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National Education Policy 2020: A Dominant Vision?

Authors : Pratham Mittal and Muskan Choudhary



"The new National Education Policy focuses on development of better individuals and from better individuals to a better country. This policy gives priority to our youth's understanding, their decisions and beliefs. It envisions an India-centric education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high-quality education to all." - Honourable Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi

Education is rudimentary for accomplishing replete human potential, developing conscientious and unbiased society, to promote development. The world is undergoing instantaneous changes in the knowledge landscape. Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by India, seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Considering the 2011 census of India, nearly one-fourth of the Indian population does not possess the ability to read and write in a single language. Therefore, such a censorious aspiration calls for a reconfiguration to reinforce and learn.


This aperture between the current state of learning and what is requisite needs to be bridged. The National Education Policy 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century, to sermonize the many augmenting developmental imperatives of India. This policy propounds the emendation and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to concoct a pristine system which revolves around foundational and cognitive activities with social, ethical and emotional expertise.





Exposition


In a significant shift from the 1986 policy, which advocated a ‘10+2’ framework of school education, the new policy pitches for a '5+3+3+4’ design corresponding to the respective age groups. This brings early childhood education under the scope of formal schooling. The school education has been characterized as the foundation stage, preparatory stage, middle stage followed by the secondary stage. It accentuates that until class 5 students should be taught in their mother tongue or regional language. Sanskrit and other foreign languages will also be given an emphasis. The language policy is an eclectic parameter, depending on the states and institutions to consummate the implementation. Coding will be introduced from class 6 to engage in experiential learning. The midday meal scheme will also be augmented to include breakfasts. Examination guidelines would be established by an assessment body, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development).


A 4-year multidisciplinary bachelor's degree in an undergraduate programme with multiple exit options including professional and vocational areas has been put forward (A certificate after completing 1-year of study; Diploma after completing 2-years; Bachelor's degree after completion of a 3-year; 4-year multidisciplinary bachelor's degree). To match degree education with western models, Master’s in Philosophy (M.Phil.) courses will be phased out. It also proposes phasing out all institutions offering single streams and that all universities and colleges must strive to become multilingual by 2040.


The policy proposes that India's education be internationalized. In India, foreign universities can now set-up campuses. Both private and public universities would have set fees. To ensure that all students are taught by vehement, passionate, highly proficient, professionally trained, and well-equipped teachers, a 4-year Bachelor of Education will be a minimum requirement to become a teacher by 2030. Teacher recruitment process will also be strengthened and made transparent. Legislative approval has been granted for the creation of new educational institutes and bodies:

● National Education Commission, headed by the Prime Minister of India. ● National Research Foundation, to improve research and innovation. ● Special Education Zones, to concentrate on the education of underrepresented groups in impoverished regions.

● Gender Inclusion Fund, for abetting the nation in the education of female and transgender children.

● National Educational Technology Forum, to facilitate exchange of ideas on technology usage.


Critical Analysis


NEP 2020 accents the criticality of childhood education and longevity of its advantages throughout. It appreciates the betterment in enrollment, and it articulates concern at country's ineptitude to retain students in school till grade 12 hence, envisaging a new pedagogical structure for school education that is responsive to the exigency and interests. Policy reiterates the thought that quality education is dependent upon the efficient faculty. It aims to appropriately integrate tech into all levels of education. It surmises that vocational education must be an important aspect, aiming to provide access to vocational education to at least 50% of all learners by 2025, in anticipation to eloquently achieve 100% youth and adult literacy by 2030. It envisions self-governing, autonomous higher education institutions, led by competent and ethical individuals for the holistic growth of the country.





However, policy is silent on agencies like the Education Funding Agency. It creates a dearth of clarification regarding pedagogical and teacher education-related issues that impede the teaching and learning of early literacy. It makes no mention of how faculty should be prepared to teach fundamental literacy in a multilingual country. It lacks fundamental reform advocated for revamping the accountability structures of institutions. Instead, it provides school management committees. SMCs already mandated under the RTE act are ineffectual. There is no mechanism, like innovative curricula or extension units, for tier-II or tier-III institutions to decipher the local problems. The importance and responsibility of state governments in conferring education to the masses has not been emphasized.



Conclusion


The dilution of infrastructure as mandated by the act would be a heaven-sent boon for operators of low-cost budget institutions but will need to be accompanied by strong measures to ensure outcomes. It boils down to implementation being crucial for its effectiveness. If introduced in its entirety, has the potential to put India up at par with the world's leading nations. It lays out a propitiously buoyant vision for the future if successive governments can bide true to it. However, for it to be a truly national vision, it would be pertinent for it to be discussed and ratified by the Parliament in a manner, which allows it to stand the test of time. Without parliamentary approval, any such policy remains an executive decision which runs the risk of being arbitrarily overturned by a succeeding government with vacillation in a developing country like India.


References

1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/reading-new-education-policy-ind ia-schools-colleges-6531603/

2. https://www.cfr.org/blog/strategic-consequences-indias-covid-19-crisis 3. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/a-long-road-the-hindu-editorial-o n-national-education-policy-2020/article32233472.ece

4. https://niepid.nic.in/nep_2020.pdf


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