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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

National Education Policy 2020: Call for reconfiguration of physiotherapy education and research in India

MGM School of Physiotherapy, MGM Centre of Human Movement Science, MGM Institute of Health Sciences, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission03-Mar-2022
Date of Acceptance04-Mar-2022
Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rajani P Mullerpatan
MGM School of Physiotherapy, MGM Centre of Human Movement Science, MGM Institute of Health Sciences, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jsip.jsip_2_22

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How to cite this article:
Mullerpatan RP. National Education Policy 2020: Call for reconfiguration of physiotherapy education and research in India. J Soc Indian Physiother 2022;6:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Mullerpatan RP. National Education Policy 2020: Call for reconfiguration of physiotherapy education and research in India. J Soc Indian Physiother [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 7];6:1-2. Available from: http://www.jsip.ac.in/text.asp?2022/6/1/1/339783

Physiotherapy education has a pivotal role in health promotion, prevention, and outcome of rehabilitation of people with neuro-musculo-skeletal and cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions across life-span. Physiotherapy training took shape in the era of polio virus epidemic in 1952 with a futuristic vision of significant contribution to improve health and wellbeing of people.

Physiotherapy education commenced in South East Asia in 1953 at Physiotherapy School and Centre, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Training in physiotherapy has evolved from a Certificate Course in Physiotherapy to a Diploma Program in Physiotherapy of 2-year duration to a Degree Program: Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy (BSc in PT 1967) of 3 years and 6 months to Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) program of 4 years and 6 months duration (1998).

Physiotherapy education in India has focussed on integration of theoretical knowledge of basic and applied physiotherapy and medical courses along with allied courses and hands-on practical and clinical skills to develop necessary competency skills.

However, with the outbreak of coronavirus disease epidemic, as health education is transforming worldwide across all disciplines of health to address changing and growing needs of socio-economically diverse populations, physiotherapy education also warrants urgent transformation.

The National Education Policy of India was revamped in 2020 in cognizance of 4th Sustainable Development Goal of United Nations to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. It focusses on recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student in academic and non-academic spheres; multidisciplinary, holistic learning; creativity and critical thinking; developing life skills; regular formative assessment for learning rather than summative assessment; continuous professional development of teachers and faculty members; interdisciplinary outstanding research and continuous review for ongoing need-based education.

Further development of physiotherapy education in alignment with National Education Policy 2020 demands reconfiguration of physiotherapy education and research in India.

Reconfiguration of physiotherapy education calls for certain major action points such as attempts to adopt innovative pedagogical methods for millennial and generation Z learners; emphasize on ongoing formative assessment for learning; encourage continuing professional development of faculty members; offer choice-based courses in allied subjects; focus on integration of research and innovation at an early stage in education programs; adopt an inter-disciplinary research approach; and build academia–industry partnership.

  • (i) Adopt innovative andragogic and pedagogical methods for millennial and generation Z learners: Each student is gifted with exclusive sets of talents and abilities to learn. Millennial (generation Y) and generation Z learners have different affinities toward learning methods. They are particularly attracted by interactive technology tools. Therefore, it is an urgent need of the hour to review our training methods adopted for learning and evaluation and adopt innovative andragogic methods in addition to interactive pedagogical methods to enhance the learning experience of physiotherapy students and catalyze participatory learning with self-accountability.

  • (ii) Emphasize on ongoing formative assessment for learning: Physiotherapy education in India includes formative and summative assessment. However, summative assessment assumes a large part in the complete evaluation of students. Ongoing formative assessment will not only facilitate both knowledge building and skill training, but also reduce the stress of summative assessment.

  • (iii) Encourage continuing professional development of faculty members: In the Indian field of physiotherapy education, the faculty members range from Baby Boomers to generation X to generation Y (millennial) to generation Z. The wide gap in learning affinities of the generation of faculty members and students demands an urgent and intense focus on equipping our trainers with necessary training to achieve effective learning of students.

  • (iv) Offer choice-based courses in physiotherapy and allied subjects: Physiotherapy curriculum for Bachelors and Masters programs has evolved over the years to ensure that it addresses local needs and global merits of physiotherapy practice. We have invested heavily in attempts for development of core elements of the curricula to excel in physiotherapy, leaving nil-to-negligible opportunities to students to select courses of their choice. Choice-based curricula will offer the much needed academic flexibility to Indian physiotherapy students to choose various career trajectories, which will open doors to a wide spectrum of employment roles. Academic flexibility will also facilitate movement of physiotherapy students within different states of India and globally in the present era, where students have greater access to global movement.

  • (v) Integration of research and innovation at an early stage in education programs: Physiotherapy research has an immense and critical scope in enhancing health promotion, rehabilitation outcome, and design of pertinent healthcare technology. Currently, research is a part of physiotherapy curriculum in India, within Bachelor of Physiotherapy program and Master of Physiotherapy program; but often its implementation has a narrow focus limited in novelty, design, and rigor. Hence, it is necessary to widen the lens of research to focus on original, meaningful research which leads to an innovation to address unmet needs in pertinent areas of health care.

Sowing seeds of research and innovation at an earlier stage in Bachelor’s program will sensitize students about the urgent need, great value, and wide scope of research in physiotherapy training and practice and its ultimate impact on health care. Such a strategy will help to create the much needed research “sanskar” on their inquisitive and creative minds. As the research sensitized, BPT graduates travel into Master’s program with “sanskar” of research they can be guided to participate in rigorous translation research activities.

  • (vi) Adoption of inter-disciplinary research approach: The need of the hour is to engage with allied health, engineering, and social sciences disciplines to conduct interdisciplinary research to generate the impetus needed to develop comprehensive cost-effective solutions to challenges in health promotion, prevention, and problems in rehabilitation. Research conducted in silos in individual disciplines has limited application and hence limited value in patient care. Such an inter-disciplinary approach to research will also distribute the cost of research and make it feasible.

  • (vii) Develop academia–industry partnership: Typically, academia is associated with creation of knowledge and industry is associated with creation of wealth. In most fields of healthcare education, including physiotherapy education, academia and industry work in silos, despite the fact that knowledge creates wealth and wealth is needed to acquire formal education. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly essential to build mutually beneficial partnerships between academia and industry to create a sustainable ecosystem for producing evidence-based robust physiotherapy solutions to address unmet needs in health promotion, prevention of disability, and rehabilitation. Such a productive partnership between academia and industry in health care will help to attain the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

To summarize, nationwide efforts on strategic planning for reconfiguration of physiotherapy education and research call for engagement of all stakeholders including students, parents, faculty members, physiotherapy employers, and policy-makers at the level of State and Central Government and professional bodies such as the Society of Indian Physiotherapists. Together, we need to create an overall refreshed, vibrant, and interactive environment for physiotherapy education in India, conducive for training a competent physiotherapy workforce which will contribute to a “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” in knowledge and health care.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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