The Union Cabinet on Wednesday (29 Jul, 2020) approved a new National Education Policy (NEP) that aims to make the Indian education system more contemporary, skill-oriented and that contributes directly to transforming the country, providing high-quality education to all, and making India a global knowledge superpower.
The NEP also renamed the Human Resource Development Ministry as the Education Ministry to bring the focus back on education and learning. While the new policy comes after almost three decades, it brought significant changes for both schools and higher education institutions ranging from curriculum, medium of instruction, examinations, entry and exit points, choice of subjects, digital education, research, and other aspects like regulations, public investment in education sector, gender inclusion fund, and facilitating entry of foreign universities in the country, etc.
Key features of the new National Education Policy in School Education
- 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure
- Medium of instruction till 5th grade in home language/mother tongue/regional language
- School curriculum to be reduced to core concepts
- Universalization of Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE)
- Vocational education to be integrated from class 6
- Report cards to be a comprehensive report on skills and capabilities instead of just marks and statements
- Board exams to be based on conceptual knowledge and its application
- No hard separation between curricular and extra-curricular, arts and science, and vocational and academics
- Tracking student progress for achieving learning outcomes
- Holistic report card – using AI for identifying specific aptitude of child
- Every child to learn at least one skill and expose to several more
- Increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study including physical education, arts and crafts, and vocational skills
- Teacher recruitment based on TET, NTA test and teaching demonstration
- New national curriculum framework for ECE, school, teachers and adult education
- Curriculum to integrate 21st century skills, mathematical thinking and scientific temper
- Transparent online self disclosure for public oversight and accountability
- Common standards of learning in public and private schools
- National repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy
New features of the National Education Policy in Higher Education
The new education policy also brought major reforms in the country’s higher education system. Some of the key features of the NEP are listed below:
- Higher education institutions to be transformed into large multi-disciplinary universities, colleges and HEI clusters/knowledge hubs
- Research-intensive universities, teaching-intensive universities and autonomous degree-granting colleges
- Multidisciplinary and holistic education at the undergraduate
- Flexible curricular structures, creative combinations of subjects, and integration of vocational education
- Common entrance exams for admission to universities and higher education institutions
- Undergraduate degree either 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification
- Credit transfer and Academic Bank of Credits
- Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) to be set up
- All higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges, to be governed by single regulator
- Governance of HEIs by independent boards having academic, administrative and financial autonomy
- Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) – the umbrella architecture body with four independent bodies for Standard Setting, Funding, Accreditation, and Regulation
- Public and private HEI governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards
In a bid to ramp up digital learning, the new education policy also proposed to create a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF). According to Amit Khare, Higher Education Secretary, “E-courses will be developed in eight regional languages initially and virtual labs will be developed.”
The new education policy will also facilitate foreign universities to set up campuses in the country. According to the HRD Ministry document, “such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.”
The NEP 2020 also seeks to expand access to higher education for 50% of high school student by 2035. It aims to add at least 3.5 crore new seats to higher education institutions.
Meanwhile, as the new national education policy brought significant changes for a long-term overhaul of the Indian education system, people from across the country have come out and expressed their opinions. Below are some of the reactions and comments from leaders of leading universities and education technology companies from across the country.
Reacting to the new policy, Mr. Vineet Gupta, Founder & Trustee, Plaksha University and MD, Jamboree Education, said:
”The New Education Policy was long-overdue and we welcome the future-facing changes introduced by Government of India. Overall, strengthening the school education system, making efforts towards making India as a global education hub and having one regulator brings much-needed focus towards making India an international knowledge superpower. Reforms such as having a self-declaration system, bringing in a 4-year-undergraduate program, replacing a cumbersome inspection system and adding an additional 1-year after 12+3 to help students be eligible for many top-ranked global programs will remove unique barriers that Indian students have faced in the past. As an engineer, an entrepreneur and a University founder, I am extremely pleased to see the blurring lines between liberal arts and sciences as the modern workplace demands some new-age skills that go beyond the silos created by a technical only education-or a liberal arts-only approach. As someone who has worked with students looking to go abroad for over 20 years, I must say that one big differentiator in Indian Vs. International education has been academic flexibility. The NEP 2020 with flexibility and multiple exit-options, including a one-year Master’s program and focus on digital education, will hold us in good stead in the times to come and positively impact future students.”
Byju Raveendran, Founder & CEO, BYJU’S, also reacted on the new education policy saying:
“The new policy’s focus on providing student flexibility and furthering digital education is timely and much needed. We believe that tech-enabled learning is the best way to achieve scale as well as maintain uniform quality irrespective of geography or physical infrastructure availability. Emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and stronger conceptual understanding will encourage students to become self-motivated learners. This is much needed for students to acquire skills that will prepare them for the unseen jobs of tomorrow. India is home to the world’s largest K-12 population and the universalization of early school education, the push to improve gross enrollment ratio and a renewed focus on new life skills such as coding will help create a stronger pipeline of future leaders in India. As a proud homegrown company, the policy’s aim to instill a deep-rooted pride in being Indian and promoting India as an education hub highly resonates with us as we continue to work resolutely towards making a mark on the global map.”
Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management, welcomed the move and said:
“The New Education Policy is a welcome move, which will help propel India’s education system in the right direction. The policy recognizes the need of the hour, and places increased focus on technology-based learning and application through virtual labs and divyang-friendly softwares, which if implemented effectively, will lead to an equitable access to education while creating a more future-ready workforce. Allowing Indian universities to set up offshore campuses as well as facilitating foreign universities to operate in India, will not only increase the quality of education, but also strengthen India’s position on the map as a global education destination. If there is one thing I didn’t like about the policy changes it is the reduction of high school from 12 years to 11 years. 12 years is the generally accepted international norm.”
The new education policy places increased focus on digitally equipping schools, teachers and students, with increasing access for disadvantaged groups and divyang-friendly softwares to give an equitable access to education for all.
Dr. Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, Shahani Group, also reacted and said:
“The New Education Policy should have been implemented years ago to enable India’s education system to catch up with that of other fast-developing nations in Asia. The focus on light government regulation, multidisciplinary institutions and creating equivalence of vocational and academic streams are welcome, but these have been a part of other countries’ education models for years. It would have been good to have some more innovative ideas implemented like recognition of pathway/twinning programs with foreign universities, permission for for-profit firms to set up schools & colleges, allowing corporate CSR funding for primary research in universities and allowing universities to offer online degrees to outside their geographical jurisdiction. As education is a state subject, it is important for the central government to create a mechanism to ensure each state implement these new policies effectively.”
Mr. Sahil Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Rishihood University, commented:
“The new education policy has brought much awaited reforms for a long-term overhaul of the system. In higher education: The college affiliation system which prevented curriculum innovations will be phased out. This will allow industry-linked curriculum and faster modifications based on industry’s needs, therefore helping the students in placements. Flexibility of subjects, credit transfer and multiple entry-exit points will ensure that everyone can complete a college education and learn the subjects of their choice. The students will not be restricted to narrow domains. Teacher training institutes will be strengthened and linked to multidisciplinary universities. This will help India to prepare high quality teachers. A common aptitude test for undergraduate admissions will ease off the pressure from students to prepare for multiple exams. The CAT will be designed in a way that most universities can identify the student skill set for admissions from the same test. The policy does not mention anything on allowing foreign investments or for-profit education. This reform continues to lack in our system.”
Mr. Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder & CEO, Leverage Edu, said:
“With the RTE now extended to 18 years of age, I am supremely confident that we will see a much bigger number of our population pursing higher education. This is by far one of the most defining things to have happened in the Indian Education landscape in the last three decades. We should also use this opportunity to set up collaborations with institutes of excellence abroad, bring them here for their best practices, and have the quality be risen multiple notches too – so that we do indeed live up the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of a $5 Tn economy together with very strong human development!”
Mr. Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India, also shared his views saying:
“The National Education policy has certainly made bold and historic reforms towards the quality of education and improving student learning outcomes. It is not only designed to directly address the gaps which were prevalent earlier but also recognizes the importance of EdTech as a medium. The announcement regarding 6% public investment of the GDP in education sector will provide a much needed boost to the quality and scope of education in the country. In a bid to ramp up digital and education becoming multilingual, the accessibility will increase across the country as institutes will introduce multi-disciplinary platforms. Integration of creative combinations of subjects, specialized learning, character development, blended learning, inter disciplinary methods, and flexible curriculums will help strengthen emotional intelligence, critical thinking and problem solving skills of students making headway for a bright future in the 21st century. In higher ed, multiple exit options in degree courses will give a boost to vocational qualifications and practical knowledge which is the need of the hour with changing times globally. While there are many aspects still to retrospect, the charter is truly a testimony of quality consultation and deep thinking, hence unlocking the construction of a new nation.”
Dheeraj Sharma, CEO, PlayAblo, shares both what he likes and doesn’t like in the new policy:
Positives: (A) The repeated mention and underlining the importance of Learning Outcomes (LOs) and Competency Based Assessments is excellent. (B) Bringing in ICT as part of the overall approach – including coding skills from middle school onwards and the importance of Math in skill building, needs solid thumbs up from all around. (C) Formalizing the coverage of 3 years of Pre-school is an excellent step forward too. Pre-schools of all shapes and sizes have been mushrooming all over with no unified framework to ensure their efficacy. (D) Loved the fact that the policy intends to blend Curricular, Co-curricular and extra-curricular seamlessly. I hope this can be achieved as it will truly impact the skills of our young learners across schools. (E) Importance of Online Learning, Digital Platforms across the policy must be commended too.
Negatives: (A) Ignoring the importance of learning English Language as a skill. Importance of local/mother-tongue is very good (and I am not saying this as a lip service, it is definitely needed and important) but in a country of our kind of diversity, English is the only binding thread. We are not a country of single language or religion that is easy to leverage when rallying people together. I say this with no bias. Only unemotional facts. I really wish the policy has included English as a lifeskill across all schools. (B) The B.Ed. program has really lost relevance. There may be some merit in reviving and morphing it into multiple types of B.Ed. programs. But hard to imagine how this will be used. (C) No clear mention of how the digital infrastructure in the schools will be boosted. It would have been beautiful if a % of the statutory, 2% corporate CSR contribution was committed to govt. Schools’ tech infrastructure. Tabs – Broadband Internet – UPS – Computer Labs, etc.
Appreciating this move, Rajiv Bansal – Director Operations, Global Indian International School (GIIS), India said:
“The Cabinet approval on the National Education Policy 2020 is a welcome move. The new structure brings in all the playschools into the ‘formal education system’. It is a progressive shift towards developing and nurturing students across their different stages of development and focuses on a well-rounded education. The shift in focus on developing intellectuals & entrepreneurs rather than just the workforce emerging from the rote learning model, which has been existing in India, is also a step towards positive reform. The New Education Policy puts a lot more emphasis on digitization in education delivery, which is the need of the hour considering the closure of schools since last 4 months and no sight of them opening up in the near future. Overall, the NEP 2020 is a step in the right direction. It pushes towards a more learning-centric approach to education and it has the potential to improve the quality of education in India.”
Welcoming the new education policy, JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said: “The approval of the NEP by the government is a positive step forward. NEP is the outcome of an extensive, highly participatory and inclusive consultation process. NEP aims at meeting existing challenges in education and building the foundation of India’s promising future. We look forward to its implementation.”
Needless to mention, the present National Education Policy was adopted in 1986, which was updated in 1992. The country got the new education policy after 34 long years.