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National Education Policy 2020

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    5th Aug, 2020

Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020, paving way for transformational reforms in the school and higher education sector in the country.

Context

Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020, paving way for transformational reforms in the school and higher education sector in the country.

Background

  • The National Education Policy was framed in 1986 and modified in 1992. More than three decades have passed since previous Policy.
  • During this period significant changes have taken place in our country, society economy, and the world at large.
  • The Government had initiated the process of formulating a New Education Policy through the consultation process for an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach, which takes into consideration expert opinions, field experiences, empirical research, stakeholder feedback, as well as lessons learned from best practices.

Analysis

Need for new education policy in India

  • Despite the stated priority and the launch of a plethora of programs, the state of education in the country remains a weak spot in society. Most objectives and goals have not been realised, even partially, largely due to the absence of a workable roadmap and continuing operational guidance.
  • More significantly, heavy politicisation at every level of operation from the village/block level, accompanied by ever-increasing corruption, permeating every aspect of educational administration, has been the prominent developments in the past three decades or so.
  • While gross enrolment in schools as also in higher education institutions has gone up sharply, these have been accompanied by many undesirable new factors.
  • The failure of government schools to provide education of minimal quality has triggered the large-scale entry of private or 'aided' schools, even in rural areas, but even these have not produced significantly better outcomes.
  • While the Right to Education (RTE) Act has led to a significant increase in enrolment, as also emphasis on infrastructure, new issues in the implementation phase have now arisen, which need to be addressed. In particular, the 'No Detention Policy' needs to be revisited, to ensure that it is optimally and judiciously implemented.
  • There is no clearly laid out policy in respect of private participation in the education system, both at the school and higher education levels. The exponential growth of higher education institutions in the past two decades has been fuelled by the 'capitation fee' phenomenon, which thrives on black money and shadowy financial transactions.
  • In an aspirational society, parents naturally desire that their children get a 'good education'. However, formally linking the development of skills in vocational fields, and bringing in an academic equivalence to vocational accomplishments, has not been seriously attempted.
  • A major new dimension is the advent of information and communication technology. New technologies are now available for information dissemination, enhancement of skills and so many other end-uses, but they are not yet suitably adopted or adapted to the needs of the education sector.
  • There is immense scope for harnessing technology to improve quality, teacher preparation, aid to teachers in classrooms, remedial coaching-possibilities that have not yet been seriously addressed.

Objectives of NEP 2020:

Equitable and Inclusive Education:

  • NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. 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  Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross-disability training, resource centers, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools, and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs.
  • Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “BalBhavans”as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as SamajikChetnaKendras

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 becoming 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.

School Governance:

  • 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.

Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education:

  • NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policymaking, regulation, operations, and academic matters. States/UTs will set up an 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.

Increase GER to 50 % by 2035:

  • NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

Holistic Multidisciplinary Education:

  • The policy envisages broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curriculacreative combinations of subjectsintegration of vocational education, and multiple entries and exit points with appropriate certification.
  • UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, a Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.

Criticism

  • While the NEP 2020 has been hailed by most as a progressive shift in the government’s approach to school education, certain changes regarding the three-language formula have been criticized as the new policy states the regional mother tongue to be the medium of instruction till 5th grade.
  • The document also emphasises on mathematics and computational thinking, besides mainstreaming Sanskrit to increase “knowledge on ancient India and its contributions to modern India”.
  • The policy brings in major changes in the governance and academic structure of school and higher education. The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has criticized the concentration of powers within a board of governors in universities.
  • The DUTA's opposition to the draft NEP rested, among other things, on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies.
  • Some other groups criticized the government’s passing of NEP without “extensive discussion” despite protests against the policy.

Conclusion:

Education and public health are possibly the two most important development vectors in a democracy. The reality over the past decades is that these have not received a fraction of the importance and focus they deserve. The ground reality today, depressingly, is quite different from what was envisaged in the policy pronouncement. It is hoped that the ministry's move will give a new direction to the education sector, halt the precipitous decline in standards, and pave the way for much better quality standards.

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