The previous Education Policy was introduced all the way back in 1986 and then modified in 1992. It mainly focused on equity and access; was more rigid and based on theoretical knowledge while the New Education Policy 2020 is more flexible; student interest friendly; inclined towards practical knowledge along with theory and seems to be providing better opportunities with interesting methods of learning to the students.
1. School education: the new structure will be based on a 5+3+3+4 design.
a) Foundational level - It will be consisting of 5 years, including children of 3 to 8 years of age. The focus will be on arithmetic, reading, and writing.
i) 3-6 years - pre-school.
ii) 6-8 years - class 1 and 2.
b) Preparatory level - consisting of 3 years.
i) 8-11 years - class 3 to 5.
c) Middle level - consisting of 3 years.
i) 11-14 years - class 6 to 8.
d) Secondary level - consisting of 4 years.
i) 14-16 years - class 9 and 10.
ii) 16-18 years - class 11 and 12.
2. Curriculum reduction - the syllabus will be reduced to the principal topics to focus on and improve other aspects of learning like analysis, thinking, enquiry, discussion, etc.
3. Learning based on experience - each subject will include sports, art, and story-telling, among others.
4. Controlling the drop-out rates and access to education for all - firstly, by focusing on the infrastructure and secondly, tracking the learning process of children who want to catch up after dropping out.
5. Flexible course choices - in the secondary level there will be options to choose from openly without rigid separation of streams, extra or co-curricular subjects like vocational, sports, science, arts, etc.
6. Multilingual teaching- up to class 5 or preferably class 8 multilingual teaching will be encouraged in the form of 3 language formulas which will include the mother tongue. Foreign languages shall be offered at the secondary level.
7. Skills and subjects to be added- this includes reasoning, gender sensitivity, organic living, artificial intelligence, etc. at relevant stages.
8. Coding will be introduced in middle-level schooling.
9. 10 days of the bagless period in middle school where students will use their hands, on activities like vocational craft, art, quizzes among many others.
10. Vocational subjects to be made available in online mode as well throughout 6th to 12th classes.
a) Exams will be conducted to test the clarity of concept and critical analysis.
b) Board exams to be made easier. Further possibilities include, exams being conducted annually or based on semesters, in two parts- one objective and other descriptive, or in two levels.
12. For the education of special children, NCTE will develop guidelines.
13. Teachers will be trained to meet the requirements according to the newly made structure.
14. ‘Gender Inclusion Fund’ will be built to ensure equal education for transgenders and girls.
15. Higher education: the colleges will shift towards multidisciplinary education with flexibility in entry and exit. The complete under graduation will be of 3-4 years.
a) Under graduation:
i) Certificate- exit after 1 year.
ii) Diploma- exit after 2 years.
iii)Bachelor’s degree- after 3 years completion
iv) 4th year will be a preferred option for those who want to have a complete holistic education along with the chosen minor and major subjects.
i) Those with a 3-year Bachelor’s degree will have 2 years of Master's with 2nd year devoted to research.
ii) 4-year Bachelor’s degree with research could have 1 year of Masters.
iii) An integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s degree of 5 years might be an option.
c) M.Phil. programme will be scrapped.
16. Fee fixation for all higher education institutes.
17. The top 100 Universities in the world will have the facility to operate in India and well-performing Indian Universities will be motivated to set campuses in foreign countries. Along with this, student/faculty exchange with high performing foreign institutions will also be encouraged.
18. Other important areas of focus:
a) Professional education:
i) Agricultural education- this along with the other associated subjects will be restored.
ii) Legal education- bilingual education for future lawyers to be offered by the state institutions and applying best technologies and practices for timely delivery of justice.
iii) Healthcare education- this will be envisioned again.
iv) Technical education- it will be offered to engage with different disciplines.
b) Adult education:
i) NCERT books to be made especially for adult curriculum.
ii) Suitable infrastructure.
iii) Instructors for mature learning.
v) Accessibility and availability of books.
vi) Options based on the technology will be provided.
c) Promotion of Indian art, culture, and language: 100 destinations to be fixed for educational research and introduction of other Indian languages in the curriculum.
d) Technology use and integration.
e) Digital education: to ensure fair use of technology, online education to be blended with the offline model.
The entire nation seems to be very optimistic concerning this policy and they believe that this can truly change the course of education and youth development. Let's have a look at all the positives that can be a by-product of this policy:
1. Drop-outs get a second chance
Each year there are many people who need to drop-out. The reasons for many are more than justified and outside the realm of their control. They need to drop-out because of the inability of their parents to pay the fees of the college; due to health issues; family problems; etc. Now, these people will get a chance to continue their studies where they left off. Instead of starting college all over again from the very first semester, they will be awarded credits at the time of their departure.
2. A decrease in rote learning
Another aspect of our education that has received a lot of criticism over the years is the importance our education places on rote and repetitive learning. The knowledge pool hardly sees an increase when forced to mug-up answers. And practical learning and exposure remained absolutely zero. This is going to change with the new policy wherewith the implementation of the 5+3+3+4 system, the focus will shift over to extra-curricular activities and practical as well as vocational learning.
3. Freedom in choosing subjects
A combination of subjects can be chosen and a mix-and-match option will be available. All subjects whether it be vocational, extra-curricular; or belonging to a specific stream will be held in the same light and will not be discriminated against. Tests will also be conducted throughout the year with a focus on application skills, analysis skills, conceptual clarity, and critical thinking.
4. Promoting multilingualism in the child
During the first 5 years of the 5+3+3+4 system, the focus will be on providing a strong language and communication base. Also, more emphasis is being placed on using regional languages and mother tongues to teach the children in. This will help instil pride for their country and mother tongue, as well as promote multilingualism.
5. Pressure will be taken off Board Exams
With this system, there will also be less pressure for kids in the 10th and 12th classes who have to prepare for their Board Examinations. Their load will be distributed much more evenly. Another change regarding the Board Exams has been that instead of conducting just one examination which contains all the weightage and burden collectively, there will be multiple opportunities to gain marks, thus reducing the pressure. Along with an internal assessment, the collective weightage of a single exam will drop.
6. Opportunity for free and compulsory higher education
The Right to Education limit has been extended from 5-14 year-olds to 3-18 year-olds. This will translate to many more children pursuing higher secondary education as well as a college education. Previously, it was often observed that the missing link was that after the government provided education till 14, children weren’t able to continue to go on to pursue higher education because of financial issues, family pressure to get a job, or other societal hurdles being thrown in their way.
Not all aspects of the draft have been appreciated and applauded. A few points have caused quite a bit of controversy and been criticized by the masses:
1. Decreased value of the Master's degree
With the introduction of the 4 year-degree which is meant to be research-oriented, the entire scope of a Master's degree might change. How much will the value decline and what will happen to the students who are currently enrolled in these courses and colleges? All the colleges and universities that provide these courses will have to suffer considerable losses by the drop in admissions.
2. Will enough seats be available?
The government plans to double the number of individuals enrolled in college learning. Is this truly possible though? The idea though noble doesn’t seem one which can be achieved without taking some drastic steps. There has always been an undersupply of quality tertiary-level education. The government has also announced plans to collaborate with foreign universities and to get them to establish their branches here. But this will only further alienate those who are already unable to pay the high college fees of private colleges.
3. Poor English foundation in kids.
With the focus shifting on regional languages, many students might develop a weak base for English and might struggle to communicate in it. This issue is already prevalent and with this NEP policy, it might be further exacerbated. English is used as a common medium in many cosmopolitan cities and for people from different states to converse in. Also, India is a global powerhouse in the service industry. This has been possible because of our ability to communicate with foreign clients through the common English medium.
4. Will teachers adapt to these changes?
Teachers also would be required to have a major ideological change and come to terms with the new learning and teaching approach. Many teachers are set in their ways and may not be open to changes easily. Teachers are the ones who at the end of the day maintain contact with the students and impart education to them. If they remain hostile to these changes, then the desired results may not be possible to achieve.
There have been a lot of efforts and promises from the government and HRD ministry over the years; promises on less rote learning, more practical and extracurricular activities, and exposure. But many of these efforts have been futile and the promises unfulfilled. The policy seems very solid but will the implementation be just as solid and effective?