From the Viewsroom

Pitfalls of ‘innovative’ courses

Mohini Chandola | Updated on August 05, 2020

College admissions should be synced with new course combos

Last week, the Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020, which seeks to replace the existing education system with a more ‘holistic’ alternative. The NEP states that there will be no rigid separation of streams for students in secondary schools — thereby offering more flexibility in picking subject combinations. The intent behind this new policy is to give students the freedom to choose their subjects instead of opting for given sets of disciplines.

However, the policy does not state if the same flexibility will be extended to college admission criteria, especially in the medical and engineering fields, which require at least three compulsory subjects to qualify for the entrance exams. The new policy for students pursuing medical and engineering options appears somewhat irrelevant, as three out of five subjects are already chosen by default. Also, with a plethora of new subjects introduced in the NEP, it is easy for a student to be misguided, leading her to pick an inappropriate combination. The wrong combination may leave students in the lurch, if it does not match the eligibility of higher educational institutes. Can a humanities student with mathematics pursue engineering? Can a commerce student with biology sit for NEET? More clarity is called for.

The policy seems to benefit humanities students, who can opt for a wide range of subjects. Unlike the science fields, most general colleges require only one or two mandatory subjects.

The romantic notion of choosing any randomised set for securing admission for a preferred course, for the sake of inclusivity, is short-sighted and unrealistic. There should be provisions to change the set or switch a subject over the four-year high-school period. With limitless combinations, parents and students need to be assured of fairplay in admissions. Unless colleges alter criteria and become transparent in selection, ‘multi-disciplinary learning’ in schools will serve no long-term purpose. The arbitrary categorisation of compulsory and optional subjects in the policy must be explained.

Published on August 04, 2020

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