India gets its first education policy of the 21st Century on 29th July 2020 after 34 years. Additionally, the Ministry of HRD has been renamed as the Ministry of Education.
The National Education Policy 2020 is designed upon the following pillars:
Universalization of Education
The new education policy gives a 5+3+3+4 education system. This includes 3 years of pre-schooling and 12 years of schooling. Major amendments are made in the curriculum for the first 5 years. The policy aims at implementing compulsory education for pre-school and secondary levels. The focus is on 100% gross enrollment ratio for schools by 2025.
Children from 3 to 8 years will receive education on foundational literacy and numeracy.
The first 3 years will include pre-school education, which was earlier not considered a part of formal education. This is a very important point to note, as there was no generalized mode of education in the foundation years. Most playschools and pre-primary classes would either focus on keeping kids engaged away from home or make them burdened with a lot of writing materials.
The playschools must focus more on play-based and activity-based education as per the new National Education Policy. This method is already followed by many other countries.
High-quality e-contents will be available for foundational literacy on the government’s e-learning platform—Diksha. Anganwadi shall play an important role in this stage by providing education to children of the underprivileged class of society.
Introduction to Vocational Education and Exposure to Field Activities
The next 3 years, i.e. classes 3–5, shall be considered as the preparatory stage. Mother tongue or regional language can be used for teaching until class 5 (if desired).
The National Education Policy 2020 also aims at reducing the number of examinations. This will mean that children will not be burdened with the fear and stress of examinations. Instead, assessments will be carried out over the year to track each student’s progress.
From classes 6–8, i.e. the next 3 years, will be considered as the middle stage. Here onwards, students will be introduced to vocational education. This is one of the most interesting reforms in the new education policy, where students shall go on ‘bagless’ education for 10 days in a year. This means field activities, practical training, and even internships will be introduced. Students are expected to look up to this phase in their academic calendar and end-up being more focused on their studies.
Students will also be introduced to coding, which helps better understanding of computer and numerical concepts.
The last stage in school education will be the ‘secondary education stage’ covering two phases, classes 9 and 10, and classes 11 and 12. The NEP 2020 gives students of this stage the liberty to choose subjects as per their interests. This will mean that students will be free to choose any subject irrespective of the stream. Additionally, students will get two chances to appear for board exams to improve their scores.
Overall, the National Education Policy 2020 shall make sure that students will be ready and confident about their career choices before entering higher education.