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National Education Policy, 2020

The Indian government has brought a revolutionary change in the Indian education system. They have addressed all the major points of criticism in their new policy called the new national education policy, 2020. This policy is based on the theme of the quality education and overall development of learners.

A lot of things are promised including revamped course structure, multidisciplinary institutions, changes in exam structure, emphasis on vocational courses, and digitization of education, etc. It is a policy that brings long-overdue positive changes. Students will decide their courses themselves.

This policy gives students the freedom they deserve; they can choose their own subjects. Now the fee structure will be decided by the central government and every educational institution must come under a uniform standard of education. Every education institution will adopt new policies of the central government for the betterment and overall development of a student’s life. It was launched on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

It aims to overhaul the country’s education system. Its announcement was made by the union minister for information and broadcasting (I & B). It was earlier reviewed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for which a draft was prepared by a panel of experts led by former ISRO chief K.Kasturirangan.

History
In1968 First national educational policy was prepared during Mrs. Indira Gandhi's government with the objective of improving quality education and formulation of certain principles to promote the development of education in the country.

In 1986, the second national education policy was introduced during the Rajiv Gandhi government with an objective to provide education to all sections of society, mainly focused on scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, and women.

In 1992, this policy was modified in P.V. Narasimha Rao Government with a framework to guide the development of the education sector in the country. The principles included in the NEP- 1968 were also included in this new policy along with some modifications. And after over 34 years, the changes have been brought in the national education policy in 2020.

In 2014, the BJP manifesto included this new education policy. In 2015, when Smriti Irani became HRD minister, then a committee was formed and its chairman was Mr. TSR Subramanian. This committee submitted its report on 7th May 2016. Following are the main objective of this committee was:
  1. To improve the quality of education.
  2. The credibility of education.
  3. To address the gaps in implementation.
    On 10th October 2016, the ministry released this draft policy and demanded suggestions and recommendations, but those recommendations were not fulfilled. After that, a new committee was formed in which Former Dr. K. Kasturirangan (chairman) and made a 9 members committee. They drafted the national educational policy in 2019 which was finally approved by the union cabinet in 2020.
     
  4. 4 most important changes in the new NEP 2020
    1. HRD ministry now renamed the ministry of education.
    2. M. Phil would be discontinued.
    3. The government proposed to increase the GDP investment in education from 1.6% to 6%
    4. Focus on the gross enrollment ratio that will be increased to 50% by 2035.

Positive points of this policy
  1. School education
    The earlier Indian education system tried to fit the students into three categories, after the class 10th into -science, commerce, and Humanities. It was very problematic, if students chose one stream, they could not study the subjects of the other stream. But more often than not, the students were interested in a variety of subjects. But now the government has changed this and adopted a multidisciplinary approach. Upon the implementation of this policy, students can study Political Science with Physics and Chemistry with History. Students can study science commerce as well as art subjects. It means that science, commerce, and humanities streams of strict division will be no more.
     
  2. School education pattern changes
    A second major change by the government is that they have replaced the existing 10+2 academic structure with a 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 system. Now it has become more similar to the education system of the Western developed country. In the 10+ 2 system education began at the age of 6. In this new system, education would now start at the age of 3. Preschool would be from the age of 3 to 6 and then class 1 and 2 for the next two years. Then would be the preparatory stage for the next 3 years in which focus would be upon playing, discovery, and activity-based classroom learning. Class 6 to 8 would be the middle stage in which experimental learning would be focused upon Sciences, mathematics, arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities. Next would be the second stage of class 9 - 12 in which multidisciplinary studies would be focused upon. Students would be provided with one flexibility and more choices.
     
  3. Mother tongue as a medium of instruction
    Mother tongue to be a medium of instruction till 5th grade, preferably till 8th grade and beyond will be home language, the local language, mother language, or regional language in both public and private schools, but it is not compulsory. Sanskrit will be offered in all types of education. Other classical languages and literature will be available as an option.
     
  4. Focus on vocational education
    Focusing on vocational education, the government has said that in the next 10 years, it will be integrated into all the schools and higher educational institutions in a phased manner. It is being aimed that by 2025, 50% of the learners in schools and higher education institutions will have exposure to vocational education. Vocational training is given a lot of importance in developed countries. Jobs like welding, electrician, carpentry, and plumbing. These jobs are viewed at the same level as the rest of the skilled jobs. In India, these jobs are looked at with disdain, which is a mindset that needs to be changed.

    The government has implemented some structural changes to change this mind-set which is praiseworthy. For example, right from class 6, students would have to do an internship in vocational training Jobs. The student would be imparted experience in such jobs. There would be a bag less period of 10 days, where the students would take no bags to schools, but experience jobs like carpentry, welding, gardening, etc. This is very critical thinking without which we cannot become a developed country until and unless these changes are implemented. The government had fortunately taken a step in the right direction regarding this.
     
  5. Coding
    Coding would be taught to children from class 6 and importance given to board exams in class 12 and 10th would be reduced.
     
  6. 360-degree holistic progress card
    Another interesting and positive policy change is that the report card is handed to students at the year-end, that is the progress report, until now, the teacher assesses how the student has performed in the entire year according to them. Now the assessment will be done by not only the teachers but the student will also self evaluate them and say how they have performed in the entire year according to their perspective. Not only will there be a self-evaluation, but the rest of the students of the class will also evaluate and say how they have performed in the entire year according to their perspective.

    Not only will there be a self-evaluation, but the rest of the students of the class will also evaluate and say how a particular student has performed according to the perspective of the rest of the classmates. this is a very useful step because the critical thinking is a very important aspect to evaluate oneself by oneself to think about what one is doing and critically analyze what one's own decisions and in the coming life, when the school and college life gets over, there is no one to tell students how their performance is going. They have to do a self-evaluation of how they are performing in life and what they want to do ahead in life. So this thinking should be imparted at an early stage to the students to evaluate one and to see what others think about them and what a student evaluation is from their perspective.
     
  7. GDP percentage increase in education
    The earlier government spent less on education. Now the government has decided that at least 60% of the GDP will be spent on education. Right now it is 3%, which is insufficient and compared to developed countries and the rest of the developing countries. India spends very less on education in measures of the percentage of the GDP. So 6% is a great target. But a lot depends upon the implementation as well as how soon is the government able to achieve it. But obviously, as a first step, setting a target of 6% is commendable.
     
  8. A blow to rote learning
    There was a problem with rote learning in the Indian education system. Most of the exams are designed in a way that students need to memorize things and all that they learn evaporates in a few months because they gave exams by Rote learning. So the government has all also said that it would try and change this as well. The exams would be designed in a way that would not require much memorization or Rote learning. But how exactly this will be achieved is not clearly mentioned, so it remains to be seen.
     
  9. Removal of M.Phil
    Now, the M.phil courses to be discontinued and declared null and void for the education system. All the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. levels will be interdisciplinary
     
  10. Promotion of multidisciplinary education
    Multidisciplinary education will be promoted, at IIT and IIM level, there will be set up of multidisciplinary education and research universities (MERUs) as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country, and to foster research culture and building research capacity across higher education, national research foundation will set up as apex body.
     
  11. Higher education commission of India (HECI)
    HECI will be a single umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding legal and medical education. There will be no difference between public and private higher education standards; both will be governed by the same set of norms relating to accreditation, regulation, and academic standards. HECI will have four different independent verticals, namely:
    1. For regulation -National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC)
    2. For standard setting-General Education Council (GEC)
    3. For funding-Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC)
    4. For accreditation-National Accreditation Council (NAC)
       
  12. Changes for graduation (four- year graduation)
    Undergraduate and postgraduate programs will be more flexible with the help of multiple entries and exit options. For example -a student started a degree - B tech degree and one year later, he realized that he did not want to continue with it because he didn't like it. So he can drop Midway. All the subjects that he has studied for one year. He can take their credits and get it transferred to another. This is extremely useful and already existed in most of the developed countries. This option includes another feature- say the degrees are of 4 years
    1. If someone drops out after one year, then he or she will get a certificate.
    2. If someone drops out after a second year, then he or she will get a diploma certificate.
    3. After three years, he or she will get a bachelor degree
    4. And after 4 years, a bachelor’s research degree.
      If you have already done a four-year degree in bachelor's, MA, and MSc, degrees would only be of 1 year and the two years if you have a bachelor's degree in three years. This is again consistent with the International standards.
       
  13. Top 100 foreign colleges in India
    Top foreign Institutes have been given permission to set up their campuses within India. Laws will come into place and only then they will operate in India. Indian University can also set up a campus outside India. What's interesting is that this is a policy that Congress wanted to bring in when it was in power but back then BJP had opposed it and now it itself is bringing it in.
     
  14. For teachers
    A common National professional standard will be set up for all the teachers by 2022. A 4 years integrated BA degree would be the minimum qualification required to become a teacher by 2030. The national curriculum framework for teacher education, 2021 (NCFTE), will be made.

The negative or controversial points of NEP
  1. On the basis of language.
    This policy has been criticized the most on the point of language by the people. This policy reads that “wherever possible the medium of instruction till 5th grade and preferably till Class VIII and beyond will be home language, local language or the regional language.” that is, the education of the child until the 5th grade should be in-home language, mother language, and regional language. it is nowhere written that doing so is compulsory, but those who criticize it, says that this will force the schools do not teach in English and instead teach in regional languages, which will not be beneficial for most of the people.

    This might have a detrimental effect. It is written in the policy that no language would be forced although it is also said that they would try to make Sanskrit and other classical languages available at every level in school as an option and after class 9th, the options of the foreign language will also be available like they are right now. It is important to give priority to English because today English, in a way, has become a Global Language of Communication worldwide. No matter which country you come from, it is essential to learn English if anyone wants to do anything at an international level. It has become essential to learn English in every country and this is an advantage for India in comparison to China and the rest of the South Asian countries because there, people are not able to learn English due to this extent. Since people in India speak English and they are able to compete in western countries, the US, and Europe.
     
  2. Anti-democratic
    Several student and teacher bodies have criticized this policy of being anti-democratic. Some political parties have also criticized it. They alleged that the states were not consulted before making this policy. Since education is a concurrent subject that comes under both the center as well as the state list. so the state should have been consulted more before introducing this policy.
     
  3. Promotes centralization
    It is also alleged that this policy promotes centralization because this policy has a point that states that a new teacher's training board will be set up for all kinds of teachers in the country and no state can change. That the power has been taken from the states and placed with a central government. The powers have been made more centralized that the decision making regarding education would be done by the center.
     
  4. Theoretical policy
    Fourth and finally some point of Criticism said that this policy is very theoretical. It does change things theoretically. But to implement them practically in real life is going to be a very long drawn and difficult process. Because there are so many government schools where children in the 5th class have no teachers and sound infrastructure is not available in schools. The students are not educated properly and they drop out early. There are so many Government schools with the serious dearth of available teachers. So how are they going to impart vocational training and give the option of a variety of subjects to children? All this seems impossible to give. This is another point of Criticism because all these changes being brought superficially are extremely difficult to implement in reality. It is a legal point of Criticism and it is to be seen how much of these policies are implemented and what changes are seen on the ground level in reality.

Conclusion
It can be concluded that NEP is a way for transformation and reforms in schools and colleges sector in the country. It brings choice and vision but needs champions and implementers to achieve this target. There are also some cons of NEP 2020 like the new language policy, where the regional language is to be used as the language of instruction. The flaws in this policy need to be addressed. How this policy is implemented will determine its success.

The discussion should be about reducing the current flaws and achieving that vision that NEP has set. If this policy is implemented in its true vision, it can shift towards a more scientific approach to education and the new structure can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world.

Written by: Sandeep Rana, BA+LLB, (5th year student) at Chandigarh University

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