National Education Policy 2020: The New, Revamped and More Inclusive Policy
Do you think our education system is competent enough to impart quality education? Does it prepare children for the future? Unfortunately not. Plagued by ignorance and irrelevance, our education system has been able to provide quality education to students. There are numerous areas where the Indian education system falters. Some of the areas that need immediate attention and improvement are personality development of students, holistic education approach with an emphasis on co-curricular activities, well-trained and qualified educators, and a proper infrastructure.
To address these concerns, the Union Cabinet approved the New Education Policy 2020. Well, it has been nearly three decades that our education policy underwent an overhaul. The New Education Policy aims at transforming the school and higher education system in India. The policy focuses on providing holistic education by giving equal weightage to academic, vocational training and extracurricular activities. The idea is to make children develop skill in their area of interest and prepare them for the world outside.
Key Highlights of the New Education Policy 2020
To get a clear picture of the New Education Policy, let’s quickly understand the objectives of the policy.
The objectives of the policy are:
- To provide quality education to all and make India a global knowledge superpower
- To achieve 100 percent youth and adult literacy in India
Curious to know about the New Education Policy? Let us learn what kind of improvements and changes the policy has brought in the K–12 ecosystem.
School curriculum overhaul
The New Education Policy redraws the school curriculum framework on a 5+3+3+4 structure corresponding to the age groups 3-8 years (Foundational Stage covering 3 years of pre-school and 2 years in Grades 1-2 ), 8-11 years (Preparatory Stage covering Grade 3-5), 11-14 years (Middle Stage covering Grades 6-8) and 14-18 years (Secondary Stage covering Grades 9-12).
So does this mean that students have to invest more years in schooling? Certainly not! This structure brings early childhood education under the ambit of formal schooling. This approach is far better and expansive than the 10+2 model as it brings the hitherto uncovered age group of 3–6 years under the school curriculum. These formative years are crucial in the cognitive development of a child. The new policy aims to promote early childhood education and make childhood joyful.
The new curriculum will be implemented as a new National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE 2020–21) by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Medium of instruction
The New Education Policy puts great emphasis on Indian languages, stating that the medium of education until class 5 will be the mother tongue of the student.
Do you think this will change the way students learn? Yes, it will, but without impacting the learning of students. India is a multilingual country with Hindi being the national language. With the New Education Policy, every state will have the flexibility to introduce their native language along with Hindi and English.
Low-stakes board exams
Board exams causing a lot of stress and tension? Well, no more will you be required to cram concepts and facts. The new policy aims to eliminate rote learning and emphasise conceptual understanding. Testing of concepts and knowledge application will be given primary importance.
Furthermore, students will be allowed to take board exams twice in a year. The first will be the main exam and a second attempt will be allowed for improvement. This will reduce stress and empower students to focus on conceptual understanding, thereby fostering 21st-century education.
Focus on vocational education
Vocational education will start in schools from the sixth grade and will include internships. Moreover, there will be a 10-day bagless period. Isn’t that interesting? Students can explore their interests and learn new skills.
Students from sixth to eighth grades will be required to intern with local vocational experts such as artists, carpenters, gardeners, potters, etc. Not only will this encourage them to pursue their areas of interest, but will also help them to go beyond the conventional professional courses while making career choices.
Technology-based education from sixth grade onward
Did you study coding in your early school years? No! Well, today’s education is driven by technological advancements and it is important for students to get involved and understand the various technologies of today.
The New Education Policy focuses on teaching coding from sixth standard. This is a wonderful opportunity to instil 21st-century skills among students. This will be the first time we will really be bringing in 21st-century skills out of conversations and into the classroom.
With this reform, every student will have access to technology and a chance to learn new technologies at the right age.
Online and digital education
Has online education revolutionised the way students learn? Definitely yes! To make students future-ready and foster 21st-century learning, it is imperative to have a sound digital infrastructure and digital content resources in our education system. The current scenario (COVID-19 pandemic and its impact) only underscores the need for online education. Hence, the policy lays emphasis on developing a good digital infrastructure.
Reforms in pedagogy
The school curricula will aim towards the holistic development of learners and reducing the curricular content to enhance critical thinking and experiential learning. All this can only be achieved by introducing individualised, project-based and at-your-own-pace learning.
Focus on the holistic development of students
Do test grades really decide a student’s knowledge level? To some extent, yes. But marks and grades do not define their capability. It is essential to focus on the overall development of students.
The new policy’s assessment reforms with a 360-degree holistic progress card will foster personalised learning and help teachers to focus on the learning gaps of students.
Making education accessible to all
Though our country has made rapid progress in various sectors, the education sector still lacks the advancement to provide quality education to children of all age groups.
The New Education Policy aims to have innovative education centres to bring dropouts back into the mainstream, provide infrastructure support, facilitate multiple pathways in formal and non-formal education and associate counsellors or social workers with schools.
The policy also lays emphasis on open learning for classes 3, 5 and 8 through National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to classes 10 and 12, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs.
Sanskrit will be offered as an optional language to students, including in the three-language formula. No language will be imposed on students. At the secondary level, several foreign languages will also be offered in the curriculum.
Equitable and inclusive education
The policy provides for setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
Regular schooling from the foundational stage to higher education will be provided to children with disabilities. This will be seamlessly facilitated by educators with cross-disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs.
- The HRD Ministry changed its name to the Ministry of Education
- Universalisation of education with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030
- The National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) will create an autonomous body to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning and administration.
- A National Assessment Centre called ‘PARAKH’ has been created to assess the students.
- Public investment in the education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest
- The New Education Policy fosters a progressive shift towards a more scientific approach to education. The prescribed structure will facilitate an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach to focus on cognitive and social development. If implemented in its true vision, the new structure can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world.
- We will have to change the way teachers are being trained. A teacher will constantly have to make learning more interesting and creative. And technology is a blessing for this.