Last week, the Union Cabinet approved the new National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020, paving way for transformational reforms in school and higher education sector in country. The Cabinet replaced the 34 year old National Policy on Education and also renamed the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry as Ministry of Education. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the National Education Policy 2020 would transform India into a ‘knowledge hub’. The draft stating changes in education system was published by Dr. K Kasturirangan, former Chairman, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in December 2018. The new NEP expands mandatory schooling from the age group of 6 to 14 years to between 3 & 18 years. To help children achieve better learning outcomes, provision for energy filled breakfast along with nutritious mid-day meal is extended to pre-school children too.
In a significant shift, from the current 10 + 2 structure of school education; the NEP casts a ‘5 + 3 + 3 + 4’ design corresponding to ages 3-8 (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle) and 14-18 (secondary) respectively. With an emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the new system will have 12 years of schooling with 3 years of Anganwadi/pre-schooling which has been considered globall, as a crucial stage for development of mental faculties of children.
The NEP 2020 states that students until, at least, class 5 should be taught in their Mother Tongue or regional language. No language will be imposed on any student. The policy clearly states that children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more quickly in their home language.
The NEP focuses on universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 2030. The NEP 2020 will bring back 2 crore out of school children into the mainstream through and open schooling system. Along with this NEP 2020 will add up 3.5 crore new seats in higher education. Class 10th and 12th board exams are to be made easier by reducing the syllabus to keep ‘core essentials’ with thrust on ‘experiential learning and critical thinking’. The new policy also allows students to take board exam twice a year.
A new accreditation framework and an independent authority will regulate both private as well as public schools, whereas Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will regulate the entire higher education excluding medical and legal education. Vocational education is set to begin from class 6 with internships and higher education curriculum will have flexibility of subjects.
National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with NCERT will frame a new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) by 2021. By 2035, the GER in higher education is to be raised to 50%. Under NEP 2020, there will be no rigid separation between academic streams, extra-curricular or vocational streams. The NEP 2020 for tracking student’s progress for achieving learning outcomes comes with a 360 degree holistic progress card.
Under NEP, undergraduate students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma and after 3 years with a bachelor’s degree. All the UG, PG and PhD level courses will be interdisciplinary; though M.Phil courses will be discontinued. Government will also set up an Academic Bank of Credit to facilitate transfer of credits. By 2030, a 4 year integrated B.Ed degree will be the minimum degree qualification for teaching. At par with IITs and IIMs, Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) are to be set up as models for best multi-disciplinary education having global standards.
Under NEP, National Research Foundation is to be established to foster a strong research culture. Also, a National Educational Technology Forum is to be created for increased use of technology with equity.
The NEP 2020 emphasizes upon Gender Inclusion, Funding and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. It also aims to increase public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest, from current expenditure of 4.6 %.
Thus, the NEP 2020 aims to provide an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach to child education. The NEP on implementation, would go a long way in transforming India’s education system to meet the needs of the 21st century.
Script: Payal, Educationist