The Union Cabinet on 29 July approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) and renamed the Ministry of Human Resource Development as the Ministry of Education, as it used to be before Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister in the period 1984-89, had changed the name, influenced by the corporate sector. Making the announcement, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said there would be a single regulator for all higher education institutions and MPhil would be discontinued.
In a bid to ramp up digital learning, a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) would be created. “E-courses will be developed in eight regional languages initially and virtual labs will be developed,” Amit Khare, the higher education secretary, said.
Top 100 foreign colleges will be allowed to set-up campuses in India. According to the education ministry document, listing salient features of policy, “such (foreign) universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.”
Standalone higher education institutes and professional education institutes will be evolved into multi-disciplinary education. “There are over 45,000 affiliated colleges in our country. Under Graded Autonomy, Academic, Administrative and Financial Autonomy will be given to colleges, on the basis of the status of their accreditation,” Khare said.
Former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan headed the committee that suggested changes in the education system under the NEP. Drafted in 1986 and updated in 1992, the NEP was part of the election manifesto of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party ahead of the 2014 election.
Board exams will change under NEP
One regulator will govern all higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges.
There will be nlrms common to private and public higher education institutions.
MPhil courses will cease to exist.
Application of knowledge will shape board exam questionnaires.
One’s home language, mother tongue ― referred to as the “first language” in linguistic studies ― or the language of the region will be the medium of instruction up to class 5.
There will be common entrance exams for admission to universities and higher education institutions
School curriculum will be reduced to core concepts; integration of vocational education from Class 6
NEP on school education
Ensuring universal access at all levels of school education
NEP 2020 emphasises ensuring universal access to school education at all levels ― pre school to secondary. some of the proposed ways for achieving this:
- 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 counselors or well-trained social workers with schools
- open learning for Classes 3, 5 and 8 through NIOS and state open schools
- secondary education programmes equivalent to Classes 10 and 12
- vocational courses
- adult literacy and life-enrichment programmes
About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into main stream under NEP 2020.
Early childhood care & education with new curricular and pedagogical structure in NEP
With emphasis on early childhood care and education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognised globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.
The National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT) will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8.
The education system will deliver the ECCE through a significantly expanded and strengthened institutionalised mechanism including anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum.
The Ministries of Education, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs will jointly carry out the planning and implementation of ECCE.
Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy
Recognising foundational literacy and numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by the Ministry of Education. 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.
The government, under the NEP, will formulate a national book promotion policy.
Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy
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.
Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.
A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.
Multilingualism and the power of language
The policy has emphasised mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.
Sanskrit will be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options.
No language will be imposed on any student.
Students will participate in a fun project or activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Classes 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative.
Several foreign languages will be offered at the secondary level.
For the benefit of the hearing-impaired, Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardised across the country, and national and state curriculum materials developed.
Promotion of Indian languages
To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes .
Assessment reforms in NEP
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 Classes 3, 5, and 8. The appropriate authority will conduct these exams.
‘Board exams’ for Classes 10 and 12 will continue, albeit redesigned with holistic development as the aim.
The Narendra Modi government is setting up a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) as a standard-setting body.
Equitable and inclusive education
NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. A special emphasis id on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDG), which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities. This includes setting up of a gender inclusion fund and also special education zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
Children with disabilities will get an enabling atmosphere to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs.
The union government will encourage every state and district 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.
Schools can be organised into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance and ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.
Standard-setting and accreditation for school education
NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters. States/UTs will set up 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.
NEP on higher education
Increase GER to 50% by 2035
NEP 2020 aims to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. There will be 3.5 crore new seats in higher education institutions.
‘Holistic’ multidisciplinary education
The NEP document says it envisages “broad-based, multi-disciplinary and holistic” undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification.
Undergraduate education can be of three or four years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, Certificate after a year, Advanced Diploma after two years, Bachelor’s Degree after three years and Bachelor’s with Research after four years.
The government will establish what it calls the Academic Bank of Credit for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.
Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERU), at par with IITs, IIMs, will come up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
The government will create a National Research Foundation as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education structure, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have four independent verticals, namely
- 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.
The HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
Rationalised institutional architecture
Higher education institutions will transform into large, well-resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions providing high quality teaching, research, and community engagement.
The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from research-intensive universities to teaching-intensive universities and autonomous degree-granting colleges.
Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.
Motivated, energised, and capable faculty
NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty thorugh clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment , freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.
NEP on teachers and teaching
Robust teacher recruitment and career path in NEP
Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators.
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.
Education of teachers
The NCTE will formulate new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, in consultation with NCERT.
By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior or retired faculty ― including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages ― who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring or professional support to university and college teachers.
Money to learn
The government will make efforts to incentivise the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. It will expand the National Scholarship Portal to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.
Open and distance learning
This will be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER. Measures such as online courses and digital repositories, funding for research, improved student services, credit-based recognition of MOOCs, etc., will be taken to ensure it is at par with the highest quality in-class programmes.
Online and digital education
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 in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
Technology in education
An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management.
Internationalization of education will 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.
All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.
The policy aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.
Funding of NEP
The union and state government will work together to increase the public investment in the education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.