Technological advancement with the advent of Internet has changed the whole world, and it is inevitable that educational policies must also be revised to keep pace. Approved on 29 July, 2020, the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) outlines the vision of India's new education system. It replaces the previous National Policy on Education, 1986. The policy is a comprehensive framework for elementary education to higher education as well as vocational training in both rural and urban India. The policy aims to transform India’s education system by 2040. The draft NEP was submitted in 2019 by a panel led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan. It was later released by Ministry of Human Resource Development, followed by a number of public consultations.
The need for NEP
In India about 60% of population lies in the age group of 10 to 60 years and for success, they should be fully equipped with relevant skills which should be taught to them as foundation in schools. The educational system was working on the guidelines issued by NEP 1986 and RTE Act 2009. And a dire need for a modified educational system was felt. The policy aimed to increase public investment in education from 4.4% of India’s GDP to 6%, and change more than 290 million students life.
Indeed, with the quickly changing employment and global ecosystem, it is becoming increasingly important that children not only learn but learn ‘how to learn’. Education must move towards less content, and more towards learning about how to think critically, be creative and multi-disciplinary, and to innovate, adapt, and absorb new material in novel and changing fields.
Provisions of NEP and implementation
The NEP proposes sweeping changes including opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities:
·dismantling of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
·introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with multiple exit options
·and discontinuation of the M.Phil programme.
·In a significant shift from the 1986 policy, which pushed for a 10+2 structure of school education, the new NEP pitches for a 5+3+3+4 design:
·3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle), and 14-18 (secondary).
·This brings early childhood education or pre-school education for children of ages 3 to 5 under the ambit of formal schooling.
·The mid-day meal programme will be extended to pre-school children.
·The NEP says students until Class 5 should be taught in their mother tongue or regional language.
·The policy also proposes phasing out of all institutions offering single streams
·All universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2040.
·A Higher Education Council of India (HECI) will be set up to regulate higher education. The council's goal will be to increase gross enrolment ratio. The HECI will have 4 verticals:
·National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), to regulate higher education, including teacher education, while excluding medical and legal education.
·National Accreditation Council (NAC)
·Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), for funding and financing of universities and colleges.
·General Education Council (GEC)
·The fees of both private and public universities will be fixed.
The NEP only provides a broad direction and is not mandatory to follow. Since education is a concurrent subject, the reforms proposed can only be implemented collaboratively by the Centre and the states. The government has set a target of 2040 to implement the entire policy.
The government will set up subject-wise committees with members from relevant ministries at both the central and state levels to develop implementation plans for each aspect of the NEP. The plans will list out actions to be taken by multiple bodies, including the HRD Ministry, state Education Departments, school Boards, NCERT, Central Advisory Board of Education and National Testing Agency, among others.
In 2021, India completed one year of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and launched several new schemes:
·Centre rebranded the 26-year old national mid-day meal scheme to give a hot cooked meal to 11.8 crore government school students from Class 1 to 8, with the Cabinet approving a proposal to rename it as the PM POSHAN (Poshan Shakti Nirman).
·National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR) - will provide diverse education eco-system architecture for development of digital infrastructure, a federated but interoperable system that will ensure autonomy of all stakeholders, especially States and UTs
·National Education Technology Forum (NETF) - provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, smart boards, computing devices to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration
·Academic Bank of Credit - envisaged as a digital bank that shall deposit Credits awarded by Registered Higher Education Institutions, for Courses pursued therein, in the Academic Bank Account of the student
·Vidya Pravesh - preschool preparation programme for Class 1st students.
Progress and advantages
In the past year since its launch, many changes have occurred. Curricula in schools have been revised to include subjects such as financial literacy and artificial intelligence.
When it comes to the medium of instruction, the mother tongue or a regional language has been introduced. This applies even to engineering courses and a few institutes have been chosen to implement this initiative in the 2021-22 academic year.
The primary objective of NEP 2020 was to reduce pressure on the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams. Consequently, board exams administered by the Central Board of Secondary Education will have a higher number of multiple-choice and analytical questions from 2022.
NEP allows the top 100 universities in India to offer online degree
courses to make them affordable and accessible. Many online platforms are offering a range of courses in partnership with such institutes.
Many multidisciplinary streams have started across institutes. For instance, engineering colleges will not only offer technical courses but also commerce and humanities subjects.
The policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs.
According to a UNICEF report, India’s education system is one of the largest in the world, with more than 1.5 million schools, 8.5 million teachers and 250 million children from varying socio-economic backgrounds. It is therefore quite understandable that reforms in this sector will be met with hurdles and shortcomings, and quite a few concerns have been raised:
·Many experts argue that NEP is laying the roadmap for privatisation in education, which will further commercialise education and the existing inequalities will be widened.
·6% of GDP is to be spent on education but such an increase in funding has not been achieved.
·Achieving the multi linguistic educational instruction will be difficult for a country like India that has so much diversity and languages and dialects.
·Reforms is education can only be achieved through support from states as it is a concurrent subject.
·Standardisation of testing methods and scoring will promote rote learning.
·Stress on digitalisation will make many with no access to internet or devices to drop out.
Way forward – conclusion
In the coming years, many things must be kept in mind so that the goals of NEP can be achieved and many more students can take advantage of the policy. There is a great emphasis on teachers’ education and improvement. 4 year B. Ed program will be mandatory by 2030. The Ministry must work closely with the state governments to ensure that NEP is stabled evenly all across the country. It is important that realistic and achievable goals be set up and the states and the centre must work together to implement them. periodic reviews can be held in this regard. Since digitalisation and use of internet has already become an important part of education, it is also important that NEP include and make access to ‘digital’ a crucial initiative.