Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank addressing media after launching the NEP, 2020 Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: Introducing major reforms in school education system of the country, the government of India, in its New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, decided that the school curriculum will be reduced to core concepts and vocational education would be incorporated from Class VI with internships, among others.

The NEP, approved by the Centre on Wednesday, envisages a single regulator — HECI — for higher education institutions across the country. The Higher Education Council of India (HECI) would have multiple verticals to fulfil various roles. This reflects that the days of University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are over.

The new policy advocates for new 5+3+3+4 school curriculum with 12 years of schooling and 3 years of Anganwadi/ Pre-schooling. It aims for universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% GER in school education by 2030.

Teaching upto at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/ regional language. Higher Education curriculum to have flexibility of subjects. NEP 2020 will bring 2 crore out of school children back into the main stream.

Emphasis will also be given on foundational literacy and numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools.

According to the NEP, school complexes will now be used for adult education courses after school hours. Schools/ school complexes will be used beyond school hours and public library spaces for adult education courses which will be ICT-equipped when possible and for other community engagement and enrichment activities.

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“Every child will learn at least one vocation and exposed to several more. Sampling of important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc., as decided by states and local communities during Grades 6-8. By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education. A 10-day bag-less period sometime during Grades 6-8 to intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc. Similar internship opportunities to learn vocational subjects to students throughout Grades 6-12, including holiday periods. Vocational courses through online mode will also be made available,” the NEP said.

A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will develop high-quality modules to teach Indian Sign Language, and to teach other basic subjects using Indian Sign Language. Pre-school sections covering at least one year of early childhood care and education will be added to Kendriya Vidyalayas and other primary schools around the nation, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, state governments may encourage opening NCC wings in their secondary and higher secondary schools, including those located in tribal dominated areas.

Free boarding facilities will be built – matching the standard of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas particularly for students who from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education. A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered.

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Students will be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in secondary school – including subjects in physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills

There will be no hard separation among ‘curricular’, ‘extracurricular’, or ‘co-curricular’, among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.

Subjects such as physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills, in addition to science, humanities, and mathematics, will be incorporated throughout the school curriculum.

Each of the four stages of school education, may consider moving towards a semester or any other system that allows the inclusion of shorter modules.

This is the third NEP after policies that came in 1968, and 1986. Though the government amended the 1986 policy in 1992, it was largely the same.

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