The government has released long-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and has proposed many fundamental changes in the education system of the country, which will modernize the education ecosystem and prepare the students for a life in the 21st century. An education policy report of the central government lays a roadmap of the education system of the country for the following decades; the previous education policy was implemented in 1986 under Rajiv Gandhi and later revised in 1992 under PV Narasimha Rao.
The previous policy became archaic with the internet led ‘Information Revolution’ and therefore a new roadmap to guide the education system of the country was the need of the hour. “The NPE 1986/92 was formulated just before the Internet revolution and, while recognising the potential of technology, could not foresee the radical changes of the past few decades,” wrote Dr. K Kasturirangan, chairman of the Committee for National Education Policy in the preamble of the report.
The NEP emphasizes on the use of mother tongue/local language as the medium of instruction till class 5, and preferably till class 8. “Since most of the learning happens in the mother tongue, we ensured that 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/regional language,” tweeted HRD minister Ramesh Pokhariyal. “Starting from the Foundational Stage, children will be exposed to different languages with a particular emphasis on the mother tongue,” he added in a tweet.
Since most of the learning happens in the mother tongue, we ensured that 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/regional language. pic.twitter.com/RLQdLrUoV2
— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) July 29, 2020
There is lot of hue and cry in left-liberal media establishment over mother tongue as medium of instruction (preferably), and most of the media houses are spreading fake news that about the government imposing the medium of instruction while the statement from minister as well as ministry explicitly mentioned that mother tongue should be used “preferably”.
The medium of instruction (preferably) till Grade 8 & beyond, will be the home language/mother-tongue/local language/regional language.
Starting from the Foundational Stage, children will be exposed to different languages with a particular emphasis on the mother tongue. pic.twitter.com/w5hM3riTpF
— Ministry of HRD (@HRDMinistry) July 29, 2020
The use of mother tongue for teaching kids has been advocated by educationists as well as educational psychologists as it is scientifically proven that students learn better in their mother tongue. Most developed countries around the world teach their students in the mother tongue and expose their children to multiple languages from a young age. The education system, so far, has promoted the use of the English language as a medium of instruction, which prepares students to become cheap Information Technology labour for foreign countries, but not to innovate and build institutions. As the Modi government wants to address the problem of brain drain (finest minds moving to English speaking countries for better career opportunities), education in the mother tongue would be the best way to make future citizens innovators, not cheap labour for West.
Moreover, the government has decided to reverse Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to change the name of the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of HRD. In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi changed the name of Education ministry to HRD ministry at the suggestion of experts, and the 1986 National Education Policy looked at students as “human resources”.
The National Education Policy proposes a restructuring of stages from 10+2 to 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 which will correspond with age ranges of 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years, respectively. The second part is on Grades 3, 4, 5 which NEP names Preparatory (or Latter Primary) stage. In this stage, the children will be taught for a Foundation Stage (field learning based on play and activity) but also introduced with textbooks for classroom learning.
Highlighting this, Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, “#NEP2020 brings in various features like 5+3+3+4 system in school education, the introduction of new 4-year courses, single point common regulatory system, fee fixation & common norms within board regulatory framework; along with multiple entry & exit points in higher education.”
#NEP2020 brings in various features like 5+3+3+4 system in school education, introduction of new 4-year courses, single point common regulatory system, fee fixation & common norms within board regulatory framework; along with multiple entry & exit points in higher education.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) July 29, 2020
In the NEP, the government has also focused on pre-schooling of children, where there was a huge gap between the enrollment of privileged class children and underprivileged class ones. Pre-school or early childhood education has not been recognized by the central government in the last seven decades of independence. Early childhood education was part of Aganwadis which run under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) but they had no standalone recognition. But neuroscience has proved that 85 percent of the child’s cumulative brain is developed under the age of 6 years. Therefore early childhood education becomes crucial for the holistic development of the child. The NEP recognizes the importance of preschools and set the objective of “Every child in the age range of 3-6 years has access to free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education by 2025.”
The policy proposes the promotion of multilingualism from the foundation stage because “children learn languages most quickly between 2-8 years, and multilingualism has great cognitive benefits for students.” It ‘encourages the schools to teach three languages to students from the early stage – mother tongue, Hindi, and English for non-Hindi speaking states and Hindi, English, and one Indian language for Hindi speaking states. It is a scientific fact that children learn quickly if they are taught something in their mother tongue. Therefore NEP lays great emphasis on the use of mother tongue as a ‘medium of instruction’.
NEP-2020 also proposed for census examinations in for 3rd standard, 5th standard, and 8th standard students “To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, and not just at the end in Grade 10 and 12 – for the benefit of students, parents, teachers, principals, and school management committees in planning improvements to schools and teaching-learning processes.” All the other annual assessments would shift to a “regular and formative” style that is more “competency-based, promotes learning and development and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity”.
While the NEP-2020 continues with board examinations, the evaluation would be based on “holistic development”. Also, treating curricular and extra-curricular activities in silos would be put to an end, and instead of a rigid separation between arts and science, the focus would be on making the course multi-disciplinary.
In higher education, the entire graduation course would be made a four-year program like the one implemented by Delhi University in 2013 but later scrapped due to politicization. Masters would be of two years and M Phil programs have been scrapped altogether. Ph.D. would be made compulsory for University professors as the M Phil course would not be there.
If one reads NEP, ‘flexibility’ seems to be the keyword. The NEP proposes for no hard separation of curricular, extra-curricular, or co-curricular areas, arts and sciences, vocational and academic streams. The students will be given a wide range of subjects to choose from across arts, sciences, humanities, sports, and vocational education. As per the NEP, the aim of school education will be to “develop scientific temper, aesthetic sense, communication, ethical reasoning, digital literacy, knowledge of India, knowledge of critical issues facing the community and the world.”
Overall, the National Education Policy is quite ‘revolutionary’ and it aims to shift the focus from ‘rote learning’ to ‘critical thinking’ and encourage ‘problem-solving approach’ among students. If implemented, the policy will make the lives of children less burdened and they will be prepared to face the next stage of life.