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The Union Cabinet after long debates, discussions, suggestions, public feedbacks, and changes on July 29, 2020, approved the New National Education Policy (NEP) and renamed the HRD Ministry as Education Ministry. The Minister of HRD Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, and former HRD Minister who currently is heading I&B Ministry – Mr. Prakash Javadekar jointly shared the NEP & addressed the media accordingly.

After reading this article you will be able to know the answers to all questions roaming in your mind regarding the New National Education Policy 2020. For your better understanding I have bifurcated the same into the following categories:

1) What is the New National Education Policy and why the nation needs it?

2) What New National Education Policy has suggested and proposed for Schooling System in India?

3) What New National Education Policy has suggested and proposed for College/Higher Education System in India?

4) Other Miscellaneous and progressive Suggestions and Proposals in New National Education Policy

5) How the reforms will be implemented?

6) Pros and Cons of New National Education Policy 2020

7) Author’s Opinion

1) What is New National Education Policy and Why the nation needs it?

The National Policy on Education (NPE) is a policy formulated by the Government of India to promote education amongst India’s people. The policy covers elementary education to colleges in both rural and urban India. The first NPE was promulgated by the Government of India by Late Smt Indira Gandhi in 1968, the second by Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, and the third by the hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2020. This was also a part of promises that Modi-led BJP has included in its election manifesto.

The need for a policy was first felt in 1964 when Congress MP Late Shri Siddheshwar Prasad criticised the then government for lacking a vision and philosophy for education. The same year, a 17-member Education Commission, headed by then UGC Chairperson D S Kothari, was constituted to draft a national and coordinated policy on education. Based on the suggestions of this Commission, Parliament passed the first education policy in 1968. A new NEP usually comes along every few decades. India has had three to date. The first came in 1968 and the second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively; the NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when Late Shri P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. The third is the NEP released on Wednesday (July 29, 2020) under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.

2) What New National Education Policy has suggested and proposed for Schooling System in India?

 

  • The new system of education – Pedagogical Structure of 5+3+3+4

The 10+2 system will be divided into 5+3+3+4 format. The NEP changes the school education system to 5+3+3+4 format. This means the first five years of the school will comprise of the foundation stage including three years of pre-primary school and classes 1 and class 2. The next three years will be divided into a preparatory stage from classes 3 to 5. Later three years of middle stage (classes 6 to 8), and four years of secondary stage (classes 9 to 12). Schools will not have any rigid formation of streams of arts, commerce, science, students can take up whichever subjects they want.

 

  • Multilingual education – The new policy is expected to focus on a multi-lingual education system which states, “Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the regional language/ mother tongue. Thereafter, the same language/ tongue shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools.”

What was the “Three language policy” which has been proposed in the draft and why it has been dropped?

The draft education policy recommends the use of three language formula from the primary level as follows:

First language: It would be the mother tongue or regional language.

Second language: In Hindi speaking states, it would be other modern Indian languages or English. In non-Hindi speaking states, it would be Hindi or English.

Third Language: In Hindi speaking states, it would be English or a modern Indian language. In the non-Hindi speaking state, it would be English or a modern Indian language.

Following a protest by states and some union territories like Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Tripura, the reference to Hindi and English in the draft NEP regarding the three-language formula has been dropped from the final policy document. “The three languages learned by children will be the choices of states, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India,” the policy states.

  • Minimum qualification for teaching – 4 years integrated B.Ed degree A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
  • Fees to be regulated – Not just courses but universities to go multi-disciplinary. For public and private HEIs, common norms will be given. This means the fee will be fixed within the regulatory framework and no extra fee will be charged beyond the cap.
  • Education to get 6% of GDP – Public investment in the education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest. Currently, it is around 4.43% including state and central government.
  • NCC wings in secondary and higher secondary schools under the Ministry of Defence.
  • National Scholarship Portal for SC, ST, OBC, SDGs students to be expanded.
  • Free boarding facilities in JNV particularly for students who from a socio-economically disadvantaged background.
  • Preschool section in Kendriya Vidyalayas – Pre-school sections covering at least one year of early childhood care and education will be added to Kendriya Vidyalayas and other primary schools around the nation, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
  • How will board exams change?

While the Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, the existing system of Board and entrance examinations shall be reformed to eliminate the need for undertaking coaching classes. One of the prime focuses of NEP is the 

redesigning of Board exams touted to make the same easier by testing only core capacities and concepts. Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development; students will be able to choose any of the subjects in which they take Board exams, depending on their individualized interests, as per the policy. As per NEP 2020, all students will have the provision of taking up board exams on up to two occasions during any given school year – one main examination and one for improvement (if desired).

 

Also, all students in Classes 3, 5 and 8 will be required to mandatorily take exams which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.

  • Report card to have AI-driven analysis of performance – The report cards of students will be reviewed by peers and teachers. Artificial Intelligence-based software could be developed and used by students to help track their growth through their school years based on learning data and interactive questionnaires for parents, students, and teachers.
  • NIOS, open schools to offer courses for grades 3,5 and 8 – NIOS and State Open Schools will also offer A, B and C levels that are equivalent to Grades 3, 5, and 8 of the formal school system; secondary education programs that are equivalent to Grades 10 and 12; vocational education courses/programs; and adult literacy and life-enrichment programs.
3) What New National Education Policy has suggested and proposed for College/Higher Education System in India?

 

  • Colleges to become interdisciplinary courses – Standalone Higher Education Institutes and professional education institutes will be evolved into multi-disciplinary education. Special education zones for disadvantaged regions.
  • E-courses to be available in regional languages – Tech to be part of education planning, teaching, learning, assessment, teacher, school, and student training. The e-content to be available in regional languages. Starting with 8 major languages – Kannada, Odia, Bengali among others to join the e-courses available in Hindi and English.
  • UG colleges to be more autonomous – Undergrad autonomy, academic, administrative, and financial autonomy will be given to colleges, on the basis of the status of their accreditation. India has over 45,000 affiliated colleges.
  • Music, Arts and Literature to be taught in all colleges – Departments in Languages, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Indology, Art, Dance, Theatre, Education, Mathematics, Statistics, Pure and Applied Sciences, Sociology, Economics, Sports, Translation and Interpretation, etc. will be established and strengthened at all higher education institutes
  • IITs asked to take a holistic approach – Even engineering institutions, such as IITs, will move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education with more arts and humanities. Students of arts and humanities will aim to learn more science, and all will try to incorporate more vocational subjects and soft skills.
  • Foreign universities to set-up campuses in India – Under the NEP the world’s top 100 foreign universities will be “facilitated” to operate in India through a new law. According to the HRD Ministry document, listing salient features of policy, “such (foreign) universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.”
  • By 2030, one large multidisciplinary college in every district – By 2030, all higher education institutions (HEIs) shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions, each of which will aim to have 3,000 or more students. There shall, by 2030, be at least one large multidisciplinary HEI in or near every district. The aim will be to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035.
  • Introduction of multiple exit options in degrees – The undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options, as informed by the Education Ministry. After completing one year, a student will get a certificate in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma if a student leaves after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme. The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option and will give degree with research if a student has pursued a project along with it.
  • Vocational courses to be part of mainstream courses – Vocational education will be integrated into all schools and higher education institutions in a phased manner over the next decade. By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education, for which a clear action plan with targets and timelines will be developed. 

A 10-day bagless period sometime during Grades 6-8 to intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc. Similar internship opportunities to learn vocational subjects to students throughout Grades 6-12, including holiday periods. Vocational courses through online mode will also be made available.

What is Lok Vidya – Mphil to be discontinued, BVoc degrees introduced in 2013 will continue to exist, but vocational courses will also be available to students enrolled in all other Bachelor’s degree programmes, including the four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programmes. ‘Lok Vidya’, that is, important vocational knowledge developed in India, will be made accessible to students through integration into vocational education courses.

4) Other Miscellaneous and progressive Suggestions and Proposals in New National Education Policy
  • National Research Foundation among suggestions – The NEP draft had suggested to set-up a National Research Foundation (NRF) – an autonomous body, for funding, mentoring and building ‘quality of research’ in India with a budget of Rs 20,000 core (roughly 0.1 per cent of GDP). As per the draft – NRF will run a special programme till 2040 to support State Universities to enhance their research capacities, as per suggestions. Which suggestions made it to the final policy will be revealed today.
  • National Academic Credit Banks

The NEP draft also suggested a national academic credit bank (NACB) which will store credits accumulated by a student on completing a course or subject in a program. These credits will help one transfer easily from one course or institute to another. For instance, courses that one pursues on SWAYAM will hold credits or marks in the assessment system for degree course one is pursuing fulltime in a college if the courses are related.

  • All education institutes to be audited as ‘not for profit’ entities – All education institutions will be held to similar standards of audit and disclosure as a ‘not for profit’ entity. Surpluses, if any, will be reinvested in the educational sector, as per the NEP. There will be transparent public disclosure of all these financial matters with recourse to grievance-handling mechanisms to the general public. All fees and charges set by private HEIs will be transparently and fully disclosed, and there shall be no arbitrary increases in these fees/charges during the period of enrolment of any student.
  • Creation of NETF – 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 and so on, both for school and higher education.

What would be the function of NETF – One of the permanent tasks of the NETF will be to categorise emergent technologies based on their potential and estimated timeframe for disruption and to periodically present this analysis to MHRD. Based on these inputs, MHRD will formally identify those technologies whose emergence demands responses from the education system. Content will be available in regional languages also.

  • NTA to conduct a common entrance exam for higher education institutes – The National Testing Agency (NTA) will now be provided additional charge to conduct entrance examinations for admissions to universities across the country.

As per the new policy, the entrance exam to be conducted by the NTA for admission to universities and colleges will be optional. The new system has some similarities to the standardised aptitude test, SAT conducted for admissions in the United States of America.

5) How will these reforms be implemented?

The New National Education Policy only provides a broad direction and is not mandatory to follow. Since education is a concurrent subject (both the Centre and the state governments can make laws on it), the reforms proposed can only be implemented collaboratively by the Centre and the states. This will not happen immediately. The incumbent government has set a target of 2040 to implement the entire policy. Sufficient funding is also crucial; the 1968 NEP was hamstrung by a shortage of funds.

6) Pros and Cons of New National Education Policy 2020

 

a) Pros of New National Education Policy 2020

 

  • New System of Education – Removal of a rigid distinction between the streams that one has to opt-in XI standard is a wonderful step indeed. In the proposed multidisciplinary course method, one can pick physics with economics if they desire so which one could not do the same in the old regime.
  • More focus on vocational studies at school level – This is what India was lacking since the inception of the Education System in the country. As compared to developed countries we never promoted vocational education which is indeed providing everyone with a better chance of employment as a skilled worker in early stage of life. In India vocational courses are treated as a downgraded level of education by many of us, however, in developed countries, it treated at par with other education levels thereby brings parity in the society towards it.
b) Cons of New National Education Policy 2020
  • May impact the less privileged – In a bid to promote regional and local languages, English will take a back seat if this is implemented. While English is the language that was imposed on us for centuries and is the language of our coloniser, it does give us a great comparative global advantage because it is the language that the world talks in.  Introducing learning in English directly in Class 6 will prove to be extremely hard on children who come from backgrounds that are not as privileged as those from rich and upper-caste families. Kids from upper caste backgrounds will still learn English at an early age because everyone in their family will use that same language to converse in. However, the same fate will not be for kids from economically weaker sections of society. Thus, it can create an invisible line of distinction between students clearly separating those who can speak fluent English and those who will not be able to do so.
  • Difficulties at the time of migration from one state to another – Further, what if someone migrates from one state to another, students learning in local and regional language will definitely face a lot of difficulties in adjusting in a new state where the regional/ local language is different from what they already being taught. Thereby it can bring a bit of confusion or an extra burden on students.

Author’s Opinion

Challenges – Though the New National Education Policy 2020 looks promising and revolutionary but at the same time, the execution plan of the same is missing. How the government will execute all such revolutionary proposals and suggestions is still questionable or we can say unclear. In fact in policy documents, one can write policies and proposals by taking multiple assumptions and drawing numerous scenarios. Ground-level reality is really sad in our country, especially where the basic right to education is still missing in some areas or to some extent for a particular portion of children. Lack of teachers and transparency of recruiting teachers in government schools and colleges is also a crucial factor or gap which needs to be taken care of executing this NEP effectively.

Conclusion – The approval of the New National Education Policy by the Government of India is a positive step forward. NEP is the outcome of an extensive, highly participatory, and inclusive consultation process. NEP aims at meeting existing challenges in education and building the foundation of India’s promising future. Though it also has some cons or limitations but criticizing the Government will not help anyone In fact we can communicate the related improvisation from a better platform so that we can remove those cons also. At last, we all should welcome this great initiative by the government of India and should thank all participatory for giving their precious time and making the contribution for building such a wonderful and visionary Education Policy.

Disclaimer

The above content is integrated from various websites and reports and is true and correct according to best of the Author’s knowledge but at the same time, it could be prone to errors and might have some other missing key information. The same has been prepared to give a brief understanding of the scenario, situation or topic along with related improvements and impacts. So, keep it for simple guidance or as an understanding tool as the Author does not assume any liability which may incur to anyone around the globe due to the content published above. Furthermore, the conclusion is drawn if any by the Author is based on his personal understanding free from any biasness whether imparted by on his own or by any third party specifically for causing any benefit or loss to any individual, group, community, religion, etc around the globe.

 

About the Author

The author is a Semi Qualified Chartered Accountant and currently practising in Various Direct and Indirect Taxes in India. He has a working experience of more than 8 years in the field of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation in India. He is presently consulting various corporates and assisting them in complying with their legal and statutory compliances prevailing under various laws as laid down by State and Central Government of India.