Understanding the National Education Policy 2020: Learning Coding, the exit option among others

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On 29th July, 2020, the cabinet after a gap of 34 years replaced the Education Policy of 1986 with New Education Policy 2020. To understand in a better way it is not a law passed by parliament but is a policy implemented by NDA Government. As education is a subject of concurrent list, the policy will be implemented subject to the regulation by both State and Centre.

Over 100 action plans from the policy to be implemented in phases

This policy is meant to transform the education system by 2040. As per the policy, the name of the Ministry of Human Resource Development has already been changed to the Ministry of Education.

The system will be implemented in phases depending on region, time, institutions with Institute of Eminence, and Central Universities taking the lead. Like exercising the exit option from 4 years degree program will be implemented in 20 Institute of Eminence from 2020-2021 academic year. The M Phil degree programme has been scrapped but the existing students in the degree programme can continue until they complete their degree.

What is 5+3+3+4 Curriculum structure?

The new curriculum structure will replace the current 10+2 curriculum structure with an emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education and compulsory pre-schooling for the age group 3-6 years. It means compulsory education for the age group of 6-14 years has been replaced with compulsory education for the age group of 3-18. The existing 12 years of schooling have been replaced with 15 years of schooling as per the policy. The 5+3+3+4 curriculum structure of schooling has been divided among the age group of 3-8 years, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18. The National Council of Educational Research and Training will implement the structure in the next year.

Other Important Changes

Coding a part of School Curriculum

One of the biggest changes in the education system is the introduction of coding from the 6th standard onwards. This means now children will be able to create apps, and other web developing tools for big techy companies like Android, IOS, etc. Computer basics though are taught in Indian schools but its adaption has been slow. These skills will develop logical reasoning, a sense of analysis, and creativity in children.

Mother Tongue as preferred language of teaching

The policy proposes mother tongue as a medium of instruction in teaching though sticking to the three-language formula. It is also suggested that language shall not be imposed on anyone. The medium instruction is suggested on this note that children learn non-trivial concepts more quickly in their home language. The NEP says, “Wherever possible, 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 or the regional language. Thereafter, the home or local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools,” the policy states.”

Mandarin dropped from foreign language to be taught in Schools

The National Education Policy (NEP) has dropped Mandarin or ‘Chinese’ from its list of examples of foreign languages that can be taught in schools.

Foreign Universities allowed to open their campuses in India

The procedure was not there before but after the policy surely students would not have to leave the country to pursue higher education.

Establishment of Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) 

It is proposed to establish a single regulating body for Higher Education, HECI, merging the UGC, AICTE, NCTE in it excluding Medical and Legal regulating bodies. Coding as a curriculum is taught in the USA  and other countries.

Common Entrance Test for Admission in IOEs and Central Universities

It is proposed that National Testing Agency will conduct a Common Entrance Test by December 2020 the which will be used for admission in the academic year 2021. Academic credit Bank will be established by the end of the year which will apply to all students joining the central university institutions by CET the next year. Academic Credit Bank will digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognised higher educational institutes so that the credits earned in the previous years can be awarded after entering into the programme again. With this ABC, the fear of wastage of years is avoided. This gives the student an easy entry-exit option from their academic year.

3 years 0r 4 years degree programme?

According to the new NEP 2020: “The undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications, e.g., a certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme.”

“The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option,” the NEP 2020 adds. This means fewer chances of dropping out of college.

More focus on research in Higher Education Institutes

The new NEP also mentions that the four-year programme may also lead to a degree ‘with Research’ if the student completes a rigorous research project in their major area(s) of study as specified by the higher educational institutes, or HEIs. The HEIs will focus on research and innovation by setting up start-up incubation centres, technology development centres, centres in frontier areas of research, greater industry-academic linkages, and interdisciplinary research including humanities and social sciences research.

Unwelcome Challenges

There are certain challenges for the policy to be implemented. The Higher Education Bill has been languishing for the last 1 year and it needs to be passed by an Act of Parliament. The proposal for Board of Governors for Institutions only to be appointed after an Amendment to the Central and State Universities Act. The biggest challenge is that the policy is not compulsory and the state can apply their discretion in implementing it. Already, a debate has been doing many rounds on the implementation of mother tongue as medium of instructions. States have locked horns on this issue. The government is optimistic that increasing the budget of education to 6% of GDP would serve the purpose. Such an increase in the budget of education has been done in the past so many times but never achieved.

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