NEP 2020: What does it mean for the students? PART-I

What National Education Policy of 2020 has to offer the students aspiring to pursue higher studies in colleges and universities
"Three pillars on which higher education stands are the teachers who teach, students who are taught and the curriculum that is taught." [Representational Image]
"Three pillars on which higher education stands are the teachers who teach, students who are taught and the curriculum that is taught." [Representational Image] File: ANI

For a pretty long time there has been a persistent demand and relentless discussion on absolute transformation of the ways and means in which education is imparted and students are taught in our classrooms.

People at large have been perpetually voicing their concerns on the need for bringing a paradigm shift in our pedagogy, technology, psychology and philosophy of teaching and making the teaching-learning process more learner-centric that can lead to a holistic professional, personal and career development of our students.

National Education Policy of 2020 not only envisages to change the ways in which students are taught but also the methods in which they are evaluated and assessed, trained and prepared for the global job markets, mentored to face the challenges in their career and life, encouraged to take calculated risks and contribute towards innovation, motivated to harness skill acquisition and venture into entrepreneurship development.

This policy aims to foster creative, analytical and critical thinking among students in order to achieve the goals of higher education in their real sense.

Flexibility will be the key of higher education under NEP-2020 wherein students will have the freedom to move from one discipline of study to another as well as from one institution to another to enable them to experience multi- and interdisciplinary learning as well as the flexibility to switch from conventional to alternative modes of learning including e-learning, online and hybrid modes.

Three pillars on which higher education stands are the teachers who teach, students who are taught and the curriculum that is taught. All three of them are going to witness a revolutionary transformation under the auspices of New National Education Policy of 2020.

In the post-NEP era, no longer will the students be forced to sit silent throughout an hour long, one-way lecture delivered by their teacher with little scope to raise any questions or doubts and express themselves freely in a more creative, critical and analytical manner, since NEP-2020 promotes adoption of innovative teaching pedagogies like problem-based, inquiry-based, design-based, context-based, outcome-based, competency-based, activity-based, team-based, project-based, evidence-based, collaborative and experiential learning.

Henceforth conventional one-way, didactic, monologic, passive mode of teaching shall be replaced by interactive, participative, dialogic mode of learning in which learners shall have full freedom to express their views, opinions and doubts and present new ideas and solutions, no matter how vague they might sound at the very outset.

NEP-2020 seeks to impart multi-disciplinary and holistic education to students with a view to produce multi-dimensional, well-rounded individuals equipped with all types of knowledge, skills, competencies and understanding about life, people, places, arts, sciences, languages and technologies.

Apart from building capacities, enhancing abilities, shaping attitudes, promoting aptitude and proficiency, improving motivation and efficiency, multi-disciplinary education shall be offered to build their character, persona, intellect, physique, positive insights and outlooks and transform them into ethical, rational, compassionate and caring citizens, while at the same time preparing them to face the challenges of the global job markets and motivating them to pay back to the society in one positive form or the other.

By virtue of multidisciplinary education, silos and compartments in which we have been working, creating and transmitting knowledge at our educational institutions will be dismantled and students will get an opportunity to learn about arts and humanities too while pursuing sciences, technology, commerce, law or social studies and vice-versa since multi-disciplinary courses, in addition to ability-enhancement, skill-enhancement and value added courses will be offered during an under-graduate degree programme.

This will allow students to take a sneak peek and venture into other streams across their discipline and acquire some fundamental knowledge about them while pursuing a major and two minors in their own chosen stream.

Ultimate goal of such multidisciplinary learning is to provide greater flexibility and promote “undisciplining’ of knowledge besides developing holistic and all-round individuals who know something about everything, few things about many things and everything about something and thus traverse their journey from being a novice to an advanced learner, from being competent to proficient and finally gaining sufficient expertise in any one chosen field of study.

A course shall now be a combination of lecture credits, tutorial credits and practicum credits.

For instance, a 4–credit course with three credits assigned for lectures and one credit for practicum shall have three 1-hour lectures per week and one 2-hour duration field-based learning/project or lab work, or workshop activities per week. In a semester of 15 weeks duration, a 4-credit course will be equivalent to 45 hours of lectures and 30 hours of practicum.

Furthermore, students will now be able to opt for a UG programme with either a single major discipline wherein they will have to secure a minimum of 50% credits from the major discipline or they can opt for a UG programme with double Major courses wherein they will have to secure a minimum of 40% credits from the second major discipline for the 3-year/4-year UG degree.

All discipline-specific courses (major or minor) may be of 4 credits each whereas an additional one to two credits may be allotted for tutorials or practicals. All courses under the multi-disciplinary, ability-enhancement and skill-enhancement categories may be of 3-credits each.

As per NEP-2020, undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration with appropriate certifications at different levels.

Students who opt to exit after completion of the first year and have secured 40 credits will be awarded a UG certificate if, in addition, they complete one vocational course of 4 credits during the summer vacation of the first year.

These students will be allowed to re-enter the degree programme within three years and complete the degree programme within the stipulated maximum period of seven years.

Similarly, students who opt to exit after completion of the second or third year and have secured 80 or 120 credits respectively will be awarded the UG diploma or degree respectively if, in addition, they complete one vocational course of 4 credits during the summer vacation of the second year.

A four-year UG Honours degree in the major discipline will be awarded to those who complete a four-year degree programme with 160 credits. Students who secure 75% marks and above in the first six semesters and wish to undertake research at the undergraduate level can choose a research stream in the fourth year.

They will work on a research project or dissertation of 12 credits in their major discipline under the guidance of a faculty member of the college or university. Such students will be awarded a UG Degree (Honours with Research). An integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme will also be up for the grabs.

Undertaking a Ph.D. shall now require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with research whereas the M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued.

Universities will either be converted into teaching intensive or research-intensive universities whereas all affiliated colleges will be transformed either into autonomous degree awarding colleges/universities or made part of a cluster of universities within their respective regions.

Second part of this article will dwell upon academic bank of credits, choice-based-credit-system, assessment and evaluation methods and measures related to skill enhancement and entrepreneurship development in accordance with National Education Policy 2020.

(Author teaches at the Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kashmir. This article is based on the excerpts from a talk delivered by the author during first Techfest of IoT, Zakura on December 13, 2022)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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