2020, the year characterized by uncertainty. Years down the line we shall remember how the world changed this year and life came to a standstill. We have witnessed major unprecedented events till now, with one leading to the other and we are still not done yet. But one of the changes which was not only anticipated but rather necessary came about in the form of the National Education Policy 2020 in India, and happens to be one of the major positive breakthroughs of this otherwise dreadful start of the decade.
The National Education Policy 2020 has been introduced at the right time, to complement the process and vision of creating quality institutions, a culture of innovation, and a highly skilled workforce. It was about time that we initiated a process to transform the Educational Institutions in India, and provide them the ability to attain a certain level, that they can be compared to the likes of the best in the world.
This is a landmark change by the Indian Government, as they have replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education, which was framed in 1986, with the New Education Policy of 2020. The NEP, which has been approved by the union cabinet, has made revolutionary reforms in the Indian education paradigm.
Instating a single regulator for higher education institutions, the scheme of multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, the low stakes board exams, and common entrance exams for universities, these are some of the key takeaways from this exciting new policy. Each of these reforms reflect on the fact that how India has evolved as an economy, and how we are prepared to be recognized as a force to reckon with. The Education system of a country is a true indicator of its economic strength, and the reforms of the NEP 2020, will certainly help India break into the top three economies of the world in the next 10 years.
Some of the Major Highlights of the National Education Policy 2020 are:
- Schooling to begin from the age of 3 years:
The revised policy expands the age group of mandatory schooling from 6-14 years to 3-18 years. This new system will include 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling. The existing 10+2 structure of school curriculum will be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.
- Mother tongue to be instated as medium of instruction:
The National education policy 2020 has directed focus on students’ mother tongue as the medium of instruction even as it sticks to the ‘three language formula’ but also mandates that no language would be imposed on anyone.The policy indicates that wherever it is possible, the medium of instruction till at least Grade 5, but preferably up till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the mother tongue/local language/ regional language, both public and private schools, are to follow this norm.
- A Single Overarching Body of Higher Education:
The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will now set up a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. The same set of norms for regulation, accreditation, and academic standards, to be applied to both public and private higher education institutions.The Government aims to phase out the affiliation of colleges in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- Separation between subject streams to be blurred:
As per NEP 2020, the rigid separations between subjects’ stream will be done away with. Students will have the liberty to choose subjects they would like to study across streams. Vocational education to be introduced in schools from Class 6 and will include internships as well.
- The Return of the FYUP Programme and No More Dropouts:
The duration of the undergraduate degree will be either 3 or 4 years. Students will also be given multiple exit options within this period. Colleges will have to grant a certificate to a student if they would like to leave after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after completing a three-year programme. An Academic Bank of Credit will be established by the Government for digitally storing academic credits earned from different Higher Educational Institutions so that these can be transferred and counted towards the final degree earned.
National education policy has managed to touch the untouched part of the education system in India. One of the bold propositions of this policy, states that either stand-alone institutions should transform themselves into a multidisciplinary mode or they will have to close. A complete freedom has been granted to state in several domains, under this policy.
We are aware that in reference to education, there has always been a bone of contention between State and Centre over the jurisdiction. The National Education Policy has taken measures to have a holistic outlook in this regard. It is important to note that education is a continuous process, and that is why it is essential to put more emphasis on connecting education to the environment. The recognition of the importance of life skills was long overdue, and the NEP has given more attention to developing life skills in the educational process.
Mindler Takeaways from the NEP 2020:
- The policy will provide for a lot of flexibility and convenience to the students. This is a crucial step even for the Institutions to place them at par with the International Higher Education Institutions.
- The restructuring of the 10+2 school curriculum, is one of the major highlights of this comprehensive policy, and will make the education system more viable.
- The regional languages have been given the due importance, especially in a country like ours where we are proud of our diversity, this was a step in the right direction.
- Having a single regulatory body will make it more structured and efficient to analyze and monitor the education system.
- The Academic Bank of Credit is a masterstroke, students at the undergraduate level will certainly benefit from this, and the flexibility it brings.
NEP has addressed the social and gender gap in the education system. The policy has stated that there is an evident gap in the representation of the various social groups in the education system. It has emphasized on the need to overcome the same with regulated interventions. NEP also identified the gender gap in the education system and suggested a mechanism to address it. Quality of teaching is one of the primary agendas of the policy as well. Teachers are integral to the education system, and without improving the way teachers are trained, it will be difficult to improve the quality of education.
National Education Policy 2020, is an attempt to address most of the grievances of the education system, which have been pending for decades. This is certainly a historic moment for all the stakeholders involved, be it the teachers, students or parents. It is intriguing to see how the norms of this policy will be implemented, but we can be sure that this is a new age for the Indian Education landscape.