Testing Key Reforms in School Education: NEP-2020

A new National Education Policy has been approved and published in July 2020 for the Indian education system. This policy revisits various policies which were present in the Indian education ecosystem for the last 34 years.

Vision – The National Education Policy 2020 envisions an India-centric education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high-quality education to all.

The Draft NEP was 484 pages. The process involved a rigorous consultation and feedback in formulating the draft policy: “Over two lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, 6,600 blocks, 6,000 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), 676 districts were received.”

The NEP 2020 has introduced several reforms in school education. Here is all you need to know about the new education policy reforms for students, teachers and schools.

Key reforms in school education:

  • Schooling will start at the age of 3 years
  • Earlier, schooling was mandatory for children between the age of 6 and 14 years. However, under the National Education Policy (NEP 2020), education will be compulsory for children between 3 and 18 years.
  • 5+3+3+4 curricular and teaching structure
  • The new National Education Policy aims to shift from the decades-old 10+2 format to a 5+3+3+4 system, keeping a child’s development and capabilities in mind.
  • Emphasis on mother tongue as medium of instruction:
    The National Education Policy lays emphasis on a child’s mother tongue as the medium of instruction. However, The NEP only recommends the mother tongue as a medium of instruction; it has not been made compulsory. The policy states that children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more quickly in their mother tongue.

According to the policy:
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.

  • 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio
    It aims 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by the year 2030. **NEP 2020 promotes an Open schooling system by bringing 2 crore out of school children back into the mainstream through recognized open schools. **mother tongue/ regional language to be taught till class 5th at least
  • No rigid separation between Science, Arts and Commerce streams
    Under the National Education Policy, there will be no stiff separation between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, and between vocational and academic streams. Students can select subjects of their liking across streams.

    The Committee proposes an equal emphasis on all the subjects – science, social sciences, art, languages, sports, mathematics with the integration of vocational and academic streams in school.
  • Internships and vocational education from Class 6
    The National Education Policy also seeks to align vocational occupations with international standards prescribed by the International Labour Organisation. To overcome the situation of social stigma attached to the vocationalisation of education, the NEP recommends:
    1. The integration of vocational education programmes into mainstream education in all educational institutions in a phased manner which would lead to emphasizing the dignity of labour and importance of various vocations involving Indian arts and artisanship.
    2. The teaching of vocational courses from class 6, mostly in the form of internships and practical activities, to ensure that every student studies at least one vocational course.
  • Focus on attaining foundational literacy and numeracy
    Foundational Literacy and Numeracy refers to building adequate literacy and numeracy skills during the foundational stage of school education. These are the first 5 years of education up to class 2 when the child is between 3 – 7 years.

    The goal is to enable children to form concepts related to the world around them through direct experience and interactions with the physical, social, and natural environment through language, mathematical thinking, and environmental awareness.
  • Board exams to have low stakes
    Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be redesigned and a new National Assessment Centre, Parakh (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body. The changes in the board structure, which seek to make the exams a test of core competencies will be implemented from the 2021 academic session.

    The new NEP 2020 seeks to test the students of Classes 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 based on their cognitive skills.
  • Education of gifted children
    In addition to the regular education, emphasis will be given to socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs), which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities. This includes setting up the gender inclusion fund and special education zones for disadvantaged regions. The policy states that children with disabilities will be able to attend regular school from the foundational stage to higher education, with the support of educators with cross-disability training and technology-based tools tailored to suit their needs.