What does the National Education Policy 2020 entail?

The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on July 29, and announced by the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, officially introducing India’s new education system. The NEP 2020 constitutes policies for schools and higher education and has replaced the prior National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. Currently, […] The post What does the National Education Policy 2020 entail? appeared first on The Sikkim Chronicle - Sikkim News.

What does the National Education Policy 2020 entail?

The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on July 29, and announced by the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, officially introducing India’s new education system.

The NEP 2020 constitutes policies for schools and higher education and has replaced the prior National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. Currently, with the constant surge in COVID-19 cases in the nation, schools and other educational institutions continue to remain closed yet a lot of debate has already been sparked off by the new policy.

The History

The NPE was a policy originally constituted by the Government of India to promote education among the people of India. The first education policy was formed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1968, the second by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, and the third was by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2020. The original goal of the National Policy on Education was to cover elementary education to colleges in both rural and urban India. 

The NEP 2020 has been described by Wikipedia as “a comprehensive framework for elementary education to higher education as well as vocational training in both rural and urban India.”

The manifesto for the NEP 2020 was submitted earlier as well during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and in 2015, a Committee was formed under the former Cabinet Secretary T. S. R. Subramanian to start the consultation process for the New Education Policy which has now been implemented, after this Committee submitted a report in the year 2017, the draft for NEP was submitted in 2019 by a panel which was led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan.

Following which the draft of the NEP, 2019 was released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

What has changed?

The NEP 2020 introduced by the Union Cabinet is the third major change brought about by the Government of India, the two earlier education policies being brought in 1968 and 1986.

Among the many new features that the NEP 2020 is introducing it has been announced that the Ministry of Human Resource Development will be renamed as the Ministry of Education. The NEP 2020 comes in four parts namely- School Education, Higher Education, KEys Areas of Focus, and Making it Happen. The order from the Ministry of Human Resources states-

“This National Education Policy 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century and aims to address the many growing developmental imperatives of our country. This Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of the 21st-century education, including SDG4 while building upon India’s traditions and value systems.

The National Education Policy 2020 lays particular emphasis on the development of the creative potential of each individual. It is based on the principle that education must develop not only cognitive capacities – both the ‘foundational capacities ’of literacy and numeracy and ‘higher-order’ cognitive capacities, such as critical thinking and problem-solving – but also social, ethical, and emotional capacities and dispositions.”

The purpose of the education system as stated in the order of the Ministry of Human Resources ‘is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought and action, possessing compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper, and creative imagination, with sound ethical moorings and values. It aims at producing engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society as envisaged by our Constitution.’

The fundamental principles of the NEP 2020 as listed in the order of Ministry of Human Resources, which have been crafted to guide both the education system at large, as well as the individual institutions within it are as follows:

  • Recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student, by sensitizing teachers as well as parents to promote each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres.
  •  According to the highest priority to achieving Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by all students by Grade 3.
  • Flexibility, so that learners can choose their learning trajectories and programs, and thereby choose their paths in life according to their talents and interests.
  • No hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extracurricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. to eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between different areas of learning.
  • Multidisciplinarity and a holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports for a multidisciplinary world to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge.
  • Emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-exams.
  • Creativity and critical thinking to encourage logical decision-making and innovation.
  • Ethics and human & Constitutional values like empathy, respect for others, cleanliness, courtesy, democratic spirit, the spirit of service, respect for public property, scientific temper, liberty, responsibility, pluralism, equality, and justice.
  • Promoting multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning.
  • Life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience.
  • Focus on regular formative assessment for learning rather than the summative assessment that encourages today’s coaching culture.
  • Extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for Divyang students, and educational planning and management;
  • Respect for diversity and respect for the local context in all curriculum, pedagogy, and policy, always keeping in mind that education is a concurrent subject.
  • Full equity and inclusion as the cornerstone of all educational decisions to ensure that all students can thrive in the education system.
  • Synergy in curriculum across all levels of education from early childhood care and education to school education to higher education.
  • Teachers and faculty as the heart of the learning process – their recruitment, continuous professional development, positive working environments, and service conditions.
  • A ‘light but tight’ regulatory framework to ensure integrity, transparency, and resource the efficiency of the educational system through audit and public disclosure while encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box ideas through autonomy, good governance, and empowerment.
  • Outstanding research as a corequisite for outstanding education and development.
  • Continuous review of progress based on sustained research and regular assessment by educational experts.
  • A rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions.
  • Education is a public service; access to quality education must be considered a basic right of every child.
  • Substantial investment in a strong, vibrant public education system as well as the encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation.

Key points of NEP 2020

In terms of School Education and Board Exams:

  • The universalization of education from preschool to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030 and to bring almost 2 crores children who are out of school back into the mainstream through an open schooling system.
  • The present 10+2 system will be replaced by the new “5+3+3+4” curricular structure for ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively which will bring the uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum which will make the curriculum more inclusive and learner-centred. This design will be corresponding to age groups
  1. 3-8 years (Foundational Stage)
  2. 8-11 (Preparatory)
  3. 11-14 (Middle)
  4. 14-18 (Secondary)
  5. Will also have 3 years in Anganwadi/preschool and 12 years in school.
  • Schools won’t have a rigid division of streams like Arts, Commerce and Science anymore.
  • Technology will be extensively used in teaching and vocational education courses such as coding will be introduced in Grade 6.
  • School Governance will change with a new accreditation framework with an independent authority enabling them to regulate both public and private schools. 
  • More emphasis will be put on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, with no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools.
  • Vocational education will be implemented from Class 6 with internships being provided.
  • At least till Grade 5 teaching will be done in the mother tongue of the students or the regional language, language won’t be imposed on any student.
  • The mid-day meal program will be extended to pre-school children and will also have breakfast added.
  • A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021, will be formulated by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree.
  • Beginning with Mathematics, all subjects are offered at 2 levels.
  • School students will be able to have 10 bag-less days during which they are taught a vocation of their choice (informal internship).
  • School Exams will be held only for 3 levels – Classes 3, 5, and 8. Assessment will shift to a formative style that encourages higher-order thinking skills, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity.
  • The NEP 2020 will focus on reducing the syllabus\ curriculum and to make Class 10 and 12 Board Exam easier and to test core competency rather than memorization of facts, will be designed for holistic development and will be allowing all students to take the exam twice in a given school year if desired- one main examination and one for improvement. Board exams will have less pressure on students.
  • A new national assessment centre – PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be established and has been created to assess the students.

In terms of Higher Education and College Entrance Exams

  • The National Testing Agency will have to conduct a common college entrance exam twice a year from the 2022 session.
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50% by 2035. Also, 3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education, while the current Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education is 26.3%.
  • Holistic Undergraduate Education with a flexible curriculum will be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.

Exit after 1 year: Certificate

Exit after 2 years: Diploma

Exit after 3 years: Bachelor’s degree.

For midterm dropouts will be given the option to complete the degree after a break.

  • Bachelor’s programs will be multidisciplinary in nature and with no rigid separation between arts and sciences.
  • Indian arts, languages, and culture to be promoted at all levels.
  • The M.Phil degree will be discontinued, all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD level will now be interdisciplinary.
  • By 2040, all big educational institutions like IIT will have to become multi-disciplinary and will have to make provisions for greater inclusion of arts and humanities subjects for science students and vice-versa, will also offer courses that have an option of Majors and Minors.
  • Selected universities from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India.
  • The system of affiliated colleges will be phased out in 15 years and colleges will be given greater autonomy and power to grant degrees. The deemed university status will end. Over a while, every college is expected to develop into either an autonomous degree-granting College or a constituent college of a university.
  • Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate Transfer of Credits.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
  • Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation, and academic standards. Also, HECI will be having four independent verticals namely-
  1. National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation.
  2. General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting.
  3. Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding.
  4. National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation.

Other changes include-

  • An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
  • It emphasizes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions, and groups.
  • National Institute for Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation to be set up.
  • Also will aim to increase the public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest. Currently, India spends around 4.6 % of its total GDP on education.

Regarding the emphasis on the mother tongue/regional language being used for teaching up to Grade 5 is not compulsory for states, as the policy clearly states that students will be taught in their mother tongue/regional language wherever possible.

Adding to this is that such reforms aren’t necessarily new, most government schools in the country are operating this way already. While for private schools, it is unlikely that they will be instructed to change their medium of instruction.

While the response to the NEP, 2020 hasn’t been favourable everywhere, many teachers and students have called this new policy “undemocratic”. According to an article published by NDTV Education, “The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has said the NEP will “dismember” universities by transferring the power over to a board of governors.” DUTA has condemned the concentration of powers within a board of governors in universities.

Further, the Association has also released a statement: “The DUTA’s opposition to the draft NEP rested, among other things, on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies.”

Besides, other student bodies like the Student Federation of India (SFI) have blamed the policy for being of a “centralized nature” which has encouraged “radical privatization.”

Whereas the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) has been quoted calling the policy out for ‘informalization’ of education. Another association called the Student Islamic Organisation (SIO) has said that the policy is “anti-federal, anti-constitutional and a license to commercialize education in India”.

Sumnima Rai, a teacher at Loreto Convent, Darjeeling opines that although many reforms such as choosing the subject and do not have to follow a rigid stream as such is a good and quite interesting option the reforms concerning board exams were a little over the top because educators will not necessarily know how to evaluate and grade the students.

Regarding the removal of the M.Phil Degree, she says normally one can pursue their PhD Degrees without completing M. Phil first. 

“On the NEP 2020s holistic approach towards education, it seems quite satisfactory as students and teachers alike won’t only be concerned with marks, grades, and percentages because ultimately when you give exams for Civil Services and Companies, it’s not the marks that matter, one still has the chance and potential to get through these job exams and interviews.

Keeping that aside I believe, it’s going to take a long time for students and people to get used to and adjust because the evaluation system has always been around for us, but it eventually comes down to the students and parents,” says Sumnima Rai.

“Before the NEP 2020, students would benefit more from CBSE Board than from ICSE or State Board (Madhyamik), but now with the reforms in the education policy it changes everything, now it all depends on how the students reciprocate.

While it is obvious that for children there is a lot less pressure but we can’t be sure of how they take it, because there are students who don’t study as in half of them are in the rat race and half of them are laid back,” she added.

This change in the Education Policy comes after 34 years, only time will tell, how much students, educators and institutions are to benefit from the new policies.

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