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Topical Analysis: New Education Policy 2020

  • Published
    4th Aug, 2022

Quality education is a comprehensive term that includes learners, teachers, learning environment, appropriate curriculum, engaging pedagogy, learning outcomes, continuous formative assessment, and adequate student support.

Attempt to improve quality of education will succeed only if it goes hand in hand with steps to promote equity and inclusion. This requires schools to be sufficiently equipped and prepared to address the diverse learning needs of all children with special focus on children belonging to SC, ST and Minorities, CwSN (Child with Special Needs), as well as the girl children.

As Education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution, the Government of India through the erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), and Teacher Education (TE) has been aiming to– enhance access, promote equity through the inclusion of disadvantaged groups and weaker sections, and improve the quality of education for all. With the persistent efforts of the Central and State Governments, these schemes have significantly addressed major gaps in access to schooling and have contributed towards laying a foundation for an equitable quality school education system in the country.

However, India has faced unprecedented challenges in providing quality education to children and the youth. Lack of resources and capacity, dozens of mother tongues, a link language that despite being the global language of choice is alien to most, and a persistent mismatch between the knowledge and skills imparted and the jobs available have been some of the challenges that have bedeviled our efforts since Independence. The 2020 policy attempts to break free from the shackles of the past.

  • NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre-school to secondary.
  • 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.
  • The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

1. 5+3+3+4 Model

  • Playschool stage: Students in the age group of 3-8 years will be part of the foundational stage. This stage will be split into two: Three years of playschool/anganwadi and two years in primary school (grades 1 and 2). This policy brings into the fold the already existing playschools into the formal education.
  • Preparatory Schooling Stage: For children between 8-11 years of age in grades 3 to 5. There will be a greater emphasis on experiential learning across the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Middle school: For students between 11-14 years in grades 6 to 8. The thrust for this level will be to have a subject-oriented pedagogical learning style.
  • Secondary level: The final stage is for students between 14-18 years. This stage is again split into two sub-stages: covering grades 9 and 10 in one cohort and grades 11 and 12 in another. This stage will promote critical thinking, attention to life aspirations, and also allow flexibility of subjects.  According to the proposal, students will also have the option of exiting during grade 10 and re-entering at a later stage in grade 11.

2. Ensuring Universal Access to Education

  • 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, 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.

3. Early Childhood Care and Education

  • NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 which will be implemented in Anganwadis.

4. Attaining Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

  • NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. 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.

5. Multilingualism

  • 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. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level.

6.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   Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
  • Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras

7. 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.
  • There will also be more emphasis on integrating vocational education and internships from grades six onwards. 
  • This is to equip students with new skills. Carpentry, electric work, metal-work, gardening, pottery making, etc., are to be introduced during grades 6-8, as decided by states and local communities. 
  • This is to ensure that at least 50 per cent of the students by 2025, have comprehensive exposure to vocational education.
  • To that end, a ten-day bagless period will be introduced in grades 6 to 8, wherein students will get a chance to intern with local vocational experts. Coding is set to be introduced to students of grades 6 onwards.
  • The assessment system will be comprehensive and shall use artificial intelligence to show the learning outcome, the shortcomings, and what corrective measures are required for each individual student. 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 .
  • While up until now there was a clear demarcation between ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular’, or ‘co-curricular’ activities, with the new policy, the intent is to merge them all. Subjects such as physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills, in addition to science, humanities, and mathematics, will be incorporated throughout the existing school curriculum.

Criticism

Instead of tackling the real issues such as the number of government schools, the quality of teaching in such schools and the strategy of central government to bring more children into formal mode education by earmarking more funds for public-funded education, the new NEP among other retrograde measures openly advocates informalization of education both at secondary and higher levels.

The creation of “centralized” bodies proposed in the policy is “against the federal structure of the constitution as education comes under the ambit of both the central and state governments

The emphasis on mother tongue/regional language will improve the learning skill in rural areas but then switching to English after class VIII, will be tough as language development occurs since early age. Plus, there is lack of teachers too. 

The NEP is poorly funded and highly regulated policy that has multiple regulatory bodies that will end up clashing with each other.

To track progress, all students will take school examinations in grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. This may affect the learning process as similar to No Detention Policy.

The government plans to set up subject-wise committees with members from relevant ministries at both the central and state levels to develop implementation plans for each aspect of the NEP. The plans will list out actions to be taken by multiple bodies, including the HRD Ministry, state Education Departments, school Boards, NCERT, Central Advisory Board of Education and National Testing Agency, among others. Planning will be followed by a yearly joint review of progress against targets set.

However, as education is part of Concurrent List, so coordination of State and Centre will decide the implementation of the new Policy.

1. Common entrance exam for admissions: 

  • From school to colleges, it is advised that there should be a single gateway. The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct a common entrance examination (CEE) for admissions to universities across the country. 
  • A common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, will be held at least twice every year. It will allow “most universities to use these common entrance exams – rather than having hundreds of universities each devising their own entrance exams, thereby drastically reducing the burden on students, universities and colleges. 
  • It will not be mandatory and will be left to individual universities and colleges to use NTA assessments for their admissions.

 

2. 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 entry and exit points with appropriate certification.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

3. Exit point: 

  • “Graduate-level, master’s and doctoral education in large multidisciplinary universities, while providing rigorous research-based specialisation,”. 
  • The undergraduate degree will be of either three or four-year duration, with multiple exit options. 
  • Students will get a certificate after completing one year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after two years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a three-year programme. 
  • The four-year programme may also lead to a degree ‘with Research‟ if the student completes a rigorous research project in their major area(s) of study.

4. Foreign colleges: 

  • High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, selected universities, those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India
  • A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.
  • India will be promoted as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs thereby helping to restore its role as a Vishwa Guru. 
  • An International Students Office at each HEI hosting foreign students will be set up to coordinate all matters relating to welcoming and supporting students arriving from abroad, as per the NEP.

5. Credit bank: 

  • An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognised HEIs so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned. 

6.Educational technology: 

  • 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. 

7. Regulation

  • Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
  • Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
  • Govt will phase out the affiliation of colleges in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

8. Mentoring Mission

  • A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.

9. Financial support for students

  • Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. 

Criticism

  • The document states universities from among the top 100 in the world will be able to set up campuses in India. While it doesn’t elaborate the parameters to define the top 100, the incumbent government may use the ‘QS World University Rankings’. However, none of this can start unless the HRD Ministry brings in a new law that includes details of how foreign universities will operate in India.
  • The emphasis in the document on critical thinking and free inquiry is entirely well placed. But it is difficult to read those words in a context, where as we speak, universities are being intimidated into political and cultural conformity. A free education system cannot flourish without a free society; reason cannot be sovereign in the face of identity politics. So the work of ensuring that freedom and critical thinking are not mere words in a power point, constrained by realities of power, will be doubly harder.
  • There is yet another promise of a new regulator, a new research foundation. A lot will depend upon norms that get embedded in these institutions.
  • But it is unclear if the document is recommending that the diploma or early exit options all be made available within a single institution, or different institutions offer different kinds of degrees. If it is a mandated option within single institutions, this will be a disaster, since structuring a curriculum for a classroom that has both one-year diploma students and four-year degree students takes away from the identity of the institution. There is also a risk that without adequate financial support, the exercising of exit options will be determined by the financial circumstances of the student.

The National Education Policy 2020 states that ‘The aim of education will not only be cognitive development, but also building character and creating holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with the key 21st century skills’.

NEP has also set a goal that by 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system, shall have exposure to vocational education, making them learn at least one vocation and expose them to several more by integrating vocational education into all schools and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in a phased manner over the next decade. 

Importantly, NEP 2020 also encourages different models of Vocational Education in schools so that locally relevant skill education can be offered in appropriate manner.

Different models of Vocational Education

  • NEP proposed lifecycle-based approach for the student from Upper Primary to Grade 12, to change the narrative of Vocational Education as “Applied Learning” and provides them with much needed “life skills”, thus making them future ready for higher education, employment, or livelihood. Hence any intervention of providing Vocational Education needs to keep the child at the Core. Hence, there is an effort to provide age appropriate and customised Vocational education at each level of the school (Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary).
  • The pre-vocational education programme to be introduced from Grades 6 to 8 will mainly focus on activity-based teaching-learning. It will not only reduce the boundaries between the bookish knowledge and practical knowledge, but will also expose children to the skill requirements in the work areas, thus helping them to decide the future career path. 
  • At Secondary and Sr. Secondary level, NSQF compliant vocational courses are offered to the students alongwith other academic subjects.

The State Governments have been advised that Vocational courses are to be treated at par with other academic subjects and accorded a similar status in the scheme of subjects. Employability Skills module consisting of Communication Skills, Self-Management Skills, Information and Communication Technology Skills, Entrepreneurship Skills, and Green Skills has been made a mandatory part of the Vocational Courses.

  • NEP aims to address integration of vocational education into all schools and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This provides mobility between general and Vocational Education. A unified credit accumulation and transfer framework is being devised for integration of academics and Vocational Education.

NEP 2020 is sweeping in its vision and seeks to address the entire gamut of education from preschool to doctoral studies, and from professional degrees to vocational training. It acknowledges the 21st century need for mobility, flexibility, alternate pathways to learning, and self-actualization.

Government Initiatives for improving Education new Education Policy

  • Samagra Shiksha Scheme: The Scheme focuses on improvement in quality of education by providing support for different interventions to all States and UTs, like in-service training of teachers and school heads, conduct of achievement surveys at State and National level, composite school grant to every school for providing a conducive learning environment including sanitation and hygiene, grants for library, sports and physical activities, support for Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (RAA) (to connect school-based knowledge to life outside the school, and making learning of Science and Mathematics a joyful and meaningful activity), ICT and digital initiatives, School Leadership development, Learning enhancement programmes, Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat, etc.
  • The Central RTE Rules 2010, were amended: It include reference on class-wise, subject-wise learning outcomes at the elementary level. Accordingly, the learning outcomes for all subjects from grade 1 to 8 have been framed by NCERT and notified. This will help all stakeholders to understand what is expected of them and hence enhance measurement and accountability in schooling.
  • The National Achievement Survey (NAS) is conducted periodically to enable a health check on the education system, identify gaps in learning outcomes, and take remedial steps.
  • National Initiative for School Heads' and Teachers' Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) is a first of its kind teacher training programme under Samagra Shiksha wherein the Government of India, through its academic bodies, NCERT and NIEPA, is taking a lead role in changing the landscape of in-service teacher training.
  • National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) has been launched, for ensuring that every child in the country attains Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) at Grade 3 by 2026-27.
  • PM eVidya is a comprehensive initiative under Atmanirbhar Bharat Programme, which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable coherent multi-mode access to education.
  • PM Poshan Shakti Nirman is a right-based Centrally Sponsored Scheme under National Food Security Act, 2013 and covers all children of Balvatika to Class VIII in Government and Government-Aided schools for provision of supplementary nutrition at school.
  • NEP 2020 recommends the development of 3-month play-based ‘school preparation module’ for all Grade 1 Students’ with and without preschool education, to ensure that all children are grade I ready till universal provisioning of quality preschool education is achieved. 
  • SAFAL (Structured Assessment for Analysing Learning levels): This Competency-based assessment will be introduced in CBSE schools for grades 3, 5, and 8 as per NEP 2020, from 2021-22 academic session. It will focus on testing for core concepts, application-based questions, and higher order thinking skills
  • Vidyanjali 2.0: It is a volunteer management programme. It will help the community/volunteers to interact and connect directly with the Government and Government-aided schools of their choice and share their knowledge and skills and/or contribute in the form of assets/material/equipment to meet the requirement of these schools.
  • School Quality Assessment and Accreditation (SQAA): CBSE has been designated as Standards Setting Authority (SSA) for Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Private Independent Schools, and Government schools affiliated to the Board. Accordingly, CBSE has prepared standards in different areas of school functioning like curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, infrastructure, inclusive practices, human resources, management and governance, and leadership.

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