An Insight into The National Education Policy 2020
By: Adhya Pandey
According to the Human Development Report (HDR) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India ranks 129 out of 189 countries on the 2019 Human Development Index (HDI). Education being one of the 3 main determinants of the same, it is evident that the existing education system has certain inadequacies that need to be addressed. Keeping this in mind, the new Education Policy appears to be a much needed change in the seemingly obsolete structure of education in India.
Here is all you need to know about it-
On the 29th of July 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the New Education Policy, and renamed the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) as Ministry of Education, which was apparently done to bring back the focus of the Ministry to education. The NEP is divided into twenty-seven different sections, namely “Early Childhood Care and Education”, “Foundational Literacy and Numeracy”, “Curtailing Dropouts” and so on, with the last one being the “Implementation”.
In the coming years, India will have the highest population of young people in the world and according to the introduction provided, the policy aims to provide high quality education and opportunities to them that will in turn assure a secure future for not only the citizens, but the country as a whole. It also specifically mentions the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims to provide free elementary and secondary education to boys and girls from different economic and social strata equally. This goal was adopted by India in 2015, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
The policy focuses on the holistic development of a child throughout, and more emphasis has been laid on practical application of knowledge on all fronts than rote learning. The new (3+2)+3+3+4 school system replacing the existing 10+2 system is expected to result in lessening of the burden of school bags on school kids and include more real learning. The much needed change from ‘what to think’ to ‘how to think’ will inevitably shift the focus from memory skills to thinking skills. This necessitates a change in curriculum outcomes, and calls for experiential learning and flipped classroom models which must be seamlessly planted into the curriculum.
The other changes that the policy aims to bring out in school education, somewhat revolve around the idea mentioned above- ‘holistic development’. Board exams will be low stakes and will test the practical knowledge of the examinee, and the rigidity of the differences between different streams of subjects (Humanities, Arts and Science) is being removed. Report cards will, from now on, be inclusive of all criteria like soft skills and overall development instead of just marks scored in certain subjects.
Another major change that is being brought about under the new Education Policy, that has faced considerable opposition, is the inclusion of the regional languages in the curriculum of students as the mode of teaching, which will be made mandatory till 5th grade, and thereafter will become a choice. The argument which was put forward under the hashtag ‘#rejectnep’ was that teaching children in their regional language will lead to the creation of a linguistic divide and result in becoming a barrier between the students and the realm of globalisation. However, the policy makers put their perspective of lessening the linguistic divide forward by making education region and community inclusive, and diverse.
The National Education Policy envisages empowerment of higher-education institutions through autonomy as well. The several existing higher education institutions in the nation currently work under a multitude of regulations and rules. However, there is no regulation common to all. Under the new policy, the creation of a single agency may be welcomed, though the individual needs specific to certain circumstances must not be sacrificed at the altar. The ultimate goal of this autonomy is eradicating commercialisation from the field of higher education completely, and it is safe to say that as long as this policy is carried out fairly, it is not unachievable. As defined in the Kothari Commission’s Report of 1996, the “Common School System” that is the educational target of this policy, is “a system which provides education of an equitable quality to all children.”
Other important alterations that have been mentioned in the policy for the field of Higher education are limiting the Under Graduate programmes to 3-4 years, and Post Graduate programmes to 1-2 years. M.Phil. will be discontinued and several UG-PG integrated programmes will also be introduced. Once carried out, the new set of rules in place will allow students access to multiple entry/exit options in college, without any immediate repercussions.
The government has guaranteed the dedication of 6% of the GDP to the field of Education and aims to ensure a 50% Gross Enrolment Ratio by 2035.
The policy was well received by half the population, however, the other half that although kindly supported the plus points, demanded a deeper insight and clarity as to how the policy will be implemented. In fact, the entirety of the 27th section of the policy is dedicated to the implementation of the policy, but, it is safe to say that there are several fronts where we could do with delving into more clarity and depths.
The policy, being called a breakthrough since its arrival has failed to spare space for the fact that many of these progressive steps had already been proposed in the previous NEPs, but what they lacked was a clear plan of action. According to some, the same pattern can be observed in the 2020 NEP- absence of clarity as to how everything will be implemented by their goal year 2030. For instance, the four-year undergraduate programme has seen a similar experiment that was carried out in Delhi University, fail miserably due to confusion and inadequate management. Questions regarding how the entry of reputed foreign universities will help the lower middle class and poor students of India are also being asked.
To the student community of India, this is a clarion call, to call out any pattern of mismanagement or mistakes that you might come across whilst the policy is being implemented till 2030. This is our policy- and we’re a democracy. Hence, it is only fair that we play an equally crucial role in deciding on what and what not should be done to make India- the country with one of the largest youth populations in the world- a better place for us.