My perspective on NEP-2020

The National Education policy -2020 has the distinction of being the first of its kind in 21stcentury. It is a vision document for transforming the new generation into a robust educated society. Relating the past with the future and addressing every requirement for setting education on firm footing are the most important features of this policy. The NEP-2020 is inspirational in its goals and inclusive in its approach. NEP-2020 replaces the old academic structure with the new academic structure which is age specific and can be divided into four stages.

StagesAge GroupClassDuration
Foundational Stage3-8 yearsPre-Primary=3 Years Class 1st and 2nd = 2 years5 Years
Preparatory Stage8-11 YearsPrimary (3rd, 4th & 5th)3 Years
Middle Stage11-14 YearsMiddle (6th, 7th & 8th)3 Years
Secondary Stage14-18 YearsHigh School (9th, 10th , 1th & 12th)4 Years

In the previous policy the admission in a school was allowed after six years of age. Now a child of three years can be admitted in Aanganwadi Centre or a school. Children from age group of 3- 8 years may have access to Early Childhood Care and Education Centres. The Aanganwadi Centres are to be strengthened and workers and teachers would get necessary training. Previously, the experiment of linking Aanganwadi with the schools did not yield the desired results. The concept of Foundational  Literacy and Numeracy has been introduced for the age group of 3-8 years.The survey reports reveal that country is in a learning crisis as 5 corer children of this age group are not able to read, write or do basic arithmetic. Under SSA scheme, the thrust was on no retention and accordingly, the children were promoted to next higher class. The new NEP envisages that every student must attain foundational literacy and numeracy before entering into preparatory stage. This is followed by middle school stage (grades 6-8). The last stage of school education is high school stage, involving two phases that is 9 and 10 in the 1st and 11 and 12 in the 2ndphase.

The policy aims at providing high quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) as almost whole of brain development takes place during these (3-8 years). It is a challenging task for the government to provide the infrastructure and trained teachers to cater to psychological and educational needs of this age group. The dismal performance at middle school level can be attributed to non availability of subject specific teachers as reflected in this year’s project approval board meeting. Unless, there is a strong academic foundation at primary and middle stages, the cherished goals at the secondary and above are a distant dream. The implementation of new policy depends upon the will of government. The implementation involves multifarious issues at different levels and how much priority is given to this sector is yet to ascertain.

The irregularity of students, language problem and accountability can be some of the factors responsible for not achieving the desired targets. The NEP 2020 has now emphasized the use of mother tongue as a medium of education. This is a healthy sign for students, as they might enjoy and take interest in learning. As regards accountability, the inspecting officers were over busy with looking after the civil works. The accountability should be devised in a manner that instead of attendance register haunt, they need to see, the number of working hours spent by a teacher.

For effective implementation of NEP 2020, a slew of measures at appropriate levels shall be taken to fullfill the aspirational goals of 21st century . The following few issues need to prioritized at the initial stage.
1. National curricular and pedagogical framework to overhaul the curriculum and designing one that may be interesting and useful and moves towards reduction in content, particularly at pimary stage.
2. The policy for the first time highlights the teacher and teacher’s condition. There are responsibilities and the rights and the later was ignored. The trust deficit needs to be addressed in accordance with the policy.
3. The teacher has to play a pivotal role, so the teachers’ competencies shall be enhanced by imparting necessary trainings for pedagogical and behavioral changes rather continuing ritual trainings.
4. The pathetic conditions of such schools run in a single or double room accommodation needs urgent consideration and finding the best alternatives for good schooling.
5. The department of school education shall initiate ways and means for student and teacher awareness for the effective implementation of NEP 2020.

Author is principal at a Government Higher Secondary School in Srinagar