Cabinet approves new NEP

Making board exams easy, reduction of curriculum to core concepts, replacement of 10+2 structure of school curricula with a 5+3+3+4 structure and medium of instruction up to class 5 in mother tongue or regional language, are among the many school education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy.

The NEP was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Elaborating on the reforms, School Education Secretary Anita Karwal said at a briefing, “Board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be continued, but will be reformed to eliminate the need for taking coaching classes”.

She further said, “Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development and will also be made easier by testing core capacities and competencies. All students will be allowed to take board exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired. All

students will take school examinations in classes 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority”.

A per the new policy, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced with a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years respectively.

“This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of anganwadi and pre-schooling,” she said

The new system will cover four stages — Foundational Stage (three years of anganwadi or pre-school followed by classes 1-2), Preparatory Stage (classes 3-5), Middle Stage (classes 6-8) and Secondary Stage (classes 9-12).

“Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects so that they choose their own paths according to their talents and interests. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.

“The objective is to give equal emphasis on all subjects — science, social sciences, art, languages, sports, mathematics — with integration of vocational and academic streams in school,” Karwal said.

The NEP has laid emphasis on promoting multilingualism so that children know and learn about the rich and vast array of languages of their country.

“The medium of instruction until at least class 5, but preferably till class 8 and beyond, will be the home language, mother tongue, local language and regional language.

“Sanskrit will be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important, enriching option for students, including as an option in the three-language formula. Foreign languages, such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian, will also be offered at the secondary level,” Karwal said.

The states and UTs will be required to set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).

“Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders,” she added.

States will prepare their own curricula and prepare textbooks incorporating state flavour and material. The availability of textbooks in all regional languages will be a top priority. Reducing the weight of school bags and textbooks will also be ensured by suitable changes in curriculum load.

A single regulator for higher education institutions, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, discontinuation of MPhil programmes, low stakes board exams, common entrance exams for universities are among the highlights of the new National Education Policy (NEP).

The policy, which was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992, had not been revised since then.

The Cabinet also approved changing the name of the HRD Ministry to Education Ministry. “NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 pc (2018) to 50 pc by 2035. At least 3.5 crore new seats will be added to higher education institutions,” HRD Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said at a press briefing.