The government unveiled the new National Education Policy bringing a number of reforms almost after 34 years.
One of the salient features of the new education policy is replacing the 10+2 structure of school curriculum with a 5+3+3+4 curriculum structure corresponding to age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.
The NEP committee under Dr Kasturirangan’s leadership recognises this fundamental differentiator, and has laid out a far-reaching vision to create learning environments that are multidisciplinary, that cater to a well-rounded education for all individuals, and has the immense potential to transform India’s human capital development.
New Education Policy: Highlights
- All higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges, to be governed by a single regulator.
- Common norms to be in place for private and public higher education institutions.
- MPhil courses to be discontinued.
- Board exams to be based on knowledge application.
- Home language, mother tongue or regional language to be medium of instruction up to class 5.
- Common entrance exams to be held for admission to universities and higher education institutions.
- School curriculum to be reduced to core concepts; integration of vocational education from class 6.
New National Education Policy with focus on multi-disciplinary learning:
The focus will now be on the graded academic, administrative and financial autonomy of institutions.
The government said it plans to achieve a gross enrolment ratio of 50% by 2035 and promote multi-disciplinary and inclusive education.
School learning reforms:
The Centre said that the new education policy will focus on reducing the course burden on school students to allow activity-based learning.
It proposes that students be taught life skills along with their mandatory subjects. It will also focus on increasing the use of technology for learning.
It will break down school learning to the 5+3+3+4 format. The first five years in school will be the foundation stage.
The next three years will make up the preparatory stage (classes 3 to 5).
Classes 6 to 8 will be the middle stage and 9 to 12 will be the secondary stage. Students will be allowed to take up courses across disciplines.
Equitable and Inclusive Education:
NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background.
Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities.
This includes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs.
Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras.
Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path:
Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators.
A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.
Promotion of Indian languages:
To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes .
Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.
Rationalised Institutional Architecture:
Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions providing high quality teaching, research, and community engagement.
The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges.
Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.
Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty:
NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty through clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment, freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.
Online Education and Digital Education:
A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered.
A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
However, concerns that need to be addressed:
Talking about the spend of the government in education sector, “The goals of 50% Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education and 100% in secondary school are laudable.
But when you realise it’s currently 25.8% in Higher Education & 68% in Class 9, you wonder if such targets are any more realistic than the Govt’s solar-energy commitments at Paris.
The NEP should have offered more tangible &realisable targets for research. Total investment on research& innovation in India declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.6% in 2018.
There are currently only 15 researchers in India per 100,000 of population, compared with 111 in China.
These present wide-ranging reforms in the policy are aimed at making the Indian education system more contemporary and skill-oriented.
The NEP also renamed the HRD (human resource development) ministry as the education ministry.
Proper implementation of the reforms and ideas envisioned in the NEP 2020 will fundamentally transform India.
With the emphasis on knowledge-economy driven growth in the 21st century, this is precisely what India needs to dominate in the future decades of growth and drive the education requirements of our young population.