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The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Demystifying and Deconstructing

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Aditi Misra, a senior academician and Principal & Director of DPS Gurugram shares with SUBUBRB her views on the New Education Policy that will now on re-define the Indian Education system.

The New Education Policy is ready, and it is a highly positive step in the right direction. No one at any level should have any misgivings or any worries about what it means, implies or stands for. Here is a deconstruction and demystifying of a few pertinent pointers of the NEP.

Aditi Misra

5+3+3+4 Model & Early Education Enhancement

The NEP has changed the pattern of 10 +2 which was under the ambit of CBSE into a new 5+3+3+4 structure, making it fifteen years after class I. The years preceding class I have also been brought under the umbrella of NCERT and CBSE. The step is very positive because the early childhood care and education was quite ambiguous, with schools not having any framework or pattern to follow.

Early Years

One of the most optimal aims is to construct a proper framework in the domains of physical and motor development, cognitive development, social, emotional, ethical, cultural and artistic development within the early years of education. In these early years, there is a plan to strengthen the Anganwaadis and all the Bal Bhavans to teach children the rich traditions & heritage of India, the folklore, folk tales and traditional games which in their way become the best teaching tools for children up to the age of 7. So from age 3 to age 7, i.e. Pre Nursery, Nursery, Prep, I and II come under the first 5 years.

The planning and implementation of the ECCE, i.e. Early Childhood Care and Education will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Education, Ministry for Women and Child Development, Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, Ministry for Travel Affairs. This whole collaboration is going to be quite a winner in terms of bringing out the best kind of plan for the early years.

Experiential Learning

Possibly the most positive item within the NEP is the reiteration on the emphasis on learning outcomes and not just the content. The aim of education, therefore finally also goes beyond content knowledge to character building and honing of 21st-century skills, especially those of communication, collaboration, creative thinking and critical thinking. It means the deduction of curricular content and enhancing of essential learning and critical thinking.

In its thrust on experiential learning, there is a strong emphasis on Art Integration in all the subjects across from class I to class XII and integration of Sports Education as well. The pedagogy will emphasize on storytelling, anecdotes and therefore classrooms transactions shifts to competency-based teaching and learning and not so much learning content.

There will also be no hard separations between what was existing right now – vocational academic or the demarcation between Humanities, Commerce and Science or the strong the separation between curricular and co-curricular and academic.

There is a plan to give flexibility to the students to study any subjects that they please at the +4 stage as well as in incorporating Physical Education, Arts and Vocational Studies within the school curriculum.

Vocational Inclusions & Bagless Days

Perhaps, the most revolutionary and exciting idea has been to incorporate vocational education across all classes from class I to class XI to let the children develop some professional training along with academic excellence. So, there is a hope that by 2025 almost 50 per cent of learners will get exposure to vocational education. In any academic calendar year, there will be a 10-day internship with vocational experts. The period shall be considered as ‘Bagless’ days.

There will also be online vocational courses available for those who wish to pursue these and perhaps the last and the most forward-thinking idea has been of to introduce adult education and the concept of lifelong learning wherein schools, colleges and other institutions would be open after their working hours for adults who wish to continue their education, who wish to enhance their skills or who want to study a little more.

Multi-linguistic

Another a unique feature of the NEP is the concept of multi-lingual, where the medium of instruction can be the mother tongue or local language till class V or possibly in class VIII. There is also a provision of publishing high-quality textbooks in the regional languages as well.

In the cosmopolitan cities, where there would be children, hailing from different states or even countries in the same class, hence would not be possible to pick up a local language in such cases the prerogative remains with the school. But within the states, if a child wishes to be taught Science or Social Sciences in the local language, that provision has now been made available.

The NEP also talks about building literacy numeracy which is a very urgent necessity, not just through schools but through DIKSHA portal, through peer tutoring, volunteer activities, expansion of public libraries and through the community. It also seeks to curtail dropout rates, track students and improve school infrastructure.

Well-defined Curriculum

There will be a shift in the overall education structure. Within the curriculum, there will also be an integration of essential subjects, skills and capacities where the emphasis is on scientific temper, aesthetics, communication, fitness, creativity, and even contemporary topics like Artificial Intelligence, Design & Thinking, Organic Living.

The learning of Global Citizenship in the framework of the syllabus gets introduced and strengthened. There is also a plan to put greater emphasis on Math, but more through experiential learning and coding at the middle school stage. There is a suggestion to involve the community which is retired teachers, professors, doctors, scientists who can come in as volunteers to teach children at various levels.  

The NCERT takes over the entire national curriculum framework for school education. The states get to prepare text-books with added local flavour as per the framework of the syllabus for school education.

Along with all this, there will be an effort to reduce the weight of school bags. Across all the levels, there is an emphasis on learning about Indian cultural heritage and moral-ethics & values.

It will become mandatory for students to read and know about The Indian Constitution. There will be training in health, preventive and mental health, nutrition, hygiene, disaster response, as well as awareness of substance abuse. All the above will soon become part of the curriculum with proper structure. It will not be left to schools to decide how much they want to do which part.

Assessment

Those who think that the Boards for 10 and 12 will disappear; sorry, they are not going anywhere but henceforth these Board exams will be assessing competencies not just rote learning. The school assessments will receive separate guidelines where there will be an introduction of 360 degrees assessment and evaluation for students which will include self-assessment, peer assessment and teacher assessment.

The department of school education will also be responsible for overall monitoring and policy-making for continuous improvement there will be standard-setting and aggradations. The School Quality Assessment and Aggradations Framework (SQAAF) will be developed by SCERT in consultation with all stakeholders.

Teacher-Training

The entire process of teacher training, teacher recruitment and continuous professional development will get re-structured. B.Ed. may not now be a separate course it may be integrated within the multidisciplinary colleges and universities. The B.Ed. Course will soon be a four-year course, and those who have done graduation may have to do a two-year B.Ed.

Inclusive Education

There is a distinct plan for equitable and inclusive education within the learning for all paradigms with the focus on socio-economically disadvantaged groups, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, transgender and children with special needs. There may also be setting up of SEZs which is Special Education Zones to remove disparities and provide the best education to all the children of the country. Such a sea change cannot possibly happen without mentoring, hand holding and collaboration so there is a suggestion for efficient resourcing and governance through school clusters and school complexes by 2025. A starting has already been made by CBSE a year ago with the opening of learning hubs across the country.

I think all in all the entire NEP is very forward-thinking, very progressive, very utopian ideal, one which is very achievable if everyone works together. Finally, the idea of collaboration will replace the concept of competition where school clusters, Sahodaya complexes, neighbourhood schools will come together to work together because not everybody will be able to do the best by themselves for the students if they were to live in isolation. So there could be schools that could have expertise in one particular vocational training and thus neighbourhood schools could all hone in over there for that, another school could know about other professional training and everyone can share their resources and come together in the best possible way

Possibly the best news is also for an educator that we will have by the year 2030 100 per cent gross enrollment ratio, which is every child will be in school. That is the only way we can hope for some improvement in the socio-economic-political set up of our country India and will hopefully lead to the India of our dreams.

About the Author: Aditi Misra is a revered academician with an inspiring experience of over three decades as a teacher, administrator, policymaker and mentor for students as well as teachers. 

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