Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a new education policy to meet the needs and goals of 21st-century education and skills development.

The new policy has been built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability. It is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 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 and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.

This announcement marks an important milestone in the Indian history of education reforms as it replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. It has brought in the much-needed education reforms both in the higher education and schools’ education sector.

“The education sector to get 6% of India’s overall GDP as opposed to 1.7% in the past”

National Education Policy 2020 Major Reforms – School Sector

  • Replacing 10 +2 structure with 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 starting from the age of 3 to 18:

NEP 2020 aims at transforming circular and pedagogical structure from the existing 10 years + 2 years to a more inclusive foundational to secondary stage transition. The current practises in India is such that a student gets into formal education by means of playschools beginning at the age of 3 and transfers to a formal school for their K-12 education.

However, the new policy has suggested to changing the curriculum and pedagogical structure to match the cognitive development stages of the child.

  • Foundational Literacy & Numeracy:

Prioritising the need for foundational literacy and numeracy, the new education policy has called for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

All the Indian 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.

A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

  • Language & Teaching:

It has recommended that the medium of instruction at least until 5th standard (if possible until the 8th standard) be the local/regional language wherever possible.

The three-language learned by children will be the choices of individual States of India, local regions and of the students, as long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.

  • Universalisation of Education:

The new education policy has placed great emphasis on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels from pre-school to secondary.

Infrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes, association of counsellors or well-trained social workers with schools, open learning for classes 3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs are some of the proposed ways for achieving this.

About 20000000 “out of school” children will be brought back into main stream education according to NEP 2020.

  • Liberal Educational Choices:

Indian students do not have to choose between the usual but rigid streams of specialisations like Science, Humanities, Maths, Arts or Commerce in their 11th and 12th grades anymore. The new policy recommends that the students can now choose to pick subjects from other subjects including physical education, the arts and crafts and vocational skills.

“The policy states there will be no hard separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular’, or ‘co-curricular’, or between ‘vocational’ and ‘academic’ streams, which suggests that extracurricular activities like sketching, painting etc may have a bearing on one’s report card.”

  • Curriculum Revamp:

The NEP 2020 will reduce the content in each subject to its core essentials making space for more holistic, inquiry-based, discover- & discussion-based, critical thinking and analysis-based learning.

A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education will be developed by the NCERT.

  • Experiential Learning:

NEP 2020 has focused heavily on the importance of competency-based learning and education. It includes encouraging hands-on learning, arts- & sports-integrated learning and story-telling based pedagogies.

It has shifted the focus of the content and curriculum development from theoretical concepts to a more practical, idea-, application-oriented and problem-solving content.

  • Students Assessment & Board Exams:

The students will be assessed for their analytical, critical & thinking skills and conceptual clarity as opposed to their regular and formative assessment.

Going forward, students will be allowed to take up board exams on two occasions in any given school year, one main exam and an optional improvement exam. While the school students will still be taking examinations in their 3rd, 5th and 8th standards through the appropriate authority the board exams for 10th and 12th standards will be redesigned with holistic development as the bottom-line.

The new education policy 2020 has announced that 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.

  • New Testing Agency for Common University Entrance Exams:

The National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a high-quality common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, at least twice every year for university entrance exams.

  • Nutrition, Physical & Mental Health Cards:

The policy has promised to address the nutritional needs, physical and mental health of children through healthy meals and regular health check-ups. It has planned to issue health cards to keep a tab on children’s health and development.

  • National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE):

The minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree by the year 2030.

National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, a new and comprehensive framework for teacher education will be formulated by the NCTE in collaboration with NCERT.

  • Vocational Education:

Vocational education with a mandatory 10-days internship for school students from class 6 onwards has been emphasized in the new education policy 2020.

  • NIOS to Offer More Courses:

The policy states that the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will offer A, B, C levels and secondary education programmes that are equivalent to 3rd, 5th, 8th standards and secondary board of formal education system. Vocational education courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programmes will also be offered by NIOS.

  • Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs:

The new education policy, NEP 2020 has introduced various provisions and support systems for children with special needs and disabilities. Across India, free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras as a means to establish “Bal Bhavans” a special daytime boarding school for children with disabilities.
With the support of educators with cross-disability training, technology-based tools, resources centres and assistive devices it has pledged to meet the individual needs of children with disabilities. Doing so, the policy encourages children with special needs to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the younger grade to higher education.

  • Indian Sign Language:

Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.

NIOS will develop high-quality modules to teach Indian Sign Language, and to teach other basic subjects using Indian Sign Language.

  • Bag-Less Days:

The new education policy has announced 10 Bag-less days will be encouraged in schools throughout the year for various types of enrichment activities involving arts, quizzes, sports, and vocational crafts.

  • Coding:

Coding will be included for school children from class 6 onwards according to NEP 2020.

  • Schools for Adult Education Courses:

The new education policy 2020 has announced the use of schools and school complexes after school hours and public library spaces for adult education courses, community engagement and enrichment activities.

  • Free Boarding Facilities:

The policy has announced that free boarding facilities will be built, at par with the standards of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, particularly for students who from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds

  • Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path:

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 regions.

  • Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education:

NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations, and academic matters. States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders.

Speaking to media in New Delhi yesterday after the Cabinet approved the New Education Policy 2020, the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhariyal said that the NEP was drawn up after the largest consultation and discussion process of its kind in the country. He also added that more than 2 lakh suggestions were received after the draft was placed in public domain for consultations. It is to be noted that the consultation process took place via multiple avenues including a dedicated web portal for the cause, several education dialogues with the members of parliament and leaders of local government across India.

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