Renewed Faith in National Education Policy
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan assured the Parliament early this week(December 6) that the Government of India is implementing honestly the National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP 2020) that was finalised after detailed consultation process with all stakeholders including State/UT Governments, followed by the approval of Union Cabinet. He has said that implementation of the spirit and intent of the Policy is the most critical matter. Therefore comprehensiveness in implementation will be key.
The NEP is interconnected and holistic, which ensures that the desired objectives are achieved. Since education is a concurrent subject, it needs careful planning, joint monitoring, and collaborative implementation between the Centre and States. Accordingly, the Ministry of Education has written to all its implementing agencies, regulatory bodies, State/UT Governments, other stakeholder Ministries/Departments, etc for taking steps for implementation of NEP 2020.
National Education Policy 2020 proposes various measures to improve Gross Enrollment Ratio at all levels of education such as providing universal access and opportunity to all children, effective and sufficient infrastructure, safe conveyances and hostels, especially for the girl children, children who are dropping out of school are brought back into mainstream education, enhancing access by establishing more high-quality HEIs( higher education institutions) in aspirational districts, integration of vocational Education with School and Higher Education, Scholarship / Fellowships for SEDGs/Girls/Divyangs, etc.
In the Policy, targets have been set to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool to secondary level by 2030 and 50% in higher education by 2035.
Improving the quality of education across all levels from primary to university level is a continuous and ongoing process. Therefore, the policy provides different timelines as well as principles and methodology for its implementation. A series of workshops/VCs have been held with States/UTs to discuss innovative ideas for NEP implementation. States/UT Governments have also started taking initiatives towards implementation of NEP 2020.
Roles of Government of India and State / UT Governments have been clearly indicated in the NEP 2020 such as overall monitoring and policymaking for continual improvement of the public education system; educational operations and service provision for the public schooling system; effective quality self-regulation or accreditation system for all stages of education; setting up of State School Standards Authority (SSSA); transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information; setting up of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district; faculty and institutional autonomy; establishment of National Research Foundation; governance of HEIs by high qualified independent boards; “light but tight” regulation by a single regulator for higher education; scholarships to disadvantaged and underprivileged students; online education, and Open Distance Learning (ODL); and infrastructure and learning materials, etc. NEP 2020 proposes to have multiple mechanisms with checks and balances for different aspects of education sector. The policy unequivocally endorses and envisions a substantial increase in public investment in education by both the Central government and all State Governments. The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. It proposes special emphasis to be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs). Details of equitable and inclusive education are given in Chapters 6 and 14 of NEP 2020.
The principal features of the policy are:
(i) Ensuring Universal Access at All Levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12;
(ii) Ensuring quality early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years;
(iii) New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure (5+3+3+4);
(iv) No hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams;
(v) Establishing National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy;
(vi) Emphasis on promoting multilingualism and Indian languages; The medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language.
(vII) Assessment reforms – Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired;
(vIii) Setting up of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development);
(ix) Equitable and inclusive education – Special emphasis given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs);
(x) A separate Gender Inclusion fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups;
(xi) Robust and transparent processes for recruitment of teachers and merit based performance;
(xii) Ensuring availability of all resources through school complexes and clusters;
(xiii) Setting up of State School Standards Authority (SSSA);
(xiv) Exposure of vocational education in school and higher education system;
(xv) Increasing GER in higher education to 50%;
(xvi) Holistic Multidisciplinary Education with multiple entry/exit options;
(xvii) NTA to offer Common Entrance Exam for Admission to HEIs;
(xviii) Establishment of Academic Bank of Credit;
(xix) Setting up of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs);
(xx) Setting up of National Research Foundation (NRF);
(xxi) ‘Light but Tight’ regulation;
(xxii) Single overarching umbrella body for promotion of higher education sector including teacher education and excluding medical and legal education- the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)-with independent bodies for standard setting- the General Education Council; funding-Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC); accreditation- National Accreditation Council (NAC); and regulation- National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC);
(xxiii) Expansion of open and distance learning to increase GER.
(xxiv) Internationalization of Education
(xxv) Professional Education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities, or institutions in these or other fields, will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.
(xxvi) Teacher Education – 4-year integrated stage-specific, subject-specific Bachelor of Education
(xxvii) Establishing a National Mission for Mentoring.
(xxviii) Creation of an autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education.
(xxix) Achieving 100% youth and adult literacy.
(xxx) Multiple mechanisms with checks and balances will combat and stop the commercialization of higher education.
(xxxi) All education institutions will be held to similar standards of audit and disclosure as a ‘not forprofit’ entity.
(xxxii) The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
(xxxiii) Strengthening of the Central Advisory Board of Education to ensure coordination to bring overall focus on quality education.
(xxxiv) Ministry of Education: In order to bring the focus back on education and learning, it may be desirable to re-designate MHRD as the Ministry of Education (MoE).