Education is undoubtedly one of the prime weapons that change the world. In fact, in the words of Robert Hutchins, the essential purpose of education is to prepare the young minds to educate themselves, for the duration of their lives. It is also one of the foundational sectors in national developmental planning. Considering the same objective, the government of India, after 34 years has come up with a 'NEW EDUCATION POLICY 2020'. This article will provide an rundown of the New Education Policy 2020, and an in-depth analysis of the same. 

Introduction

An Education Policy is a comprehensive framework that is used to guide the various developments in the education system of our country. The two earlier education policies were brought in 1968 and 1986, under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively.

The Ministry of Human Resource and Development, on Wednesday, 29th of July, 2020, released the third education policy named ‘New Education Policy 2020’, that aims at renovating all aspects of education structure, including its regulation and governance.

Need for A New Education Policy

The last education policy of 1986 and its amendments in 1992 suited those times and served as a guiding light to the current New Education Policy2020. However, since 1992, several changes and advancements have taken place in society, economy, country, and even the world.  Therefore, to cope with the changes, our education system needs to gear itself for the 21st century. Additionally, the gaps between textbook teaching and real-life vocations create a considerable problem for effective learning. To deal with such shortcomings comes the New Education Policy 2020.

Vision of New Education Policy 2020

The concept of New Education Policy 2020 is to make India a global knowledge superpower by providing an education system to young minds that transforms India into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society. It also aims towards developing a deep sense of respect towards the fundamental rights, duties and Constitutional values, bonding with our country, and an awareness of one’s role and responsibilities in a rapidly changing world.  

Further, it envisions to inculcate skills, values, and character that supports a responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global prosperity, thereby becoming a truly global citizen.

Key Principles of New Education Policy 2020

New Education Policy

The final New Education Policy 2020 is based on the draft report submitted by Dr K. Kasturirangan Committee, which was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2017. The Cabinet also approved a change in the name of Ministry of HRD to Ministry of Education (MoE). The New Education Policy 2020 deals with school education and higher education comprehensively and provides key targets and primary outcomes of the education system. It majorly aims at:

(a) recognizing and fostering the unique capabilities of each student by encouraging student’s development in both academics and non-academic activities,

(b) flexibility to students to choose learning programs according to their interest and talent,

(c) extensive use of technology in both teaching and learning, and for removing language barriers for Divyang students,

(d) emphasizing conceptual understanding, rather than rote learning and only exam-oriented learning.

Part I- Changes In School Education

The New Education Policy 2020 has changed the structure of school education by scrapping the current 10+2 structure in school education. It introduced a new curricular structure of 5+3+3+4 covering ages 3-18, that is three years in Anganwadi/pre-school, and 12 years in school.

New Education Policy
  • Foundational Stage (5 years)- Considering that 85% of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of 6, this Stage is put forth. It aims to play and activity-based learning.
  • Preparatory Stage (3 years)- It aims at playing, discovery, and activity-based and interactive classroom learning for children.
  • Middle Stage (3 years) – It aims at experiential learning in the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Secondary Stage (4 years)- It aims at multidisciplinary study, greater critical thinking, flexibility and student choice of subjects.

Early Childhood Care And Education (ECCE) Framework

For encouraging early childhood care and education, NCERT will come up with a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Education (NCPFECE), comprising of alphabets, numbers, counting, language colours, indoor and outdoor play, puzzles, different shapes, problem solving and logical thinking, drawing, painting, craft, drama and puppetry, and. NCERT will draft NCPFECE in two parts (ages 0-3, 3-8) under the latest national and international best practices for better suiting the current requirements of the children from the age of 3-6.

Curriculum

New Education Policy

The New Education Policy 2020 aims to transform the entire curriculum and pedagogy (method of teaching) by 2022, to promote skill-based learning and minimize rote based learning. It will reduce the curriculum to the core essentials for all subjects, and encourage critical thinking. The policy will help students learn better in the following ways:

  • Classes will be interactive, with lesser dependency on textbook learning, and increased encouragement to students to ask more questions.
  • Teachers will adopt a creative method of teaching by (a) conducting fun, creative, and collaborative activities for experimental learning and more in-depth understanding of the subject, (b) by integrating sports, ICT (Information and Communication Technology), and story-telling based approach.
  • There will be no hard division between curricular/co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities; academic and vocational courses; science and humanities subjects; art, sports, and academics. All activities will be given equal importance and exposure for the holistic development of a child.
  • The medium of instruction at least till the 5th Grade, but preferably till the 8th Grade and even beyond, will be mother tongue (local language/ regional language).
  • To develop a vocational craft of the student’s choice, a practice-based curriculum for Grades 6-8 will be designed, where all students will intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc.
  • Schools will schedule 10 bagless days in an academic year when the students are taught a vocation of their choice (informal internship).

Examinations

 Grade 1-8

According to the New Education Policy 2020, school examinations will be held only for three levels- Grade 3, 5 and 8, whose assessment will be based on core concepts, knowledge, high command skills and its application in real-life situations. The progress evaluation card will be completely redesigned to provide a holistic and multidimensional report that reflects the uniqueness of every student. These results of these school examinations will be used only for developmental purposes and continuous monitoring and improvement of the schooling system. 

Grade 9-12

Boards exams will be conducted as before, but the exams will be made more straightforward, and will primarily test core capacities and competencies. Teachers will be prepared for such a transformation in the assessment system by the 2022-2023 academic session. Further, Artificial Intelligence (AI) based software will  be developed to help track developmen through school years and to assist students make optimal career choices, after the 12th Grade.

Part II- Changes in Higher Education

Higher education plays a crucial role in promoting human as well as societal well-being and in the overall development of a country. As India is moving towards becoming a knowledge and developed economy, more young Indians are likely to pursue higher education. Given the 21st century requirements, higher education must aim to develop sharp, well-rounded, and creative individuals.

The New Education Policy 2020 highlights issues with the higher education, like rigid separation of subjects, with new streaming of students into narrow areas of study (commerce, science, arts) and low standards of degree education. To overcome these issues, the New Education Policy 2020 aims at:

  • transforming higher education institutions into large multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district, and with more Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across India. This is to accommodate 3000 or more students in every HEI as quality higher education can open possibilities that can lift both individuals as well as communities out of the cycles of disadvantage.
  • Encouraging, mentoring, supporting, and incentivizing colleges to gradually attain the minimum benchmarks required for each level of accreditation. This is to ensure a high-quality education for students.
  • Adopting a criterion-based grading system that will assess student achievement based on the learning goals for each programme, making the system fairer and outcomes more comparable.
  • Setting up professional academic and career counselling in colleges, and giving adequate funds and academic resources for encouraging and supporting students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Other features relating to higher education are as follows:

Undergraduate Degree Course

The new structure provides for an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree of either 3 or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options within this duration, with appropriate certifications after the exit. For example- a) exit after one year- Certificate, b) exit after two years- Diploma certificate. Bachelor’s degree programmes will have no rigid separation between arts and sciences, e.g. a student will be able to choose subjects of his choice from any stream like chemistry and political science, etc.   

Master’s Degree Course

HEIs will have the flexibility to offer different designs of Master’s programmes like – (a) 2-year programme, with the second year, devoted entirely to research for students who have completed the 3-year Bachelor ‘s programme. (b) 1-year programme for students who have completed a 4-year Bachelor ’s programme with Research. (c) integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme.

Another highlight of the New Education Policy 2020 is that undertaking a PhD will require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. Hence, the MPhil Programme will be discontinued. With a view to raising the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% by 2035, mid-term dropouts will be given an option to complete their degree after a break.

Regulatory System Of Higher Education

The policy provides for the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) as a single body for the regulation of entire higher education (excluding medical and legal education). The four independent parts to be established under HECI are:

  1. The first body of HECI will be the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) which will function as the common, single point regulator for the higher education sector, including teacher education. And excluding medical and legal education, therefore eliminating the duplication of regulatory efforts by the multiple regulatory agencies that exist currently.
  2. The second will be a ‘meta-accrediting body’, called the National Accreditation Council (NAC) that will do graded accreditation and will specify phased benchmarks for all HEIs to achieve set levels of quality, self-governance, and autonomy.
  3. The third will be the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), which will deal with funding and financing of higher education. It will also deal with the disbursement of scholarships and developmental funds for launching new focus areas and expanding quality programme offerings at HEIs across disciplines and fields.
  4. The fourth will be the General Education Council (GEC), for framing expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes, also referred to as ‘graduate attributes’. It will help HEIs to identify specific skills that students must acquire during their academic programmes, to prepare well-rounded learners with 21st-century skills.

Part III- Teacher Education

Teachers are a vital weapon that helps in shaping the next generation. Therefore, teacher preparation is an activity that requires multidisciplinary perspectives and knowledge, formation of dispositions and values, and development of practice under the best mentors. By the year 2030, teacher’s education will be transformed in the following ways-

New Education Policy

National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) will function as a sole regulator for teacher education and will be responsible for framing new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education by 2021. Teachers will have to take Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) conducted across Foundational, Preparatory, Middle and Secondary Stage in both public and private schools. Concerned subject score from TET or National Testing Agency (NTA) tests and classroom demonstration will be taken into account for recruitment of subject teachers.

Significance of New Education Policy 2020

New Education Policy

First, a very crucial and potentially game-changing policy initiative is the inclusion of vocational courses in the school curriculum. This will help students who have an interest in different skills apart from just studies to come to school. Second, it has expanded the ambit of universal education from 6-14 years to 3-18 years which is a welcome step. Third, one of the major concerns on the medium of instruction has been dealt with by suggesting teaching in mother tongue/local language. This will enable the teachers to teach a subject with ease, and also students to learn with a better understanding of a subject.

Additionally, this will also take care of increasing neglect of local languages and mother tongue due to hysteria towards the English language. Fourth, the higher education regulatory system is set to change for good by eliminating the rigid separation of subjects. This will create an all-around and enriched personality by interacting with a variety of subjects between arts, science, commerce, humanities, etc. Fifth, there is a considerable amount of discussion on socio-economically backward areas and people, by aiming to provide financial help through scholarships and setting up HEIs in every district.

So, in all, New Education Policy 2020 tries to achieve a balance of quantity and quality in the educational sector while attempting to propel it to an elevated level of excellence.

Issues with New Education Policy 2020

First, it is crucial to consider that English is considered as a language of communication across the globe. However, the policy aims at doing away with compulsory English medium schools by allowing mother tongue/ local language as a medium of instruction. This step may prove a hurdle for students to learn fluent and effective English communication.

Second, the policy provides for exams only for the 3rd, 5th, and 8th Grades. This step may drive students towards neglecting studies due to the absence of exams at the school level.

Third, the New Education Policy 2020 targets to spend 6% of the GDP on education. However, given the low tax-GDP ratio and current slowdown condition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of 6% GDP expenditure in the education sector seems difficult. Particularly when in the coming years, healthcare and defence sectors are set to demand increased expenditure. Fourth, there is an inadequate discussion on new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cybersecurity, when these fields are set to overwhelm world knowledge and workspace.

Conclusion

Since the world is witnessing rapid changes in the knowledge sector, it has become imperative that children not only learn but also learn how to learn. Therefore, our country needed to have an education system with access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background. Today, the New Education Policy 2020 addresses all these concerns, in addition to the many growing developmental imperatives of our country. We can say that India is finally moving towards a better, and holistic education system which focuses majorly on the practical aspects, than just paper (theory) learning.     

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