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Modi Government Education Report Card: Dr. Swati Popat Vats

EducationWorld March 2024 | Cover Story EducationWorld

In this General Election-eve story, we assess the track record of the Modi government — the first non-Congress government to have completed ten years in office in independent India — in early childhood, primary-secondary, skilling and higher education writes Summiya Yasmeen

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi: eventful decade for Indian education

Swati PopatECCE given high priority
Dr. Swati Popat Vats is founder-president of the Early Childhood Association (ECA, estb.2011), president of Podar Jumbo Kids (PJK) chain, and one of India’s most fervent proponents of universal early childhood care and education (ECCE) for India’s 165 million children below age six.

Are you satisfied with the education record of the past 10 years of the BJP government?
Quite satisfied. As an early childhood advocate and educator, I believe remarkable changes have been introduced in the early childhood care and education (ECCE) sector. NEP 2020 has accorded high priority to ECCE by formally incorporating it into the school system. And for the first time we have a separate curriculum framework for the foundational stage — NCF-FS.
However, since education is a concurrent subject, reforms pertaining to regulation of preschools also have to be implemented by state governments.

What are the biggest education achievements and failures of the past decade?
Among achievements, I would list NEP 2020, NCF for the Foundational Stage 2022 and NCF for School Education 2023; the PARAKH portal which will track the learning of every child from school to college; and reconfiguring of the old 10+2 system to 5+3+3+4 to include five years of foundational stage education — three years of pre-primary and two of primary. Also, the establishment of new IITs, IIMs and AIIMS institutes will augment capacity.
Rather than failures, there’s sluggish movement on the following issues:

  • Many states including a few BJP states have still not revised nursery admission age to 3 years in line with NEP 2020.
  • Standardised teaching qualifications for ECCE educators have not been prescribed.
  • Competitive exams are still putting high pressure on children, often leading to suicide.

What should be the Top 3 education priorities of the new post-2024 government?

  • Think innovatively to solve the problem of students’ exam stress. It starts from the top and percolates down to the preschool level. It’s time to rehaul assessment systems for all grades.
  • There’s urgent need to set common teacher qualifications for the foundational years across India.
  • There can’t be differing government regulations and requirements for preschools in the states. How can teacher qualifications; teacher-pupil ratio; curriculum; fire and transport safety rules; and per sq. ft area required for every child be different in every state? We need a Uniform Code for the Foundational Stage.

Read the full story here

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