In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, the government of India announced the NEP 2020 as the new National Education Policy is popularly known. The main objective was to make the Indian system of education holistic, multidisciplinary and flexible. The policy also hopes to align the education system with the demands of the 21st Century and make each child achieve his or her full potential. Also included among the objectives of the new policy is the wish to make every Indian – youth, adult, or child – literate.
Because of the pandemic lockdown situation, implementation of the policy was delayed. Steps have however been undertaken towards implementation in the form of SARTHAQ. An acronym for Students’ And Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education, the word Sarthak (Q) in Hindi means fulfilled.
Essentially, the initiative defines the tasks needed for implementation, the goals that these tasks will achieve, and assigns responsibility for each task along with a timeline – thus fulfilling the spirit and intent of NEP 2020.
The question that every parent teacher and student alike is asking however is –
How will NEP 2020 Change Schools and Colleges?
Or rather how will NEP 2020 affect education at the level of the student or teacher? Before we answer this question let’s take a look at the broad structure of the policy – the 5+3+3+4 structure. The structure essentially covers four stages of development –
- Foundation – (5 years) – in which the child will learn the basic skills of socialization, reading, writing, numbers, and motor skills either at home, in a pre-school, or Anganwadi in a language of his choice.
- Preparatory – (3 years) Where the child is introduced to various subjects and areas of knowledge.
- Exploratory – (3 years) Where the child begins to relate his learning to the real world.
- Stepping Stone – (4 years) Where the child lays the groundwork for his career.
This structure indicates a shift in focus from theoretical learning to vocational learning. It also hopes to narrow down the gap between campus and corporate and enable learners to take informed decisions rather than rely upon second hand knowledge.
More specifically, the changes you may expect to see in the schools and colleges of the future include –
Emphasis on Early Childhood Care
A child today enters school at the tender age of 2.5. Part of the reason for this is a concern on the part of the parents about the readiness of the child to enter mainstream education. Another reason is the logistics of managing the child while both parents are off at work. Termed as pre-school the years spent learning before formal learning begins was earlier not considered a part of “school.”
The NEP 2020 now embraces preschool as a part of the education system. This is likely to level the playing field as far as pre-schooling is concerned and allow children from the marginal sections of society to attend pre-school and enter grade 1 at par with their peers.
- Standardized curriculum and learning outcome for pre-schoolers.
- Increased demand for ECCE qualified teachers
- Levelling the playing field between public and private sector schools
The NEP 2020 has removed the imposition of ‘language’ as a subject until grade 5. The medium of instruction until at least grade 5 – and perhaps higher – will be the local or regional language. Schools of the future are expected to offer a range of domestic and foreign languages across levels with Sanskrit being offered at all schools.
- While Urban India is multicultural, schools other may find it challenging to offer more than the local regional language.
- When children from various regions emerge the language disparity may pose new challenges.
SARTHAQ – the stage 1 implementation plan for NEP 2020 –includes a revision in the curriculum for B.Ed. as well as laying the ground work for more robust teacher recruitment and training process. Also included in SARTHAQ is a plan for identifying teachers to teach in regional languages. SARTHAQ also proposes a plan for continuous capacity building for teachers as well as an inclusive and safe learning environment for both teachers as well as students.
Teaching is a thankless profession – or so goes the adage. Whether that’s true or not what is true is the fact that teaching is among the most underpaid and overworked profession. As a curriculum emerges and new pedagogies are introduced, there is likely to be a demand for higher salaries by the teaching staff.
Technology in Education
The NEP 2020 proposes setting up NETF (National Educational Technology Forum) a platform that enables exchange of ideas for use of technology in education. Among the expectations from SARTHAQ are availability of e-content in classrooms.
Pair that with the pandemic driven increase in digital literacy and you are likely to see extensive use of technology in classrooms at all levels.
Technology in classrooms will facilitate satisfaction of the innate curiosity of a child. Education is therefore likely to be much more learner driven – pull learning rather than push learning. It will also facilitate informed career decisions and discourage herd behaviour. On the flip side, use of technology in the classroom is likely to increase, the incidental costs of education.
There is also an increasing concern that reading and writing even as an art or hobby, may become die out with light pens taking the place of ballpoints and devices taking the place of paper.
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Focus on Vocational Learning
The NEP 2020 introduces vocational learning much earlier than it is currently. A child will begin learning about vocations and careers as early as grade 6 (in the exploratory stage) and gradually enhance his knowledge until he passes grade 12. With technology penetrating classrooms and giving free rein to a child’s curiosity and imagination, a child passing out under the NEP 2020 is far more likely to follow his star and turn it into his career or profession than the preceding generations.
Not only does early introduction of vocational education equip children with knowledge and bridge the campus to corporate gap, it also gives the learners sufficient time to plan their career path and strategy. Moreover it will enable learners to take informed decisions rather than depend upon second hand information.
Among the highlights of the NEP 2020 is the removal of rigid walls between arts, science, and commerce streams. This means that students will no longer need to choose one or the other. Instead they can elect to study subjects of their choice and bank their credits – to use during their post grad years. The credits remain intact even during breaks and may be counted for campus selection.
Flexibility to choose subjects of their choice not only gives students the freedom to select subjects of their liking but also greater control over their career strategy. A student for instance who is desirous of becoming a Psychiatrist may take biology along with psychology as his core subjects and throw in business administration or accounting as a bonus. Or he may learn a few languages to help him in future practice.
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