Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal, announced salient features of the newly introduced National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on February 4, 2021. He did so in the parliament in response to the questions asked about the policy by Mr Vaiko. The education ministry announced the NEP 2020 on July 29, 2020, which has been made available for the public to read on the official website education.gov.in.
There are a total of 34 salient features of the National education policy, 2020. The policy aims to establish and ensure universal access at all levels of education beginning from pre-primary school to Class 12. It also ensures the quality of early childcare and education for all children between 3-6 years. The policy introduces a new curriculum and teaching structure of 5+3+3+4.
NEP 2020 does not establish any solid separation between arts and science streams, curricular and extra-curricular activities and, vocational and academic verticals. The policy establishes a national mission based on foundational literacy and numeracy. It strives to encourage multilingualism and promote Indian languages. The medium of instruction until Class 5 or ideally, until Class 8 and beyond shall be the home language, mother tongue, local language or regional language.
The policy has also introduced assessment reforms wherein board exams shall be held on up to two occasions during any preferred school year- one main examination and the other for improvement (if desired). A national assessment centre called PAREKH ( Performance Assessment Review and, Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) shall be set-up. Education shall be impartial and inclusive with special attention given to socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs). The policy also plans for creating a separate Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education ones for such individuals.
Recruitment of teachers shall be done through strong, transparent processes and merit-based performance. The policy shall also ensure the constant availability of resources in school complexes and clusters. Ministry shall also set-up a State School Standards Authority (SSSA) and aim to provide vocational education in school and higher school systems. The policy also aims at increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% in higher education.
NEP 2020 aspires to establish a holistic and multidisciplinary education in the country with numerous entry and exit points. Under this policy, NTA shall conduct common entrance exams for entries to Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs). The policy shall also establish an Academic Bank of Credit. The concerned ministry also aims to set-up Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) as well as a National Research Foundation (NRF). The policy shall also conduct a ‘light but tight’ regulation over all these reforms.
A single, umbrella body encompassing all government councils shall be established for uplifting the higher education sector including teacher education but excluding medical and legal education. To increase the overall GER, open and distance learning shall be expanded and education shall be internationalised. The policy aims to integrate professional education into the higher education sector. Stand-alone technical, health science, legal, agricultural universities shall convert into multi-disciplinary institutions.
Teacher education shall now comprise of a 4-year integrated, stage-specific and subject-specific B.Ed course. Furthermore, the policy shall establish a national mission for mentoring. An autonomous body called National Education Technology Forum (NETF) shall be established to encourage the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology. The ministry shall also aim to achieve 100% of youth and adult literacy. Multiple mechanisms to prevent the commercialisation of higher education shall be introduced.
All educational institutions shall be held to uniform and equal standards of the audit. As per the policy, the centre and state shall work together to bring public investment in the education sector to 6% of the total GDP. The policy also aims to strengthen the Central Advisory Board of Education as well as re-designate MHRD as the Ministry of Education (MoE).