National Education Policy 2020: New Ray of Hope for India’s Education System

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Amid the ongoing COVID-19 chaos, National Education Policy 2020 made headlines for some good reasons. Curiosity among the different sections of the society is high regarding this educational framework released by Indian Government. Talks are there about NEP 2020 being the driving force towards some ground-breaking changes in Indian education sector. In this article we will try to answer some important questions about the new education policy which are hitting the minds ever since the news of it getting approved has been making waves.

Very first question among the people is what an education policy is. A national education policy is a comprehensive structure or outline to guide the development of education in the country. The first NEP in India was introduced in the year 1968. Second one came in 1986 which was revised in 1992. NEP 2020 is the first of the 21st century and overall third education policy of the country.

Another thing people want to know is when the new education policy will be implemented. New NEP aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. It also emphasises on India to have the best education system by 2040, with access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background.

Most important thing one would like to know is what the main points of the new education policy are. The NEP outlines some extensive changes such as availability of Indian higher education to foreign universities, restructuring of school education with new 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 design covering ages 3-18 in place of 10 + 2, introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with many exit options, and discontinuation of the M Phil programme. It also focuses on teaching students in their mother tongue or regional language till class 5.

Key takeaways of the national education policy 2020 are as follows:

  • New NEP has increased focus on foundational literacy and numeracy across the primary education- specially on reading, writing, speaking, counting, arithmetic, and mathematical thinking
  • In a significant structural change, school curriculum and pedagogy in a new (5 + 3 + 3 + 4) pattern corresponding to the age ranges of 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years, respectively
    • Foundational (3 years of preschool + Grades 1-2): Activity and play-based learning and the aforementioned curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE. Focus on etiquette and behavior, ethics, personal and public hygiene/cleanliness, teamwork and cooperation, etc.
    • Preparatory (Grades 3-5): Focus on transition from play and activity-based learning to more formal but interactive classroom learning, using some textbooks with light content on subjects, including reading, writing, speaking, languages, science, mathematics physical education and art
    • Middle (Grades 6-8): Introduce subject teachers for learning/discussion of the more abstract concepts.
    • High (Grades 9-12): Four years of multidisciplinary study with more focus on depth, and critical thinking, more concentration to life aspirations, and enhanced flexibility and student choice. Exposure to more subjects.
  • Decreasing the content of curriculum to enhance fundamental learning and critical thinking.
  • Greater flexibility and increased choice of subjects to study, principally in secondary school – including subjects in physical education, the arts, and vocational crafts.
  • Reducing rigidity of separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extra-curricular’, or ‘co-curricular’ areas, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.
  • More attention to the incorporation of subjects such as physical education, arts, and vocational crafts, besides science, humanities, and mathematics in the school curriculum.
  • Use of home language/mother tongue/local language as the medium of instruction most preferably till at least Grade 8.
  • Avail high-quality textbooks, including science in home languages.
  • Bilingual teaching-learning materials
  • Enhancement of the home/local language and/or the second Indian language by studying of and analysis of inspirational literature by authors of different zones from modern as well as ancient eras especially from Indian subcontinent. Thus, offer Sanskrit as one of the optional languages at school and higher education levels.
  • Provide all students the option of learning at least two years of a classical language of India and its associated literature, through practical and innovative approaches including by incorporation of technology, in Grades 6-12. There should be a choice to continue from middle level through secondary education and higher education.
  • Availability of national textbooks with local content and flavor. Integration of essential subjects and skills in the curriculum.
  • Support for Gifted Students/Students with Special Talents
  • Enhanced availability of shorter post-B.Ed. certification courses to teachers at multidisciplinary colleges and universities.
  • In the employment of textbooks, teachers will also have choices. There would be availability of textbooks that contain the essential national and local material to choose.
  • Developing a higher educational system consisting of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district
  • Flexibility to offer different designs of Master’s programmes
    • It proposes a 2-year programme with the second year devoted entirely to research for those who have completed the 3-year Bachelor’s programme.
    • For students completing a 4-year Bachelor ’s programme with research, there could be a 1-year Master’s programme.
    • There may be an integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme. Candidates having either a master’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree with research can undertake Ph. D.
    • New NEP proposes the discontinuation of M.Phil. programme.
  • NEP recommends phasing out of all institutions offering single streams and that all universities and colleges must aspire to become multidisciplinary by 2040.
  • Another crucial proposal of new education policy suggests that under the four-year programme, students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma, and after three years with a bachelor’s degree.
  • States will prepare their own curricula (based on the National Curriculum Framework laid out by NCERT) and develop textbooks (based on the NCERT textbook materials as much as possible), integrating State flavour and material as per the requirements.
  • With transformation in learning methods, NEP 2020 proposes focus on Olympiads and competitions in various subjects. Build up these tools across the country, with clear coordination and progression from school to local to state to national levels. Avail necessary funding to make sure that all students may join at all levels based on their qualification. Education policy also recommends the development of online apps with quizzes, competitions, assessments, enrichment materials, and online communities for shared interests. It should be done after internet-connected devices such as smartphones, tablets reach in the hands of all students.

You can also download the new education policy PDF from the website of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development to get complete details. NEP PDF is available in Hindi as well as English languages

Download link- https://www.mhrd.gov.in/relevant-documents

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