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National Education Policy prescribes no language; States can choose

  • Published
    3rd Oct, 2022
Context

According to the Centre’s high-powered panel, the National Education Policy will provide freedom to choose the language of instruction in a democratic and decentralized manner.

Background
  • The Ministry of Education in November 2021 constituted a high-powered committee, the Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti.
  • The committee is tasked with preparing an action plan for the growth of Indian languages as prescribed under National Education Policy (NEP) 2020,
  • It was required the mother tongue to be the medium of instruction in schools and higher education institutions.

What is National Education Policy 2020?

India’s national education policies

  • India has total three NEPs to date
    • The first came in 1968.
    • The second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively
    • The NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister.
    • The third is the NEP 2020.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 was revised after 34 years to meet the changing needs of Indian and international education standards.

 Details of the salient features of NEP 2020 are as follows-

  • Ensuring Universal Access at All Levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12;
  • Ensuring quality early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years;
  • New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure (5+3+3+4);
  • Establishing National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy;
  • Emphasis on promoting multilingualism and Indian languages; The medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language.
  • Setting up of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development);
  • Equitable and inclusive education - Special emphasis given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged  Groups (SEDGs);
  • A separate Gender Inclusion fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups;
  • Increasing GER in higher education to 50%;
  • NTA to offer Common Entrance Exam for Admission to HEIs;
  • Setting up of National Research Foundation (NRF);
  • Expansion of open and distance learning to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER).
  • Internationalization of Education
  • Teacher Education - 4-year integrated stage-specific, subject- specific Bachelor of Education
  • Achieving 100% youth and adult literacy.

Points highlighted by the Committee

  • The committee has found that there are 35 mother tongues as mediums of instruction, and as part of the three-language formula, 160 languages as well as mother tongues are taught.
  • Focus has been on providing study material in languages of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution from Class 1 to the post-graduate level in all streams of education.
  • Efforts are being made to incorporate language as a qualification for teaching jobs as in the future there will be a need to prepare teachers to be bilingual.

According to the NEP, 2020- wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language" for both public and private schools.

Resistance from certain non-Hindi States:

  • There is also flexibility given to States to choose the languages for the three-language formula.
  • There is no imposition of any language.
  • States will have the freedom to choose.
  • It will be a democratic and decentralized process.

Promoting the Hindi and Sanskrit languages:

  • Hindi needs to be promoted just like all other Indian languages.
  • Nearly 50% of citizens speak Hindi, which brings an advantage to its users.
  • The committee is of opinion that there should be a desire or intent to learn Hindi, which will unify the country.
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