“If we teach students today, as we taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.”
These words by famous pragmatist and educationist John Dewey marks the importance of timely reforms in education. In our country, the tone for such reforms is set by National Education Policies.
A little about National Education Policy
A National Education Policy is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country.
A new NEP usually comes along every few decades. India has had three, to date. The first came in 1968 and the second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively; the NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister. The third is the NEP released on 29th July 2020 under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.
NEP 2020 & Future of Education
As mentioned in the original draft, the key vision of this policy is
“an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower.”
The scientific approach of the new Education Policy can be seen as a long leap we required to step into the 21st century. This policy will be a big sigh of relief for every parent who wishes for a more holistic and fulfilling education for their children.
Let’s take a look at some of the key highlights of the National Education Policy and how they can be a game-changer in terms of the education of your children.
1. Restructured Pedagogical & Curricular Structure to 5+3+3+4 design
The major highlight of the new Education Policy is the new curricular structure which has been designed very scientifically. The ‘foundational’ age-group has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for the development of children during their early years. This change in the curricular structure brings CBSE on the same level as other international curricula.
Foundational(age group 3 to 6 for pre-school and age group 6 to 8 for class I & II) where the focus will be on multi-faceted, multi-level play-based learning.
Preparatory(age group 8 to 11) which will be focused on building the solid groundwork for learning across various disciplines.
Middle Stage (age group 11 to 14) will see the introduction of more specialized subjects while the emphasis will be on experiential learning.
Secondary Stage (age group 14 to 18 years) will be 4 years of multidisciplinary studies that will focus on a subject-oriented pedagogical style with the scope of deep and critical thinking.
As mentioned in the document as well, 85 % of a child’s cumulative brain development takes place till age 6. Previously, the lack of attention to the early age foundations was the cause of increasing learning anxiety and fear among children when they moved to higher standards. The new structure will lead to a more smooth and confident transition for young children from one stage of cognitive development to the next.
To make the early age learning more appealing and accessible, a national repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy will be available on Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing(DIKSHA)
2. Curricular Integration of Essential Subject & Skills
It’s high time when the development of 21st-century skills moves from just being a topic of discussion to being part of curriculum and practice.
The new policy talks in length about various measures to ensure the holistic development of children.
In the purview of future jobs and societal needs, it has been proposed to include some important subject matter that involves important skills such as mathematical thinking, scientific temper, and innovativeness.
It will provide your child, increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study across Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Sports, and Vocational subjects. Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade and will include internships. This means that your child can opt for Mathematics and Fashion or Artificial Intelligence at the same time, much like the 50+ subjects offered by IB and Cambridge.
The greater focus is on experiential learning – a key element in international education and curriculum options. This means more projects, better real-life training, more interactions, and better skills.
For many talented and enthusiastic children, language becomes an unfortunate barrier while exploring career opportunities. To ensure a better exposure of foreign languages, the policy has offered the introduction of several foreign languages at the secondary level.
Reduce curriculum content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking
To shift the focus from the old and boring rote learning and memorization style towards much important exploratory learning, the policy has proposed to reduce the content of the curriculum to its core essentials only. This will bring a big smile on your child’s face as we all remember the burden of the syllabus. To add to the joy of going to school and increased participation of children, the policy has proposed bagless days which will consist of enrichment activities such as art, quizzes, sports, etc.
3. Transforming Assessment for Student Development
As an educator, I have been around a number of discussions and projects to discuss how to transform assessments to make it more suitable for student’s development rather than just evaluation. There are a number of crucial additions to this section to ensure that your child gets free from the burden of exams and the assessment
A Holistic 360 degrees Multidimensional Report Card is focused on presenting a unique picture of your child rather than just focusing on their performance on a few parameters. Each child is special in their own way and to preserve this the report cards are proposed to reflect self-assessment, peer assessment, their progress in project-based, inquiry-based learning, etc.
There’s a major shift from summative assessment to a more competency-based regular assessment that tests analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. Instead, your child will take school examinations in grades 3, 5, and 8. To reduce the extreme burden, students will have the option to take the 10th and 12th board exams on one of the two occasions every year. In addition, your child will be able to choose from a number of subjects in which they take Board Exams.
The flexible approach towards the big finale that is board exams and a more practical approach towards assessment will provide relief to the parents who sometimes feel the compulsion to drive their kids to the coaching centers.
PARAKH (Performance Assessment Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be set up which will ensure the fulfillment of the new assessment objectives.
4. Support for Gifted Students
As a step to ensure that the new curriculum captures the uniqueness of your child and brings out the best of their abilities, the policy has introduced certain measures to identify and encourage the gift of every child. Each institute will be required to have Project-Based Clubs and Circles such as Math Circles, Music and Dance Societies, Chess Circles, Poetry Circles, Drama Circles, and others.
To add on to the excitement of children, there will be Residential Summer Programmes in various subjects.
This will be a big incentive for every child to spend their time more joyfully in their schools.
5. Holistic and Multidisciplinary Higher Education
To make sure that all the good that happens during the school should not fade away in the future, a number of crucial reforms have been proposed in higher education as well.
To make sure that the learning style at the school level is aligned with higher education, the programs at university levels have also been restructured similarly.
Multidisciplinary HEI(Higher Education Institutes) will be set up across the country to ensure students become well rounded across disciplines, including artistic, creative, and analytic subjects.
This will help to preserve the learning methods and mindset of your children while moving from school to university. Multidisciplinary and option laden schooling coupled with similar options at higher levels will provide children with a number of options and they can look forward to utilizing their skills and interests in a more efficient way.
Undergraduate Programs with Multiple Exit Options
To strengthen the choice of students there will be undergraduate programs of 3-4 years where students will have multiple options to move ahead with 1 year, 2 years, or 3-year exits with appropriate certifications.
To ensure the safety of students in terms of their career options there will be an Academic Bank of Credits(ABC) which will digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognized HEIs.
Worries regarding the international level of education and sending your children to study abroad to get a better education might become a thing of the past.
Under the scheme of Internationalization, the policy suggests different measures to reduce the gap for students who are looking forward to adding the international flavor to their education.
Major HEIs are suggested to have their campuses set up in various other countries and there will be a similar provision for the best Universities around the world to set up their campuses in India.
According to the University's network, CBSE has the least percentage of students opting to study abroad. Out of 31,454 students, only 1,492 went abroad for higher education. On the other hand, students from IB schools have the highest percentage which is 59.6%.
This can be a very good leveler for kids who drop the idea of studying abroad because of affordability or lack of awareness.
It has been a long wait of 34 years to finally have a policy that may be a promising step towards the betterment of Education.
It is worth noting that a National Education Policy is just a framework that provides a broad direction but it’s not mandatory to follow. Provided that Education is a concurrent subject, both the central and state government can make laws on it. It will be crucial to see how the implementation of these proposed measures take place.
The document looks, there will be a lot of challenges while implementing them considering the quantum of changes that have been proposed across the structure. There have been major challenges while implementing the previous policies due to lack of funds, changing government, etc.
As a parent, you can still be very hopeful and optimistic about a better future for your child with the direction that the National Education Policy 2020 gives to our traditional education system.