After three long decades, the Union Cabinet approved a new educational policy in July 2020 that was aimed at several changes beginning from the school to college level. The very first policy on education was promulgated in 1968 on the recommendations of the Education Commission (1964-66).
National Education Policy (NEP) is aimed at radical structuring of India’s educational system and giving equal opportunities for education to all and accomplishing national integration with economic and cultural development. It also aims to provide training and personality enhancement to teachers and it fulfils the obligation to provide education to every student until the age of 14 as mentioned in the Indian Constitution (Art.39f & 45).
Salient Features of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020
The Kasturirangan Committee submitted the National Education Policy whose main purpose was to focus on the challenges, India is currently facing in the Education System. The focus areas are ‘Quality’ of Education, Its ‘Affordability’, ‘Equity’ to the students, ‘Access’ of Education, and ‘Accountability’ by the system. NEP aims to increase the focus on early childhood care, reforming the existing exam system by strengthening teacher training and restructuring the framework of education. The policy inculcates in it the reform for education at all levels from school to higher education.
- School Education: It aims to universalise education from pre-school to secondary school level by promoting an open schooling system and replacing the 10+2 system with a new 5+3+3+4 curricular system parallel to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years respectively. It will also bring an uncovered age group of 3-6 years under the education system as it is a crucial stage of a child’s mental development.
- Easing class 10 and 12 exams and inculcating test competencies in students rather than memorising facts and allowing them to take the exam twice. An independent authority PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be set up to regulate private and public schools.
- Emphasising on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy promoting extracurricular activities, starting Vocational education and 21st-century skills like coding from class 6 with internships and teaching in their mother tongue or in regional languages at least till Grade 5.
- Assessing students’ performance and progress and formulating a new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021 by National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with NCERT.
- Higher education: It aims to increase GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) to 50% by 2035 compared to the current GER of 26.3%. A flexible, holistic, multidisciplinary UG degree of 3-4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this duration and discontinuation of the M.Phil course.
- Setting up the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) as a regulator of all higher education except medical and legal courses. Phasing out of affiliation of colleges in 15 years and establishing a stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- Other Changes: Setting an autonomous body ie, the National Educational Technology Framework (NETF) as a platform for exchanges of ideas on technology use for enhanced learning, assessment planning & administration.
- PARAKH– National Assessment centre is being created to assess students. It aims for setting up a Gender inclusion fund, and special education zones for disadvantaged regions and groups and also to promote the setting up of Foreign university campuses in India. It aims to increase public investment in the education system by up to 6% of GDP compared to 4.6% in the current times.
Primary Recommendations of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020
The primary recommendations of NEP 2020 include Early Childhood Care and Education, Three Language Formula, School Exams, Higher Educational Institutions (Accreditations & Structure), Curriculum Framework, Vocational Courses, Education Governance, Financing Education, The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act), National Mission on Education (Through Communication & IT) and National Research Foundation. Now let‘s delve deep into each of these recommendations.
- Early Childhood Care and Education: The NEP 2020 in this recommendation provides guidelines for Parents and Teachers of students up to 3 years of age. It also provides a framework, focusing on education for students between 3-8 years of age. NEP’s step to implement early childhood care and education proceeds further by improving the quality of the Anganwadi system in parallel with Primary schools.
- Three Language Formula: The adoption and Implementation of the Three language formula by the State Governments is another recommendation of the NEP 2020. This formula states that Students should be taught 3 languages. If the student belongs to a Hindi-speaking state then preferably his two languages should be Hindi and English along with a 3rd language which could be one of the southern languages. If the student belongs from the southern states of India then he must know a regional language, English and Hindi.
- School Exams: Here the recommendation of the NEP was to make students give exams (especially that of the 10th board) that would test the skills and core concepts of the subject rather than memorisation and marks. Exams should be conducted to test the higher-order thinking of the students. The student’s school progress will be tracked throughout their school life.
- Higher Educational Institutions: In this recommendation, NEP proposed that NAAC should be separated from UGC. NAAC should be made an autonomous body. NEP also proposed setting up of a regulatory body NHERA (National Higher Education Regulatory Authority)
- Curriculum framework: This has been discussed earlier in the salient features as well. This recommendation aims to propose the 5-3-3-4 model. 5 years of foundational stage (3 years of pre-primary followed by classes 1 and 2). This will be followed by a preparatory stage consisting of classes 3 to 5. Classes 6 to 8 will be the Middle stage. Finally, there will be a second stage consisting of 4 years from classes 9 to 12th.
- Vocational Courses: As mentioned above, NEP’s aim is to inculcate vocational education in the Curriculum. Vocational education must be made compulsory in at least one vocation for students studying in classes from 9th to 12th. In undergraduate degree programs, Universities and colleges’ curricula should provide vocational courses as well.
- Education Governance: The National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog has been established under this recommendation as the apex body for education. NEP 2020 also suggested that the Ministry of Human Resources & Development should be named as Ministry of Education.
- Financing Education: One of the most important recommendations was to double the public investment for education in India under NEP 2020 by allotting an expenditure of 6% of the GDP on education. Public expenditure was also a focal point under this recommendation. The vision is to double the current 10% to 20% by the next decade.
- Right to Education Act, 2009: Under RTE, all students under the ages of 3-18 will be able to receive education in the framework of NEP 2020. Before this, the range of RTE didn’t include the Early Childhood stage and Secondary school stage. NEP 2020 changed that. Also, NEP suggested that Children until class eight not be pushed into detention.
- National Mission on Education for Communications and IT: Certain measures have been taken under NEP 2020 for the facilitation of decision-making of the use, induction and deployment of technology. NEP 2020 seeks to Establish a National Education Technology Forum. Remote access will be given to various virtual laboratories for various disciplines.
- National Research Foundation: Research is the backbone of a developing country like India. To improve the quality of research, the National Research Foundation has been proposed to be established under NEP 2020. This body will be autonomous in nature and would be responsible for mentoring, funding and capacity building to develop quality research.
Concerns and Issues in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020
- Most of the students in the Indian education system never get to explore their passion due to the education structure which is built on marks, competition, and hierarchy. NEP 2020 has made no changes in incorporating global ideas emphasising creativity and critical thinking rather which would push students to just enjoy education without any fear.
- Implementation of NEP for the changes proposed for Anganwadis is a true concern.
- The solution proposed by the NEP 2020 in restructuring the framework of education is not a long-term solution. It will have to be revised again with time.
- With the current state of the GDP of India, an over-ambitious target of public spending at 6% of GDP has been set. Mobilising and Using financial resources is going to be a big challenge.