GLIMPSE OF PRESENT EDUCATION SYSTEM IN INDIA
The expenditure on the education sector has consistently increased since 2014. For the year 2020-21, the estimated expenditure on the education sector was 94000 crore rupees but is still 4.6% of India’s GDP. Ideally, it should be 6% of the country’s GDP so the government must work upon raising the education expenditure. In 2020, India ranks 62nd in Total Public Expenditure on Education per student as per the ranking given by IMD.
As per the 2011 Census, the literacy rate in India is just 74%. The male literacy rate is 82.1 % whereas the Female literacy rate lags at 65.5 %. Through these figures, one can clearly see-through the gender stereotypes prevalent in our social order. There is an outsized disparity among the various states in literacy rate. Kerela ranks first with a literacy rate of 96.2 % and Bihar ranks last with 63.82% as per the latest NSO survey. Also, the percentage of graduates in rural areas is just 5.7% and that in urban areas is 21.7%.
After having a look at all these stats and figures, one could understand the pressing need for reforms in the education system of India. So the government came up with new policies called the National Education Policy, 2020 to pilot the development and enhancement of our education system.
The first NEP was passed by the parliament in 1968 that was formulated by a 17-member commission headed by the then UGC Chairperson, D S Kothari. In 1986, the second New Education Policy was passed by the Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi government. The policies of the second NEP was again revised and modified in 1992. The third NEP passed on 29 July 2020 replaces the 34 years old NEP of 1986.
The National Education Policy 2020 comprises 4 parts (I, II, III, IV), School Education, Higher Education, Other Ley Areas of Focus, and Making It Happen respectively. The main objective of the new education policy is to meet SDG 4, i.e., Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030. This target “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by the year 2030 was agreed to by India in 2015. The NEP 2020 has brought some major changes and reforms in the primary and higher education of India.
The new policy places great emphasis on basic literacy and numeracy. It underlines the efficient use of technology for teaching, learning, research works and for removing linguistic barriers. More stress will be put on conceptual learning and understanding rather than rote learning. The new curriculum will aim to enhance critical thinking and logical decision making in the students. It will add to creativity in the students and focuses more on imparting practical knowledge in addition to academic knowledge. The main focus of the policy is equity and inclusiveness in all educational decisions. It aims to bring together different communities from different parts to foster their participation and upliftment. One key feature is that the NEP proposes to expand free and compulsory education for all students up till class 12. Earlier it was up to class 8.
The following are its objectives-
- To achieve ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) for all by 2030
- Achieve the target of 100% GRE (Gross Enrollment ratio) by 2030 in School education
- Achieve the target of 50% GRE in Higher education by 2035 with a criterion of multiple entry/exits
- Set up only one authority to regulate higher education in the country with multiple verticals to manage different functions
- Eliminate the system of affiliated colleges over the next 15 years and start a new system of graded autonomy
REFORMS IN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
- 10+2 system substituted by new curricular of 5+3+3+4, where the first 5 years (pre-primary and classes 1 and 2) would be the foundational stage, next 3 years (classes 3, 4 and 5) would be the preparatory stage, then comes the middle stage (classes 6, 7 and 8) and final 4 years (classes 9 & 10 and 11 & 12) would be secondary stage
- A child’s mother tongue or his local language would be the medium of instruction in the schools till class 5
- Balvatika (preparatory class) would be established for 3-6-year-old children
- More emphasis on Foundational literacy and numeracy
- Bal Bhavans to be set up in every state/district that will serve as a special daytime boarding school
- Change in the curriculum to include more practical knowledge and reduce core concepts
- A standard-setting body for all the schools called PAREKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) would be setup
- The board exams in class 10 and 12 to be supplemented by school exams in classes 3, 5 and 8
- National culture would be included in the academic curriculum for all grades
- Government to set up Special Education Zones for disadvantaged groups in the society
- A School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) would be set up by SCERT and NCERT
REFORMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
- Certificates to be granted after the first-year for the students doing multiple entries and exits, after the second year for diploma courses and after 3-4 years for degree programs
- A student can now complete an MA and then Ph.D. without doing Mphil, which is a two-year program
- The regulatory authority for managing the higher education system in the country would run on an ‘Online Self Disclosure Based Transparent System’
- Providing a multifaceted and holistic education at the undergraduate level that will also have multiple entry and exit options
- Government to set up Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERU’s)
- Government to back National Research Fund (NRF) with the objective of raising funds for the researchers across the country
- An Academic bank of Credits will be initiated permitting the students to select courses as per their varied requisites
Apart from the aforementioned reforms, NEP 2020 also mentions that by 2030, the minimum educational qualification for the teaching profession would be a 4-year integrated B Ed degree. Also, all the TEI’s (Teacher Educational Institutes) would be shifted to interdisciplinary universities and institutes. The policy would advance the setting up of campuses of Indian Universities around different countries and also make room for some select foreign universities to set up their branches in India.
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
With NEP 2020, the biggest education system in the world has come up with some biggest and major reforms in its education sector. The initiatives such as Pedagogical Structure, collaborative and holistic learning, digital education, assessment methods, multilingualism, multiple entry and exit, special education zones and much more are completely new from the existing policy.
Behind all these reform policies, the approach of the government is pretty clear that is to build an inclusive system of education. The drawbacks of the 1986 policy were thoroughly analyzed and studied by the drafting team and have been duly corrected in the present policy. Like, the 5+3+3+4 format replacing the 10+2 system would help students inculcate reasoning ability and critical thinking from the very start of their learning process and help them gain more exposure and practical learning rather than book-based learning only.
With the introduction of this reform policy, the government has taken a very challenging responsibility on its shoulders. It would never be easy to implement the same. The far-flung areas of our country where houses have neither electricity nor internet connections, the children living there and having access to the digital open schools is something out of the question. The NEP 2020 has provided for many new things to be implemented, such as digitalization of classrooms, use of AI and machine learning tools, but not much light has been put on the manner in which it would be implemented. Sports and other physical activities form an essential part of the growth and development of a child and help children to develop mental and physical toughness, but the new education policy doesn’t make any reference to it.
Yet a proper implementation of the aforementioned policies would pave way for a more scientific approach to education and the progression of the youths of the nation. It would create a fresh, inclusive, advanced and diversified system of education and raise the standards of education of the country and help India compete with other developed nations of the world. Education is the key to all the existing problems of unemployment, poverty, income gap, etc. The Government’s effort to enhance education would indirectly solve other problems of the country.
- PRS Legislative Research, National Education Policy, 2020 <https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/parliament_or_policy_pdfs/Committee%20Report%20Summary%20-%20National%20Education%20Policy%202020.pdf > accessed on 3 February 2021
- National Education Policy 2020-MHRD, <https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf> accessed on 3 February 2021
- Creatrix Campus, The A-Z of National Education Policy 2020, <https://www.creatrixcampus.com/blog/The-National-Education-Policy-NEP-2020> accessed on 4 February 2021
- The Indian Express, Explained: India’s National Education Policy, 2020, <https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/reading-new-education-policy-india-schools-colleges-6531603/> accessed on 7 February 2021
She is a first year student of B.B.A. LL.B at Symbiosis Law School, Noida.