Structural reforms to visionary approach: How NEP 2020 proposes mega changes in education

Updated: Aug 13

The new education policy attempts to bring about transformation in the present education system after nearly three decades.

Susmita Debnath

Education has been accepted as a human right since the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to education. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ The Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’ The National Education Policy 2020 is in line with the goals of the 21st century and SDG4 as it speaks of equity and inclusion as the cornerstone of all educational decisions.

Keeping in mind the requirement of contemporary India, a policy which speaks of job-creation, logical thinking, universalization of education and preparing children for a “life beyond schooling” was much awaited. From ancient times, the Indian education has been the guiding light for the world. This era demands education that involves personality development, character building and practicality. The curriculum should be such that holistic development of the child takes place.

The new education policy attempts to bring about transformation in the present education system after nearly three decades. The policy attempts to bring about reforms in both school and higher education. The 10+2 structure has been replaced by 5+3+3+4 structure. It suggests inclusion of children of the age-group 3-6 years under the base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in order to ensure overall learning, development and well-being.

The policy focuses on multilingualism and the power of language learning. The medium of instruction uptil grade 5 and preferably till grade 8 and beyond must be home language/mother-tongue/local language. The three language system is to be adopted which is left to the discretion of the State/UT. There would be no hard separation between subjects/learning. Innovative pedagogy is to be introduced in order to transform the teaching-learning process. It aims to significantly reduce the weight of school bags and the textbooks by reducing the curriculum to its core essentials.

Affordable, high-quality and energised textbooks will be made available along with free digital version at DIKSHA platform. A curriculum would be formed so that the learners can acquire a thorough knowledge about India and its rich culture. It would be mandatory for students to acquire skills in health and nutrition;physical education, fitness, wellness and sports. The policy attempts to increase emphasis on mathematical thinking, problem solving, computational thinking like coding and contemporary subjects like AI, Design thinking, Holistic health, GCED etc.

A drastic reform in the assessment system has also been suggested. It would be changed from summative to formative. Census assessments would take place at key stage in classes 3, 5 and 8 to track achievement.

The system is increasingly trying to move away from rote learning. Board exams will be made easier, as they would primarily test core capacities. There will be a transformation in the culture of assessment as well. Continuous tracking of learning outcomes of each child would be done. An AI-based software would help track the progress of the students enabling them to make optimal career choices.

Education will now be knowledge-oriented rather than being marks-oriented. A National Assessment Centre would be set up in order to bring about synergy in the board exams conducted by various Boards of Assessments. There exists a provision where the States/UTs are required to redesign Progress cards in schools to make them holistic, 360 degree and multidimensional report. It would include progress in curricular as well as co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Thus a child good in sports will no longer be earmarked as a back-bencher.

The policy attempts to integrate vocational education at all levels. ‘Lok Vidya’ or knowledge developed in India would be made accessible to all. All students of grades 6-8 would intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc. to develop a vocational craft. A practice-based curriculum for Grades 6-8 would be appropriately designed. This would help the child explore his subjects of interests and also increase his/her chances of employability. It aims at making the education system online and digital.

Expansion of existing e-learning platforms like SWAYAM, DIKSHA etc. is to be ensured.

The policy lends a positive direction to the Indian system of school education. The replacement of the 10+2 structure by the 5+3+3+4 structure is a great leap towards making the learners acquainted with the environment of a school. Earlier pre-school years were not included in the realm of formal education. Children normally went to Anganwadis where they were not properly prepared and hence were not school ready. With the pedagogical structure being broken down into clusters, it would be easier to bring back the drop-outs into the mainstream again. This step would act as ladder to reach the goal of achieving 100% GER.

English is an operative language. It has often been observed that children who had their mother tongue as their medium of instruction tend to have poor spoken English skills. Hence, provision is to be made that spoken english is also given equal preference as the mother-tongue/home language/local language. The policy speaks about breaking the wall between subjects. Here comes the question of applicability and mindset. For a very long time, people have been grueling between the clear defined divisions of subjects. Whether the pole-apart subject combinations will have any applicability or not is a matter of serious thought and also whether people are ready to take such a risk.

The policy aims at making our learners not only good citizens but also develop them as global citizens. It aims at nation-building. The policy aims to secure India’s future and its leadership role in the upcoming fields. Hence it plans to introduce activities such as coding from middle school, but does not specify how. The introduction of vocational education in the curriculum would help the child explore his/her subjects of interests and also increase his/her chances of employability. The policy plans to digitise learning in India. It would be interesting to watch how the government strives towards achieving this dream. One can only hope that the status of the National Education Policy 2020 is not reduced to ‘Good on paper but poor on ground’ and all political-social-bureaucratic will and resources are used to turn it into a reality.

(Sushmita Debnath is an Intern at Academics4Nation. She is doing MPhil in Geography from Revanshaw University.)

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