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Webinar on University Social Responsibility (USR) in Focus – The National Education Policy and its Social Ethos

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Date(s) - 03/12/2020
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

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Dr. Tandon, our UNESCO Co-Chair, Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, Founder-President PRIA started the discussion by highlighting how the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 rolled out by the Government of India does not only focus on personal competencies, resilience and knowledge of students but situates academic knowledge in societal development. It links it to India’s constitutional values of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice.

The NEP 2020 explicitly suggests that higher education is a public good; not just a private commodity that can be used for profit making. It speaks of personal accomplishments of students for contribution to society through meaningful work. He asked how can students be encouraged to take part in societal engagement through teaching and learning. Dr. Tandon suggested two ways in which students can be supported for community engagement- multi-disciplinary curriculum linked to Sustainable Development Goals, and credit-based courses on community engagement. The NEP 2020 brings with it an opportunity for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to introduce community-based courses such as issues related to pollution, climate change, etc. as credit-based courses so that students are motivated to learn about these issues.

Detailed attention must also be given to “how” we teach students. Learning happens not only in classroom, but through observation, reading, experimentation and reflection on experiences. Experiential knowledge will help students understand and respect local knowledge. In times of Covid-19, a lot of the “new normal” will depend on local wisdom, indigenous knowledge and local solutions.

In terms of faculty progression, Dr. Tandon gave 3 suggestions; first, build capacity of teachers to adapt curriculum to local contexts since student accreditation will only work if we encourage teachers to contextualize curriculum. Second, invest in teachers’ competencies in engaged scholarship to facilitate community-engagement learning of students. Third, teacher assessment should incentivize local engagement, practical field projects, and learning pedagogies , not merely publications in world class journals.  The third point relates to how can templates be developed to localize scholarship for facilitating teacher assessment.

Finally, Dr. Tandon stated that knowledge mobilization has to be included in training teachers but also in incentivizing their assessment. Dr. Tandon also emphasised the importance of change in culture in HEIs- laying emphasis on what gets promoted and what gets recognised – both from perspective of teachers and students is critical. Therefore NEP 2020 can bring about a further alignment of curriculums with SDGs, as well as bring about a change in the pedagogy and redesigning the way teachers assess learning through the curriculum.

Video Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WiSc_dBXLA

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