News Excerpt
Union Cabinet approved the New National Education Policy 2020, paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education sector in the country.

Pre-Connect
•    Draft was prepared by a panel of experts led by a former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Kasturirangan.
•    The HRD Ministry has been renamed as Education Ministry.
•    After over 34 years this change has been brought, last time education policy was released in the year 1986.

Highlights
    More focus on vocational studies in school- level
o    Every child to learn at least one vocation and exposed to several more.
o    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.
o    By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education.
o    Vocational courses through online mode will also be made available.
    Use of schools/ school complexes beyond school hours and public library spaces for adult education courses which will be ICT-equipped.
    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 KendriyaVidyalayas and other primary schools.
    Under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, State Governments may encourage opening NCC wings in their secondary and higher secondary schools.
    Free boarding facilities will be built - matching the standard of JawaharNavodayaVidyalayas 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.
    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.
    Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs.
    The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships.
    Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.
    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.
    Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
    HECI to have four independent verticals - National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation.
    Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education.
    Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “BalBhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related

activities.
    Bagless days will be encouraged throughout the year for various types of enrichment activities involving arts, quizzes, sports, and vocational crafts.
    The three-language learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.
    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.
    Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.
    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.
    Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials, and make space for critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-based, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning.
    The nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed, through healthy meals and regular health check-ups, and health cards will be issued to monitor the same.
    A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on priority.
    The planning and implementation of early childhood care and education curriculum (ECCEC) will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.
    Prior to the age of 5 every child will move to a “Preparatory Class” or “Balavatika” (that is, before Class 1), which has an ECCE-qualified teacher.
    Quality technology-based options for adult learning such as apps, online courses/modules, and ICT-equipped libraries, etc. will be developed.
    The National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a high-quality common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, at least twice every year for university entrance exams.
    Students will get 360-degree holistic report card, which will not only inform about the marks obtained by them in subjects, but also their skills and other important points.
    In order to reduce the importance and stress of board exam, exam will be conducted in two parts: Objective and descriptive. Exam can be conducted twice a year.
    Students of class 6 and onwards will be taught coding in schools as a part of 21st century skills.
    A National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 will be developed by NCERT.
    There will e-content in regional language apart from English and Hindi. E-courses to be in eight major languages not just English and Hindi
    National Education Policy aims at 50% gross enrolment ratio by 2035.
    New Education Policy proposes the setting up of an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) while also laying significant emphasis on Sanskrit and other Indian languages.
    A National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established.
    LokVidya’, i.e., important vocational knowledge developed in India, will be made accessible to students. The Education Ministry, would constitute a National Committee for Integration of Vocational Education (NCIVE).
    High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries. Selected universities like those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India.
    An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned.
    The undergraduate degree courses will be of either 3 or 4- year duration, with multiple exit options. A certificate course after completing 1 year in a discipline or field, including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme. The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option.
    Even engineering institutions, such as IITs, will move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education with more arts and humanities.
    A university will mean a multidisciplinary institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programmes, with high quality teaching, research, and community engagement.
    NEP aims at setting up at least one large multidisciplinary institution in or near every district by the year 2030.

Conclusion
Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development. Providing universal access to quality education is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership on the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation. Universal high-quality education is the best way forward for developing and maximizing our country's rich talents and resources for the good of the individual, the society, the country, and the world. India will have the highest population of young people in the world over the next decade, and our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to them will determine the future of our country.