National Education Policy

 Mannat Shuja
(Study Falcon)

Union Ministry of Education, formerly known as the Human Resource Development Ministry on Wednesday, 29 July, introduced the National Education Policy 2020. This policy has received mixed reaction from the critics some have called it ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘long due’ and others worry about its implementation. Its vision as stated in the draft is “The National Education Policy 2019 envisions an India centered education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all.” NEP is said to transform school education and higher education. Along with transition in appointment of teachers and their qualification.

Lets see in detail about the clauses mentioned in the draft.

Under School education first comes Early education and child care .The objective set for primary education is “Every child in the age range of 3-6 years has access to free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education by 2025.”

To meet these goals the government is said to initially Investment in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). ECCE focuses on quality pre education which is said to result in better incomes and retaining ability. As 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of developmentally appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child’s early years to promote sustained and healthy brain development and growth. According to the draft it has been estimated that the development of a strong ECCE program is among the very best investments that India could make, with an expected return of rupee 10 or more for every rupee 1 invested. Due to not enough option in the pre primary arena many children enroll in class 1 before the eligible age. Hence these students suffer a lot as the lag behind. So to terminate this practice this draft caps the age group that can be enrolled in a specific class that is age 3-6 years must admit themselves in pre primary schools. The first stage under the ECCE is known as “Foundational stage” it is divided into two parts, that is, 3 years of Anganwadi/pre-school + 2 years in primary school in Grades 1-2; both together covering ages 3-8. This will focus on developing self-help skills, motor skills, cleanliness, the handling of separation anxiety, being comfortable around one’s peers, moral development, physical development through movement and exercise, expressing and communicating thoughts and feelings to parents and others. New and improved Anganwadi system would be established along with expansion of mid day meal program. In this revised mid-day meal program both breakfast and mid-day meal will be served. There will be detailed planner including Language week, Mathematics week , Educational Melas to encourage student participation and creativity.

Two relatively new initiatives will also be introduced  National Tutors Programme (NTP) will be instituted, where the best performers in each school will be drawn in the program for up to five hours a week as tutors during the school for fellow (generally younger) students who need help. Selecting tutors from URGs whenever possible will be particularly encouraged. Being selected as a peer tutor will be considered a prestigious position, earning a certificate from the State each year that indicates the hours of service. A Remedial Instructional Aides Programme (RIAP) will be instituted initially as a temporary 10-year project to draw instructors – especially women – from local communities to formally help students who have fallen behind and bring them back into the fold. A three-months long “school preparation module”, will also be practiced for 1 grade students so that they are prepared for new teaching methods and have time to adapt.

To ensure that drop-out rate decreases security and conveyance will be provided especially to the girl child and disabled students.

A new curricular and pedagogical structure for school education, we are aware with the present 10+. But a new structure will now be followed that is known as 5+3+3+4 design corresponding to the age ranges of 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years, respectively.

  • 5 years of the Foundational Stage: 3 years of pre-primary school and Grades 1, 2.
  •  3 years of the Preparatory (or Latter Primary) Stage: Grades 3, 4, 5.
  •  3 years of the Middle (or Upper Primary) Stage: Grades 6, 7, 8.
  • 4 years of the High (or Secondary) Stage: Grades 9, 10, 11, 12.

For holistic development and empowerment of students previously followed single streams will be abolished and in place of that a multidisciplinary courses will be initiated. There will be no hard separation between ‘arts’ and ‘science’ streams, or between ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ streams. The terms co-curricular or extra-curricular will no longer be used they will now come under curricular only.  Students will be able to choose ‘major’ and ‘minor’ subjects, they can choose their main subject For Example: Biology and along with that study Music. Hence there will be a huge pool of subjects to choose from without any restrictions.

Education in local language or mother tongue will be provided until Grade 5 but preferably till at least Grade 8. Medium of instruction will be the home language/mother tongue/local language. Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. Bilingual approach and exposure to three of more language since grade 1. Bilingual textbooks and inclusion of Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

National Testing Agency strengthened to conduct college and university entrance examinations: The autonomous NTA will comprise of numerous academic, educational, and psychometric experts, and from 2020 onwards will administer aptitude tests and tests in specific subjects that can be taken on multiple occasions during the year in order to reduce the intense and unnecessary pressures of the university entrance examinations system.

Revamping report cards that’s is student assessment , it will be redesigned to primarily test core concepts and skills along with higher order capacities such as critical thinking, analysis, and conceptual clarity rather than rote memorization. Teachers will prepare their own quizzes, examinations, and portfolio assessments in this spirit to track students’ progress and revise personalized lesson plans accordingly for each student as needed. All students will take State census examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 in addition to the Board Examinations in Grades 10 and 12.

Teachers form the core of any education system hence regulating quality teachers will be mandatory. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a four-year liberal integrated B.Ed. degree. The two-year B.Ed./D.El.Ed. (now to be referred to only as B.Ed.) programmes will also be offered, by the same multidisciplinary institutions offering the four-year integrated B.Ed.; the two-year B.Ed. will be intended only for those who have already obtained Bachelor’s Degrees in other specialised subjects. All B.Ed. programmes will include training in time-tested as well as the most recent advances in pedagogy, including with respect to foundational literacy and numeracy, multilevel teaching and evaluation, teaching CWSN, using educational technology, and learning-centered and collaborative learning; all B.Ed. programmes will also include strong practicum training in the form of in-classroom teaching demonstrations and student-teaching at local schools.

Inclusivity is something that was much needed in the education system and now with NEP we have it. Inclusion of SC, ST and OCB students , transgender students and children with special needs. CWSN will have dedicated infrastructure to support their growth. 

Establishment of school complexes will be undertaken. It will be a cluster of public schools , this way there will be exchange of resources and maintenance of uniformity throughout. A school complex will be a cluster of public schools in a contiguous geography offering education across all stages – Foundational to Secondary. Each school complex will have an SCMC comprising representatives from all the schools in the complex. The SCMC will be led by the head teacher/principal of the secondary school in the complex and will have the head teachers/principals of all schools within the complex as well as one teacher and a civil society member from the SMCs of each of the schools.

Higher education

Its objective is to “Revamp the higher education system, create world class multidisciplinary higher education institutions across the country – increase GER to at least 50% by 2035.”

Goals for higher education and its direction have been clearly mentioned in the draft stating that there will be various new inclusions into the current system.

  • multidisciplinary universities and colleges
  • liberal undergraduate education
  • faculty and institutional autonomy
  • merit based appointments of faculty and career management
  • A National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established to grant competitive funding for outstanding research proposals across all disciplines, as determined by peer review and success of proposals. Most importantly, it will aim to seed, grow, and facilitate research at academic institutions where research is currently in a nascent stage, through systems of mentoring by active research scholars, who may have retired or be near retirement at top research institutions
  • Higher education institutions will be governed by Independent Boards, with complete academic and administrative autonomy: Clear merit based procedures for appointments of the Board of Governors (BoG), the Chancellor, and the Vice Chancellor/Director/Chief Executive of HEI will ensure elimination of external interference, including from the government, and will aim to engage high capacity individuals who are invested in and have strong commitment towards the institution

New institutional architecture for higher education will be introduced segregated to meet specific goals and to host desired students.

  • Research universities: These will focus equally on research and teaching: they will dedicate themselves to cutting-edge research for new knowledge creation while at the same time offering the highest quality teaching across undergraduate, masters, Ph.D., professional, and vocational programmes.
  • Teaching universities: These will focus primarily on high quality teaching across disciplines and programmes, including undergraduate, masters and doctoral, professional, vocational, certificate and diploma programmes, while also significantly contributing to cutting-edge research.
  • Colleges: These will focus almost exclusively on the goal of high quality teaching. These institutions will largely run undergraduate programmes, in addition to diploma and certificate programmes, across disciplines and fields, including vocational and professional.

Transforming affiliating universities is another step towards meeting these goals. All affiliated colleges, must develop into autonomous degree granting colleges by 2032, or merge completely with the university that they are affiliated to, or develop into a university themselves. Disadvantaged geographies will be a priority – there will be at least one of the 3 types stated above institution for every district within 5 years. Degree-granting powers are, at present, vested only with universities. This will change, as autonomous colleges will also gain the freedom to grant their own degrees.

Missions Nalanda and Takshashila; Mission Nalanda will ensure that there are at least 100 research university and 500 teaching universities, HEIs functioning vibrantly by 2030, with equitable regional distribution. Mission Takshashila will strive to establish at least one high quality HEI in or close to every district of India, with 2 or 3 such HEIs in districts with larger populations, each with residential facilities for students.

To enable this overall transformation of undergraduate education, the curriculum shall have. Towards a More Liberal Education. A common core curriculum / subject distribution requirement for all students; and one or two area(s) of specialization. Higher education institutions would also have multiple exit and entries. That is if a student chooses to opt out during 4 year under graduation program he/she may do so and with a specific can re-join without start over again. Another remarkable move is that if a student chooses to exit after 1 year in under graduation they would receive a certificate, after 2 years they would receive a diploma.   After completing 4 year integrated graduation, a student has to do only 1 year Masters. After 3 years off graduation one is supposed to do 2 years Masters and then go for doctorate. M.phil will be discontinued. Admission to all undergraduate programmes of public HEIs will be through a process of assessment through the NTA.

Two relatively known concepts of imparting education but with fresh parameters will be introduced. These are – Open and distance learning (ODL)and Massive Open Online Courses(MOOC). ODL must play a significant role in increasing GER to 50%. Innovation and expansion of ODL must be encouraged, while ensuring quality. India enrolls the second largest number of students in MOOCs after the USA. The SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) platform is a recently-launched Indian platform for offering MOOCs that will be used to help individual educators and HEIs to cater to this demand. HEIs will be encouraged, through funding and other support mechanisms, to put some of their best courses online.

Taking higher education to an international level is also present in NEP.

  • Encouraging Collaboration between foreign and Indian institutions will be facilitated for twinning programmes – a program of study whereby students enrolled with an Indian educational institution may complete their program of study partly in India, complying with relevant regulations, and partly in the main campus of a foreign institution, and vice versa.
  • Courses on Indian languages, arts, culture, history, and traditions: Universities seeking to become attractive destinations for foreign students will receive funds to develop and offer specially designed courses on Indian languages, arts, history, Ayurveda, yoga, etc.
  • Facilitating entry of international students and researchers: The ease of entry for international students will be improved. The RSA will examine the formalities required by various ministries to achieve this and will make all the information available on a ‘Study in India’ Portal that will be set up by MHRD.
  • Facilitating stay and integration of incoming students within local communities: Admissions for international students are facilitated by the 15% supernumerary quota that has already been in place for some time.
  • Student exchange: Indian students will be supported to have ‘a global immersion’ experience through short-duration visits to reputed universities abroad. Movement of undergraduate and graduate students from Indian universities to take up semester-abroad programmes, short-term internships, training or project work in international institutions will be encouraged
  • Faculty mobility: Faculty members at Indian institutions will be encouraged to get exposure to foreign universities, and vice versa
  • Inviting foreign universities into India: Select universities i.e. those from among the top 200 universities in the world will be permitted to operate in India.
  • An Inter-University Centre for International Education (IUCIE) will be set up along with an International Education Centre (IEC) within selected Indian universities to support internationalization of higher education in universities. Necessary budget provision will be made available to operationalise these Centers.

Setting up of a National Research Foundation to foster research based education and intuitions. It will be set up through an Act of Parliament, as an autonomous body of the Government of India The primary activities of the NRF will be to

• Fund competitive, peer-reviewed grant proposals of all types and across all disciplines.

 • Seed, grow, and facilitate research at academic institutions, particularly at universities and colleges where research is currently in a nascent stage.

 • Act as a bridge between researchers and relevant branches of government as well as industry, so that research scholars are constantly made aware of the most urgent national research issues of the day, and so that policymakers are constantly made aware of the latest research breakthroughs.

 • Recognize outstanding research and progress achieved via NRF funding/mentoring across subjects, through prizes and special seminars recognizing the work of the researchers.

In line with the spirit of providing autonomy to educational institutions to charter their own course, fees for professional education courses will be left to the management of educational institutions, both public and private. They will however, be required to fulfill their social obligations and provide scholarships to students from the socially and economically weaker sections of society. Up to 50% of students qualifying for admission must receive some degree of scholarships, and a minimum 20% of these must receive full scholarships.

The NRF will be given an annual grant of  20,000 crores or approximately 0.1% of GDP will be conferred with the autonomy to set its own finances, governance rules, and statutes. Given the imperative to increase research and innovation.  National Research Foundation 271 activities widely and across the country, this initial grant will be increased progressively over the next decade as the country’s capacity for quality research is developed. The NRF will consist of four major divisions – Sciences; Technology; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities. Each having its own associated Divisional Council. For each such subject, the Divisional Council will constitute an empowered ‘Subject Committee’ of peers having a broad range of expertise within the subject. Each Subject Committee will have a ‘Chairperson’ who is a distinguished expert in the subject. The Chairperson of each Subject Committee will be appointed by the Divisional Council.

Governance, Regulation and Accreditation

  • Independent Board of Governors: All HEIs, public and private, shall be governed by an independent BoG, which shall be the apex body for the institution, with complete autonomy.
  • The BoG shall select a person from amongst themselves as the Chair or invite someone from outside to join the Board and serve as the Chair of the BoG. The role of the Chair of the BoG will be a non-executive role.
  • The BoG shall be the apex body of the HEI; there shall be no parallel structure. Internal governance and management structures of all HEIs shall be redesigned and reconstituted to ensure this.
  • The BoG may have 10-20 members, with one third of the members being from within the HEI.The relevant governments all together may have up to three nominees on the BoG.. The BoG should have adequate representation of alumni, local community and experts from fields and disciplines of concern to the HEI.
  • The BoG shall be responsible for the institution, in the manner of the responsibilities of all independent board governed institutions.
  • All publicly-funded HEIs must form a BoG by 2020. The first such BoG shall be constituted by the existing apex governance body with membership as specified in the Policy.

Formation of an advanced regulation body . Where in National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) would be the sole governing body of all HEI’s. Implementation of the new regulatory regime Within 6 months of its formation, NHERA shall develop a detailed plan for the implementation of the new regulatory regime, in collaboration with NAAC and other relevant bodies. NAAC shall function as the top level accreditor, and will issue licenses to as many Autonomous institutions. For the next 10 years, the graded accreditation (GA) of HEIs with concomitant graded autonomy, as per the system already in place, will continue. This will be reviewed for improvement by 2020. After 10 years (by 2030) there shall only be a “Yes or No” accreditation – Binary Accreditation (BA). It is this step that shall fully empower HEIs and give them autonomy. NACC will play a central role in the new higher education system. This shall require a completely new imagination of NAAC, The UGC shall transition into the higher education grants commission HEGC, continuing with the responsibility for funding institutions and individuals. Funding norms for institutions shall be re-examined, simplified, and streamlined.

To incorporate innovative technologies with the field of education a new National Educational Technology Forum will be set up. 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 improve learning, assessment, planning, administration, and so on. To remain relevant in the fast-changing field of educational technology, the NETF will maintain a regular inflow of authentic data from multiple sources including educational technology innovators and practitioners, particularly at the grass-roots level, and will engage with a diverse set of researchers to analyze this data.

Integrating educational technology into the school curriculum by the following measures-

  • From age 6 onwards, computational thinking will be integrated into the school curriculum.
  • All students are likely to have access to connected personal computing devices by 2025.
  • The school curriculum will offer optional subjects focused on programming and other advanced computer-based activities at the late upper primary and secondary stages.

A new apex body, the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or National Education Commission, will be constituted. It will be headed by the Prime Minister. The RSA will be responsible for developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis. The Union Minister for Education (UME) will be the Vice Chairperson of the RSA. The RSA will consist of approximately 20-30 members. Membership will include some of the Union Ministers, in rotation, whose ministries impact education directly (e.g. health, woman and child development, finance), as well as a few Chief Ministers of States, in rotation, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, Vice-Chairperson of the Niti Aayog, the senior-most Secretary in the Ministry of Education, and other such senior bureaucrats/administrators as the government may deem appropriate.

To drive such a huge revolution , finances take up a vital role. The Policy envisions significant increase in public investment in education. This would go up from the current 10% of overall public expenditure in education to 20%, over a 10-year period. Two important trends of the Indian economy will support these increased investments. First, the rapid pace of economic growth will increase the size of the Indian economy, making it the world’s third largest economy by 2030- 32. The estimated size of the Indian economy (according to NITI Aayog, 2016) then is USD 10 trillion, up from the current USD 2.8 trillion. Second, driven by the systematic measures of the government, the tax-to-GDP ratio is likely to improve, continuing the trend of the past 4 years where it has improved by 1.5%.The overall public investment on education will be scaled up substantially in the coming years to realise the goals of education that the nation requires. While this Policy reaffirms the national commitment of 6% of GDP as public investment in education, it recognises that this would only be possible as India’s tax-to-GDP ratio improves. The policy envisions that the overall public expenditure on education must increase to 20% of all public expenditure – Central and State governments combined – for the appropriate Policy actions to be undertaken. Philanthropic institutions will be establish to fund this education policy.

Response from the other side has been quite mixed. Where some have praised the new policy but many have condemned it and demanded changes as well.

Addressing a press conference here, Congress leaders MM Pallam Raju, Rajeev Gowda and Randeep Surjewala said the NEP seeks to create a digital divide between the poor and the rich as it promotes privatisation of public education and “this will lead to it going out of reach of the middle class and the disadvantaged in the society”. “All in all, the NEP 2020 misses the fundamental goal of human development and expansion of knowledge,” they said
Former HRD Minister Pallam Raju said “there are going to be severe challenges due to the over-centralisation of education sector”.”While the intent seems to be there, there are serious shortcomings in the policy,” he said.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday, 30 July, said that the National Education Policy 2020 is a ‘highly regulated yet poorly funded model’ while adding that it offers suggestions on ways to reform the education sector, without mentioning how exactly the plan would be implemented.

Coming to an individualistic Opinion. After going through various articles and the actual draft I can conclude that there is no doubt about the fact that this move is commendable and revolutionary and was much needed. But we cannot deny that there are various loopholes to this. Earlier this same government discontinued 4 year courses in Delhi University and now has brought it back, this is quite conflicting. The draft itself is very fancy but ambiguous on the implementation aspects, which obviously is vital. There are also questions arising on the formation of various offices under the name of NEP which would centralize the education system. Even though states have been given the power to mold it accordingly but without hampering its ‘uniform characteristics’ is again contradictory. Another Issue is disparity between high earning and low earning families. With various provisions on scholarship , NEP had moved ahead with autonomous and privatizing educational institution which was highly criticized by various teaching organizations and universities. NEP could be a guiding light and had the potential to transform India but only if satisfies the needs of all sections of the society and is implemented well.