Chennai: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a “visionary document” that recognizes the importance of liberal arts and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach in education.
In his address here after virtually inaugurating the Moturi Satyanarayana Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at KREA University, he also called for more institutions to explore offering interdisciplinary courses. “The National Education Policy 2020 is a visionary document that recognizes the importance of liberal arts and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach in education in tune with contemporary times.” “It aims at de-compartmentalising Indian education and breaking the rigid and artificial barriers between professional vs liberal education,” Naidu said. As NEP rightly points out, even in ancient times, ‘good education’ was described as the knowledge of the 64 kalas or arts. This included knowledge in scientific fields like chemistry and mathematics, vocational fields such as carpentry and clothes-making, professional fields such as medicine and engineering, as well as soft skills such as communication, discussion and debate, he said. He noted that students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics must get adequate exposure to liberal arts and social sciences in their undergraduate programs.
Various assessments of such courses where humanities and arts are well integrated have shown an enhanced creativity and innovation, higher social and moral awareness, improved critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills among students, he said and pointed out that many engineering colleges were moving in this direction . IIT Bombay has recently introduced an interdisciplinary undergraduate course that covers liberal arts, science and engineering in one programme, he said. The VP appealed to parents to encourage and infuse in children curiosity for arts, literature and social sciences from a young age.
“In a race to make it to the top national institutions of science and engineering, we are ignoring essential subjects in school such as languages ??and social sciences,” he said, adding, rote learning practices will ruin the creative abilities of a child. “Higher educational institutions in liberal arts too must continue this spirit of inquiry and creativity in their campuses. In the research on social sciences, we need to encourage more diverse voices and not limit universities to become exclusionary spaces and echo chambers,” he said.