On July 29, 2020, the Union Cabinet passed the National Education Policy, 2020 ("NEP 2020"). This was a historic moment as India got it's first Education Policy in over 34 years. For a huge country like India, and in these rapidly changing times, it comes as a surprise that it took us over 34 years to get a New Education Policy. In the ensuing paragraphs we will make an attempt to understand what this means for Education in India, and what we as students, teachers, parents or soon to be parents should expect from the NEP 2020. Before we dive deep into NEP 2020, we need to understand a few structural aspects of Education in India.
Structure of Education in India
It is imperative to understand that The Constitution of India ("the Constitution") provides for free and compulsory Education for all upto the age of 14. Article 21A of the Constitution, inserted in 2002 provides that,
“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”
To bring to light this vision in the Constitution, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 came in to effect on April 1, 2010. The RTE Act casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group.
In this regard it is important to make reference to Article 246 of the Constitution which lists the subject matters on which laws are to made by the Parliament (Central Government) and the Legislatures of States (State Governments) respectively. In this regard, (3) lists have been prescribed:
1) Union List - matters in this list fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central
Government. Some of the items listed here are Defense, Foreign Affairs, Income Tax etc.
2) State List - matters in this list fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the State Government. Some of the items listed here are Police, Public Health, Sanitation, Pilgrimages (in India) etc.
3) Concurrent List - matters in this list fall under the jurisdiction of both the Central Government and the State Government, i.e. both the Centre and State are responsible for the items mentioned in this list
Prior to 1972, Education was an item listed in the State list, which basically implied that education was the responsibility of the respective State Governments. However, pursuant to the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976, which honestly is one of the biggest and the most controversial amendments made to the Constitution ever since its enactment. For instance, the amendment act was passed during the nationwide 21 month Emergency. One of the key changes that were made in this amendment were that Education, inter alia other items, were moved from the State list to the Concurrent List.
Based on the aforementioned, as it stands today, Education being an item enumerated in the Concurrent List, is a joint responsibility of the both the Union and the State Governments. However, realistically speaking, one may form an opinion that the role of the State Governments is comparatively more significant than that of the Central Government as it is the States that are responsible for providing the Elementary education and Higher Education (State Boards), Controlling State Universities (eg Mumbai University), Framing of the Curriculum etcetera.
This highlights the very first controversy surrounding the NEP 2020. The draft of the NEP 2020 was circulated to the various Central and State stakeholders in 2019 for their inputs. However, as also stated at the start of this Article, the Policy has been passed by the Union Cabinet (Central Government) and it has been critiqued by a few stakeholders, that the NEP wasn't properly discussed in the Union Parliament, or with the State Governments, especially considering the fact that Education Is an item that falls in the Concurrent List. Now the constitutionality of the NEP 2020 w.r.t. this argument is something we will have to wait for the courts to decide.
It is also to be noted that a lot of Constitutional Experts believe that the Constitution of India is not strictly Federal but Quasi-Federal in nature. What this means in essence is that the power equilibrium tilts in favour of the Union (Central Government). Some of the key features that substantiate this disproportionate power distribution are:
1) Power of the Centre to redraw the political map of India, divide, rename states, with only a simple majority in the Parliament being the pre-requisite and consultation with the concerned state.
2) The Centre also has the power to make laws on matters listed in the state list, under special circumstances as listed in Article 249
3) The President can dismiss a state government under Article 356
4) The allocation of Rajya Sabha members to various states is not equal and is decided by the Centre.
Given this constitutional framework, matters, especially those listed in the Concurrent list are not efficiently managed. This could also potentially be a hindrance for the NEP 2020, especially when matters will have to be discussed and settled between various organisations, both at the State and Centre level. Matters related to education would require an effective channel of communication between the following organisations:
Only time will tell if matters will be managed and worked out effectively between all the aforementioned organisations.
Other problems in our Education System
One of the biggest issues with Education in India has been that it falls very low in the priority list for any government. Whenever a new government gets elected, one of the primary objective of the government is to ensure one more term in office.
To ensure this, every government usually tries to channelize their efforts and resources in those areas, which can show results in the short term. Something that can be used in their performance report for the next election.
It is due to this approach, that issues such as Education, Health Care, Public Services etcetera, are mostly ignored because the benefits of these improved Institutions are usually observed in the longer run.
Due to this laxed and ignorant approach towards Education, especially Higher Education, the following issues exist in our Education system:
- Less emphasis on the development of cognitive skills and learning outcomes. The system does not teach us the skills needed to learn, rather focuses on rote learning.
- A rigid separation of disciplines, resulting in streaming of students into narrow areas of study. Millions of students every year are classified into just three streams of Science, Commerce and Humanities. This drastically limits the scope and potential of a student.
- Limited access to Education Institutes (‘EI’) in various remote parts of the country.
- Limited government funded EI, coupled with reservation, leaves limited options for the poor, as private institutes are unaffordable for the masses.
- Limited teacher and institutional autonomy. A lot of EIs are often held back by the rigid and uninspired Boards and Universities to which they are affiliated with.
- Lesser emphasis on research at most universities and colleges.
- Poor infrastructure in HEIs. When compared to other Universities of the world, it can be observed that there is a severe lack of basic infrastructural facilities that are expected from a HEI.
- Limited focus on Vocational Education and skill development. This has resulted in extremely low rate of skilled employees in India. As per the 2016-17 annual report of the Ministry of Skill Development And Entrepreneurship, less than 5% of the workforce has undergone formal skill development.
- This statistic looks even more dismal when compared with the developed countries of the world which stands at 52 percent in the US, 68 percent in the UK, 75 percent in Germany, 80 percent in Japan, and 96 percent in South Korea. This is one of the most significant causes for low employment rate in India.
One major reason for many of the aforementioned issues is low funding in Education. On an average, the spending of government on Education has been between 3-4% of the GDP for the past 2 decades. This is way below the recommended 6% of GDP as recommended by the committee headed by D. S. Kothari in the 1960s. The various governments have failed to achieve this target for over 5 decades.
The government spends under 300$ on Education per student per year and some states spend less than 100$ (Source). In comparison the developed countries spend upward of 10,000$ on Education per student per year. It is also impressive to note that the US spends over of 30,000$ per student per year on Higher Education (Source). (Note that State Governments cover over 85% of the total spending on Education - Source)
The low spending on Education is one of the primary reasons for the poor state of Education in the country.
Vision of NEP 2020
To improve the dismal condition of the Education System of India, the NEP 2020 has been proposed.
(As a prerequisite, one should understand that the primary objective of a National Education Policy is to outline the vision and the objectives that the Government wants to attain w.r.t. Education in the country, over a period of time (decades sometimes). What this essentially means is that one should not come to expect detailed plan of actions, strategies and roadmaps, rather the ultimate objectives that are desired and just the principles and guidance to help attain them.)
On a quick perusal of the NEP 2020, a recurring theme can be constantly seen; few extracts of the same have been reproduced herewith for reference:
The rich heritage of ancient and eternal Indian knowledge and thought has been a guiding light for this Policy. The pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (Pragyaa), and truth (Satya) was always considered in Indian thought and philosophy as the highest human goal. The aim of education in ancient India was not just the acquisition of knowledge as preparation for life in this world, or life beyond schooling, but for the complete realization and liberation of the self. World-class institutions of ancient India such as Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila, Vallabhi, set the highest standards of multidisciplinary teaching and research and hosted scholars and students from across backgrounds and countries. The Indian education system produced great scholars such as Charaka, Susruta, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, Chanakya, Chakrapani Datta, Madhava, Panini, Patanjali, Nagarjuna, Gautama, Pingala, Sankardev, Maitreyi, Gargi and Thiruvalluvar, among numerous others, who made seminal contributions to world knowledge in diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, civil engineering, architecture,
shipbuilding and navigation, yoga, fine arts, chess, and more. Indian culture and philosophy have had a strong influence on the world. These rich legacies to world heritage must not only be nurtured and preserved for posterity but also researched, enhanced, and put to new uses through our education system.
This National Education Policy envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, that is Bharat, sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower. The Policy envisages that the curriculum and pedagogy of our institutions must develop among the students a deep sense of respect towards the Fundamental Duties and Constitutional values, bonding with one’s country, and a conscious awareness of one’s roles and responsibilities in a changing world. The vision of the Policy is to instill among the learners a deep-rooted pride in being Indian, not only in thought, but also in spirit, intellect, and deeds, as well as to develop knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions that support responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global well-being, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen.
There has been a constant emphasis on the ancient education system of India, in which the policy takes a lot of pride in. This has also been reiterated by numerous leaders like Union HRD Minister Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who said:
“The whole world is looking towards India. At present, the ideas of Mahamana are certainly very important for us. Our cultural heritage is our strength. Based on the vision of Mahamana, we will bring a new education policy that will be based on Vedic knowledge and science. It will come true to Mahamana’s vision and meet his expectations. Ancient knowledge should become part of every discipline,”
Immediately post announcement of the NEP 2020, Member of Parliament from Delhi Gautam Gambhir tweeted "To bridge the gap between India and Bharat, revolutionising education is the only way!". At this point it is difficult to comment on what these imply and what it could mean for education in India. While one should rightfully pride in the education system that Ancient India had access to, there is no clarity on how those systems and knowledge can be applied in today's time. Guess we will have to wait for some additional information in that regard from the authorities.
Some of the key pointers of the NEP 2020, that act as the overall guiding principles for the new Education System are:
- Holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres
- Flexibility, so that learners have the ability to choose their learning trajectories and programmes
- No hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. This is possibly the best feature of the NEP. As it stands today, there is no option for a student to opt for a combination of subjects across the three streams. This will just open the door for specialisations, and will allow students to explore multiple subjects before deciding on their majors.
- Emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-
- Promoting multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning;
- Life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience;
- Focus on regular formative assessment for learning rather than the summative assessment. Formative assessments are low stake assessments, primarily focused on continuous evaluation and feedback. Summative assessments are high stake assessments, usually conducted at the end of an instructional unit.
- Extensive use of technology in teaching and learning
- Respect for diversity and respect for the local context in all curriculum, pedagogy, and policy, always keeping in mind that education is a concurrent subject;
- Teachers and faculty as the heart of the learning process – their recruitment, continuous professional development, positive working environments and service conditions
- A rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions;
- Substantial investment in a strong, vibrant public education system. The NEP 2020 again aims to invest 6% of the GDP in education 'at the earliest'.
- There is also encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation. This has raised a few red flags as the NEP 2020 still talks about and encourages private participation in Education. There exists a huge disparity between the Private Schools and Public Schools in India. For a country like India, with such a huge population, it is imperative that substantial efforts are made to bridge the gap between the two.
Perhaps the most revolutionary and impressive reforms are being proposed in School Education. The NEP 2020 proposes to completely revamp the existing school system across parameters such as pedagogy, curriculum, assessments, teachers, etcetera.
Listed below are the key changes proposed to School Education.
- The NEP 2020 has revamped the academic structure for School Education. The existing 10 + 2 structure has been replaced with a 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 structure.
- Currently, children between the ages 3 - 6 are not covered in the 10 + 2 structure. However, that has changed in the NEP 2020, as the proposed system will start from Age 3. This is a much needed reform as research indicates that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6.
- Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials, to make space for critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based learning.
- The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will develop a national curriculum for children upto the age of 8. A National Curriculum for children upto the age of 8 is also another impressive change as it will ensure that all children obtain a uniform foundational learning.
- The curriculum so designed (for children below age 8) will consist flexible, play-based, activity-based, and inquiry-based learning, comprising of alphabets, languages, numbers, counting, colours, shapes, puzzles, drawing, puppetry, music, etcetera. It also includes a focus on developing social capacities, sensitivity, good behaviour, courtesy, ethics, personal and public cleanliness, teamwork, and cooperation.
- To ensure that all students are school ready, an interim 3-month play-based ‘school preparation module’ for all Grade 1 students, consisting of activities and workbooks around the learning of alphabets, sounds, words, colours, shapes, and numbers, and involving collaborations with peers and parents, will be developed by NCERT and SCERTs.
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, i.e. the ability to read and write, and perform basic operations with numbers, is targeted to be achieved by Grade 3. The Policy aims to achieve the same by 2025.
- During Grades 6-8, every student will need to participate in fun courses of important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making etcetera. All students to participate in 10-day bagless period sometime during Grades 6-8 where they intern with local vocational experts. Similar internship opportunities to learn vocational subjects may be made available to students throughout Grades 6-12, including holiday periods.
- Students to be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in secondary school. There will be no hard separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular’, or ‘co-curricular’, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.
- Certain subjects, skills, and capacities including scientific temper and evidence-based thinking; creativity and innovativeness; sense of aesthetics and art; oral and written communication; health and nutrition; physical education; gender sensitivity; values; knowledge of India; environmental awareness etcetera to be taught.
- “Knowledge of India” will include knowledge from ancient India and its contributions to modern India and its successes and challenges. Indian Knowledge Systems, including tribal knowledge and indigenous and traditional ways of learning, will be covered and included in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, yoga, architecture, medicine etcetera.
- Sports-integration in pedagogical practices to help in developing skills such as collaboration, self-initiative, self-direction, self-discipline, teamwork, responsibility, citizenship, etc. Sports-integrated learning will be undertaken in classroom transactions to help students adopt fitness as a lifelong attitude.
- To achieve the goal of experiential learning, art-integrated education will be embedded to create joyful classrooms, and for imbibing the Indian ethos through integration of Indian art and culture in the teaching and learning process at every level. This art - integrated approach will strengthen the linkages between education and culture.
- The emphasis is to move the education system towards real understanding and towards learning how to learn - and away from the culture of rote learning as is largely present today. This is of utmost importance because it is generally believed that the most important role of education (schools in particular) is to develop the learning ability of a child. One may refer to the work of Scott. H. Young in his book Ultralearning, where he talks about strategies to 'Ultra-learn', basically the ability to learn things yourself.
- There is also a heavy emphasis on experiential learning, including hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, story-telling-based pedagogy, among others, as standard pedagogy within each subject, and with explorations of relations among different subjects. Experiential learning is highly effective as one makes discoveries and experiments with knowledge firsthand (own experiences), instead of hearing or reading about others' experiences.
- Experiential learning is being implemented not just in primary education, but also in Business Schools and in businesses to train people and prospective employees to perform better. We have our own Virtual Internship Program to give kids simulated work experiences to help better gauge their career choices. Contact Us to know more about the program.
- Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/ regional language. Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. Textbooks, including in science, will be made available in home languages/mother tongue.
- Every student in the country will participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8.
- This is a 50 - 50 matter. Some may argue that the over emphasis on local language and mother tongue may reduce the efficiency of the students in English, which unarguably is the most preferred language globally.
- It is also worthwhile to note that in para 4.20 of the NEP 2020, the language used is "In addition to high quality offerings in Indian languages and English". This has further sparked speculation and controversy regarding the status of English. For numerous purposes, and for a lot of modern day families, English is the preferred language.
- 'English (India)' has also been recognised as one having its own distinct characteristics and one which also gets offered as the preferred medium over Mobile and Computing Technologies such as Windows, Android etcetera.
- The benefit of studying in the local language is that children do not spend their cognitive energy in first learning a new language, rather all their efforts can be channelised in gaining knowledge. One may also argue that teaching in a language other than the mother tongue involves a preliminary step of unlearning. For example, a student may know that the object in front of them is 'Gaadi', yet the student needs to remap the image of the vehicle to the word 'Car'.
- In this regard, it is also imperative to take a look at the real life instance of Ladakh, where In 1998, 95% of Ladakhi students failed the state 10th class exams. The primary reason for the poor performance was the linguistic paradox faced by the students. While the kids spoke 'Bhoti' at home, their text books upto grade 8th were printed in 'Urdu', while books beyond Class 8th were issued in 'English'.
- This resulted in the students being semi literate in Urdu, English and Bhoti. The Educational reforms carried under the leadership of SECMOL, including but now limited to localised text books, resulted in the passing rate in Ladakh jump to over 67% currently.
- If one were to do a side by side comparison of the richest and the poorest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, we observe a startling similarity:
- It is quite evident from the above two statistics that the countries that work and study in their local languages have performed economically really well.
- It is now left to the interpretation of people how they look at the intention of the NEP 2020 to lay emphasis on local languages.
- Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials will be developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.
- Enjoyable and inspirational books for students at all levels will be developed, including through high-quality translation (technology assisted as needed) in all local and Indian languages, and will be made available extensively in both school and local public libraries.
- Public and school libraries will be significantly expanded to build a culture of reading across the country. Digital libraries also to be established.
- School libraries will be set up - particularly in villages - to serve the community during non-school hours, and book clubs may meet in public/school libraries to further facilitate and promote widespread reading.
- All textbooks shall aim to contain the essential core material (together with discussion, analysis, examples, and applications) deemed important on a national level, but at the same time contain any desired nuances and supplementary material as per local contexts and needs.
- The primary objective of assessment in the schooling system will shift from one that is summative and primarily tests rote memorization skills to one that is more regular and formative, promotes learning and development of the students.
- The progress card of a student will be a holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report.
- The progress card will include self-assessment and peer assessment, and progress of the child in project-based and inquiry-based learning, quizzes, role plays, group work, portfolios, etc., along with teacher assessment.
- This a very impressive and innovative approach, which is also being followed by the best educational systems throughout the world. Allowing students to assess their own performance helps students improve and build on their confidence.
- AI-based software could be developed and used by students to help track their growth through their school years.
- All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8. This again is a welcome change as it helps to assess a student more frequently as compared to the existing system, where a student is not appropriately assessed until grade 10th.
- Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development; students will be able to choose many of the subjects in which they take Board exams. This is crucial as realistically speaking, board exams at this point are nothing more than an assessment of a student's memory and does not assess the overall learning of the students.
- The NEP 2020 also envisions to reduce the stress and tension surrounding board exams. For this purpose, students will be allowed to take Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired. A system of annual/semester/modular Board Exams could be developed
Student Well Being
- Children are unable to learn optimally when they are undernourished or unwell. Hence, the nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed, through healthy meals and the introduction of well-trained social workers, counsellors, and community involvement into the schooling system.
- Furthermore, research shows that the morning hours after a nutritious breakfast can be particularly productive for the study of cognitively more demanding subjects and hence these hours may be leveraged by providing a simple but energizing breakfast in addition to midday meals.
- In locations where hot meals are not possible, a simple but nutritious meal, e.g., groundnuts/chana mixed with jaggery and/or local fruits may be provided.
- All school children shall undergo regular health check-ups especially for 100% immunization in schools and health cards will be issued to monitor the same.
- It is good to see efforts proposed for the well being of students. Low skilled worker rate, high rates of suicide, low nutrition levels etcetera are characteristic of our Education System.
Curtailing Dropout Rates
- Statistics indicate some serious issues in retaining children in the schooling system. The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for Grades 6-8 was 90.9%, while for Grades 9-10 and 11-12 it was only 79.3% and 56.5%, respectively.
- This indicates that a significant proportion of enrolled students drop out after Grade 5 and especially after Grade 8.
- The NEP 2020 aims to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool to secondary level by 2030. Efforts to be made in this regard by means of the following -
1) Provide effective and sufficient infrastructure so that all students have access to safe and engaging school education
2) Counsellors or well trained social workers connected to schools/school complexes and teachers who will continuously work with students and their parents to ensure that children are attending and learning in school.
3) Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Programmes offered by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and State Open Schools will be expanded and strengthened for young people in India who are not able to attend a physical school.
NEP 2020 has laid emphasis on the strong regulation of Schooling system as the foundation based on which, the aspirations of the NEP 2020 w.r.t. School Education can be fulfilled.
The NEP 2020 admits the need for a strong school regulatory system, the integrity of which can be uplifted by means of transparency in terms of disclosure of finances, procedures, outcomes etcetera.
In this regard, the NEP 2020 proposes the following:
- Relieving the State Department of Education of numerous roles and responsibilities and restricting its task to overall monitoring and policymaking for continual improvement of the public education system. It will no longer be involved in the regulation of Schools.
- The Educational operations shall be handled by the Directorate of School Education, which shall work independently.
- An independent e State School Standards Authority (SSSA) shall be set up at the state level, which shall be responsible to ensure that Schools follow a minimum professional and quality standards.
- The SSSA will also specify the disclosure policies that are to be followed by Schools like source of finances etcetera to ensure public faith and increase accountability.
- Public and Private Schools (except Central Government Schools) to be assessed and accredited based on these Standards. For Central Government Schools a similar framework to be drafted by the CBSE in consultation with the Ministry of Education (the NEP 2020 mentions MHRD).
- The NEP 2020 also proposes a Periodic Health Checkup of the system of Education, which should be conduced at both the National and State level.
The NEP to ensure efficient resource allocation and utilisation has proposed the formation of School Clusters or Complexes. Based on surveys, it has come to attention that there are numerous Schools with single teachers, schools with less than 15 students per grade etcetera. Such small numbers and small schools make it difficult to efficiently manage the school.
To tackle this issue, the NEP 2020 proposes a system of consolidation and grouping of schools to ensure optimum utilisation of resources. The idea is that teachers and students perform well when they are engaging in communities and not in isolation.
Pooling of schools and their resources will ensure that it gets easier to provide such consolidated/ grouped schools with the requisite number of teachers, counsellors, social workers etcetera.
The NEP 2020 also proposes to increase the efficiency of such grouped schools by treating them as semi-autonomous units.
The NEP 2020 also proposes pairing of a Public and a Private school to ensure efficient resource sharing between the two which would ensure mutual benefit to each.
The Policy also recommends using the unutilised capacity of Schools during the non operating hours for community services and social well being of people.
Higher Education plays a very important role in an individual life. Higher Education broadens and increases the person’s knowledge and skill set which help’s the person attain their life goals ad objectives.
Ideally speaking, Higher Education is what sets up a person for the professional part of their careers and helps the person in being successful at it.
Higher Educational Institutes (‘HEI’), i.e. Universities and Colleges therefore play a very significant role in the overall development of a country by providing good, competent and qualified individuals.
The success of people in their professional lives, results in the success of the organisation which they are a part of, which eventually means success for the country and fulfilment of its goals.
To bridge the gap between the existing Higher Education System and what the government aspires it be, the following changes have been proposed
- To ensure optimal and efficient regulation of Higher Education, the NEP has proposed to revamp the Regulatory framework, which should look something like this
- To attain it's vision for Higher Education, the NEP 2020 requires a new perspective to what constitutes a HEI. The NEP 2020 proposes that a University would be defined as a multidisciplinary institution of higher learning that offers undergraduate and graduate programmes, with high quality teaching, research, and community engagement.
- It cannot be put in words how much the NEP 2020 has placed emphasis on the term 'Multi-Disciplinary'. It has been retierated numerous times in the NEP 2020.
- The NEP 2020 for this purpose has again taken inspiration from Ancient Indian Educational Institutions like Takshashila and Nalanda, which were home to 1000s of students from across the world. What these institutions primarily focused on were the holistic development of the students.
- The NEP 2020 also takes inspiration from the literary work of Banabhatta, a Sanskrit writer of seventh-century CE India, who was the Asthana Kavi (Court Poet) of Emperor Harsha. In one of his work 'Kadambari', a good education has been described as knowledge of the 64 'Kalaas' (Arts).
- These are what have formed as the foundation for a multi-disciplinary education, which has been defined in the NEP 2020 as education that aims to develop all capacities of human beings -intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional, and moral in an integrated manner. Such an education will help develop well-rounded individuals that possess critical 21st century capacities.
- It is therefore the recommendation of the NEP 2020 that all HEIs should aim to become Multi-disciplinary by 2030.
- A University, would comprise of 3 types of institutions:
1) Research-intensive Universities - those that place equal emphasis on teaching and research
2) Teaching-intensive Universities - those that place greater emphasis on teaching but still conduct significant research
3) Autonomous degree-granting College (AC) - will refer to a large multidisciplinary institution of higher learning that grants undergraduate degrees and is primarily focused on undergraduate teaching
- The NEP 2020 aims to eventually reach a point where colleges, with sufficient accreditation evolved into AC Colleges, and subsequently into Teaching and Research Intensive Universities.
- The policy also proposes to eventually phase out Single-stream HEIs like IITs and IIMs, and make them multidisciplinary, by adding departments that would supplement their primary field of education.
A recurring theme throughout the NEP 2020 has been the emphasis on getting rid of the rigidity prevailing in the education system. To ensure student's do not get stuck in a discipline, the NEP 2020 is offering multiple exit options for students:
Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Institutions and faculty will have the autonomy to innovate on matters of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment within a broad framework of higher education qualifications
- HEIs shall also move away from high-stakes examinations towards continuous formative assessment to further the goals of each programme
- All assessment systems shall also be decided by the HEI, including those that lead to final certification.
- HEIs shall move to a criterion-based grading system that assesses student achievement based on the learning goals for each programme.
- NEP 2020 also aims to drastically uplift the quality of Online and Distance Education to make it on par with the highest quality in class education.
- HEIs will focus on research and innovation by setting up start-up incubation centres; technology development centres; greater industry-academic linkages. This should help uplift India's low skill rate, provide employable graduates and push India's effort in research and development.
- The NEP 2020 also proposes internationalisation of education, both ways. The NEP 2020 proposes to reclaim the status of India as a 'Vishwa Guru'.
- For this purpose, International Student's offices will be set up in each HEI to provide guidance and assistance to international students.
- The NEP 2020 also proposes to provide greater mobility to Indian students who wish to study abroad, by transferring credits and various other assistance.
- The government will also sign MOU with other countries to be signed. The NEP 2020 also encourages good HEI to set up campuses outside India.
- There is also heavy emphasis on Research in the NEP 2020. The NEP 2020 while stressing out on the importance of research acknowledges the low prioirty given to Research in India.
- The spending of the Government on research has been around 0.69% of the GDP. This is very low compared to pioneers in Research and Innovation like USA (2.8%), Israel (4.3%) and South Korea (4.2%).
- The NEP 2020 for this purpose proposes the setting up of a National Research Foundation ('NRF'). The primary objective of the NRF would be to encourage a culture of research across Educational Institutions, recognise research and fund research programs.
- The NEP 2020 while stressing on the importance of education, acknowledges the significance of Education for all, while also acknowledging the lack of literacy among adults.
- For this purpose, the NCERT will be tasked with the responsibility of drafting a suitable curriculum for Adult Education and Life Long Learning. Schools and school complexes, outside of the school hours, on weekends, leaves etcetera, shall be used for the purpose of Adult Education.
- Volunteers, social workers and counsellors to play an important role in spreading of awareness among the masses.
- We discussed in the earlier section of this Article about the low rate of formal skill training in India. The NEP 2020 envisions to fix this.
- The NEP 2020 at the outset attempts to identify the causes for the low rate:
1) No defined pathway for vocational students after Grade 12
2) Higher Education giving priority to 'mainstream' academic students
3) Perception that vocational education is inferior and for the weaker students
- To uplift the status of Vocational Education in India, the NEP 2020 proposes setting up of a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education ('NCIVE').
- The primary objective of the NCIVE will be sharing innovative models and practices for Vocational Education across HEIs.
- The NEP 2020 envisions incorporation of Vocational Education across Middle and Secondary School, as well as the 3 and 4 year Bachelor's Proram.
- The Bachelor's of Vocational Education programme would continue, and the importance and relevance of the same is proposed to be increased.
Teachers a play a very vital role in the development of students and therefore the development of a Nation. The NEP 2020 accepts this notion with no reservations and has proposed meaningful changes for Teachers.
The NEP 2020 also acknowledges the low quality of teacher education, recruitment, services etcetera, which eventually results in low quality and motivation of teachers.
For the purpose of restoring faith in the noble faith of teaching and to reinstate the significance of 'Gurus', the NEP 2020 has proposed the following changes:
- Firstly, and most importantly, to ensure standardisation and quality control, the NEP 2020 has prescribed the minimum educational qualifications for teachers:
- All B.Ed. programmes will include training in techniques in pedagogy, including pedagogy with respect to foundational literacy and numeracy, multi-level teaching and evaluation, teaching children with disabilities, teaching children with special interests or talents, use of educational technology, and learner-centered and collaborative learning.
- All B.Ed. programmes will include strong practicum training in the form of in-classroom teaching at local schools. This is again an impressive change as the most successful courses and Institutes in India currently are the ones that have practical training natively incorporated in the curriculum, like Chartered Accountancy, Legal Studies etcetera.
- Teacher Eligibility Tests (TET) will be extended to cover teachers at all levels, and the significance and competency of the TET will also be increased.
- Teachers to also have autonomy in choosing their preferred method of pedagogy, so that they can teach in the manner they feel is the most effective for their students.
- Just like any other professional, continuous learning and development are the key for a successful career. The NEP 2020 has proposed a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program, under which teachers will be required to attend 50 hours of CPD program every year.
- As a part of this program, teachers will have the opportunity to attend local, state, national and International workshops. The teachers also to have access to an online platform for the sharing and collaboration of new and effective pedagogical practices.
- To promote efficiency and high quality of teaching, merit based reward system will be established to reward teachers by means of promotions, salary hike etcetera.
- A common guiding set of National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by 2022. This is very crucial, as all professionals throughout the world usually have to adhere to a set of Professional Standards. These standards will contain the basic responsibilities and expectations of teachers, guidelines regarding pay, hikes etcetera will also be covered.
- Creation of a healthy service environment and culture, building good infrastructure with internet facilities, safe drinking water, clean washrooms etcetera will be carried out. The idea behind this that the policy wants the teachers to concentrate on the core services of teaching and nurturing students, which can be best done when there is a healthy and safe environment.
- The Policy also proposes doing away with the 'harmful' practice of Teacher Transfers. This is a very important step, as it is important to have constant mentors and people to look upto at a young age.
The NEP 2020 is the first attempt made by any government in over 34 years to fix the education system and to bring about much needed changes in the field of Education.
The NEP 2020 has proposed revolutionary changes in education, especially when compared to the existing system. As a 26 year old, currently working in the Education Industry, I wish there was a restart option like in a video game so that i could go back to school to experience these new reforms.
However, none of this would make any sense if the policy is not implemented completely and sincerely. It should also be noted that a lot of innovative ideas were also mentioned in the Old Education Policy of 1986, which never got implemented, so i would suggest you take the NEP 2020 with a grain of salt (for the time being), until we receive some additional information.
A good primary education develops a kid into a good human being and a strong Higher Education opens the doors for a successful career. The NEP 2020 has the potential to transform the Nation and fulfill its dreams and aspirations to be a global leader.