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New National Education Policy 2020 unveiled by Modi government, reforms aim to make India a ‘global knowledge superpower’

The NEP will replace the existing National Policy on Education 1986, which was later modified in 1992

On Wednesday, the much-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) was announced by HRD Minister Ramesh Nishank and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar after the Union Cabinet approved the new policy earlier in the day. The policy aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower”.

Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a New Education Policy for the 21st century, adding “It is important as for 34 years there were no changes in the education policy.” 

The NEP will replace the existing National Policy on Education 1986, which was later modified in 1992. The NEP includes the extension of the Right to Education Act 2009 to cover children between the age group of 3 to 18 years. The new policy also seeks to reduce the content load in the school education curriculum.

Announcing new reform measures, Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said the major reforms in the cabinet-approved National Education Policy 2020 include a target to have 50% gross enrollment ratio by 2035 along with a provision for multiple entry or exit. The New Education Policy (NEP) also aims to increase the budgetary funding to education.

Under the National Education Policy (NEP), the system of affiliated colleges will be phased out over the next 15 years, the Minister of Education announced. The government also announced that the single-stream higher education institutions will be phased out over time, and all will move towards becoming multidisciplinary.

According to the new National Education Policy, the higher educational institutions will be allowed graded autonomy in academic, administrative and financial matters based on the accreditation status and there will only be a single regulator for higher education instead of different bodies like UGC and AICTE. Legal and Medical education will continue to have dedicated regulators.

“The undergraduate degree will be of either three or four-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications, e.g., a certificate after completing one year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after two years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a three-year programme,” announced Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare. The four-year course will be for a Bachelor’s degree and research.

“The present complex nomenclature of HEIs in the country such as ‘deemed to be university’, ‘affiliating university’, ‘affiliating technical university’, ‘unitary university’ shall be replaced simply by ‘university’,” said HRD Ministry officials.

New system of education

The Modi government unveiled a new 10+2 system, which will be divided into 5+3+3+4 format. The NEP changes the school education system to 5+3+3+4 format. This means the first five years of the school will comprise of the foundation stage including three years of pre-primary school and classes 1 and class 2. The next three years will be divided into a preparatory stage from classes 3 to 5. Later three years of middle stage (classes 6 to 8), and four years of secondary stage (classes 9 to 12).

The schools will not have any rigid formation of streams of arts, commerce, science, students can take up whichever courses they want.

In school education, the Modi government has announced major reforms through its NEP, which includes Universalisation of Early Childhood Care Education or ECCE and National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy. The government has said the new policy suggests a reduction of the school curriculum to core subjects with a vocational integration from Class 6 onwards.

According to the new policy, the focus of school reforms will be to develop a scientific temper in students from a young age. The curriculum would integrate 21st-century skills and mathematical thinking. The policy also mandates increasing access for disadvantaged groups, according to the Union government.

Further, the New Education Policy (NEP) also states that the report card will comprise assessment of the students by both teachers and fellow students. There will be an AI-based assessment of students each year. Measures will be taken to prepare the teachers for the assessment reforms by 2023, announced the government.

The board exams will test the students’ knowledge and it’s applications and not just rote learning, announced the Ministry of Education.

Multi-lingual system of education

The NEP will aim to make mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction till class 5 in schools. The new policy is also expected to focus on a multi-lingual education system which means, the teachers will teach not only in English but also in regional Indian languages. MHRD already runs programmes to teach students regional languages spoken in other states.

The government also said that technology will be now part of education planning, teaching, learning, assessment, teacher, school, and student training. The e-content will also be made available in regional languages, starting with eight major languages – Kannada, Odia, Bengali among others to join the e-courses available in Hindi and English.

Single common entrance exam for all colleges

The common Entrance exam for all higher education institutes to be held by NTA. The exam will be optional and not mandatory, announced HRD Ministry.

The government has also decided to discontinue MPhil courses. To pursue research, MPhil will not be allowed and all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level will be interdisciplinary. The 4-year programme may also lead to a degree ‘with Research’ if the student completes a rigorous research project.

The government has decided to set up model public universities for holistic and multidisciplinary education, at par with IITs, IIMs, etc., called MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities). Higher education institutions shall move away from high-stakes examinations towards continuous and comprehensive evaluation.

High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries. Selected universities like those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India.

Further, the gvernment announced that a legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.

Impetus on vocational education

The New Education Policy also gives importance to the Vocational education of the students. The new policy integrates vocational education into all school and higher education institutions in a phased manner over the next decade. By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education.

The B.Voc. degrees introduced in 2013 will continue to exist, but vocational courses will also be available to students enrolled in all other Bachelor’s degree programmes, including the 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programmes, the government announced.

‘Lok Vidya’, important vocational knowledge developed in India, will be made accessible to students. The HRD ministry, which will be renamed as Education Ministry, would constitute a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE).

The policy also mentions creating institutions such as the National Research Foundation (NRF) and a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).

Earlier, a panel led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Kasturirangan was constituted, which had submitted the draft of the new National Education Policy to the Union HRD minister. The draft was later put to public consultation to seek feedback from various stakeholders and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry about the same.

The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. The New education policy was part of the BJP’s manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election. Reportedly, the drafting experts also considered the report of a panel headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian and formed by the HRD Ministry when it was being headed by Union Minister Smriti Irani.

The implementation of this Policy will be led by various bodies including Education Ministry, CABE, Union and State Governments, education-related Ministries, State Departments of Education, Boards, NTA, the regulatory bodies of school and higher education, NCERT, SCERTs, schools, and HEIs.

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