On 29th July Indian government replaced a 34-year-old National Policy on Education, framed in 1986, with the New Education Policy of 2020. This policy aims to improve the ways education is imparted at both school and college levels.

Some of the biggest Features of the NEP 2020 are….

1. Schooling starts at the age of 3 years now.

The New Education Policy increases age group 6-14 years of mandatory schooling to 3-18 years of schooling. The NEP introduces three years of pre-schooling, age group of 3-6 years under the school curriculum. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of pre-schooling.

This structure, when broken up into corresponding grades, is:

  • Three years of anganwadi or preschool + two years in primary school in grades 1-2 covering ages 3 to 8 years
  • The ‘preparatory stage’ covering ages 8 to 11 years or grades 3-5
  • The ‘middle stage’ covering ages 11 to 14 years or grades 6-8
  • The ‘secondary stage’ covering ages 14 to 18 years in two phases – grades 9-10 in the first and grades 11-12 in the second.

2. Mother tongue or local language as medium of instruction.

The policy document states that children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more quickly in their home language.

“Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language, mother tongue, local language or the regional language. Thereafter, the home or local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools,” the policy states.

The NEP only recommends the mother tongue as medium of instruction, and not make it compulsory.

3. Single body for entire higher education.

Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single principal body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

Govt will phase out the affiliation of colleges in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

4. Science, arts, commerce gets indistinct.

Under NEP 2020, there will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams. Students can select subjects of their liking across the streams. Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.

5. FYUP Programme Returns & No More Dropouts

Under the NEP, undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration with multiple exit options within this period. College will be mandated to give certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme.

Govt will also establish an Academic Bank of Credit for digitally storing academic credits earned from different higher education institutes so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

6. Changes to Examinations & Focus on Multilingualism in Schools.

The policy also aims to promote multilingualism and a learning of native languages. There will also be reforms to the assessment system.

According to the policy, board exams will be made ‘easier’, testing ‘primarily core capacities/competencies’ rather than rote learning. There will also be the possibility of taking the board exams twice in a year, once for the main exam and once for improvement, if a student so wishes.

In addition, the NEP will implement standardised school exams to be taken in grades 3, 5 and 8 in order to track progress of education throughout school years rather than just at the end.

Some other highlights are also as follows…

  • Form now Kendriya Vidhyalas will have add Pre-school sections.
  •  Indian arts, languages and culture will be promoted at all levels.
  • M.Phil degree will be discontinued.
  • By 2040, all higher education institutions like IITs will become multidisciplinary. There will be greater inclusion of arts and humanities subjects for science students and vice-versa.