NEP 2020 : Inclusive, innovative, comprehensive

Dr Tasaduq Hussain Itoo
The Union Cabinet on 29th July last year approved the National Education Policy 2020 — with an aim to build a robust mechanism in transforming both school and higher education sectors. This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. Built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability, this policy aims to transform India into a vibrant education society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and higher education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary–apt to 21st century needs and aimed at exploring the unique capabilities and talent of each student.
Salient Features of NEP 2020:
* New Policy aims for Universalization of Education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 % GER in school education by 2030
* NEP 2020 will bring 2 crore out of school children back into the main stream.
* New 5+3+3+4 school curriculum( replacing existing 10+2 curriculum) with 12 years of schooling and 3 years of Anganwadi/ Pre-schooling– corresponding to age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively
* Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, curricular, co-curricular, extracurricular activities, vocational streams in schools ; Vocational Education to start from Class 6 with Internships
* Teaching upto at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/ regional language Assessment reforms with 360 degree Holistic Progress Card, tracking Student Progress for learning outcomes; establishment of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), as a standard-setting body.
*GER in higher education to be raised to 50 % by 2035 ; 3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education
* Higher Education curriculum to have Flexibility of Subjects
* Multiple Entry / Exit to be allowed with appropriate certification
* Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate Transfer of Credits
*Formulation of National Book Promotion Policy
* National Research Foundation to be established to foster a strong research culture.
* Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards.
* A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021; a common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.
* Light but Tight Regulation of Higher Education, single regulator with four separate verticals for different functions
* Affiliation System to be phased out in 15 years with graded autonomy to colleges
* NEP 2020 advocates increased use of technology with equity; National Educational Technology Forum to be created
* NEP 2020 emphasizes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups
* New Policy promotes Multilingualism in both schools and HEs; National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit , Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation to be set up
* NEP 2020 emphasizes internationalization of education to be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.
Important Highlights
Ensuring Universal Access : NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondary. Infrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes, association of counsellors or well-trained social workers with schools, open learning for classes 3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs are some of the proposed ways for achieving this.
Reforming school curricula: The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for holistic development of learners by equipping them with the key 21st century skills, reduction in curricular content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking and greater focus on experiential learning. Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.
Multilingualism : The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit including other classical languages and literatures of India to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students. No language will be imposed on any student. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, for use by students with hearing impairment.
Assessment Reforms : NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim.
Holistic Multidisciplinary Education: The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.
Regulation: Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
Online Education and Digital Education: NEP 2020 envisages a comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered. A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
By broadly going the New Education Policy 2020, I would say that the policy has far more positives than negatives and is more inclusive, innovative, comprehensive.