National Education Policy, 2020

NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020: A Breath of Fresh Air – PART I

by Priyanshi Sarin

INTRODUCTION

NEP aims to touch the life of every citizen by aligning the policy with the 21st century needs. The earlier 1986 National education policy was implemented prior to the internet revolution and thereby could not possibly foresee the radical changes of the past few decades. This policy, coming after a gap of 34 years makes us realize the fact that the objectives of the 1986 policy have not been achieved. The Indian education system is still plagued with issues such as poor quality education, inability to produce employment-ready youth etc. The policy proposes a shift from the 10+2 formula to a 5+3+3+4 one, aiming at strengthening the roots of a child and laying a strong foundation.

“Change is the only constant”, India’s literacy rate is 72.1% (Adult) 86.1% (Youth), less in comparison to other developed nations. It has increased lethargically, the 2011 census indicated a 2001–2011 decadal literacy growth of 9.2%. This indicates that there has been something wrong with the education schemes which the NEP 2020 aims to identify and eradicate.

K Kasturirangan, the chairman of Karnataka Knowledge Commission and a recipient of the three major civilian awards i.e. Padma Shri (1982), Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2000) introduced the draft national education policy, an extensive work which began in 2015 to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society. A well-drafted policy provides for the requisite changes at every level and highlights the importance of conceptual clarity in terms of literacy and numeracy since an early age, proposed to be inculcated in the child’s mother tongue.

POLICY PROPOSALS

Age groupStageGrades
3-8 yearsFoundational1,2 (Activities>Books)
8-11 yearsPreparatory3,4,5 (Formal Education)
11-14 yearsMiddle6,7,8 ( Subject Teaching)
14-18 yearsHigh9,10,11,12(Multidisciplinar)
Higher EducationTier-IResearch Focused
Higher EducationTier-IITeaching Universities
Higher EducationTier-IIIDegree granting colleges

Holistic Development

The most valuable clause is the idea pointing towards reducing the unnecessary study load, as it is a well-known fact that India witnesses extremely high suicide rates among the youth owing to extensive study pressure, low self-esteem, constant feeling of guilt, and in extreme cases depression. Thereby, breaking the conventional study patterns, the policy encourages a method that focuses more on an experimental, discussion-based learning process that hones an individual’s analytical skills as well as personality thereby aiding his/her holistic development.

Inclusivity

Retaining and preventing drop-outs would become a reality when the curriculum is such that it holds your attention, the idea of 100% literacy or compulsory education cannot be achieved by coercion, legislative enactment but only by an inner drive and strong instinct to learn without feeling undue pressure. Integrating dropouts within our education system by making them eligible for re-entry into higher levels is a welcome step.

Cognitive Development

The emphasis laid on early education initiatives is commendable particularly the provision of providing guidelines for appropriate cognitive stimulation of toddlers and their parents by an innovative 4 step pedagogical structure. The Policy focuses on developing an excellent curricular and pedagogical framework for early childhood education by NCERT which would be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of early childhood educational institutions, consisting of Anganwadis, pre-primary schools/sections co-located with existing primary schools, and stand-alone pre-schools, all of which will employ workers/teachers specially trained in the curriculum and pedagogy of ECCE. The motivation and encouragement to enrol and attend school are targeted to be achieved by an effective mid-day meal programme which is now said to include a nutritious breakfast as well.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning in the form of field trips helps retain way more than a lecture or assignment which mostly flows out of our short-term memory. High time the Indian Education system prepares youth to face the world and not merely for getting employment, important adult works like filing of taxes, applying for loans, basic bank transactions should be taught at the high school level. Further, an interactive general knowledge and current affairs session which would broaden the horizon of children has been proposed. The state and CBSE boards particularly require this change.

There is a significant change in the criteria of assessing and testing examinations, a shift from evaluating “memory” to “learning” by incorporating high order thinking skill questions. The aim is not to make children good replicators but innovators, they should be able to use the wisdom acquired from class-room teaching to solve real-life issues.

Regulatory Authorities

Formation of Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog provides a streamlined and systematic control over the various educational institutions across the nation. A central body of efficient bureaucrats is a step towards ensuring that the initiatives do not remain as mere drafts with the Ministry but are brought to reality.

At the state level, an independent regulatory authority with a quasi-judicial authority would undertake the role of making clear regulations and academic policies which would be transparent and available in the public domain. The establishment of the National Research Foundation acknowledges that research is the backbone of knowledge and innovation thereby aims to inculcate researching skills at various academic institutions.

Further, a separate body called the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority would undertake the function of funding, accreditation, and regulation which exemplifies the readiness to grant “autonomy”.

Meritorious Faculty

Further, the policy is sensitive to the fact that there is no point working only on increasing student enrolments if the classes are devoid of Lecturers. Teachers would also go through a rigorous interview procedure, this would help curb back-door entries and positions being filled by incompetent professors. The teacher eligibility test would be redesigned, along with this teachers would have to effectively demonstrate their respective knowledge in the subject and teaching style to ensure a meritorious faculty in schools. The business of coaching institutes and their commercialization of education would reduce if the schools provide competent teachers. The emphasis laid upon employment and improvement of faculty is extended to higher education, the aim is to maintain a desirable student-teacher ratio of (30:1). enhancing and increasing the number of students would also increase employment opportunities for teachers, especially where the policy talks about making the Teacher Eligibility Test inclusive for all the four stages.

Course Structure

Additionally, a much-needed change is certain freedom being given to a faculty to choose their session plan, this becomes very important since institutions many at times fail to revamp the redundant syllabi teaching the same old theories having near-zero relevance in the contemporary era. Professors and college students question the relevance of the study material and teaching pattern and feel helpless, it is thereby imperative that the particular faculty is able to decide the course structure and teaching style which can be monitored by the institution.

Transgender Community

The policy also upholds constitutional principles of promoting equality and thereby has emphasized the need to embrace the transgender community, encourage their participation in education by creating a reliable national database and a conducive environment for them so that they feel they are equally entitled to accrue the benefits of government policies.

The above proposals are the positive highlights of the policy, the existing lacunae have been discussed in the next part.

Views are personal.

Image Credits: The image was provided by the author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanshi Sarin is currently pursuing law from Symbiosis Law School Pune.

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