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The National Education Policy 2020

The National Education Policy 2020

Context:

The National Education Policy 2020 has been approved by the union cabinet. The new policy replaces the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.

Background

  • In 2018, a committee headed by K. Kasturirangan submitted its report on the new education policy. 
  • Objective: 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 the 21st century. The policy also aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.
  • The new policy is based on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability.

Key highlights of the new policy:

Early Childhood Care & Education with new Curricular and Pedagogical Structure:

  • The 10+2 structure of school curricular is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure.
  • This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under the school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for the development of the mental strength of a child. 
  • The new system will also have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.
  • National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) will be developed by NCERT for children up to the age of 8.
  • The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.

School Education:

  • Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education
  • Under the new policy, about 2 crores out of school children will be brought back into the mainstream.
  • The new policy emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- preschool to secondary.
  • Following steps have been taken:
    • Innovative education centers 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, 
    • An association of counselors or well-trained social workers with schools, 
    • Open learning for class 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 

School Governance

  • Schools can be organized into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance.
    • It will ensure the availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries, and a strong professional teacher community.
  • Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education
    • States/UTs will set up an independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). 
    • Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. 
  • The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders.

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy:

  • The policy calls for the setting up of a  National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. 
  • States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.
  • A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

School curricula and pedagogy:

  • The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for the 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 a 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.
  • Vocational education will also start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.
  • NCERT will develop a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21.

Assessment Reforms:

  • The policy 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.
  • A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development),  will be set up as a standard-setting body.

Equitable and Inclusive Education:

  • Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities, and disabilities.  
  • The policy also includes setting up of a Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. 
  • Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process.
  • Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. 
  • Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras.

Robust Teacher Recruitment:

  • Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes.
  • A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.

Classical languages:

  • Sanskrit will be offered as an option at all levels of school and higher education.
  • Other classical languages will also be available, possibly as online modules, while foreign languages will be offered at the secondary level.
  • Mother tongue
  • Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/ mother-tongue/ local language/ regional language. This will be followed by both public and private schools.

Language issue:

  • Language issues caused the most outrage because the original draft had called for mandatory teaching of Hindi to all school students.
    • However, the final policy document makes it clear that no language will be imposed on any State.
  • The three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of also the students themselves, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.

Other provisions:

  • A new curricular framework is to be introduced, including the preschool and Anganwadi years. 
  • A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will ensure basic skills at the Class 3 level by 2025. 
  • Students will begin classes on coding as well as vocational activities from Class 6 onwards.
  • Indian knowledge systems, including tribal and indigenous knowledge, will also be incorporated into the curriculum in an accurate and scientific manner.

Implementation:

  • Education is in the concurrent list of schedule 7 of the Indian constitution, also most states have their own school boards.
    • Therefore, the state governments would have to be brought on board for the actual implementation of this new policy.

Source: The Hindu