On 29th July, the Union Cabinet approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) with an intent to introduce many changes to the Indian Education system, as well as the almost 30-year-old policy framed in 1986. The Cabinet also approved changing the HRD ministry’s name to Education Ministry.
Amit Khare, the secretary of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (Soon to named Ministry of Education), announced the key changes made in the new NEP, concerning Higher Education reforms.
The Key Points under this policy are :
- All higher education institutions, except legal and medical institutes, are to be governed by a single regulator, set up by the HECI (Higher Education Commission of India). HECI will have four independent verticals – GEC (General Education Council) for standard-setting, NHERC (National Higher Education Regulatory Council) for regulation, HEGC (Higher Education Grants Council) for funding, and NAC (National Accreditation Council) for accreditation.
- A child’s mother tongue/Regional Language will be the medium of instruction up to class 5th (and preferably till 8th). Sanskrit will be offered at all levels and foreign languages will be offered from the secondary school level. The policy says, “no language will be imposed on any student.”
- “The pedagogical structure is to be changed from the existing 10+2 scheme to a new 5+3+3+4 scheme, covering children of the age group 3-18 years”, the Ministry said.
- School subjects and curriculum will be reduced to core concepts as importance will be given to artistic thinking, and co-curriculum activities as well.
- Vocational Integration and Internships to be provided from class 6th. Students will sample important vocational crafts such as metalwork, carpentry, gardening, pottery making, etc. As decided by States during class 6th – 8th. Online Vocational courses will also be made available.
- High-quality modules are to be developed to teach the Indian Sign Language, by NIOS.
- State Governments will encourage opening NCC wings in secondary and higher secondary schools, under the support of the Ministry of Defence.
- Free boarding facilities are to be built especially for students from disadvantaged socio-economically background.
- Education sector to get 6% of the GDP from 1.7%.
- From the Introductory level to Higher education, children with disabilities will be allowed to completely participate in the regular schooling process, with the support of educators with cross-disability training, assistive devices, technology-based tools, and other support mechanisms.
- Encouragement of “Bagless Days” throughout the year, for enriching activities like quizzes, arts, sports, etc.
- There will be no rigid separation between streams for students (earlier it was a choice between Arts, Commerce, and Science). Increased flexibility and more choices will be provided to students in Secondary school.
- Health cards will be used to monitor, the nutrition and health (including mental health) of children. Regular health check-ups are to be conducted.
- Coding is to be taught from class 6th onward as a part of 21st-century skills.
- Before the age of 5, every child will be in a “Balavatika” or “Preparatory Class”, which has an ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum), certified teacher.
- The implementation and planning of ECCEC are to be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, HFW (Health and Family Welfare), WCD (Women and Children Development), and Tribal Affairs.
- Students to get a 360 degree “holistic report card”, which will inform about students’ skill sets and not just academia.
- To reduce the stress and importance of board exams, it is to be conducted in two parts: Descriptive and Objective. Exams might be conducted twice a year. Boards may also develop further feasible models of Board Exams, such as – annual/modular/semester board exams, over time.
- “A National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 will be developed by NCERT”, said Anita Karwal (The School Education secretary)
- “National Testing Agency (NTA) will provide a common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in arts, languages, sciences, humanities, and vocational subjects , twice a year for University Entrance Tests”, said Khare.
E-content and courses are to be offered in eight major languages, including English and Hindi.
There will be multiple exit options provided to students who wish to drop out in the four-year undergraduate programme. A multi-disciplinary bachelor’s degree is to be awarded to a student who completes four years of study. A bachelor’s degree will be awarded to those who will complete 3 years of study. Those students who will exit after two years will get a diploma and those leaving after a year will have “studied a vocational/professional” course.
- An Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) is to be established, which will make use of technology to help in its translation and interpretation efforts. Special emphasis will be laid on Sanskrit and other Indian Languages.
- A National Research Foundation (NRF) is to be established. Its goal will be to validate a culture of research to pervade through universities. It will be governed by a rotating board of governors consisting of researchers and innovators across fields – which will be independent of the government.
- High performing Universities in India will be encouraged to set up a campus in other nations.
- An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) is to be formed which will digitally store all the academic credits earned.
- Engineering Institutes such as IITs will move towards a multidisciplinary education and will learn more arts and humanities. Humanities and Arts’ students will aim to learn more Sciences.
- NEP targets to set up at least one large multidisciplinary institution (A university that will offer undergraduate and graduate programmes, with high quality of teaching, community engagement, and research) in or near every district by the year 2030.
The new academic session is set to begin in September-October because of the delay due to the Covid19 outbreak. The government aims to Introduce the policy before the new session starts.
The NEP 2020 is being welcomed with open arms by almost all students, but the implementation of this Policy must be closely observed. Though the government has assured those worried about the imposition of Hindi on them by mentioning that “no language will be imposed”, mainstreaming Sanskrit in the NEP is a concern for them.
It is important that the government addresses these concerns, caps fees, and maintains a level of the quality of education in Government as well as Private Institutes so that students from socially and economically backward classes don’t miss out on any opportunities.
– Aanandita Singh