Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s spontaneous transition from a playful child to a progressive visionary was tellingly visible in the recently concluded Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Samagam (ABSS) to celebrate three years of the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). Spending almost an hour with many short sessions with schoolchildren using their creative educational tools and fun-filled games, his quick transition to tall statesmanship to deliver an outstanding inaugural speech was a treat to many. Moving like a man with a mission for India’s education, the PM was passionately articulating the vision he had for India’s Amrit Kaal. In the process, he answered two fundamental questions: who am
I and what am I doing? Did he use vedantic philosophy to provide answers to the “I” question? Certainly not.
In his inaugural speech at the ABSS, the PM triggered the fourth and forthcoming years with
a clarion call to the youth of India. Laced with many developmental agenda of NEP 2020, the message was clear: youth-building is nation-building. The job of today’s youth attending schools and colleges is to make India a developed nation by 2047. In short, the PM unravelled a new ‘I’ in every student as a ‘nation-builder’ and provided various learning avenues to get ready to answer an even more significant question in 2047: ‘What have you done?‘ ‘Who am I and what have I done?’ emerge as the two probing questions that will be etched in every learner’s heart. Loaded with this twin question,
I stepped into the first session as a speaker with a deep sense of reflection and the compounding hangover of PM’s speech. The session was on NEP 2020’s two landmark initiatives: the Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR) and the National Credit Framework (NCrF). I made an attempt to explain APAAR and NCrF by recalling an incident of the past to understand the present and how these two will change the future outlook of the learning cycle in the conventional educational value chain.
A few years ago, a function was organised to felicitate a low-profile businessman for achieving outstanding success in creating wealth for the country and for himself. The businessman had no qualms whatsoever in disclosing that he was a school dropout and not as ‘educated’ as the IIT/IIM and other graduates he employed were. The speakers who felicitated him were ‘highly educated’ and armed with PhD, paper publications, patents, etc.
On getting down from the stage and over a casual group chat, the ‘educated’ facilitator asked the successful school dropout, “What have you studied?” The dwarfness that engulfed to shrink the businessman’s face shocked me. Despite his voluntary disclosure on stage, there was an intimidating audacity to ask a needless question off-stage. This ground reality, where intellectual paratroopers spare no effort to trivialise industrious foot-soldiers, left a deep impact on me as nobody would dare to ask an academic with a double PhD with multiple publications and patents, ‘what have you done’, but in
a laidback mode ask a school dropout but successful wealth creator, ‘what have you studied’?
To the first question ‘Who am I’, the APAAR is an immediate response mechanism that creates a unique ID for every learner, which shall stay with him or her lifetime, for learning is a lifelong process. This single sign-on digital ID will be smoothly integrated into the learner’s multiple stages of life along with the educational ecosystem partners—institutions, faculty, ed-tech companies, regulators, etc. Such a registry of databases will create an ‘Edu-Aadhaar’ equivalent. With a unique APAAR ID, every student’s learning attainment is integrated with the NCrF in a three-dimensional academic-skill-experiential measurement basis. The NCrF is a next-generation solution that recognises learning levels in an eight-layered structure, starting from Class I up to PhD.
Given that our society is an open-air university, it also recognises prior learning of our school dropouts or non-school/college-goers by assigning certain credits. A big transformation from the status-quo. I concluded my speech with an emphatic thumping-the-desk statement that APAAR and NCrF generate a QR code for every learner. This code has a differential multiplier: Qualifications: Recognised and Respected.
This landmark twin child of NEP 2020 answers the question “Who am I” using APAAR and “What have I done” using NCrF. In answering these two, PM Modi’s call to become nation-builders gets its deserving attention. In short: NEP 2020 has a new QR code for learners.
Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA Deemed University