The Modi Cabinet approved the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on Wednesday, making way for large-scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.

The Union Cabinet approved the new education policy during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the first education policy of the 21st century which has replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.

The policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower.

The new policy aims at making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels – pre-school to secondary.

Infrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes.

The new policy stresses open learning for classes 3, 5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12 and vocational courses.

About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into mainstream under NEP 2020.

The new policy emphasizes early childhood care and education and the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.

This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for the development of mental faculties of a child.

The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.

NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8.

NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD.

States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025. A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects.

There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.

Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade and will include internships.

A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.

The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.

Sanskrit is to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula.

Other classical languages and literatures of India will be available as options.

No language will be imposed on any student. Students will participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative.

Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level.

As per NEP 2020, all students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.

Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim.

NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background.

Special emphasis will be given on socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities.

Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras.

Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes.

Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators.

A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.

NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters.

States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).

Higher Education:

NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification.

UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.

For example, Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.

An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.

The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges.

Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

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).

A National Mission for Mentoring will be established.

Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs.

Open and Distance Learning: This will be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER.

Online Education and Digital Education: 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.

An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.

NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes .

Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations.

All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system.

Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc. will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.

Adult Education: Policy aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.

The Centre and the states will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

NEP 2020 has been formulated after an unprecedented process of consultation that involved nearly over 2 lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakhs Gram Panchayats, 6600 Blocks, 6000 ULBs, 676 districts.

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