The Union Cabinet on 29th July approved India’s New Education Policy 2020 (NEP), which aims to bring about major reforms in the country’s current education system.
The NEP, which replaced the National Policy on Education of 1986, focuses on a holistic approach towards education to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Here is a list of ten key takeaways from the new policy:
1. School Structure
The present structure of 10 + 2 Grades will gradually be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 system. Schooling will begin at the age of three, starting with anganwadi or preschool.
The first five years will be the foundational stage (Preschool to Grade 2), which will be followed by the preparatory stage (Grades 3 to 5), middle school (Grades 6 to 8), and finally, secondary school (Grades 9 to 12).
According to the policy, governmental surveys indicate that there is a ‘learning crisis’ at the foundational stage, as many children lack the basic literacy and numeracy skills that are expected at this stage. The policy introduces a 3-month interim ‘school preparatory module’ for all Grade 1 children to make them school-ready.
2. School Libraries
The policy aims to develop high-quality books for students at all levels and make them available in school libraries. It will focus on setting up school libraries, especially in villages, to encourage reading during non-school hours.
It will also formulate a ‘National Book Promotion Policy’ to ensure the availability, quality, and accessibility of books across the country.
3. Bagless Days and Practical Training
According to new National Education Policy, 2020, between Grades 6 to 8, the students will have a 10-day bagless period. During this period, they will intern with local vocational experts like carpenters, potters, and gardeners.
Such bagless days will also be encouraged throughout the year, for the students to gain practical experience with vocational experts, partake in activities like quizzes and sports, and visit historical monuments or higher educational institutions in their area.
4. New Exam Pattern
Exams will only be conducted for Grades 3, 5, and 8. The results of these exams will solely be for the development purposes of the students.
Board exams will continue for Grades 10 and 12, but with a renewed approach. Students can choose the subjects they wish to opt for, depending on their individualized interests. There will be no distinction between Arts, Commerce, and Science. The Board exam can be taken on up to two occasions during an academic year—one main exam, and one for improvement, if the student so desires.
The medium of instruction until Grade 5 (preferably till Grade 8) will be in the mother tongue or regional language. Even after that, the regional language will continue to be taught as a language, wherever possible.
The trilingual formula will continue, albeit with greater flexibility regarding the choice of the languages. Familiarity with all major Indian languages will be encouraged through fun projects and activities for the children.
For students with hearing impairment, the Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, while local sign languages will also be taught wherever relevant.
6. Redesigned Progress Cards
Assessment will be transformed from rote memorization to one that is more holistic and competency-based.
The progress cards of students will witness a complete overhaul. In addition to marks, they will include a 360-degree report that reflects the uniqueness of the students’ personal skills.
7. Multidisciplinary Approach
Students can choose their subjects at the school level, and this flexibility will continue even at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The undergraduate degree will be for either three or four years, with multiple exit options.
Students can undertake a Ph.D. either with a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with research. The M.Phil. programme will be discontinued.
8. Common Aptitude Test
University entrance exams will be formulated by the National Testing Agency (NTA). A high-quality common aptitude test will be conducted at least twice a year. Again, students are free to choose the subjects for taking the test.
The individual universities and colleges will be able to see each student’s portfolio and can admit students into their programmes based on their interests and talents. It is however left up to these colleges and universities whether to use the NTA assessments for their admissions.
9. Credit Banks
The policy has introduced the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC). The bank will digitally store the academic credits earned by students to award degrees based on these credits.
This will enable working individuals to resume their education easily after a hiatus.
10. National Research Foundation
A National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established to enable a culture of research to permeate through universities. The NRF will facilitate and fund research in all disciplines and recognize outstanding research.
It will be governed independently by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the best researchers across many fields.
11. Use of Technology
An autonomous body called ‘National Educational Technology Forum’ (NETF) will be established to provide a platform to enhance learning, exchange ideas freely, and plan to administer technology for schools and higher education institutions.
The use of online portals and virtual labs will be encouraged to build world-class digital infrastructure.
The NEP is an ambitious overhaul that aims to implement the 4th goal of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The goal is ‘to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Drawbacks, opportunities, implementation’.
The complete implementation of the policy will be a great challenge for India in the years to come, as it requires the formation of various regulatory bodies, proper prioritization, and careful cooperation between the Centre and the States.
The entire policy is expected to be completely operational in the decade of 2030 to 2040, following continuous joint reviews as to its implementation.