Mark Twain once said, “Do not let school interfere with your education.’ and rightly so! The introduction of the 10+2+3 system more than four decades back to establish a semblance of uniformity into the school system at the national level was considered as path-breaking in terms of establishing structural harmony in schools and improving the standard of education. The plus 2 system conceived by the Education Commission 1964-66, was in all earnest meant to improve the quality and standard of education. The proposed vocational training after class X is yet to see the light of the day despite several recommendations over the years. Cleary, the lacuna is visible even today between the proposed policies and ground-level implementation.
The Union Cabinet approved National Education Policy (NEP) dated 29 July 2020, comes across as a refreshing move and a revolutionary reform in the educational space, to do away with the existing plus 2 system.
The emphasis is on ushering progressive changes into the Indian education system that has been bereft of providing a uniquely hybrid educational environment to the young, talented, and impressionable minds with the potential of becoming future leaders and torchbearers of a better tomorrow.
The proposed policy changes aim to provide an integrated learning system that will not only offer globally valued quality education and equal academic and vocational training opportunities to the students but also equip them with the much-needed industry-ready or employable skills upon completing their education.
While the Ministry of Human Resources has been renamed to Ministry of Education, the key takeaways of the Union Cabinet approved NEP are as follows:
- The prevailing 10+2+3 mode of learning to be abolished and replaced by 5+3+3+4 system (Five years of foundational education, three years of preparatory, followed by three years of middle and four years of secondary schooling)
- Every student shall get to learn at least one vocation during grades 6-8
- Flexibility to choose subjects across streams during class 8-11
- Diluted board exams to be held twice a year to test core competencies (to be implemented from 2021)
- Three language policy to be continued till class 8
- Primary and secondary curriculum to be revised to include foundational literacy and numeracy
- All school exams to be held twice a year
- The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to be the sole body governing all aspects of higher education
- National Testing Agency to conduct SAT like entrance test for university admission, twice a year
- UG Program: 3-4 years (Four-year multi-disciplinary programs, mid-term drop outs to be given credits to complete a degree after a break, multiple entries and exit points to be provided)
- PG Program: 1-2 years
- Integrated five-year bachelor/master
- M Phil to be discontinued
Autonomous colleges to offer flexible learning
- Public and private higher education institutions to be governed by the same set of norms and standards and have the same fee structures. Fees for private colleges to be capped by the government
- International curriculum to be made available through the globalization of education. Top-rated universities to set up base in India and Indian institutions to be encouraged to go global
- Colleges to be provided graded autonomy by universities to award degrees, college-university affiliation to be discontinued
- Pre-service teacher training board to be set up
- Government to devise learning programs for parents to teach children up to three years at home and subsequently during pre-school (3-6)
- A student completing one year of bachelor studies to be awarded a basic certificate and a diploma on completing two years. A degree to be awarded after completing the full program
- Sanskrit to be offered at the school and higher education levels
- Experimental and interactive learning to be encouraged to promote competency-based learning
Quality education is not just about amassing knowledge and acquiring a degree but should foster equality, inclusiveness, social and interpersonal skills, apart from imparting academic knowledge and learning, and this can only be imbibed at the young and impressionable age.
The proposed reforms offer the hope of bridging the divide between national and state-level schools, the affluent and the disadvantaged sections of our society by bringing at par the private and public educational institutions. One can only hope that the proposed unified academic reforms that promise to offer an integrated learning environment and holistic development opportunities to students across the nation will pave the way for quality education, personal transformation, professional glory, and improved quality of life for the upcoming student brigade.
The National Education Policy aims at making India a global knowledge superpower. Let there be more power to education!