On July 29th, 2020, The Union Cabinet approved on the New Education Policy (NEP), 2020. It is crucial to note that this Policy has been in the mending for five years intaking consultations from stakeholders as well as the general public and has been reformed as a National Educational Policy after 34 years, since the last modification in 1992.
The main objective of this policy is to bring back dropouts to the mainstream and increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% by 2035. The aim of this reformation is to introduce basic numeracy and literacy at the early stages of 6-9 when the brain is said to be in the formative stages of development scientifically.
Certain Highlights of this Reformation are as follows:
Universal Access and Digital Learning:
NEP 2020 has the provisions such as infrastructure support, innovative education centres, tracking of students and their learning levels to enable universal access to school education from the primary to secondary level. The flexible learning system is introduced by facilitating open learning for classes 3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools; secondary education programmes equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programmes. All infrastructure for making available digital content, capacity building will be done by MHRD by taking measures such as online courses, digital depositories, funding for research, improved student services and credit-based recognition of MOOCs.
Power to the Languages:
NEP 2020 advocates medium of instruction to be in the mother tongue/local language or regional language until Grade 5 and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Moreover, all contents and audiobooks of NEP 2020 will be available in 22 languages. Optional three-language courses, as well as other classical Indian languages, will be made available at all levels of school education. Several foreign languages will be available from secondary levels. E-content, available in Hindi and English, will also be available in 8 regional languages initially like Kannada, Odia, Bengali among others.
The existing 10+2 system will be discontinued and 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, 14-18 years respectively will be followed. Exams of the current structure will be replaced by exams taken twice a year. Board exams of 10th will be discontinued. This curriculum is aimed at developing students in a holistic teaching environment enabling them to equip key skills of the 21st century, reducing curricular learning and encouraging experiential learning. Vocational Education starts from Grade 6 and the choice of subjects is made available to the students. A student needn’t pick a discipline and stick to it but take major and minor courses according to his/her individual learning capacity. Internships are made available at School Levels.
Merit-based credits system will be made available to enable multiple entry and exit points for the students. No course taken will be disregarded. All credits earned from pursuing a particular stream are saved in the Academic Bank of Credits in attachment with MOOCs which can be utilised by the student later on. The progress of the students will be tracked and recorded and will be available not only to the teachers and parents but to the students as well. There will be no rigid separation between curricular and extra-curricular activities, vocational and academic streams. Graduation will be of 4 years and after each year, students are eligible to get the respective certificates. After 1 year a basic certificate, after 2nd year an advanced diploma, after 3rd year a Certificate of Graduation and after 4th year a Bachelor’s Degree with Research will be given. The 4th year is optional for only those interested in pursuing higher education.
Regulation and Financial Support:
Excluding Medical and Legal Education, for all higher education, a single overarching umbrella body will be set up called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). It will be a faceless organisation operating through technology with the capability to penalise educational institutions for not conforming to norms and standards. Both public and private education will be governed under the same set of rules, regulations, accreditation and academic standards. Merits of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC and other SEDGs will be incentivised and The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to track, support and foster the record of students receiving scholarships. All professional education will become an integral part of higher education whereas stand-alone technical, health science, agricultural and legal institutions will aim to become multidisciplinary institutions.
Overall, we can expect understanding-based learning from this new reform rather than the olden days of mug up and repetitive tests. From the days when games period is substituted by math or science teacher when the lab classes are postponed till the day of the practical, I hope the new generation gets some hands-on education where physical activity and performance is seen on par with academic progress and where chemical equations and physics formulas are tested out in the labs rather than stricken through repeatedly in the homework notes.
-Hoping towards a better future,