Education Photograph:( Zee News Network )
The National Policy on Education is erected on the foundational pillars of ‘Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability’.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has released the National Education Policy 2020 (“NEP”), laying the path for large scale transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.
According to the government, it is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 which was modified in 1992.
The NEP is erected on the foundational pillars of ‘Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability’. This policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to revise and overhaul the education system in our country, including its regulations and governance by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible and multidisciplinary.
According to the government, the implementation of previous policies has focused largely on issues of access and equity. It may be noted that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in the country (as recorded last in 2018) currently sits at 26..3 per cent.
The GRE depicts the ratio of those students who are successfully enrolling into higher education institutions after the end of their initial schooling years. Further, it may be noted that due to deep-rooted traditional learning methods, the education system in India is not able to adapt with new streams of education.
Amongst the other changes, the NEP proposes to bring about the change in the name of the ministry from the MHRD to the new Education Ministry. The NEP further aims to ensure that 6 per cent of our GDP is spent on education for providing implementation of this policy to the country.
Further, the central government, through this policy has more outreach than the previous NPE by encompassing students from age of 3 years instead of the previous age of 5 years. It also proposes reforms for teachers by mainstreaming their governing regulations. The important highlights of the NEP are enumerated in the succeeding paras.
The NEP emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels i.e. from pre-school to secondary. Further, the earlier structure of ‘10+2’ has been replaced by a ‘5+3+3+4’ curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. This will bring the hitherto 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.
All students will take school examinations in grades 3, 5 and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for grades 10 and 12 will be continued but redesigned with holistic development as the central aim. This additional classification of students based on age groups helps not only the government to implement age specific norms for educating the students but also helps the schools in developing curriculums and syllabi which imparts knowledge more efficiently based on age.
Further, the Policy also aims to blur the lines between the current, rigid ‘streams’ concept, in which the students are mandated to opt for either arts, commerce or sciences. It proposes to give enhanced degree of flexibility to students after grade 10 board by allowing them to choose subjects of their choices rather than force streams on them.
The NEP ambitiously proposes to implement a three-language formula. Under this, it is proposed that two out of three languages i.e. mother tongue/local language/regional language will be used as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but may be extended further till Grade 8 and beyond.
With regard to new bodies being set up, a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body for students up to class 12.
There has been consistency shown by NEP by with respect to the continuous reforms related to the higher education sphere in our country. One of the main challenges with higher education in our country is low GER. The Policy aims to tackle the same by making higher education policies much more flexible in favour of the students and providing them with more options to complete their higher education.
The major changes include implementing a four-year undergraduate programme. This program will be multi-disciplinary in nature and will allow the students with multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certifications.
Additionally, a digital credit bank system has also been proposed to be incorporated wherein, if a student happens to stop pursuing a particular degree, but has attained a certain number of credits, he/she may transfer the same to some other institution and can avoid starting at that institution afresh.
For regulation of higher education, the Policy proposes to form a singular umbrella body regulating higher education in India, called the “Higher Education Commission of India” (HECI), however, excluding medicine and legal education. A National Testing Agency will also be set up to conduct a singular exam for higher education institutes.
Under the new Policy, High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, selected universities e.g., those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India.
Keeping in mind the role that teachers play in any educational set-up, a new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. It has been proposed that by 2030, the minimum qualification for teaching will be a four-year B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard standalone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
In view of the existing educational regime, NEP is a welcome and progressive change for the development of education landscape in India. However, the implementation of the NEP would also require efficient coordination between the Centre and the State Governments, since education is a concurrent subject under the Constitution of India.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)