New Generation, New Education

The New Education Policy 2020 is aimed at revolutionising the educational set-up and making the new generation acquire the basics that the evolved market is looking at, reports Mariah Shah

In a serious effort to bridge the gap between the classroom and the market, the New Education Policy 2020 is taking care of the change that recent industrial revolutions brought about and the advanced western systems of education. Students who would be seeking education under NEP-2020 are expected to be better able to understand their eco-system in comparison to the earlier generations.

Framed in 1986, the National Policy on Education was first modified in 1992. Its metamorphosis in NEP-2020 is rudimentary. The goal is to lessen the content and include the methods of learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving, besides helping the student innovate, adapt, and adopt new material. Aimed at a major change in 2040, NEP-2020 implementation is changing the way education is imparted and acquired.

The New Set-Up

The policy has modified the basic pedagogical and curricular structure of 10+2 in school education. For the 3-18 age group, it has been reframed to 5+3+3+4.

In comparison to the previous academic structure in which the students start receiving education for the first standard at the age of six, the new structure provides Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) through Anganwadi, Preschool, and Balvatika for the 3-6 age group. The policy ensures the students joining grade 1 after completing their ECCE educational institutions should be school-ready by 2030 fall.

The newly framed National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age group of eight years will be developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

Now the foundational education comprises two stages – three years of pre-school beginning at the age of 3 and concluding at the age of six years, and two 2 years of Class I and Class II for the 6-8 age group.

The Preparatory and the Middle consist of 3+3 years of schooling. Three years of Preparatory schooling begins at the age of 8 and concludes at the age of 11. Three years of middle schooling begin at the age of 11 and lasts up to the age of 14.

The secondary education is now for four years, from the ninth up to the twelfth class. The students will enter the ninth class at the age of 15 and leaves the school after the twelfth class at the age of 18.

This is precisely what the 5+3+3+4 pattern means.

Cutting Dropout Rates

The Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) for grades 6 to 8 was 90.9 per cent; for 9 to 10, 79.3 per cent and for 11 to 12, it was 56.5 per cent. This indicated that a significant proportion of students drop out after fifth grade and particularly after eighth class.

Now, efforts will be made to ensure universal access for all children to obtain quality education containing vocational education from foundational schooling to twelfth class.

Priority will be given to bringing the children back to the educational institutions to prevent dropping out. The policy goal is to achieve a 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool to secondary level by 2030.

At the same time, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes offered by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and State Open Schools will be expanded for meeting the learning needs of young people in India who are not able to attend a physical school.

Lessening Content

The new curriculum is committed to lessening the burden of bookish content to the most requisite content in each subject. Instead of developing content, the policy says critical thinking, discovery, research, and discussions must be developed.

The prescribed content will lay emphasis on the key concepts, ideas, applications, and problem-solving. The teaching-learning process will be conducted in an interactive manner; questions will be encouraged, and classroom sessions will contain fun, creative, collaborative, and exploratory activities for students for experiential learning.

In all the learning stages, students will access hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, and story-telling-based pedagogy. Sports-integrated learning will also be undertaken in the classrooms to help students adopt fitness and to achieve related life skills.

Multilingual Approach

The NEP  strongly advocates for the use of home language/mother-tongue/local language or regional language as the medium of instruction until grade five with preference up to eighth class. . So the mother language would be a priority in private and public schools.

Textbooks including science will be made available in the mother tongue. In cases where the textbook material is not available, the language of the transaction between teachers and students will be the mother tongue.

Higher Education 

NEP intends to promote high-quality higher education. There will be multidisciplinary colleges and universities (at least one in every district) and more Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offering programmes in the medium of local languages.

National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established to fund exceptional peer-reviewed research and spark research in the Universities and Colleges. Now ‘deemed university,’ ‘affiliating university,’ ‘affiliating technical university’, ‘unitary university,’ will be ‘university’.

Now, an Autonomous Degree-granting College (AC) will refer to a large multidisciplinary institution of higher education that grants undergraduate degrees.

All the HEIs by 2040 shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions and enrol a larger number of students for optimal use of infrastructure and resources, and for the creation of vibrant multidisciplinary communities. By 2030, more HEIs will be established in impoverished regions so that every district will have one large multidisciplinary HEI. The aim of this policy is to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 per cent (2018) to 50 per cent by 2035.

Degree Programmes

Now, the structure of the degree programmes on the undergraduate level will either be of three or four-year duration with multiple exit options within that period. The students who exit the course will be awarded appropriate certifications. A certificate will be awarded to the students after completing the first year in any discipline or field (including vocational and professional areas), a diploma after two years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after three years.

An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established to store the credits digitally earned by students from various recognized HEIs. The degrees from an HEI later can be awarded considering the credits earned.

The four-year programme may extend to a ‘degree with research’ provided the students complete a meticulous research project in their major area(s) of study as specified by the HEI. The Master’s Degree programs will be flexible in nature and dedicate the second year of the two-year master’s programme to the research. The option is available for graduate students.

Students who complete a 4-year Bachelor’s programme (with research) will be given an option of one year master’s programme. In another option, students can opt for an integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme. However, a PhD shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree in research. There is no MPhil under NEP. It offers students an opportunity to directly opt for PhD after their graduation.

= “The most indispensable feature of NEP 2020 is that the policy approves choice in academic; for the very first time, in fact,” said Danish Zahoor, a resource person at Srinagar DIET. “Students will be able to choose subjects across the disciplines. No student will be bound to the current curriculum structure. In the interim, research introduced at the graduation level is an asset to the educational system. Students who want to do an in-depth study of their subject will have an option now. It’s logical and time-effective. The academic structure discussed in the policy is economical.”

Funding Research

The National Research Founder (NRF) will competitively fund research in all disciplines in the Universities. Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), and University Grants Commission (UGC), as well as various private and philanthropic organizations, will be allowed to fund candidates independently. The NRF will be governed by the government itself.

Teacher Education

By 2030, the HEIs will offer a 4-year integrated BEd – a bachelor’s degree in education, which will become the minimal degree qualification for school teachers. The HEIs may also run a 2-year BEd programme for students who have already received a Bachelor’s degree in a specialized subject. They will offer a yearlong BEd programme for students who have received a 4-year undergraduate degree in a specialized subject. Meritorious students may draw scholarships to pursue these programmes.

“The biggest challenge in the implementation of the policy is the undersupply of human resources and infrastructure,” commented Danish. “However, the policy motivates teacher education that leads to the selection of the right candidates for teaching purposes.”

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