The National Education Policy, 2020 is the first comprehensive vision document on the much-needed reforms in the education sector in India. It aims to propel India into higher trajectories of Global Knowledge Superpower. The standout feature if the NEP 2020 includes its keen focus on bringing reforms in the education apparatus in India. It seeks to do away with the archaic colonial-era apparatus by integrating the education system in India from the school level to all the way to the higher education institutions and beyond.
For example, the NEP 2020 seeks to integrate the regulating institutions which were responsible to oversee the higher education like UGC, AICTE, etc., by breaking the artificial silos that were separating the various streams of higher education. In their place, it aims to create a single regulator in the shape of the Higher Education Commission of India to streamline the plethora of courses that are being taught in numerous universities across India.
It seeks to integrate the system of entrance examinations across the Central, State and Deemed Universities of India. By doing so it will become easy for the students to seek admission in universities and break up the islands of universities by creating a confluence of the mighty river of higher education in India. NEP 2020 is bringing the Gandhian vision of making Hindi a pan Indian language to life. The three-language formula proposed by Kothari Commission aims to provide a judicious balance between Hindi and regional languages at the same time giving a necessary impetus to the National Linguistic integration and nationalism itself.
Based on the recommendations of the Kothari Committee it called for restructuring the educational system in India while providing an equal and equitable distribution of education among all strata of society, with compulsory education for children up to the age of 14 years. It also sought to promote the regional languages and originally gave the ‘three-language formula’. It promoted the studies in the ancient language Sanskrit and proposed to spend 6% of national income in the area of Education.
Barring the Right to Education, the subsequent governments failed to implement the remaining provisions of the Kothari Committee. The NEP 2020 is a significant concrete step to realize these important aspects of integrated national education.
The new policy called for “special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize educational opportunity,” especially for Indian women, Scheduled Tribes (ST), and the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities. The NPE called for a “child-centred approach” in primary education and launched “Operation Blackboard” to improve primary schools nationwide. The policy expanded the open university system with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, which had been created in 1985. The policy also called for the creation of the “rural university” model, based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.
The main points of NEP include the following.
New Education Policy 2020 aims for the universalisation of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 % GER in school education by 2030. It seeks to bring 2 crores out of school children back into the mainstream of education. It augurs a new 5+3+3+4 school curriculum with 12 years of schooling and 3 years of Anganwadi/pre-schooling. The emphasis will be on foundational literacy and numeracy with no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in the schools.
Teaching up to at least Grade 5 will be in mother tongue/ regional language to address the concerns of regional language pluralism. Students will be assessed with a 360-degree holistic Progress Card, tracking their progress for achieving learning outcomes.
The NEP 2020 aims to increase GER in higher education to 50% by the year 2035 with 3.5 crore additional seats added in various higher education institutions. The higher education institutions have been given flexibility in the curriculum of Subjects. Importantly, there will be multiple entry/exit to be allowed with appropriate certification to allow students to join/leave their respective education suited to their individual needs.
A national-level academic Bank of credits will be established to facilitate the transfer of credits. A National Research Foundation will be established to foster a strong research culture. With the motto of ‘Light but Tight Regulation’, an integrated higher education single regulator with four separate verticals for distinct functions will be created which would subsume institutions like UGC, AICTE, etc.
While fixing the eye on the future, the visionary document of NEP 2020 advocates a more proactive use of technology with equity. It seeks to promote equality in terms of education of the various segments of society including women, weaker sections of society, differently-abled segments of society by advocating the establishment of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions, and groups.
The National Education Policy, the first education policy of the 21st century India, aims to usher India into the League of Global Superpower on account of her vast base of the young and energetic populace. It aims to train the younger generation in the streams apt to suit the needs of the present and the future and propel India as the Global Knowledge Super Power.
The policy is a comprehensive document that covers various fields of the educational arena including school education, technical education, higher education, financial and regulatory aspects of the education sectors as well. By making education multi-disciplinary, it aims to create holistic human beings. It hits at the rote learning and aspires to make education organic.
The critics argue that the National Education Policy has opened the floodgates of privatization upon the fragile sector of pedagogy. However, the NEP instead aims the create scope for individual excellence by providing quality faculty as well as infrastructural apparatus for academic excellence in the shape of Institutions of Excellence. The global precedence for private investment in education has come from academic leaders like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. If we aim to make India a knowledge powerhouse in the company of Ivy League Universities, then we should also be open to accepting the talent from whichever segment of the society it is coming from.
Secondly, the NEP aims to create an institution for training the trainer, which is bringing transparency, quality checks, and value enhancement for the teachers as well. This aspect is applicable to teachers at all levels. For far too long India and the Indian education system have suffered from the practice of rote and stagnant learning which comes with substandard teaching practices and pedagogy.
The 21st century implores us to look beyond the colonial era methods of pedagogy. It asks us to innovate how we teach our young minds and to keep a cautious look at what we teach them and in what manner. The aim of the policy is to give a standardized scale for recruiting the teachers so that the quality of education remains the same across India.
Thirdly, the argument that the three-language policy will diminish the value of the regional languages vis a vis Hindi, and in fact will be an imposition of Hindi on the linguistic diversity is but a sham. It is so essential because the children up to class 5 will be given education in their regional language medium. Hindi will be only added subsequently. By doing so, twin objects are sought to be achieved.
One is that the child is well versed in his/her mother tongue and he/she can pursue regional language in subsequent classes as well. Two, it aims to create national integration by making people across India at least familiar with the language that is spoken by the majority of Indians, that is Hindi. The fixation with English but repulsion with Hindi betrays a sort of colonial mentality of those who profess to the dominance of regional languages. In effect, it goes against the spirit of our great nation and its nationalism.
NEP 2020 has been brought to life after a considerable consultation process involving a vast array of stakeholders from various education-related fields. The aim of the government has been to not only create a vision document for the education system in India in the 21st century but also to make the policy document a true representative of the diversity of our country.
At the same time, the age-old desire to integrate India into a cohesive linguistic nationalism over regionalism has also been achieved.
The NEP 2020 is truly the preamble of the future of India as the knowledge superpower of the world.