The new National Education Policy was newly formulated and announced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Government of India) on 29 th July 2020. The new policy aims to EDUCATE, ENCOURAGE, ENLIGHTEN and ENABLE education for students from rural and urban India. It is set to transform the old Education System and create a curriculum that is centralised, academically strong, practice-based, career-oriented and provides multiple opportunities for further studies and advancement in career.
THE PRESENT EDUCATION SYSTEM
The Education System in India has been around since 1921. The academic curriculum was drafted with more emphasis on Science and Mathematics subjects and education was limited to the classroom.
In 1935, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was set up. The Board played a lead role in the evolution and monitoring of educational policies and programmes. In 1952, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was started and all schools in Delhi and few in other regions came under the Board. In the 1960s, the Government made primary education a Fundamental Right of every Indian citizen. The National Policy on Education in 1986 pressed for free and compulsory education for all children below 14 years of age. In 1992, slight modifications were made to include the Skill-Based Learning System for all- round development of students. In 2019, the Indian government amended Section 16 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act to ensure that students from Class I to VIII are guaranteed promotion irrespective of their academic performance to avoid detention in the same class.
The Indian Education System has four levels - Lower Primary (Classes I to V, ages 6 to 10), Upper Primary (Classes VI and VII, ages 11 and 12), High School (Classes VIII to X, ages 13 to 15), and Higher Secondary (Classes XI and XII, ages 17 and 18). The main languages taught are Hindi, English and the regional languages (mother tongue).
NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020
The National Education Policy proposed in 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 29 th July 2020 with an introduction to India’s new Education System. A 60-pages report was submitted to the Government about the new format of the Education System. The policy aims to transform both rural and urban India's Education System through high-quality education by 2040.
- The Ministry of Human Resource Development will be renamed as the Ministry of Education
- For School Education, the 10 + 2 structure will be replaced with 5+3+3+4 structure as Foundational Stage (Preschool, Class I and Class II) through activity-based learning; Preparatory Stage (Classes III to V) through Speaking, Reading, Writing, Physical Education, Languages, Art, Science and Mathematics; Middle Stage (Classes VII to VIII) through application-based learning of Mathematics, Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities; Secondary Stage (Classes IX to XII) through multidisciplinary study and critical analysis
- Preschool children (three to six years) will have access to free, safe and high-quality education
- It is proposed that there will be three school exams in Classes II, V and VIII; and Board Exams for Class X and XII, which will be redesigned and restructured to emphasize on thinking skills, critical thinking and conceptual understanding
- Board Exams will be designed for holistic development through a new national assessment centre PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development)
- Students will be allowed to take Board Exams on up to two occasions – one is the main examination and one is for improvement (if needed)
- The medium of instruction up to Class V (or till Class VIII and above) will be in the regional languages (mother tongue)
- All the subjects will be offered at two levels
- Students will have 10 bag-less days during which they will be taught a Vocation of their choice (this is an Informal Internship)
- For Higher Education, a multidisciplinary Bachelor’s degree in professional and vocational areas with multiple exit options is proposed
- The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct a common college entrance exam twice a year from 2022
- The Bachelor’s degree will be of 4 years – a Certificate will be provided after successful completion of one year of study, a Diploma after two years and a Bachelor's Degree after three years
- Drop-out students will be given the option to complete the degree after a break
- Master of Philosophy (MPhil) courses will be discontinued
- Higher education institutions like IITs will become multidisciplinary with more inclusion of Arts and Humanities subjects for Science students by 2040
- Selected foreign universities from among the top 100 universities in the world will be allowed to operate in India
- The policy states that no language will be imposed on the students. The importance of regional languages (mother tongue) is highlighted
- A suggestion to give importance to Sanskrit and foreign languages was made
- The system of affiliated colleges will gradually end and colleges will be given greater autonomy
- Deemed university status will be stopped
- A Higher Education Council of India (HECI) will be set up to regulate higher education, teacher education, professional education, funding and financing of universities and colleges
- The policy proposes to internationalize education and standardize the fees of private and public universities
ADVANTAGES OF THE POLICY
The National Education Policy has many advantages.
- It aims to ensure 100% literacy in India by 2030
- Education will begin for children from the age of three years when brain growth is exponential and understanding skills are powerful
- Skill-based learning will help to produce students with theoretical knowledge and practical experience
- The age group between 9-12 years is considered as Higher Secondary group so the student will get continuity in the learning process
- The common entrance examination in Classes II, V, VIII, X and XII will help students to prepare well for Classes X and XII and gain confidence to face public examinations
- A 4-year B.Ed. course is sure to produce competent and high-quality faculty which is guaranteed to improve the quality of the Education System in India
- The removal of the MPhil course will highlight PhD education so that candidates can contribute more time in doing high-quality study and research
- Students can pursue one-year postgraduate course abroad (instead of the current two- year duration) so that they can be recruited to good companies at the earliest
- A centralised digital education agency will be formed to monitor education
- Inter-disciplinary subjects like Fashion with Mathematics or Baking with Biology will be encouraged
- Skill-based learning will help to mould highly talented
- Colleges and institutions are provided an opportunity to improve their quality, results, facilities, faculty, etc. The Government has proposed to cancel the affiliation of the colleges or schools which are not maintaining the quality as per standards. This will surely help to improve the quality of the Education System in India
- Students can pursue their education in High School and Degree at any time in case they drop out for urgent reasons
- If a student discontinuous their education in second year of Degree, they will at least get a Diploma certificate to prove that they have completed two years of graduate education
- Emphasis on skills and practical knowledge ensures that graduates can succeed in any career or field
DISADVANTAGES OF THE POLICY
Though the National Education Policy has many advantages, many students, teachers and lawmakers have come up with possible disadvantages:
- The implementation of the new policy will require plenty of research, planning and management
- The new 5+3+3+4 structure may be a hindrance for aided schools and private schools because upgraded infrastructural facilities are essential for this structure
- Since Classes IX, X, XI and XII will be merged, the Teacher eligibility will be a big challenge
- In this new system students will not be promoted to the next class until they qualify in the examination – this may cause depression and suicidal thoughts among students with learning difficulties
- With the new system, more colleges will get autonomous power and will be able to conduct and evaluate examinations under their own supervision
- The removal of the MPhil course will be a disadvantage for candidates who are not sure about pursuing a PhD course
- Important subjects like Constitution, Fundamental Rights, Gender Studies, Media, Environment and Development and Culture, have not been included in the policy
- The compulsory option of Sanskrit or foreign languages at every level of education may not be accepted by students with different regional language
- This may be an obstacle for students who are planning to go abroad for their education and career – since English is the most commonly spoken language in the world, it is better to continue with English as the mode of teaching and education
- Independent research at PhD level may be a challenge for research scholars
- Budget allocations and funding should be considered
- A common syllabus for the ENTIRE country will be a disadvantage for textbook publishers and vendors
- With a centralized system, the State Government will not be able to take decisions on public examinations and other academic matters
- Provisions for more diverse job roles on public and private organisations should be started
The National Education Policy has torn away the familiar ideas and notions of India’s old Education System. Additional focus on experience and skill-based education is sure to equip graduates with effective skills in the office so that they can tackle basic setbacks without difficulty. The new framework and structure are sure to bring about positive changes in academic, holistic, practical and research education.
However, the new policy is still fresh. Many teachers, students and parents are not sure about the future implications of the new policy and have many doubts about it. Only time, discussions, research and careful understanding will reveal the actual benefits of the National Education Policy.
It has been estimated that in 2030-40, the entire policy will be in operational mode, following which another comprehensive review will be undertaken