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NEW EDUCATION POLICY, 2020: REFORMS IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM OF INDIA

Author: Rushika Rabha

Campus Law Centre, Delhi University




On the 29th of July,2020 the Union Cabinet approved the new national education policy of India. This policy is aimed at making changes from school to higher education but mainly making drastic changes in the current functioning of the system to equip the system with the necessary mechanism for imparting quality education. Additionally, with this policy, the government aims to increase the spending on education to touch 6% of the GDP. Education is part of the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution; therefore, it will require coordinated efforts of the centre and the state to actualize the goals of this policy. Certain bodies are also to be set up under this policy to maneuver the implementation process.


INTRODUCTION TO THE POLICY

“The gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is required must be bridged through undertaking major reforms that bring the highest quality, equity, and integrity into the system, from early childhood care and education through higher education.[1]

The draft National Education Policy, 2019 is the first change in the national education policy of the 21st century to modernize the Indian education system that was last brought out in 1986. The first-ever educational policy was formulated in 1968. The objective behind this policy was to mould India’s education system to adapt to the changing technological landscape. With exponential changes in technological innovation like machine learning and artificial intelligence, students need to augment their technological knowledge, however, a sustainable future is one where educating a child about climate change and humanities is important. Hence, the policy takes a multidisciplinary approach to learning. Additionally, the Ministry of Human Resource Development will be renamed to the Ministry of Education.

Principles of the Policy

The core principles that are to guide the education system are, inter-alia, “fostering the unique capabilities of each student” by nurturing a holistic development of the student in both academic and non-academic fields, interdisciplinary mobility and freedom by eroding the concrete differentiation between the sciences and arts, encouraging research as an important facet of education, emphasis on conceptual understanding through creative and critical thinking and imbibing ethical, constitutional and democratic values in the future generation. Furthermore, education is an inalienable right of every child which must be ensured by the state through public service.


Changes in School Education

  1. The 10+2 education system will be changed to a “pedagogical and curricular” with a 5 (Foundational) + 3 (Preparatory) +3 (Middle) + 4 (secondary) structure from ages 3-18. An investment in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) will encompass children from disadvantaged families who do not have access to ECCE that gives them the means to stay in the education system throughout their lives. Since “85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs before the age of 6”, it is crucial that a child’s cognitive development stage is handled with utmost care. To ensure universal access to education, Anganwadi centers will be well equipped and teachers will be appropriately trained and these centers will be amalgamated into “school complexes/clusters”.

  2. “Foundational literacy” and “numeracy” have been set forth as the goals in the early learning stages that this educational policy is to achieve by the year 2025. The policy highlights that currently there is a “learning crisis” in the country as children in elementary schools have not attained the foundational literacy and numeracy they need to excel in higher stages of learning. The Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) will serve as a national repository for resources on foundational literacy and numeracy.

  3. Teachers who have the necessary knowledge of the local languages will be given special attention as one of the important principles of this policy is the promotion of multilingualism. The student to teacher ratio of under 30:1 is to be ensured at every stage of schooling.

  4. In addition to the already existing midday meals, breakfast will also be provided to children. Children are to undergo regular health checkups so that 100% immunization is ensured.

  5. To curb the dropout rate and ensure a 100% Gross Enrollment Rate till the secondary level by 2030 the policy proposes two initiatives. Firstly, an effective infrastructural design that makes education accessible to students till grade 12, and the second is to carefully trace students so that it is ensured that they are enrolled or have the requisite opportunity to re-enter the school system.

  6. To facilitate the process of grasping knowledge students will be taught in their mother tongue or regional language or local language, wherever possible, till the 5th Grade and preferably till the 8th grade and beyond. This mode of instruction is to be followed in both public and private schools.

  7. Vocational activities are to be undertaken by students from the 6th grade where they will intern with local vocational experts.

  8. The current assessment system will be transformed into one where the students will get their “360-degree multidimensional report card” which will reflect their progress in the domains of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor development. State census examinations will be conducted for students in grades 3,5 and 8[2].

  9. Although board exams for the 10th and 12th grades will be continued, the policy aims to eliminate the need for coaching classes. Furthermore, students can give the board exams twice so that the best of the two attempts will be counted.

Changes in Higher Education

  1. Higher education institutes will be transformed into multi-disciplinary institutions with each such institute striving to have 3000 or more students. The policy categorizes higher education institutes into three categories- the research-intensive universities, the teaching-intensive universities, and the autonomous degree-granting colleges. It is to be noted that these three categories are not watertight, an educational institute will have the freedom to move from one category to the other.

  2. By 2040, this policy aims to elevate all higher education institutions to become multidisciplinary institutions with greater levels of student enrollment, hence by 2035 the policy aims to increase the gross enrollment ratio in higher education from 26.3% in 2018 to 50% by 2035.

  3. The higher education institutions are to gradually attain full autonomy both academic and administrative so that they can effectively “encourage high-quality multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary teaching and research across fields”. “Graded autonomy” in the place of “affiliated colleges” is a system that is envisioned in this policy.

  4. A holistic amalgamation of the sciences and humanities with the incorporation of vocational subjects in higher education institutions is envisaged.

  5. The undergraduate program structure will be either of 3- or 4-year duration with multiple exit points, however, the 4-year multidisciplinary program will be the preferred option.

  6. The M. Phil program is discontinued as per this policy. For admission in Ph.D., a master’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree with research is required.

  7. Multidisciplinary