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Innovation Vs. Tradition: Expectations from NEP 2020

National Education Policy

On 29 July 2020, the Union Cabinet came forward with a new education policy. The changes proposed therein will have a sweeping effect on the new generation with the decisive switch of putting ‘employability’ in focus.

A much-needed response in the rapidly changing socio-economic scenario, the policy will make revisions that allow flexibility and autonomy for students to build contemporary, in-demand skills.

India has one of the youngest populations compared to other countries with a median age of 28. This means that we’re in a state of demographic dividend which is expected to reach its peak in 2036. Hence, it will be interesting to see how the new education policy will accommodate our future workforce to make the most of this economic advantage.

What is the National Education Policy (NEP)?

The National Education Policy is aimed at promoting education among the people of India and provides the framework of teaching and learning across schools in India. First introduced in 1968, the policy has undergone amendments in 1986 and 1992, before the latest changes in 2020 – almost three decades later.

The 2020 National Educational Policy brings the highest degree of modification, notably in terms of medium of instruction and segregation in levels of schooling. At the university level, revamping of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and student support are in order, while also opening the country up for foreign universities, faculty and students.

Key changes proposed by NEP 2020:

As of yet, the changes are only in the form of a policy, not a law. Once implemented, the following changes will be put into effect:

  • A transition from 10+2 structure of education to a 5+3+3+4 arrangement where,
    • Students in age group 3-8 years will get five years of foundational schooling;
    • Students in age group 8-11 years will attend three years of preparatory school;
    • Students in age group 11-14 years will attend three years of middle school;
    • And secondary education will comprise students in the age group of 14-18 years.
  • Till Class 5 (first year of middle school), students will learn all subjects with their mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction.
  • Vocational education will be provided from middle school onwards with a focus on skill development.
  • The curriculum will integrate Indian Culture and Ethos at all levels.
  • Exams will be conducted only in grades 3, 5 and 8, in addition to Boards exams in grade 10 and 12.
  • Choice-Based Credit System: In high school, there will be no hard segregation of Arts, Science and Commerce streams; students will opt for subjects based on their individualized aptitude reports that use AI technology for accurate results.

Further, the “Equitable Inclusive Education: Learning for All” chapter of the policy aids students of socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs), facilitating a more egalitarian approach to education:

  • Both public and private schools are to be assessed and accredited on the same criteria, benchmark and processes.
  • All schools are to provide students of ages 3 to 8 years with ‘energizing’ breakfast and midday meals.
  • All school students will undergo regular health check-ups and issued health cards entailing medical history and diagnostics.
  • High quality bilingual textbooks are to be made available for Science and Mathematics subjects.
  • Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized.
  • Gender Inclusion Fund, applicable for up to class 12, in KGBV schools for girls as well as transgender students.

A Policy for the New Age

The new curriculum gives significance to the development of essential life skills. Students will, thus, gain strength in innovation, critical-thinking, problem-solving and logical-reasoning skills. This means that they will be more adaptable to their future professional roles.

Most students who have graduated from high school in the past decades are not equipped to deal with professional challenges. Sometimes, even after three-four years of college or university, they have to undergo months-long internship and training periods when they enter the job market.

Additionally, the new policy offers a skill-driven structure that will see students opt for varied professional environments, from sports and physical education to arts and aesthetics, among others.

Lastly, the proposed policy will expose children to elements of the digital era – digital literacy, coding and computational thinking. This will give them an edge to start building their careers before the age of 18, preparing them, and thereby, the entire nation for the challenges and unexpected outcomes of the future.

In the light of the historic events that have taken place in 2020, with some threatening human existence itself, the new National Educational Policy renders itself a policy for the New Age.

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