The new National Education Policy which was approved in the cabinet on 29th July 2020, and announced by the Ministry of Education on the 31st, has been welcomed by students, parents, educators and others related to the field. Since being initiated in 1986, this policy has seen only minor changes in 1992 and therefore, changing it to create better opportunities for students across all the grades and from varied backgrounds is a pioneering initiative.
The major goal of this new policy is to accomplish 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030 with universal access to education. Another feature is to dissuade rote learning that is prevalent amongst students and imbibe an interest-based process that helps them excel in a subject of their choice. According to the new National Education Policy, the 10+2 model of education becomes redundant and in its place, the 5+3+3+4 structure has been proposed. Let us discuss this in detail and how it is going to change the learning process as a whole:
What is the 5+3+3+4 structure?
The 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure of the new education policy 2020 is a novel way to inculcate a holistic approach to learning. According to this, the whole learning process has been divided into 4 parts, based on the age of the students.
  • The first part is from ages 3 to 8. It is known as the Foundational stage. According to the latest policy, this is the age when children have the capability to grasp the most of what is being offered to them in terms of learning. A child’s cumulative brain development is maximum at this time and needs to be put to the best use. So, early childhood care and education have to be made accessible to everyone. To facilitate this, the first 5 years have been further divided into three years of pre-primary school and 2 years of classes one and two. The first three years are to be spent in Anganwadis and the next two, in pre-school education.
    The framework for this period is to be developed by the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training), with importance on activity and discovery-based learning, languages, numbers, alphabets, logical thinking, etc. Focus on behaviour, hygiene, ethics and teamwork are also being introduced at this stage.
  • The second period is for children between the ages of 8 and 11 and has been named as the Preparatory stage. In this stage of classes 3, 4 and 5, introduction to textbooks, interactive learning and subjects that build their reading, writing, speaking, physical education, art, languages, science, and mathematics skills will be highlighted.
  • The third stage, called the Middle stage is between ages 11 and 14 and the students will progress to classes 6, 7 and 8. Here, the students will be introduced to varied subjects such as sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities in classes 3, 4 and 5. The new National Education Policy embarks on a discussion-based learning process in this phase.
  • The fourth stage of NEP 2020 is the high school or Secondary stage and is between the ages of 14 and 18. The students in 9th and 10th grade are categorized in one part and those in 11th and 12th, in the second half. There is an option of exiting grade 10th and re-entering the next phase, based on the student’s interest.
  • This total stage is an extension of the third one with a focus on critical thinking, attention to career aspiration of the students and their respective lives as a whole; and offers greater flexibility and choice. There is an exposure to more subjects and based on frequent assessments, students can choose those that they perform well and therefore, are more interested in.
Other notable changes to be considered
The aforementioned stages form the basis of designing a learning process that gives importance to a more flexible environment that is less focused on quantity and more focussed on what the students aspire to become/achieve. A few other features which are included by the Education Regulatory Council in this structure are as follows:
  • There will be common norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards for both public and private higher educational institutions.
  • Instead of exams being conducted every year, students now have to take exams only in the classes 3, 5 and 8.
  • The mandatory use of mother tongue or local language as the medium of instruction for children upto grade 5 is yet another feature worth a mention. It has been further recommended to continue this until the 8th class.
  • Each State School Regulatory Authority has been asked to prepare an implementation plan for universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.
  • The new National Education Policy is setting up Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
  • A National Professional Standards for Teachers is being developed for training teachers across India so as to make them eligible for the changed Policy in learning.
  • A broad-based, multi-disciplinary learning module is being emphasized by the new Policy.
  • The MPhil program has been made redundant.
  • Distance education modules are being focussed upon with more funding and to make them comparable to the in-class learning structure.
  • The new National Education Policy aims for a 100% literacy among youth and adult population in India by 2035.
  • Inclusion of vocational training in schools to make students excel in a trade of their choice has been introduced.
Going forward...
With these multiple changes in the education sector, the government aims to create a better learning environment for everyone so that they become self-sufficient and are able to develop skills that will enhance their earning potential and make them better citizens in the long run. The holistic approach of learning that is being promoted by the new Education Policy In India is being heralded as long overdue and has the potential to change the face of India in the educational sector from around the world, and even invite foreign students to make the most of the learning experience in our country.