Fortunately, the National Education Policy has been approved by the Indian Union Cabinet on 29th July 2020, thereby paving way for the significant transformational reforms in the entire education system in the country. The launching of the Policy is undoubtedly a long-awaited welcome move by the Indian government which after more than three decades focuses again at the primacy of education over human resources. This is why the hitherto working Ministry of Human Resources has been renamed as the Ministry of Education after 34 years. Although the human resource is inevitably important for the growth and welfare of any country in the world yet it is education that can only make the human resource worthy or capable to contribute to the service of the country as well as the entire humanity.
The Policy sets off sweeping changes in the entire education system in India with a view to universalise education to all along with prospective structural and institutional changes leading to forge a common formula at schools up to secondary level and credit-based multidisciplinary three to four-year undergraduate programme with multiple entries and multiple exit option with a view to facilitate students. As a marked shift from the current 10+2 pattern of school education, the “new NEP advocates for a “5+3+3+4” structure corresponding to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle), and 14-18 (secondary).” The policy provides for mother-tongue or regional language to be taught to students up to Class 5. The continuing 10+2 pattern in school education is to be modified with a new pedagogical and curricular restructuring of 5+3+3+4 covering ages 3-18. Presently, “the children in the age group of 3-6 are not covered in the 10+2 pattern as Class 1 begins at the age of 6 years. In the new 5+3+3+4 structure, a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from age 3 is also included.” The stress is also to be given more on practical or vocational education at the school level.
The entire school curricula is to be revised to lay emphasis on national glory as well as glorious past of the country with considerable flexibility to ease the syllabus load upon students. Apart from “overhauling the existing curriculum” the policy lays thrust on “easier” Board exams, a reduction in the course contents to retain “core essentials” and emphasizes on “experiential learning and critical thinking”, in school education. As provided, the curriculum content is to focus on its core essentials, and make the much-needed space for critical thinking”, instead of simply cramming the subject-contents thereby educating with a view to expand mental horizons and also to make knowledge-seeking an inquisitive and interesting learning endeavour.
Further, higher education is also witnessing major reforms in the Education Policy where competition with foreign universities and digitalisation of knowledge will be some of the significant aspects. Permission to “top foreign universities to set up campuses in India will be granted with a greater proportion of students getting vocational education”. Also, the emphasis will be put on multi-disciplinary education even in the premier institutes of the country like IITs. This is why a university will emerge as a “multidisciplinary institution that has to offer undergraduate and graduate programmes, with high-quality teaching, research, and community engagement.” As provided, the duration of the undergraduate degree courses will be of 3 or 4 years, with multiple exit options wherein a learner can exit after one year of study with a certificate, with a diploma after two years and with a bachelor’s degree after three years. The multidisciplinary Bachelor’s degree programme of 4 years may be a preferred option. Again, the M. Phil. programme is to be discontinued. The policy provides that all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2040, and institutions offering single-stream are to be discontinued.
Also, the UGC, NCTE and AICTE will be “dismantled and a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. The HECI is to have four independent institutions viz 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 their accreditation.” Though there is centralisation of hitherto existing different authorities under one roof to monitor the entire higher education system in India, except medical and legal education system, but that is necessary to streamline the entire higher pedagogy to face global competition with a view to project the Indian talents occupying prominent positions on the global centre stage. Again the nation is to stand fully confident amidst a prevailing precarious scenario of rising fissiparous and separatist tendencies aimed at destabilising and disintegrating India at the behest of external hostile powers like Pakistan and China and many global terror networks.
Thus the NEP is to rectify the errors and demerits of the earlier education policies and also to prepare India capable to face the challenges and specificities of the modern world with over-sweeping globalization and liberalization and booming information technology with increasing prospects of Artificial Intelligence. That will lead India to become a global knowledge hub in the world with speedy digitalization of knowledge and strengthening of online learning infrastructure, particularly relevant in the current Corona crisis.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.