The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) has taken everyone by a whirlwind. PM Narendra Modi said that the policy will transform India into an education hub. But what changes will it actually bring and how does it affect India’s future workforce?
The Union Cabinet approved of the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on July 30, 2020. The draft was prepared by a panel of experts headed by ISRO chief K Kasturirangan and was reviewed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself in early May.
The NEP 2020 aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower”. It was announced by Union Ministers for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Prakash Javadekar and Human Resource Development (HRD) and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. Right off the bat, it changes the name of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to the Ministry of Education (MoE). The sixty-page document talks about some monumental changes which will affect a large number of students, teachers and parents. Here’s a closer look:
The sixty-page document talks about some monumental changes which will affect a large number of students, teachers and parents.
Increase in spending
The NEP 2020 says that the Education sector will get 6% of the GDP compared to earlier 1.7%. The suggestion of increased spending on education and child development was lauded by Ashok Thakur, prominent New Delhi based educator and promoter of the Muni International Schools. Thakur praised the government decision saying, “It is a much needed reform that is arguably late by a couple of decades. Nevertheless, it shows intent behind the decision of the government to align education with the long-term direction of the country’s economy and growth.”
The increase to 6% has been a suggestion since the Education commission of 1964-1966. Though the policy doesn’t direct any legislation for this increase and hence it’s not mandatory by law.
India currently follows the 10+2 school system which comprises classes one to twelve. The new system will follow a 5+3+3+4 format. The first five years comprise of three years of pre-primary education and classes 1 and 2. The next three years i.e. classes 3 to 5 is the preparatory stage. This will be followed by three years of middle stage (classes 5 to 8) followed by four years of secondary stage (classes 9 to 12).
Vocational subjects like art or sports will be given the same importance as subjects like curriculum subjects like Mathematics or Science. Another change that has been popular with a lot of students is the choice of selecting courses of their own choice. There will be no groups of Science, Commerce or Arts for classes 11 and 12, therefore, students are free to choose and club any courses. Coding will be made available as an option for kids from class 6 onward and students will be trained in analytical skills and critical thinking. The move towards a flexible curriculum with multiple options has been lauded by the education fraternity as a big steps towards developing a more-equipped future workforce. As Gurinderpal Singh, CEO, Talent21 puts it, “Being an Entrepreneur and Advisor to various education institutes, I see the New Education Policy 2020 a very welcoming step for the upcoming generations of India. This will open multiple doors for our youth.” He continued, “Flexible and relevant curriculum will bring lot of positive change in the upcoming workforce, which will help industry to grow. At the same time, academicians have to work extra hard to implement the policy in exact sense. It’s time for Practitioners to add value to the Academia, since only preaching has not helped. I hope the NEP brings substantial change in the nation building activity.”
Flexible and relevant curriculum will bring lot of positive change in the upcoming workforce, which will help industry to grow.Gurinderpal Singh, CEO, Talent 21
Report Cards and Assessment
There will be new report cards which will be peer and teacher-reviewed. AI software might be developed to help students track their progress and will include questionnaires for students, teachers and parents. Other than this, students will take school examinations only in classes 3,5 and 8 which will be conducted by an appropriate authority.
End of the dreaded boards?
The 10th and 12th examinations, often known as board exams will be held in two stages of different difficulty levels. “Student choice and best-of-two-attempts, assessments that primarily test core capacities must be the immediate key reforms to all board exams,” the NEP stated.
A system of annual or semester or modular board exams might be introduced to decrease the amount of material tested in order to distribute the load and decrease tension.
Introduction of Native Languages
The policy states that medium of instruction until at least class 5 (and preferably till class 8) should be “home language or mother tongue or local/regional language”. After this, the home language or local language can be continued to be taught as a language. The policy, however, gives freedom to the state or region to choose up to three languages, out of which two should be native Indian languages.
Common Entrance Test for Colleges
A Common Entrance Examination (CEE) will be held by NTA, twice a year for admission to various universities. This will include a common aptitude test and specialized subject exams for different subjects. NEP says that this will reduce the stress on the students to prepare for different entrances which sometimes can have drastically different syllabi. Universities, however, have a choice to use or not use this test as a qualifying criterion for admission in their universities.
Exit Point and Breakdown of UG Programmes
The NEP 2020 introduced 3-4 years undergraduate degree with various exit points. One will be awarded a certificate for completing one year, a diploma for finishing two years. Completing a three-year programme will get the student a bachelor’s degree. The four-year programme will lead to a bachelors degree ‘with research’ if the programme consists of a dissertation or a rigorous research project.
Indian universities with great performance will be encouraged to set up their campuses outside India and similarly, a few selected from World’s Top 100 universities will be facilitated to set up campuses in India.
The NEP is going to promote India as a premium destination for global education. It will also set up an International Students Office for hosting and supporting foreign students.
National Educational Technology Forum (NETF)
NETF will be setup as an autonomous body. It will be a platform where discussion on new ways to inculcate use of technology in the education sector will take place. MHRD will make changes in the education system based on these inputs.
Other than this, the National Institute of Open Schooling will develop modules to teach Indian Sign Language (ISL) in school and teach other subjects in ISL. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in regular schooling processes with the help of cross-disability training, resource centres, accommodations etc.
There are a lot many changes which include internship or training programmes in schools and credit system in colleges. These changes sound revolutionary but are they the right ones for the Indian population? The NEP aims for 50% Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education and 100% in secondary school but has not made any specific provision on getting kids to school. The Education Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia commented on the plan to make four Year B.Ed. degree the minimum qualification for teaching. Mr Sisodia said that it is a welcoming step. However, the minister also questioned about the training of the existing 80 lakh teachers.
There are also some questions on the functionality of the policy. For e.g. how are schools who in their current state don’t have enough teachers or infrastructure to even offer three streams, offer multiple dynamic courses? Will the university programmes be modulated to accommodate independent course choice? How are UTs like Delhi supposed to select a mother tongue or native language?
Many have also called NEP “anti-democratic” over the decision of centralizing examinations for universities which gives immense power to the centre. The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), in a statement, said: “The DUTA’s opposition to the draft NEP rested, among other things, on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies.”
The jury is still out on NEP 2020 which sounds very promising on paper and is a progressive document but many have stated the need for more discussions and considerations. The policy has a lot of laudable provisions but it all comes down to implementation which we will see in the future. As Pallav Pandey, prominent investor and start-up mentor who sits on the board of multiple ed-tech firms opines, “The intent behind the NEP – to modernise the education system and align it with the future needs of industry is indeed laudable. However, it remains to be seen how well the central and state governments coordinate and follow up on execution without making it a political slugfest.”
“It remains to be seen how well the central and state governments coordinate and follow up on execution without making it a political slugfest.”Pallav Pandey, prominent investor and start-up mentor