The announcement of National Education Policy 2020 on 31st July, 2020, by the Ministry of Education (erstwhile the Ministry of Human Resource Development) is a major breakthrough in the learning process of children in India. There are many pioneering changes that have been passed by the Cabinet on 29th July, 2020. After it was first drafted in 1986 and modified in the year 1992, the policy has not seen any significant changes. However, owing to the changing times and to make India self-sufficient, the new policy has been proposed. The policy aims to make future generation of India better skilled in fields of their choice by offering a universalised and holistic learning environment.
The goal of this new policy is to accomplish 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in schools by 2030 under universal access to education. As opposed to the current curriculum structure, the suggested modifications are being brought about so as to enhance the earning capability of the average Indian by doing what they have interest in.
According to the NEP 2020, the following are some of the major changes that are being introduced:
Based on the age of the children, there are four significant phases that have been categorised by the Education Regulatory Council. Let us now discuss the 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure to understand how the new NEP 2020 impacts the learning process as a whole:
For children in the age group of 3 to 8 years, the first three years are to be spent in Anganwadis and the next two in pre-school education. This has been named the foundational phase.
The framework for this period is to be developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), with importance to activity and discovery-based learning, languages, numbers, alphabets, logical thinking, etc. Students will be introduced to good behaviour, hygiene, ethics and teamwork, to name a few. These will help them become better citizens. Instead of being restricted to classrooms, the learning process will expand to the outdoors, where children can observe and interact with Nature.
An important thing to remember is that this is the age when children remember the most as their cumulative brain development is at 85%. Therefore, new and interesting things have to be introduced to them at this stage.
The second period is for children between the ages of 8 and 11 years, and has been named the Preparatory stage. In this stage of Classes 3, 4 and 5, introduction to textbooks, interactive learning and subjects that build their reading, writing, speaking, physical education, art, languages, science, and mathematics skills will be highlighted.
This is to inculcate a habit of reading and writing in children. Instead of rote learning, students in this stage will be encouraged to interact with teachers and ask them questions as much as possible.
In this third stage between ages 11 and 14, students will progress to Classes 6, 7 and 8. Here, students will be introduced to varied subjects such as sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities in Classes 3, 4 and 5. The new National Education Policy embarks on a discussion-based learning process in this phase, just as the previous one. This middle stage is crucial so as to understand what children want from their education and which field they would like to excel in or make a career in.
High School Stage
The fourth stage of NEP 2020 is the high school or secondary stage and is for children between the ages of 14 and 18. Students in Class 9 and 10 will fall in the first part, and those in Class 11 and 12 in the second category. There is an option for students to exit at Class 10 and re-enter the next phase based on their interest.
This final stage is an extension of the third one, with focus on critical thinking. With the right amount of counselling and holistic learning at this stage, students can have a fair idea of what their aspirations from career and life are.
National Education Policy 2020 is based on making education more accessible and the onus now lies on respective state school regulatory authorities to implement the policy effectively.