The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on 30 July 2020 released the much-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. It intends to replace the existed National Policy on Education, 1986. It is the first education policy for the 21st century and aims to achieve the developing dynamics of our country. The policy proposes that the education structure, its regulation, and way of governance should be revised and revamped as per the changing needs of the developing country. This policy envisions an education policy that contributed directly to transform India and primarily focuses on issues such as:
- Access and equity of education;
- Achievement of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy;
- Non Fractionalization of subjects;
- Conceptual understanding;
- Creative and critical thinking of students;
- Multilingualism in teaching and learning;
- Technology advanced studies;
- A light but right regulatory framework; etc.
Changes brought by the National Education Policy (2020):
The major changes brought by the National Education Policy (2020) include redesigning of the education structure at school level and higher level, steps to ensure the curtailing of dropouts from higher education, to promote the foundational literacy and numeracy among the students and to introduce and promote the alternative mode of education i.e. digital education.
School-level Education Structure:
The NEP recommends the reconstruction of the present structure of school in order to make it more relevant to meet the needs of the students of different ages. At present, the education system follows 10+2 structure, which shall be converted into 5-3-3-4 design model. This design comprises 4 stages which are:
- 5 years of foundational stage (for 3 to 8 years);
- 3 years of preparatory stage, class 3 to 5 ( for 8 to 11 years);
- 3 years of middle stage, class 8 to 6 (for ages 11 to 14 years); and;
- 4 years of secondary stage, class 9 to 12 (for ages 14 to 18).
The NEP also recommended the concept of ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education), which focuses on play-based and activity-based learning consisting of alphabets, languages, numbers, craft, art, drama, etc.. This aims to cover the age group of 3-6 years, which shall be expanded and delivered by strengthening the system of early childhood education comprising:
- Standalone Anganwadis;
- Anganwadis co-located with primary schools;
- Pre-primary schools/sections covering at least 5 to 6 years co-located with existing primary schools; and
- Stand-alone preschools
For all of the above, workers/teachers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE shall be recruited.
The NEP further recommends for students enrolled in elementary school ‘The Foundational Literacy and numeracy’ program, which is to be achieved by grade 3 so that a large portion of students, who cannot read and understand the basic text, become competent to do the same. The policy also recommends an e-learning platform, called DIKSHA, which shall be the National Repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy.
The policy also suggests the reforms in curriculum content with an aim to reduce the load of students. The NEP also makes a clear stand on the medium of instruction that needs to be followed by the schools. As per NEP, the schools shall implement a 3 language formula:
- Hindi, English and a modern Indian language (preferable a southern language) in Hindi speaking states and
- Hindi, English and the regional language in the non-Hindi speaking states.
The NEP also intends to embark changes in the students’ assessment structure. To track the progress of students, it recommends a body called ‘National Assessment Education System’ to be formed under the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) for students’ assessment and evaluation.
The new education policy also sought to bring changes in teaching training structure. It intends to replace the existing Bed programme with 4 years integrated programme the combines with highly content, pedagogy and practical training in addition to a minimum 50 hours of continues professional development training every year.
Higher Education Structure:
The NEP policy in higher-level education structure aims to redress certain issues particularly, which are in brief, listed below:
- The NEP in order to increase the GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio), gave options to the Institutions to run open distance learning and online programmes.
- The NEP also aims to redesign the structure of the institution into 3 categories:
- Research universities focusing equally on research and teaching;
- Teaching universities primarily focusing on teaching; and
- Degree-granting colleges primarily focusing on undergraduate teaching.
- The policy also intends to change the curriculum of Higher Education Institution by making the undergraduate degree more flexible with multiple exit options with appropriate certification. Besides the above changes, the policy proposed to discontinue the M.Phil programme.
- The NEP, to ensure proper compliance of regulations, accreditation, funds and academic standards shall establish the ‘Higher Education Commission Of India (HECI)’ with 4 independent verticals:
- National Higher Education Regulatory Council as a single regulator;
- The National Accreditation Council for accreditation of institutions;
- The Higher Education Grants Council for the financing of higher education; and
- General Education Council for specifying the curriculum framework and learning levels for higher education.
- The NEP also recommends an independent National Research Foundation for funding and facilitating quality research.
- The committee for NEP also recommends that vocational education is to be integrated with school and higher education institution in a phased manner for over 10 years.
The NEP also recommends the integrated use of technology with a platform from online and digital education. The NEP has also aimed for promotion of arts and culture in the education system. The policy shall be implemented by a contributed effort of MHRD, CABE, union and State Governments, education-related Ministries, State department of education, Boards, NTA, NCERT, SCERTs, schools and HEIs. The matter of education has been dealt in the policy through multiple fronts with a “Light but Tight” regulatory approach.