Union Cabinet approves the National Education Policy 2020. This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. The new policy aims for universalisation of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030 and aims to raise GER in higher education to 50 per cent by 2025. NEP 2020 will bring two crore out of school children back into the main stream. The 10+2 structure of school curricula will be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. It will include 12 years of schooling and three years of Anganwadi and pre-schooling.
The choice between 3 or 4-year undergraduate courses, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, adding 3.5 crore seats in higher education institutions which will now have a single regulator, discontinuation of MPhil programmes and fixation of fees are among the higher education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy (NEP).
The NEP was approved on Wednesday by the Union Cabinet. Elaborating on the reforms, HRD Secretary Amit Khare said at a press briefing the policy aims to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 per cent (2018) to 50 per cent by 2035 and 3.5 crore new seats will be added to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
The undergraduate degree will be of either three or four-year duration with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications — a certificate after completing one year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after two years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a three-year programme.
“The 4-year multidisciplinary bachelor’s programme shall be the preferred option since it allows the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education in addition to a focus on the chosen major and minors as per the choices of the student,” Khare said.
As per the new policy, the system of affiliation will be phased out over 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism for granting graded autonomy to colleges, through a transparent system of graded accreditation, will be established. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an autonomous degree-granting college or a constituent college of a university.
The policy has called for a single higher education regulator called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). However, medical and legal colleges will be kept out of its purview.
Among the key reforms in the policy is a common entrance exam for admissions to universities and colleges to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), discontinuation of MPhil programmes, common norms to be in place for private and public higher education institutions and fee fixation under a broad regulatory framework.
To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP has recommended setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use of mother tongue or local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes.
“An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, will be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
“The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education. Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world-ranked Universities to open campuses in our country,” Khare said.
Welcoming ‘National Education Policy 2020′, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that India was in dire need of such a futuristic policy for the last 34 years, bringing in much needed historic reforms in both school and higher education.
His remark came after the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the new National Education Policy which is expected to set the roadmap for the sector. The policy comes after almost three decades.
“Education is the foundation of any nation and for the last 34 years, India was in dire need of such a futuristic policy,” Shah tweeted.
Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Modi and Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on this landmark policy decision, Shah said it will play an unprecedented role in the building of a New India.
“It is truly a remarkable day in the history of the Indian education system. Under the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modi, Union Cabinet today approved ‘National Education Policy 2020′ for the 21st century; bringing in much needed historic reforms in both School and Higher Education.”
The Minister also mentioned in his tweet that “No nation in the world can excel by giving up its culture and values”.
He said that the aim of Prime Minister Modi’s National Education Policy 2020 is to create an education system which is deeply rooted in Indian ethos and can rebuild India as a global knowledge superpower, by providing high-quality education to all.
He asserted that ‘National Education Policy 2020′ will reach students of every section of the society and a special joint task force will be constituted to ensure the same.
Shah further said continuous and strategic steps will be taken to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.
He added that “New Education Policy 2020 brings in various features like 5+3+3+4 system in school education, introduction of new four-year courses, single point common regulatory system, fee fixation and common norms within board regulatory framework along with multiple entry and exit points in higher education”.
Shah pointed out that New Education Policy will also have the provision of academic credit bank, increased investment in education system, internationalism of education, special education zone for disadvantaged regions, upgradation of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya to 12 grade and an increased focus on Lok Vidya and the use of technology.
“The objective of National Education Policy 2020 is to bring in a huge transformational change in the Indian Education system through holistic and multidisciplinary approaches. Focus on different aspects will lead to the overall development of the children across the country,” Shah added.
Former Union HRD Minister who set the ball rolling for the National Education Policy which was given a nod on Wednesday, hailed it, calling it “a transformative restructuring of Education in India” which encompasses every stage of learning, from early education to higher education with thrust on technology & digitisation.
“The national education Policy is outcome of the most exhaustive consultations carried out by GOI under PM Narendra Modi Ji’s leadership. Honoured to be part of the extensive exercise initiated in 2015 and thankful to Prakash Javadekar Ji & Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Ji for supplementing the efforts of HRD Ministry,” tweeted the former HRD Minister, on Wednesday.
Irani recounted how this exhaustive education policy was formulated “after taking into consideration over 2 lakh suggestions”. She added that the policy will pave way for building a “robust education system rooted in Indian ethos”, which will help transform India into a “global educational powerhouse as envisioned by the Prime Minister”.
Irani, who now heads the Women and Child Development ministry has still found her way to contribute to this new policy that is likened by many with ‘New India’. She said, “Laying emphasis on education in the early years, National Education Policy 2020 provisions for quality early childhood care & education for children between 3-6 years through Anganwadis & Schooling. WCD Ministry with HRD Ministry & other Ministries will strive to achieve the aim of ECCE by 2030.”
Anganwadis & Schooling systems through National Curricular & Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care & Education will focus on attaining outcomes in developing “cognitive, socio-emotional-ethical, cultural and communication skills among children”, claimed Irani, who was at the centre of this policymaking.
The policy has provisions of a gender inclusion fund for girl child development. The former HRD Minister Irani, now as the Boss of the WCD Ministry seeks to continue to contribute and enhance the proper implementation of the policy on the ground, through provisions like these. She said, “Gender Inclusion Fund’ to be created under NEP 2020 is an important feature to ensure no child is devoid of education due to birth or background. This will provide quality education for all girls as well as transgender students — an important step towards inclusive education.”
Back in 2016, Irani, then at the heart of formulating the policy, had said that it was for the first time that a comprehensive National Education Policy was being prepared after consulting people living in villages and far-flung areas of the country. Four years later, watching the same policy come into being, Irani couldn’t help but express her gratitude to PM Modi for the cabinet’s nod. (IANS)