|| Bhoomika Mohan
The new National Education Policy which came in force on Wednesday, 29 July, seeks to bring about a number of reforms across all levels of education in India.
The NEP empowers students to carefully analyze, pick and choose their academic journey rather than conforming to the set standards and norms.
It also moves towards international standards with a focus on digital and research-based learning which further looks forward to change the landscape of Indian learning.The NEP has renamed the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) as the Ministry of Education which is a clear indicator of the country’s changing focus on education.
Soon after the policy was announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “The policy is based on the pillars of “access, equity, quality, affordability, accountability” and will transform India into a “vibrant knowledge hub”.
Among these number of changes is one, within which the NEP 2020 suggests a slew of reforms to school education, with a focus on flexibility of major/minor subjects and eliminating hindrances between streams of learning. Students in India are made to choose subjects to pursue in their career at a very tender age of 15. By the time one finishes their 10th class, they have to be sure of what is going to be their route to career. The majority of students find it difficult to understand whether they have selected the right stream or not.
The New Education policy (NEP) 2020 shares ideas to revamp education, teaching and assessment systems in schools and colleges. the NEP changes the existing 10+2 structure of school education to a 5+3+3+4, covering children between the ages of 3-18.
The structure thereby, looks like this:
- Three years of anganwadi or preschool + two years in primary school in grades 1-2 covering ages 3 to 8 years
- The ‘preparatory stage’ covering ages 8 to 11 years or grades 3-5.
- The ‘middle stage’ covering ages 11 to 14 years or grades 6-8
- The ‘secondary stage’ covering ages 14 to 18 years in two phases – grades 9-10 in the first and grades 11-12 in the second.
The NEP also states that there will be no hard separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extra-curricular’, or ‘co-curricular’ areas, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams. During grades 6-8, students will be required to take a course which will provide hands-on experience of a number of important vocational crafts as well.
Languages in school:
According to the policy, wherever possible, “the medium of instruction until at least grade 5, but preferably till grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language”, to be followed in both private and public schools.
It implements the three-language formula, but with some flexibility and without imposing any language on a state. In simple words, this concludes that students will learn three languages, based on the states, regions and the choice of the students themselves, as long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.
Policy’s say on teachers:
The policy states that by 2030, teacher education will be moved into multidisciplinary universities, and by the same year, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a four-year integrated BEd.
Teachers will also be expected to avoid participating in activities such as electioneering, so that they are able to better commit their time to their primary and most important function, core teaching.
Additionally, the hiring and vacancies in schools will be managed digitally. A technology-based comprehensive teacher-requirement planning forecasting exercise will be conducted by each state to assess expected subject-wise teacher vacancies over the next two decades.
- Consideration to rural area:
To ensure that brilliant students enter the teaching profession – especially from rural areas – a huge number of merit-based scholarships shall be instituted across the country for studying quality 4-year integrated BEd programs. In rural areas, special merit-based scholarships will be established that also include preferential employment in their local areas upon successful completion of their BEd programmes.
Reforms in Board exams:
- There will be no hard separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular ’, or ‘co-curricular’, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.
- Board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be continued, but they will be low stake. The focus will be on testing concepts and application based learning.
- Students will be able to choose many of the subjects and the ‘level’ in which they take Board exams.
- Skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity will be taught in school.
- Co-curriculum and vocational subjects like sports, arts, commerce, science will be treated at the same level.
- Students can opt for courses as per their preference.
- Reviews by peers and teachers will be taken.
- Students will be given a second chance at boards to improve their score.
College admission structure:
- A common aptitude test, as well as specialised common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, will be held at least twice every year. The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct a common entrance examination (CEE) for admissions to universities across the country. Although, It will not be mandatory and will be left to individual universities and colleges to use NTA assessments for their admissions.
It indeed is a right step towards a better education system. Prof VK Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur told a major newspaper the impact of reforms by saying “ The emphasis on primary education in regional languages and the introduction of Sanskrit, following the three-language formula, will turn out to be a great boon to the people of the country especially in the rural areas”. With everything seemingly falling in place we have to see if the government implements the policy effectively. It is a bold and challenging policy and it needs competent people to execute it efficiently. TAC hopes the government executes this will full enthusiasm and commitment.
The author works as Chief Editor at TAC,Gurugram. Write to us in order to reach out for collaborations and feature work.