policy 2020, that got its approval in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic aims at meaningful transformation to society. The policy treated education as a means towards achieving two predominant ends. The first of this is that India should achieve its rightful place in the world – both as an 'economic' and 'knowledge' super power. Secondly, while achieving this rightful place, India should firmly rooted in the ethos, culture and values of 'ancient India'. The vision of the Policy is to install among the learners a deep-rooted pride in being Indian , not only in thought , but also in spirit, intellect and deeds .The vision of the Policy clearly states-
"The National Educational Policy envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, that is Bharat, sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower." [Introduction NEP2020]
As it can be deciphered from the above citation, the pillars upon which the Policy rests, while progressing towards the aim of being 'knowledge super power', are 'ancient ethos, values and culture' which somehow need to be brought into centre stage once again to amplify the spirit of 'Bharat' and 'Bharatiyata'. It is not that NEP2020 is for the first time, putting stress on value education. The National policy on Education 1986 has also rightly expressed its grave concern over the decline of basic moral values in society in general and student community in particular.
"The growing concern over the erosion of essential values and an increasing cynicism in society has brought to form the need for readjustment in the curriculum in order to make education a forceful too for the cultivation of social and moral values." [NEP1986]
The same was also repeated in Ramamurti report 1990 and in Kothari commission's report.
We are not alien to the concept of value. In fact, ancient Indian culture was based on values. If we go through the old Indian scripture we find domination of values in all walks of life. Even in the battle field value was strictly followed. Values help in maintaining peace and harmony. Chaos and confusion are the result of degradation of values. Values are like the rail that keep a train on the track and help it move smoothly, quickly and with direction.
There is no doubt that school should provide value education to students - inculcating among children a sense of humanism, a deep concern for well-being of others and the nation. In this educational stage, the foundations for behaviour and moral judgement are develop among children. But, in reality this is often overlooked and not properly addressed because of the absence of explicit plan for value education. So, the main focus of concern is that, how to impart these values to the future generation. Should a separate subject, book, class and teacher need to be attributed to impart value education. The NEP 2020 is advocating lowering down the burden of subjects and emphasising on correlation of studies so that the focus could be on the fundamentals. Values cannot be taught as a separate subject and assess or graded like other subjects. We cannot say that a student is 80% or 90% valued or 'A' graded or 'B' graded valued. So, imparting and assessing values need a different parameter. Therefore, it requires a great deal of planning. There is no dearth of values in our existing curriculum. The values are there embedded in all subjects. Open any page of a text book, one can find values embedded in it. It's not only literature subjects but science and maths can also be taught in the light of values. The same atom can be used to create atomic bomb or atomic electricity. It is only difference of attitude. This attitude needed to be developed among learners. Therefore, the main responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the teachers who need to identify and impart the core values and sub values in that particular lesson and proceed with the lesson keeping in mind both the values and the desired learning outcomes for the lesson in particular and subject in general. In that way, knowledge building and value building will go hand in hand without putting extra burden on teachers and learners. Values will be developed spontaneously without even realizing or putting extra burden. Along with the learning outcomes, the major focus should be on inculcating good habits, trust, discipline, manners, care and concern for each other's, being helpful, learning to share, being friendly, doing one's duty, cleanliness and hygiene, love of nature, empathetic behaviour, etc. NEP stresses upon the acquisition of the 21st century skills while developing these values for holistic development of the learners. I would like to be more elaborative about the 21st century skills in my next write up.
A broad framework has been designed by SCERT Assam, under the direction of Ministry of Education department of govt. of India regarding holistic education for productive and harmony; and soon will be implemented in the primary to secondary level.