Friday, Jul 31, 2020 13:15 [IST]
Last Update: Friday, Jul 31, 2020 08:07 [IST]
We have waited for this for over three decades. After a gap of 34 years, India’s education policy is set to get a major makeover. On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet approved a revamped roadmap to better education standards in the country.
The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, focuses on overhauling the school curriculum, with “reformed” Board exams, a reduction in the syllabus to retain “core essentials” and a thrust on “experiential learning and critical thinking”. This is being hailed as a landmark in reforms to school and college education to prepare Indian students for a 21st century world where critical thinking will determine the future of nations.
NEP 2020 bids farewell to rote learning. The focus is on new curricular structures to inculcate scientific temper and mathematical thinking in students; allow multiple entry and exit across higher education levels; establish a single higher education regulator replacing UGC, AICTE and NCTE; cap fees in colleges and universities; expand school education to cover 3 to 6-year-olds; and end rigid separation of arts-science and curricular and extracurricular streams at school.
The NPE-2020 makes school education compulsory from 3 years through “early childhood care and education” (ECCE) component for which the NCERT will draft a play-based curriculum. Children aged 3 to 6 years are currently covered by informal anganwaris under the Women and Child Development Ministry.
The new policy replaces 10+2 curricular structure with 5+3+3+4 system corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years, respectively.
Three years of pre-primary (covering 3 to 6-year-old) will have an NCERT play- based curriculum focused on foundational literacy; classes 6 to 8 will see subject introduction with multi-disciplinary approach; in classes 9 to 12 there will be no separations between arts and sciences or curricular and extracurricular activities, vocational or academic streams, as we see today. Students can study physics with fashion designing and baking with chemistry. There will be full flexibility. The curriculum will be limited to essential concepts so that children have the time to think and learn. Here the curricular structure is fashioned on the western model of play-based creative learning.
With vast changes planned, its adoption could result in a significant transformation of India’s education system. As experts, decipher the 60-odd pages of the new policy, it aims to universalize education gradually, introduce a new curricular and pedagogical structure, offer students a better range of subjects, promote regional languages and improve governance. At higher levels, the new policy may even open the field up to foreign universities of repute.
If implemented well, it could address many of the ills that Indian education suffers from, and create a foundation for an economy that must adapt to the information age. Yet, its success will lie in its finer details. How clearly the policy lays down specific objectives and the means to achieve them will determine the level of support it gets. This is crucial, given that suspicions within academia of a particular ideological inclination seem to have trailed the project for half a decade. It must pass the test of acceptability across a diverse cross-section of India. Like our Constitution, its neutrality must speak for itself.