National Education Policy (NEP) is a government formulated policy that regulates and promotes the education system in India. India has a long history of government policies on education in one or the other form. However, in independent India, the education system received utmost importance as it was a major tool to overcome various problems that the young country was confronted with. Apart from imparting knowledge, the education was tasked to bridge the gaps of discrimination, nation building and introducing the constitution. In over seven decades, numerous education commission, international scenario and political agendas have influenced the education system in India.
The NEP 2020 is latest NEP of the government of India to lay down new shape for India’s education system and set goals and state methods to achieve and reform education system to suit contemporary world. The overview of the policy reflects its response to the contemporary realities that are surfacing internally and internationally. There are various objectives that is put forth by the policy that includes its commitment towards the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development 2015 (SDG4). It seeks signatory countries to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities by 2030. The second major commitment that is shown in the policy is consolidation of rootedness in Ancient Indian traditions.
The NEP 2020 emphasises that the purpose of the education is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought, possessing empathy and resilience with creative mind and good values. The aim of the NPE is to produce productive citizens to build an equitable, inclusive and plural society, as envisaged by the constitution. The policy suggests that the goals will be achieved through reformation of the system that is welcoming, safe and stimulating. Availability of a good infrastructure, appropriate resources, and seamless integrative and coordinated institutions can march towards the goals.
The immediate goals set by the policy are student-centric and intends to achieve:
l A holistic development of students: the development includes academic and non-academic development. The policy says that highest priority is to be given to achieve foundational literacy and numeracy by all students of grade 3. The pedagogy has to be pointed towards cognitive development that equips students with life skills and builds character.
l Problem-solving: the paramount learning outcome is set to be rational decision-making, it is to be achieved through activities like questions, exploratory activities of fun, creativity or collaboration. Problem-solving can also be achieved though exposing students to deeper and more experimental learning.
l Inclusive education: the NEP has paid a good attention to overcome discrimination through incorporating students of downtrodden backgrounds into the education system and ensure education for all. Specially the gender based discrimination is addressed. Thus, an accessible and equitable education is to be accomplished.
l Respect for diversity: The policy regards diversity of the country hence it has included regional languages and local traditions in the education. The policy considers multilingualism important for diversity of the country. The local contexts of education are also included in the instruction. Sanskrit will be included as an option in the three-language-formula at all levels of learning.
l Collaborative venture: Education system has to become a collaborative venture between governmental and non-governmental actors, public and private sectors. This will ensure fulfilment of ‘right to education’ of all children in India.
l Rootedness in Indian tradition: after training the students in life skills suitable for 21th century, the ethical character-building is also important and Indian traditions will be engaged in this to inculcate a value system in Indian students that is rooted in Indianness.
l Reformation: The NPE 2020 makes elaborate guideline for reforming education system occasionally in the country.
There are some methods laid out by the NEP 2020 to achieve the goals:
l Synergy of curriculum: the learning trajectories have to be flexible and unity and integrity of all science and arts are to be adopted. The multidisciplinary approach has to be employed in ensuring the synergy. A reduction in the content will be made to make space for through understanding of the core concepts that promotes critical thinking and analysis-based learning. Computational thinking through puzzles or codes has to be promoted. New subjects that include artificial intelligence, holistic health, organic living, environment, global citizenship are to be introduced. Additionally, vocational exposure and digital literacy, gender sensitisation and constitutional values are to be promoted.
l Consolidation of schools: An innovative mechanism will be employed to rationalize schools that includes establishment of group structures called the school complex. The school complex consists of one secondary school and schools offering lower grades in one neighbourhood. The arrangement will delegate authority to the complexes with District Education Officer and Block Education Officer to facilitate the work. Secondly, pairing of one public school with one private school will also be adopted across the country.
l Accountability and revision: the National Education Policy 2020 states that the Department of School Education will not be involved with operation of the schools. However, State Standards Authority (SSSA) will be established to set minimal standards and academic matters will be looked after by SCERT under guidance of NCERT.
l Teacher and profession management: The NEP reads that teacher is the centre to the policy on education. The recruitment process will be reformed and teacher training will be made important. Teachers will be given adequate safe infrastructure that will include working toilets, drinking water, clean and attractive spaces, electricity, computing devices, internet, libraries, sports and recreational resources. Teachers will mostly be barred from non-teaching activities but will be involved in school governance. Teachers will have autonomy in choosing aspects of their pedagogy. Teachers will have options to join Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Exceptional work done by teachers will invite incentives and encouragements. A minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4 year B.ed.
l Assessment: Formative assessment that reviews individual achievements of students individually. The process of assessment itself should be the learning process. The examination system that promotes coaching culture is discouraged. Examination boards are not removed but modes of examinations are to be reformed towards easiness. The progress cards, designed by NSERT or SCERTs will act as a link between home and school. The subjects to be examined by the examination boards will be selected by the students purely based on their own interest. The examination taken on the grades of 3,5 and 8 will test basic learning outcomes of core concepts. The assessment of all schools will be undertaken by PARAKH, body to set-up under MHRD.
l Support for gifted students: The policy focuses on the individual potential talent of the students to be realised by the education system. Therefore, various project-based clubs, circles will be encouraged. Increased scholarships, free boarding and day boarding are also introduced to ensure support to the talented students.
l Technology: Technology is to be used at every level to impart knowledge, assess students and teachers and it to be made part of the schooling. Creation of content, online education and education through distance mode is to be employed widely.
The NEP 2020 reflects commitment to the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhancing importance of traditional Indian knowledge. The objective is to impart skill training to the students and synchronise knowledge. It opens avenue of private-public partnership in education sector.