On the 29th of August'2020, the Union Cabinet reported The New National Education Policy (NEP) tending to progressive changes in school and higher education. The New Education Policy 2020, will certainly be considered as a landmark, both in history as well as the future of education in India. It has been brought into action by the government after wide-ranging consultations. The policy is far-sighted, holistic, comprehensive, and will certainly play a great role in the future growth of the nation. The draft of the new Education Policy is a glorious result of immense hard work of the TSR Subramanian Committee in 2016 and the K Kasturirangan Committee for having done a stellar job successfully.
The New Education Policy is a welcoming draft for a holistic, learner-centered, flexible education system and enables different educational reforms as per the need of students at all levels, that search to transform India into a vital knowledge society. The Policy is expected to keep a balance between rootedness and pride in India as well as acceptance of new ideas and practices in the world of learning from across the globe.
One of its loftier goals is also to bring 2 crore school children those who are presently out-of-school, into the school system and reduce the number of dropouts. Focus on vocational education and environmental education along with a reduction in the burdensome syllabus are crucial aspects well covered by NEP. With the help of the New Education Policy students will be much more empowered and have the freedom to choose the subjects they wish to learn.
Let’s catch our breath and dive in somewhat more depth and knowledge.
The NEP proposes sweeping changes in curriculum and teaching pattern during school education, the policy focuses on overhauling the curriculum by reducing the syllabus to retain “core essentials” and applying thrust on “practice learning and critical thinking”.
The Policy has also made room for reforms in the higher education system, including dismantling of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), discontinuation of the M Phil program, introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate program with multiple exit options, and opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities.
There was a new education policy in 1986, which was based on 10+2 structure, the new NEP pitches for a “5+3+3+4” structure of framework corresponding to the age groups of 3 to 8 years that is a foundational stage, 8 to 11 preparatory, 11 to 14 middle, and 14 to 18 secondary. This new advanced change brings casual youth training (also called pre-school education for kids of ages 3 to 5) under the bond of formal tutoring. The mid-day meal program will now be extended to pre-school children too. The NEP says students should be taught in their regional language or mother tongue until Class 5.
1. New pedagogical and curricular structure of school education (5+3+3+4): 3 years in pre-school/Anganwadi and 12 years in school.
2. For children of 3 to 6 years: Access to free, safe, high-quality Early Childhood Care and Education at Anganwadis /Pre-school.
3. Foundational Learning Curriculum for the age group of 3-8 divided into two parts:
I. From age 3-6 in Early Childhood Care and Education
II. Before the age of 5 every child will move to a “Preparatory Class” or “Balvatika” (that is, before Class 1)
4. Age 6 to 8, Grade 1-2: Foundational Stage
5. Age 8-11, Grades 3-5: Preparatory Stage, discovery, play, and interactive classroom and activity-based learning.
6. Age 11-14, Grade 6-8: Middle Stage, social sciences, experiential learning in the sciences, humanities, mathematics, and arts.
7. Age 14-18, Grade 9-12: Secondary Stage, greater critical thinking, multidisciplinary study, flexibility, student choice of subjects, and greater critical thinking.
8. Medium of instruction up to grade 5, and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be local language/ mother-tongue/ home language.
9. Starting with Mathematics, all the subjects will be offered at 2 levels.
10. School students should have 10 days without a bag and they will be taught a subject of their choice.
1. The National Testing Agency will conduct a common college entrance exam which will be held twice a year. This will be implemented from the session of 2022.
2. Bachelor’s degree will be of 4 years with the following exit options:
I. Exit after 1 year: Certificate
II. Exit after 2 years: Diploma
3. Mid-term dropouts will be given a chance to complete the degree after a break.
4. Bachelor’s programs will be multidisciplinary in nature and there will be no rigid separation between sciences and arts.
5. Indian languages, arts, and culture will be promoted at all levels.
6. M.Phil degree will be discontinued from now onwards.
7. By 2040, all higher education institutions of all respective disciplines will become multidisciplinary. There will be a greater inclusion of subjects of arts and humanities for science students and vice-versa.
8. Selected universities from among the top 100 international universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India.
9. The arrangement of affiliated schools will be eliminated in the following 15 years and universities will be given more prominent independence and capacity to concede degrees.
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The NEP only proposes a broad direction to authorities and is not mandatory to follow. Since education is a coexisting subject and both the state governments and the Centre can make and implement laws on it, the changes proposed can only be implemented by the collaborative consent of both the Centre and the states. This will not happen in a jiffy. The present government has set a target of 2040 to get the entire policy fully implemented. Sufficient funding also plays a crucial role as the 1968 NEP was hamstrung due to a shortage of funds.
The government plans to appoint authorities and set up committees with members from relevant ministries at both the central and state levels to ensure the implementation of plans for each aspect of the NEP. Multiple bodies like Central Advisory Board of Education, NCERT, HRD Ministry, National Testing Agency, school Boards, state Education Departments & others will be responsible for the actions to be taken after the plans. A yearly joint review of the implementation of policies and progress against targets set will be done to ensure quality education for students under the Indian Education System.
This education policy was overdue and under progress for a long time. Now the major focus should rely on its efficient and effective implementation. States and the Union government have to come together and work collaboratively to bring out the policy from documents into the classrooms and make it actually worth the wait. I am confident that if everything goes as planned and the policy gets implemented well, it will lay a way forward to make India a thriving knowledge hub all across the globe.
Considering the way that NEP expects to build public interest in training from the current 4.3% to 6% of GDP, we should make some specific time frame for this to be actualized so the GDP doesn't endure.
I hope that all the authorities at the state and central level will lend their wholehearted support in the effective implementation of this revolutionary policy and bring the Indian Education system as a trendsetter for other countries as well.