On Wednesday, Union Minister Prakash Javdekar announced that the Union Cabinet had given a green flag to the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The decision to rename the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education was taken during the meeting.
The Union Minister also said that the implementation of the new National Education Policy is the first change in the existing education policy in the last 34 years. The Cabinet has approved the final draft of NEP to revolutionize the country’s current education system. Several changes and concepts have been included in the new policy.
Education policy before NEP 2020
The last National Policy of Education came in 1986 with a Programme of Action (1992). The main objective of the NEP 1986 was to establish a national system of education where all students, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, and religion, have easy access to quality education and enable all children to achieve essential learning levels. The policy defined three main aspects of the education system.
- Elementary education- The NEP’s objective regarding elementary education was to create universal access and enrollment of children above three years into primary schools. The policy focused not only on the admission but also on the retention of these children in schools up to 14 years of age.
- Secondary education- Under this category, NEP stressed on the improvement of secondary education quality by including computer literacy. The aim was to make the students equipped with necessary computer skills. The policy defined a 10+2 structure where the first ten years included primary and secondary education, and +2 referred to the Higher secondary school years.
- Higher education- The NEP emphasized that higher education should allow people to reflect on the critical, social, economic, cultural, moral, and spiritual issues.
The main objective of the NEP (1986) and POA (1992) was to play a decisive role in creating a more inclusive and vocational education system. Other areas of focus were correcting the social and regional imbalance, empowering women, and securing a learning environment for the disadvantaged, uniquely abled, and minorities. Delinking degrees from jobs was one of the primary objectives of the NEP.
The new policy is designed under the chairmanship of Ex- chairman of ISRO, K Kasturi Rangan. Although the final plan has not yet been released, some of the key highlights are:
- Universal access to education will be the primary goal of the NEP. It will aim to provide free and compulsory education to children under the age group 3-18. The students who have dropped out of school will be reintegrated into the education system.
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be promoted to universalize the learning and childhood care of children aged 3-6 years by 2025 and develop universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools. The Ministry of Education will set up a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy under the same objective.
- The old 10+2 system will be replaced with a new 5+3+3+4 structure. The new structure will have 5 years of foundation stage up to Class 2, 3 years of the preparatory stage from Classes 3-5, 3 years of the middle stage from classes 6-8, and 4 years of the secondary stage from grades 9-12.
- Exams will be held for classes 3, 5, and 8. However, the Boards will not be changed but will be re-designed gradually.
- The curriculum will be made more exclusive and learner-centered. It will get reduced and will be made more relevant according to the 21st century. All the unnecessary topics will be dropped, and rote learning is strongly discouraged in the new NEP.
- High Performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries. Selected universities, like those from among the top 100 universities in the world, will be facilitated to operate in India. 3.5 crore new seats will be added to higher education institutions
- MPhil programs will be discontinued, and the government will try to increase vocational education and the Gross Enrollment Ratio of students in higher education from 26.3 percent in 2018 to 50 percent by 2035.
- National Research Foundation (NRF) will be created to build an influential research culture and promote research activities. The NRF will act as the apex body to control the research activities of all higher education institutions across the nation.
- CBSE, NCERT, and NCTE are the three regulatory heads of the education system in India. All three will be replaced by a single regulator for higher education, Higher Education Council of India.
- Multiple entries and exit points, credit storage, and credit transfer facilities will be started for college students. This means that after completing one year of college, students will get a certificate, after the second year they would be eligible for a diploma, and after third or fourth year if a student wants to drop out then the credits of the semesters that he has already attended will be stored in Academic Bank of Credit (ABC). These credits can be used for further education.
- All the big institutions will have to make provisions for multi-disciplinary education by 2040, and the courses will be flexible and will also have an option of Major and Minors. So, anyone doing Majors in physics can also take up their interest in music, fashion designing, etc. And by 2030, every institute would have to provide the option for distance/online learning.
- Students will get a more holistic report card, which will not just contain their marks but also their skills and other capabilities.
- Technology will be extensively used in teaching, and coding classes will be introduced in grade 6.
- Mother tongue/regional language will be used as a medium of instruction along with the other two languages up to 5th class.
The government said that these changes will not be made overnight but will be done in a phased manner by 2030. While announcing the policy details, the Higher Education Secretary, Amit Khare, said that the government aims to increase the investment in the education sector from 4.43% to 6% of GDP.