The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken a pivotal step towards achieving inclusive learning in higher education with the release of its “Guidelines for Credit-Based Course on Pedagogical Aspects for Teaching Divyangjans and Persons with Specific Learning Disabilities“. These guidelines are designed to align higher education with the principles outlined in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020. Their primary goal is to usher in a new era of education, one that accommodates diverse learning styles, embraces inclusive pedagogy, and empowers students to choose their educational path.
The Foundation: NEP 2020 and RPwD Act
Under NEP 2020, these guidelines underscore the necessity of modernizing educational institutions to meet the needs of all students, particularly those with disabilities. Furthermore, the Rights to Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016 plays a pivotal role by categorizing twenty-one types of disabilities, all featured prominently in the latest UGC guidelines. The emphasis here is on providing access to various learning styles, including visual, auditory, and tactile methods, to ensure that students with disabilities enjoy educational equity on par with their peers.
Introducing the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS)
One of the groundbreaking elements introduced by these guidelines is the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS). This system empowers students to make choices in their educational journey, encompassing core courses, elective courses, open or global electives, and skill-based courses—additionally, the CBCS ushers in a revolutionary grading system tied to the credits earned each semester.
The Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) System
To further enhance accessibility and flexibility, the guidelines propose implementing the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) system. This system allows credits earned at one registered institution to be deposited into a student’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) account. This innovation simplifies credit transfer and accumulation, making education more adaptable to individual needs.
Diverse Approaches to Earning Credits
The guidelines recognize the diverse ways in which students can earn credits. They encourage various learning methods, from self-study to e-learning and project-based learning. These flexible approaches cater to different learning preferences and abilities.
The Role of Assistive Devices
For students with disabilities, especially those with physical, intellectual, visual, auditory, specific learning, or chronological disabilities, the guidelines highlight the importance of assistive devices. These tools are essential for supporting pedagogical aspects, ensuring these students can engage fully in the learning process.
With the release of these guidelines, the UGC is driving a significant transformation in higher education. By building upon the foundations of NEP 2020 and the RPwD Act and by introducing innovations like the CBCS and ABC systems, the guidelines pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable educational landscape. Diverse approaches to earning credits and the integration of assistive devices underscore the commitment to catering to the unique needs of all students. In implementing these recommendations, HEIs can forge a path toward a more inclusive and accessible educational future.