A New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) was unveiled by the government on Wednesday which would facilitate the opening of foreign universities in India. This is a major reversal from its stance as an opposition party during the UPA-2 era. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has also been renamed as the Ministry of Education. At a press briefing presided over by the Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, the NEP focuses on reforms in collegiate and school-level education.
The NEP also highlights the promotion of regional languages as a medium of instruction, scrapping of the MPhil qualification, more flexibility in undergraduate and postgraduate degree tenures and blurring of the lines between disciplines.
"Today is a historic day, as the country is getting a new education policy after 34 years", said Amit Khare, Secretary of Education, while introducing the policy to the media. The government has said that this is a needed step towards a 'New India'.
The #NEP that was necessitated to shape the students and prepare them to face the challenges of the new age world, will remain a testimony to the widest ever consultations done in preparing a policy to meet the requirements of #NewIndia #CabinetDecision#NewEducationPolicy pic.twitter.com/gUnqrGAUWv— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) July 29, 2020
Here are the reforms that have been outlined.
1. Higher Education
The government aims to achieve a 50% gross enrolment ratio by 2035. UNESCO defines a gross enrolment ratio as
Number of students enrolled in a given level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education.
For the tertiary level, the 5-year age group starting for secondary school graduation age is taken.
In an effective policy reversal from the UPA-era, the government has also outlined that it will facilitate foreign universities opening campuses in India under a new law. The BJP as an opposition party opposed the passage of the Foreign Education Institutions (Regulation of Entry of Operations) Bill, 2010, that aimed to regulate the same field, stating it would raise the cost of education in India.
The government has also provided more flexibility to tertiary education in terms of structure, length and entry and exit. Undergraduate and postgraduate courses can be 3-4 years or 1-2 years respectively, along with the formalisation of an integrated 5-year Bachelor's and Master's. The MPhil degree, needed to go into research towards a PhD, would be scrapped.
Multiple entry and exit points in a degree programs to ensure that even if a student has to leave a program midway, an educational credential is issued at that level. An example given was a certificate issued after the first year, a diploma after the second and a degree after the third.
A new academic bank of credit system would ensure that students who left academic programs midway, and who wanted to rejoin the education system (within a stipulated time frame) can continue from where they left off.
There would also be single regulator for higher education, and the 'affiliation system', by which colleges need to currently abide would be phased out in 15 years.
In another commitment, the NEP says that public investment in education would be 6% of GDP at the "earliest". Currently, this figure stands at around 4%.
2. Indian languages
Indian and regional languages have been given a push in the NEP.
"The medium of instruction till grade 5, and preferably till grade 8 and beyond in Home Language/Mother Tongue/Regional Language", said the presentation as it was introduced by Secretary For School Education, Anita Karwal, a former head of the CBSE board.
Languages faculties and research would be promoted, and an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) would be established. The NEP also focuses on Sanskrit education at various levels and the establishment of Sanskrit Universities.
3. School education
Board examinations would not have the high-pressure stakes it has presently, according to the NEP, adding that it would test knowledge and application rather than rote learning, with a reduction in syllabus to the core concepts.
The current 10+2 structure would now pedagogically transform into a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure, with a higher emphasis on mathematical and numerical skills and numeracy. Further, the current rigid separations of the arts and sciences would now be blurred.
Further, vocational skills like coding would now be imparted from class 6 onward.
The full presentation can be viewed below.