On Wednesday, the Modi Government announced the much-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) after the approval of the Union Cabinet. The Modi government was resolved to bring education reforms in the country as there had been no changes in India’s Education Policy in the last 34 years. Reform in the education sector was one of the key promises made by the BJP party in its manifesto ahead of 2014 elections. After wide consultations with the public and inputs from the best minds in the education reforms panel over the past years the Modi government has brought path breaking reforms with the New Education Policy. The new policy aims to revamp all aspects of India’s education system and bring it on a par with the best global standards. The move is important as it comes at a time when India needs big reforms in education to overcome the challenges, meet the expectations and match the skills needed for the 21st century. The new NEP will replace the existing National Policy on Education 1986 which was modified only once in 1992. The new policy is also in consonance with PM Narendra Modi’s big vision for India as it aims at making “India a Global knowledge Superpower”.
India has often witnessed critical debate on how the current education system did not equip candidates with the skills required for 21st century jobs, that although there were jobs in the market but candidates did not have the skills to fit in the jobs. The new education policy appears to tackle this particular issue that has long faced Indian job seekers. It draws a parallel between education, learning and eventual success an individual can achieve in practical life by preparing them with vocational training at the same time as receiving formal education. The new policy suggests the integration of vocational training into school curriculum from Class 6 onwards. By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education. Vocational courses will also be available to students enrolled in all Bachelor’s degree programmes.
In terms of making education less burdensome and more practical the new policy aims at reducing content load. It suggests a reduction of the school curriculum to core subjects. The curriculum would instead focus on 21st-century skills and mathematical thinking to develop a scientific temper in students from a young age. Students will be assessed on how they apply the knowledge they have gained and not just rote learning. The new policy aims to move from high stakes test by shifting from summative to formative assessment.
The NEP also introduces a new school education system with a 5+3+3+4 format. This means the first five years of the school will comprise of the foundation stage including three years of pre-primary school and classes 1 and class 2. The next three years will be divided into a preparatory stage from classes 3 to 5. Later three years of middle stage (classes 6 to 8), and four years of secondary stage (classes 9 to 12).
The policy also comes to the rescue of undergraduate students exiting degrees in the middle of the bachelors programme with “multiple exit options”. Students exiting during the programme will still be offered a certification depending on the exit stage i.e. a certificate after completing one year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after two years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a three-year programme.
The Modi government has introduced a multi-lingual system in schools for better instruction of pupils. Teachers will teach not only in English but also in regional Indian languages. The focus will also be on technology which will now be part of education planning, teaching, learning, assessment, teacher, school, and student training. The e-content will also be made available in regional languages, starting with eight major languages – Kannada, Odia, Bengali among others to join the e-courses available in Hindi and English.
The new policy has been applauded for increasing the budgetary funding to education and creating more access for disadvantaged groups.
India presently sees students visiting from different parts of the world for higher education. The new policy is set to take this further by allowing top 100 World Universities to set up in India. The move will not only generate a higher influx of students into India but will also turn the country into a global knowledge destination, making India a “global knowledge superpower” as the Modi government would call it.