The National Education Policy: Reboot 2020

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The National Education Policy: Reboot 2020

Dr. Gitartha Talukdar | August 15, 2020 23:40 hrs

The first national educational policy of India recommended by the Kothari committee was announced in 1968 by the Indira Gandhi government. The next policy reformation took place in 1986 by the Rajiv Gandhi government. Also, there was certain modification (common minimum programme) of the 1986 NEP in 1992 by the UPA government led by P.V. Narsimha Rao.  

So, now a new education policy recommended by the Padma Vibushan Dr. K. Kasturirangan committee, for the country after 34 long years is passed by the government. The concern of the hour about the National Education Policy (NPE) 2020 is not what will be done by it? But, how will it be done? What is the roadmap to fulfill it? Or will it just remain a vision document like the previous NEPs.

The NEP 2020 retains some old policies like the 6% GDP expenditure on education; learning in mother tongue up to grade5. The NPE 2020 envisages a new curricular and pedagogical structure for school education i.e. the 5+3+3+4 model, which if implemented well will bring our school education level at par global standards. To add on to that there is a flexible curriculum for students (no hard separation of streams like science, commerce, humanities after class10), emphasizing core concepts and skills and minimize rote learning, equal emphasis on all subjects (no hierarchy of subjects). 

There will be innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into mainstream, open learning at classes 3, 5, and 8 through NIOS and state open schools. Also, all school students will take exams in class 3, 5, 8 conducted by appropriate authority, and board exams for classes 10 and 12. A new assessment centre, PARAKH (Performance assessment, Review, Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic development) will be set up as a standard-setting body. 

The NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to 8 years of age attending preschools/anganwadis. The planning and implementation of ECCE will he carried out jointly by the ministries of HRD, Women & Child Development, Health & Family Welfare, and Tribal affairs.

The policy pays attention to school teachers as well: robust recruitment, career development, progressive learning. The document also mentions about undoing the practice of 'para-teachers' (unqualified contractual teachers) by 2022; ensuring rigorous teacher preparation through 4 years integrated B.Ed. programmes at multidisciplinary institutions (the current 2 years B.Ed. program will continue till 2030). There are few additional key focus areas viz., Education technology, integration of vocational education into all educational institutes, adult education, promotion of Indian languages.  

Among them, in the education technology, there is an aim of recording all data related to institutes, teachers, and students in digital form. Vocational education start from class 6 with internships. Adult education is a reiterated idea with few changes. 

For high-quality translations of materials of importance between various Indian languages as well as between foreign languages and Indian languages, an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) is to be established.

For higher education, the NPE 2020 envisages a vision of institutional restructuring and consolidation. There will be a consolidation of current 800 universities and 40,000 colleges into around 15,000 large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions. They will be categorized into 3 types of institutes viz., Research universities, Teaching universities, and autonomous degree colleges. High-quality educational institutes to be established in geographically disadvantaged areas. 

Also, for the acceleration of new architecture Mission Nalanda and Mission Takshashila are to be launched.

The policy aims for liberal education with broad multidisciplinary exposure; 3-4years undergraduate degree programmes with multiple entries and exit options (degree with honours with research work, exit with 2years advanced diploma or a 1year certificate program); flexible masters degree program (2 years & 1 year for 3 years & 4 years undergraduate programmes respectively or integrated 5years as was available earlier).

Academic bank of credits to be established to facilitate the transfer of credits for students dropping out in between their education to revert back to studies whenever they want.

The National Higher Education Qualification Framework will articulate the learning outcome which will be aligned with by National Skills Qualification Framework to ensure equivalence and mobility.

Engaging effective pedagogical practices; assessment of students not only on academic aspects but also on capacities and dispositions; multi-dimensional support to students for a better outcome; expansion of open and distance education; globalization of education; establishment of Inter-University Centre for International education within selected Indian Universities for optimization of learning and overall development of students. 

The NEP 2020 emphasizes on faculties of higher educational institutions too. It aims for an adequate number of faculties in every institution; undoing the practice of ad-hoc faculties; robust recruitment based on academic expertise, teaching capacities; career development; continuous professional development; freedom to make curricular choices for their courses.

Regarding the governance of higher educational institutions, the policy directs to make all higher educational institutes into autonomous self-governing entities having independent boards with complete academic and administrative autonomy. The standard-setting, funding, accreditation, and regulation will be conducted by separated independent bodies, eliminating concentration of powers and conflict of interest.

The National Higher Education Regulatory authority will be the sole regulator of higher education including professional education. UGC will transform into Higher Education Grants Council (HGEC). New General Education Council will develop the National Higher Education Qualifications framework. 

 

Accreditations done by NAAC will be the basis for the regulation of institutes. State department of higher education will be involved at the policy level and State council for higher education to facilitate peer support and best practice sharing. Although there is mere mention about common regulatory regime for the public and private institutions as in previous policies, only time will reveal how effective it is against the growing power of education mafias.

A major & controversial reform that the policy brings regarding professional education is stand-alone technical universities, health sciences universities, legal and agriculture universities or institutes in these or other fields will be discontinued. All institutes offering either professional or general education must gradually evolve into institutes offering both by 2030. 

The NEP 2020 aims for boosting research and innovation across the country through the National Research Foundation. Autonomous bodies to be set up through an Act of Parliament. Increase funding for researches in all disciplines; building research capacity at academic institutes and the universities; creating beneficial links between researchers, government, and industries; recognizing outstanding researches through special prizes and seminars. The NRF will initially have 4 major divisions: Science, Technology, Social sciences, Arts & Humanities.

A think tank and custodian of Indian education: Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog/National Education Commission to be constituted chaired by the PM with Union Minister of Education as the Vice-chairman having direct responsibility for all matters.

Overall, the NEP 2020 is esthetic, prospective with a special interest in the development of language and literature learning, especially indigenous languages. It is still a matter of concern about how effectively will it be implemented.

(The author is a dental surgeon, securing his graduation in 2019 from Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand State University (MJPRSU), Uttar Pradesh, and is currently serving as an intern in Uttar Pradesh. The views expressed in the article are his own.)
 

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