The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the National Education Policy 2020, making way for large scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors. This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.
Design Principles of the Policy
- The policy aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible and multidisciplinary.
- Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education, through following measures:
. NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels-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 counselors or well-trained social workers with schools.
. Open learning for class 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.
- Early Childhood Care & Education with new curricular and pedagogical structure
. 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 respectively.
. 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.
. NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8.
- Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy
. 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.
- Assessment Reforms
. NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment. 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. 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.
- Equitable and Inclusive Education
. Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities.
. This includes setting up of a Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
- 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 an independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).
. Further, schools can be organized into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance and ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.
- Higher Education
. The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification.
. 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 to 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
. National Accreditation Council ( NAC) for accreditation
. Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- Teacher Education
. 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.
- Promotion of Indian languages
To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/ local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes .