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Aligning Higher Education with the UN’s SDGs

Why is it in the news?

  • The SDGs Report 2023 highlights slow progress globally due to factors like COVID-19, climate change, conflicts, and economic challenges, with Least Developed Countries facing more significant setbacks.

More about the news

  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consist of 17 goals with 169 targets to be achieved by 2030, aiming to address poverty, inequality, education, and environmental issues.

NEP 2020 and SDGs

  • India is committed to achieving SDGs, with a focus on SDG4 (quality education), and the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 plays a crucial role in this effort.
  • NEP 2020 aligns with several SDGs and emphasizes the importance of higher education in promoting social mobility, creativity, critical thinking, and employment skills.

Higher Education and SDGs

  • Higher education graduates have higher employability and earnings, contributing to SDGs related to poverty reduction, hunger prevention, health, gender equality, economic growth, and reducing inequalities.
  • To accelerate SDG progress, Indian higher education institutions should align their operations with SDGs and rank universities based on SDG achievement.
  • Stakeholders in higher education need education and orientation to ensure all activities contribute to SDGs.
  • Higher education institutions must work directly with socio-economic development, ensuring that their activities contribute to the well-being and nation-building of citizens.


Universities and SDGs

  • Universities should strengthen the research-teaching nexus, fostering multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education to address global challenges like sustainable energy, climate change, and innovation.
  • Collaboration with private companies is essential for developing innovative solutions and startups, contributing to economic growth and SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure).
  • Implementing Value-Based Education (VBE) can promote responsible citizenship and contribute to achieving SDG 15 (life on land).
  • Universities should become actively involved in their local communities, addressing issues like community health, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and skill development.
  • Sustainability should be a core principle for universities, integrated into institutional strategies, daily administration, teaching, and research to have a meaningful impact on SDGs.
About NEP 2020
  • The Indian government launched the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) to transform the country’s education system.
  • NEP aims to provide fundamental literacy, numeracy, and 21st-century skills while fostering character development, critical thinking, and hands-on learning.
  • NEP aligns with SDG-4, focusing on inclusive, equitable, and quality education.

Key provisions of NEP to achieve these goals include

  • A 5+3+3+4 model for school education, recognizing the importance of early years.
  • A multi-disciplinary approach, breaking the division of arts, commerce, and science streams.
  • Introduction of vocational courses with internships to encourage school attendance.
  • Extension of the Right to Education (RTE) to all children up to age 18.
  • Establishment of a super-regulator for education to set standards, fund, accredit, and regulate higher education.
  • Opening doors to foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

 Challenges and Shortcomings

  • A marks-dominated education system hinders transformation.
  • Persistent issues of inequity and inequality not adequately addressed.
  • Mismatch between education and job skills.
  • Over-centralization despite the federal nature of education governance.

Way Forward

  • The success of NEP 2020 depends on effective implementation.
  • While it seeks holistic change, addressing challenges and ensuring equity, relevance, and local adaptability is essential for India’s education system to truly transform.

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