Swami Vivekananda was a revolutionary thinker and out-of-the-box educationist who dared to discard the education system of his times and proposed to replace it with an encompassing student-centric harmonious model towards a unifying society which is just and equitable to all. He dreamt of a scheme of education which caters to the needs of the learners at every level-be it intellectual, moral or spiritual. The program that he propounded was a fusion of age-old traditional values extracted from our timeless scriptures and the modern scientific knowledge that could lead India to become a modernized nation, in unison with the developed powers of the world. His scheme of education is comprehensive and complete as it intends to develop all the must-haves in the young learners to help them sail through their lives with élan and to be an asset to the nation. His phenomenal educational philosophy reverberates in the guidelines laid by National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
There are multifarious commonalities between Swamiji’s vision of education and NEP 2020. Swamiji stressed upon the importance of mother tongue when imparting education to young learners and alongside prescribed the learning of English and Sanskrit for an all-round personality enhancement. While English is necessary for mastering Western science and technology, Sanskrit aids in grasping the depths of our vast repository of classics. It implied that if language is not confined to a select few privileged people, social unity will become a reality. Keeping in character with the same sentiment, NEP seeks to make instruction in mother tongue mandatory for students at primary level. In addition, they would be required to study any other language mentioned in the list of official languages. Swamiji’s emphasis on science and technology finds a mention in NEP with salient initiatives like setting up of NRF, NETF, School Curriculum to incorporate ML, AI et al. His vision of evolving individuals who’d be opportunity providers rather than opportunity seekers finds resonance in NEP’s thrust on vocational education right from school level. This ought to be a sure-fire formula for Atmanirbhar Bharat.
NEP 2020 promises to enrich and empower the uniqueness of every student because education as such is not about restricting one’s potential, rather expanding it and taking it to the zenith as Swamiji said, “true education is a relentless pursuit of truth and the constant endeavor to improve the human condition.”
NEP 2020 harbors a lofty aim of restoring India to its former status of Vishwaguru through initiatives like Study in India, Stay in India and deeper engagement with the top 100 institutions of the world. As Swamiji had remarked on the intimate connection between national transformation and character transformation, NEP 2020 is guided by the desire to build an individual’s character, through his intellectual prowess and equip him to stand on his feet while contributing to the nation and the world at large. Swamiji’s educational vision will be realized through the forward and steady march in the direction of capacity building, character building and nation building through the ambitious and very aspirational NEP 2020.
Swamiji used to say,” we are supposed to learn till our death and the experienced world is the best educator.” His ideals go with India’s vision of Vasudev Kutumbakam. The charter of the NEP 2020 envisions, “creating the education system holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary and aligned to the needs of the 21st century and 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.” There was a time when the students across the world used to come to the universities like Nalanda and Taxila to acquire knowledge of science and arts. NEP is an attempt to reinstate the lost glory and make India a powerhouse of knowledge, excellence and innovation once again. In sync with the doctrines of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability, it aspires to metamorphose the educational eco system of the country into a vivacious knowledge society.
Swamiji exhorted, “do not believe that you are weak or small, you can do anything and everything.” An important component in his vision was the emphasis on nurturing self confidence and self esteem because according to him “education is not filling the mind with a lot of facts’’ alone, it has to be a meaningful and purposeful exercise. NEP 2020 aims at molding students into complete human beings imbued with moral and spiritual values, character, knowledge, skills, creative genius, innovation and leadership skills that could boast of exemplary sportsman spirit and teamwork. Swamiji always rooted for the development of both- mental and physical strength. He said one should have “muscles of iron and nerves of steel”. The government’s Fit India movement and NEP 2020 are inspired and guided by his philosophy.
“A nation is advanced in proportion to education and intelligence spread among the masses,” Swamiji said. He found education to be the panacea for all social and global evils. He underscored the dire need of awakening individuals to their spiritual self because therein lies the very purpose of education. According to Swamiji, the end of all education is man-making. He proposed man-making education in the ambit of his overarching philosophy of Vedanta which finds resonance in the very first line of NEP 2020 thus, “Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential.” Education to Swamiji “is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas.” NEP 2020 emphasizes growth of creative potential of every individual alongside life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, resilience, leadership etc which are sine qua non for building a wholesome personality. It is contingent on the principle that education must develop not only cognitive capacities but also empower social, ethical and emotional capabilities of the green horns.
The new policy is slated to be implemented gradually this decade starting 2021-22. The role of every student, teacher, parent and other stakeholders is paramount. Without active involvement of all the stakeholders, effective implementation of the new policy will be a distant dream.
Ministry of education vows to abide by the words of Swamiji- “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached” with regard to the implementation of NEP 2020 and I, as a diehard optimist, look forward to a brighter future.
Professor in English
Rahul Sankrityayan Subharti School of Linguistic & Foreign Languages
Swami Vivekanand Chair
Swami Vivekanand Subharti University