The Union Cabinet of India put forth a new National Education Policy (NEP) on Wednesday, i.e., 29th July 2020, as a replacement to the 34-year-old National Policy on Education, framed in 1986. NEP-2020 aims at the goal of transforming its system such that it meets the needs of the 21st Century India. The Union Ministers, particularly Prakash Javedkar and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, have played a key role in the policy development. It has also been proclaimed that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) would hereafter be referred to as the Ministry of Education.
Why was this modification needed?
With the prevailing pandemic crisis and the nearly collapsing education system, a reformation was much needed, as well as, expected. Besides, development of the NEP is a common measure that usually comes along every few decades. India has had three to date. The first NEP was launched in 1968 and the second one in 1986, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively. So clearly, NEP-2020 holds the third position that has been released on Wednesday under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.
What kind of changes?
A gigantic list of decisions has been made, the major one among which is the discontinuation of M.Phil programme and that there would be a single control board for all higher education institutions. NEP-2020 focuses on maintaining the curriculum with comparatively reduced syllabus while retaining the core essentials and stressing on critical thinking and practical learning.
In contrast to the 1986 policy, which raised the 10+2 system of school education, the new NEP sets up for a “5+3+3+4” plan that corresponds to the age groups classified as 3-8 years (foundational), 8-11 years (preparatory), 11-14 years (middle) and 14-18 years (secondary) respectively.
Goals of NEP 2020
- Unique abilities of each student will be recognized, identified and fostered by encouraging teachers as well as parents to promote their child’s interest in both, academic and non- academic fields.
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy of all students will be achieved before getting to Grade 3.
- Flexibility will be provided to the learners in order to help them choose their careers that they are interested and talented in.
- The lines between arts and science will be blurred among curricular and extra-curricular activities, among vocational and academic streams so that students can choose from a wide spectrum of options, instead of the biased ones.
- More concentration will be given to vocational studies along with internship opportunities to encourage students to uptake careers in non-academic fields if interested.
- Students will gain knowledge through conceptual learning rather than just learning for exams.
- Priority will be given in building the ability of critical thinking and logical- decision making.
- Technology will be highly used in the new learning format in order to meet up to the advancements of the 21st century.
- Students will be encouraged learning ethical and spiritual values.
- Universities from among the top 100 in the world will be able to set up campuses in India.
- School students will be posed to a regular health check-up.
New Education Policy: Key Points
- Children will be enrolled in pre-schools from the age of 3 years.
- Children from 3-6 years will be given access to free, safe and high quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) at Anganwadis, Balvatika, etc.
- Grade 1-2 (Ages 6-8) will be known as Foundational Stage where children will be given the opportunity of flexible activity based learning.
- Grade 3-5 (Ages 8-11) will be known as Preparatory stage that includes discovery, activity-based and interactive classroom learning.
- Grade 6-8 (Ages 11-14) will be known as Middle Stage where students will experience experiential learning in sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.
- Grade 9-12 (Age 14-18) will be designated as Secondary Stage where emphasis will be given in multidisciplinary study, greater critical thinking and flexibility including student choice of subjects.
- Medium of instruction upto grade 5, but preferably grade 8, will be in mother tongue/regional language/home language. Thereafter, the home language will be taught as a language wherever possible.
- All students will be able to participate in a 10-day bagless period during Grades 6-8 where they intern will with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc.
- School Exams will be held only for Grades 3, 5 and 8. The assessment will be held in a formative style which encourages higher-order thinking skills, critical thinking and conceptual clarity.
- The Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned to encourage holistic development. This will be done by giving the students to choose between many of the subjects in which they take Board exams, depending on their individualized interests.
- Board exams will also be made ‘easier’, in the sense that they will test primarily core capacities/competencies rather than months of coaching and memorization.
- The National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, at least twice every year for university entrance exams.
- Under the four-year programme proposed in the new NEP, students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma or after three years with a bachelor’s degree.
- Students will be given a chance to take a break rather than dropping out.
- Mid-term drop outs will be given the option to complete the degree after a break.
- M.Phil will be further discontinued.
- There will be no rigid separation between arts and science streams in bachelor’s programme.
There are some sections that instigate some controversies, needs further explanation in the new national education policy. However, lets welcome this as a positive change in the Indian education system and hope to compete with the world’s best educational institutions in near future.