The Union Cabinet has approved the National Education Policy 2020 making a vision statement for large scale transformation in both school and higher education sectors, with a commitment to spend 6 per cent of the country’s GDP on education.
Internationalization of education will be facilitated through institutional collaborations, student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in India. Simply put, top foreign universities would be allowed to open their campuses in India. According to Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, 7,50,000 Indian students travelled abroad during 2019 to pursue their studies.
The NEP, according to a statement of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is ”built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability”. The policy, approved by the Cabinet on July 29, 2020 is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It, said the HRD Ministry statement, ”aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs”.
It was in 1986 that a national policy on education was announced. The NEP is based on the comprehensive recommendations of a ‘Committee for the Draft National Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of eminent scientist K. Kasturirangan.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has been renamed as the Ministry of Education.
NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondary. It promises infrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream.
About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into mainstream.
Early childhood care & education
With emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years. This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling
Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy
Recognizing foundational literacy and numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, the policy calls for the setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025. National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.
Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy
The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for holistic development of learners by equipping them with the key 21st century skills, reduction in curricular content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking and greater focus on experiential learning.
Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extracurricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.
Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.
Multilingualism and the power of language
The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options. No language will be imposed on any student. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level.
The document envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity.
All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim. A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body .
Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and region
All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.
Increase GER to 50 % by 2035
NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 per cent (2018) to 50 per cent by 2035. As many as 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to higher education institutions.
The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.
An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards the final degree earned.
Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI will have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology and will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
Online and digital education:
A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management