Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, headed by Vivek Thakur, has advised the Centre to discuss it with all stakeholders. In a report titled ‘Implementation of the National Education Policy, 2020 in Higher Education’, the panel said Indian institutions were likely to face several issues in implementing this system.
What is Multiple Entry and Multiple Exit?
- It allows a student to drop their course and resume it when convenient. A student unable to continue his/her studies due to financial difficulties can exit to find a job and make money so that the studies can be resumed.
- In other words, the MEES is an opportunity for financially challenged students to complete their studies on their own.
- Probably the economic factor is only one among many that causes dropouts in higher education.
- Other reasons like social, familial, religious, etc., are also prevalent in India. For example, girls who get married early or are pregnant while pursuing a degree and those who are experiencing physical hardship due to accidents or diseases will see the MEES as a blessing.
- A more in-depth analysis of the concept shows practical complications and the attempt to turn education from a social responsibility to a personal responsibility.
- The Multiple Entry and Multiple Exit (MEME) option in the New Education Policy 2020 is a provision that allows students to enter and exit academic programs at different stages while earning credits for the completed courses.
- It provides flexibility to learners by enabling them to choose their academic pathway and pursue a combination of disciplines.
- The MEME system aims to curtail the dropout rate, improve the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), and offer creative combinations of study disciplines1. Undergraduate degrees are designed to be either 3 or 4 years long, with multiple entry and exit options within this period.
- Students can receive certifications such as a certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline, including vocational and professional areas; a diploma after 2 years of study; or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year program.
Concerns associated with MEME
- If institutions allow MEME, it would be very difficult for the institutions to predict how many students would exit and how many would join midway. Since institutions would not know the in- and out-traffic, it will certainly disturb the pupil-teacher ratio.
- The members of the panel also expressed concern that uneven geographical distribution of higher educational institutions would create hurdles in managing MEME in several areas, mostly the countryside.
- The institutions have not thought very clearly about this problem and how they will resolve it when it is at their doorstep.
- Though enrolment in higher education in India is only about 26%, the dropout rate is low compared to the school level. According to figures released by the Minister of Education in Parliament in February 2020, the dropout rate in IITs is just 1% in 2020. But with the implementation of MEES, this is likely to rise sharply. The concept of multiple exits legitimises student dropouts.
- The MEES does not have the provision to ensure that the students who exited will join back.
- The vast majority is likely to fall into the trap of deciding to go as far as possible with the work they are currently doing and the pay they are getting out of it. Fatalism is a major driving force for a majority of Indians.
- Institutes may impose restrictions on the number of students likely to resume their studies each year. So, MEES would not ensure entry according to the will of the students, but on the conditions of the institutions.
- At the same time, multiple-entry admission in government colleges and universities can be given only by following the reservation policy. Private institutions, on the other hand, would deem this a good opportunity to charge exorbitant fees to those students who seek entry back to resume their studies.
- MEES may appear to be a student-friendly policy, but it implies that education is a private responsibility. While no child in a financially secure home will drop out of college due to the want of money, MEES, if implemented, will result in a distorted educational experience for financially disadvantaged students.
- However, with the general consensus that students can study on their own, it will be a good justification to withdraw all such scholarships.
- The panel recommended the Union Education Ministry have wider consultations with various universities/institutions, their regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to devise ways given the difficulties being faced in implementing the MEME options.