Education in India has had a fixed structure for far too long. On July 29, 2020, the Union Cabinet Ministers for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javedekar and Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank announced an evolved and comprehensive structure for education offered by schools under the National Education Policy 2020(NEP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the draft submitted under the leadership of former ISRO Chief Dr. K. Kasturirangan. The policy proposes for the complete changes to be implemented by 2040 if sufficient funds are available. A few key points will be explained.
In Schools : Since 1986, India has followed a 10+2 framework of educational system in schools. The NEP suggests a 5+3+3+4 framework which will constitute a foundational stage (3-8 years), a preparatory stage (8-11years), a middle stage (11-14years) and a secondary stage (14-18 years). Under the preparatory stage, learning will focus on activities and interaction in the classroom, the middle stage will aim to help students understand science, mathematics, arts, social science and humanities while the secondary stage will give choices of subjects for students.
Under this policy, schools will be recommended to teach students in their mother tongue or regional language till class 5 in public and private schools. Pre-school (ages 3-4) will come under the umbrella of formal education and the mid- day meal system will be extended to this category as well. With the introduction of vocational courses and internships from class 6, students will be able to focus more on gaining core skills, better critical thinking through experimentation
The policy urges to reduce the pressure on students with board exams which will be made easier and a new national assessment centre will be established called PARAKH that stands for Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development. Students are allowed to repeat the Board Exam if they prefer to improve their score.
In Colleges and Universities : A commission by the name Higher Education Commission of India will be constituted which will replace University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council of technical Education (AICTE), and will oversee all higher education except medical and legal education. A National Research Foundation will also be set up. Colleges and universities must aim at becoming multi- disciplinary by 2040. Indian Higher education will allow participation of foreign universities according to the NEP 2020. The policy aims to do away with the M. Phil programme and deemed to be university status. There will be a re- introduction of a four year Bachelor’s degree. Those students who have discontinued their studies midterm will have the opportunity of completing them after a break.
For Teachers : Under the policy, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will introduce a framework for educating children below the age of eight under the National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education(NCPFECCE). National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE 2021) will be formulated. A four year integrated B. Ed degree will be the minimum qualification for teaching by 2030. Willing senior/retired faculty can aid universities and colleges with their expertise under the National Mission for Mentoring which will be established.
Online Learning : Since online learning is becoming the new normal, guidelines and suggestions for the same have been included. Distance learning will be encouraged through online courses, digital repositories and credit based recognition of MOOCs. A unit will be set up in the HRD to look into improved e- learning options so that schools and higher education institutions will be prepared in times of pandemics.