The New Education Policy

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By Niharika Sharma from Ideal Institute of Management and Technology, GGSIPU

INTRODUCTION

The National Education Policy 2020 announced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development sets for itself the goal of transforming the system to meet the needs of 21st Century India. In a federal system, any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the States, and the Centre has the giant task of building a consensus on the many ambitious plans. The policy, inter alia, aims to eliminate problems of pedagogy, structural inequities, access asymmetries and rampant commercialisation. The NEP 2020 is the first omnibus policy after the one issued in 1986, and it has to contend with multiple crises in the system. It is no secret that primary schools record shockingly poor literacy and numeracy outcomes, dropout levels in middle and secondary schools are significant, and the higher education system has generally failed to meet the aspirations for multi-disciplinary programmes. In structural terms, the NEP’s measures to introduce early childhood education from age 3, offer school board examinations twice a year to help improve performance, move away from rote learning, raise mathematical skills for everyone, shift to a four-year undergraduate college degree system, and create a Higher Education Commission of India represent major changes. Progress on these crucially depends on the will to spend the promised 6% of GDP as public expenditure on education. The policy also says that wherever possible, the medium of instruction in schools until at least Class 5, but preferably until Class 8 and beyond, will be the home language or mother tongue or regional language. This is a long-held view, and has its merits, although in a large and diverse country where mobility is high, the student should have the option to study in the language that enables a transfer nationally. English has performed that role due to historical factors.

There are some good elements to the NEP 2020 that will generate little friction, and need only adequate resourcing. Provision of an energy-filled breakfast, in addition to the nutritious mid-day meal, to help children achieve better learning outcomes, is one. Creation of ‘inclusion funds’ to help socially and educationally disadvantaged children pursue education is another. Where the policy fails to show rigour, however, is on universalisation of access, both in schools and higher education; the Right to Education needs specific measures to succeed. Moreover, fee regulations exist in some States even now, but the regulatory process is unable to rein in profiteering in the form of unaccounted donations. The idea of a National Higher Education Regulatory Council as an apex control organisation is bound to be resented by States. Similarly, a national body for aptitude tests would have to convince the States of its merits. Among the many imperatives, the deadline to achieve universal literacy and numeracy by 2025 should be a top priority as a goal that will crucially determine progress at higher levels.

The new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 is introduced with an aim of several changes in the Indian education system – from the school to college level.

  • The NEP 2020 aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower”.
  • The Cabinet has also approved the renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education.
  • The NEP cleared by the Cabinet is only the third major revamp of the framework of education in India since independence.
    • The two earlier education policies were brought in 1968 and 1986.

Key Points

  • School Education:
    • Universalization of education from preschool to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
    • To bring 2 crore out of school children back into the mainstream through an open schooling system.
    • The current 10+2 system to be replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.
      • It will bring the uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child.
      • It will also have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.
    • Class 10 and 12 board examinations are made easier, to test core competencies rather than memorized facts, with all students allowed to take the exam twice.
    • School governance is set to change, with a new accreditation framework and an independent authority to regulate both public and private schools.
    • Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools.
    • Vocational Education to start from Class 6 with Internships.
    • Teaching up to at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/regional language. No language will be imposed on any student.
    • Assessment reforms with 360 degree Holistic Progress Card, tracking Student Progress for achieving Learning Outcomes
    • 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).
  • Higher Education:
    • Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50% by 2035. Also, 3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education.
      • The current Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education is 26.3%.
    • Holistic Undergraduate education with a flexible curriculum can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.
    • M.Phil courses will be discontinued and all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level will now be interdisciplinary.
    • Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate Transfer of Credits.
    • Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
    • 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,
      • National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation,
      • General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting,
      • Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,
      • National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation.
    • Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
      • Over a period of time, every college is expected to develop into either an autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.
  • Other Changes:
    • 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.
    • National Assessment Centre- ‘PARAKH’ has been created to assess the students.
    • It also paves the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
    • It emphasizes setting up of a 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.
    • It also aims 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.
  • Digital Drive: 

The new education policy has emphasized the integration of technology in all levels of learning. Some features of policy:

Technology in Education:

  • An autonomous body, the national educational technology forum, will be created for exchange of ideas on use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning and administration.
  • A dedicated unit for the purpose of creating digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be set up in the ministry.
  • Integration of technology will be done to improve classroom processes 

Teacher education:

  • By 2030 , the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be four-year integrated B.Ed. degree.

Financial support:

  • Meritorious students belonging to SC,ST, OBC and other socially and economically disadvantaged groups will be given incentives.
  • Private institutions will be encouraged to offer scholarships to their students 

Professional Education:

  • Stand alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agriculture universities will aim at becoming multi-disciplinary institution.

Conclusion:

A New Education Policy aims to facilitate an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach, which takes into consideration field experiences, empirical research, stakeholder feedback, as well as lessons learned from best practices. It is a progressive shift towards a more scientific approach to education. The prescribed structure will help to cater the ability of the child – stages of cognitive development as well as social and physical awareness. If implemented in its true vision, the new structure can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world.

References: 

1 www.mhrd.gov.in

2 New education policy 2020 (pdf) 

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