Spotlight: National Education Policy 2020
As a student, I always used to complain about the education system. I never liked giving exams or strict teachers. Discipline was boring. For me, the only motivation to go to school was meeting friends and playing. But only later in my life I realized how important were some of the things (if not all) that were taught to me in school.
When I got to know that the government finally revised the education policy after 34 years, I was excited to see what was in there for the students of the 21st century.
When I read it, I instantly appreciated a few things:
1. 5+3+3+4 system: Till now, we had a 10+2 structure, which is now changed to a 5+3+3+4 system. In this, the education for kids will now begin at the age of 3, and from 3-8 years of age, they would be exposed to activity-based learning. From ages 11-14, the focus would shift to experiential learning in Science, maths, arts, social sciences, and humanities. As they grow, the education will involve significant critical thinking, and from age 14-18, they would be given the flexibility to choose their subjects. This overhaul is based on the education system of developed countries.
2. Vocational studies: Students of the 6th – 8th standard should compulsorily be given ten days bagless period. During this time, they should be involved with the local community of carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, and many other vocational experts. In India, we look down upon these jobs. It would inculcate the helping attitude and empathy amongst kids. It would also help them in understanding that no work is bigger or smaller.
3. Flexible Subject Options: I always wanted to study Political Science, not all the Arts subjects but just that one. But since I chose Science as my stream after the 10th, I couldn't pick and choose my subjects. This has changed now; the students are given the flexibility of selecting subjects of their choice. I highly appreciate this because when you select a subject out of your interest, you perform better and also don't stress about it.
4. Self-assessment by students: Now, in the report card, there wouldn't be only the evaluation by teachers, but it would also include self-assessment by the students and also peer evaluation by their classmates. It is an essential step to critically analyze how a student has performed in his/her own eyes. It would help them in their career ahead as they won't always have a teacher to guide them and hence will have to evaluate and correct themselves in many situations in life.
5. Board exams to be conducted twice a year: We put a lot of emphasis on board exams. Students get anxious, and parents are ready to do whatever it takes so that their kids pass boards with flying colors. Now the government has taken the much-needed step to reduce the anxiety that students face during board exams. According to the new policy, It will be conducted twice in a year now. So, if you were not able to perform well in the first attempt, you can appear again.
6. Multiple exit options during UG courses: After the class 12th education, the undergraduate courses will be of either 3 or 4 years. Also, these will be a multiple entry and exit program. For example, if you are currently doing a four years Btech course, but if you feel that this doesn't interest you and want to do something else, you can drop out of the program. The credit of all the subjects that you have studied will be transferred to another course by using the academic bank of credit. You will also be given a certificate of the course according to the level that you have completed. This will encourage risk-taking ability in students and will motivate them to find their calling instead of just sticking around with something that they don't like. Well, it's not something new as it is a widely adopted procedure in developed countries, but it is a big step in reforming the current education system of India.
7. New standards for teachers: To enhance the quality of teaching so that it fits according to the NEP 2020, the government has decided to set a common national professional standard by 2022. It will include rigorous training on online tools and platforms for teachers. Now the minimum educational qualification for the teachers would be a four-year integrated BEd, which would be set by 2030. However, the 2-year BEd will also be considered if the candidate possesses a bachelor's degree in other specialized subjects.
Although I appreciate this reform in the education system, there are a few points that I would like to put some light on:
1. Coding for kids: I appreciate that the government is thinking in the direction of the needs of the 21st century and future, but in my opinion, coding shouldn't be made compulsory for students from the 6th standard itself. Right now, its exact implementation is unknown to me, but even if it is compulsory, it shouldn't be evaluated. Otherwise, it will just put more pressure on the students instead of making it a good learning experience. Good teachers should be hired who would be able to teach a 6th standard kid basics of coding in a simplistic way, which seems difficult looking at the current scenario of lack of teachers in many schools. There is another crucial fact that I would like to emphasize, I am seeing a lot of ads which portrays that a kid built a super awesome app in which investors are fighting over to put money. I might sound cynical but a reality check is needed here. The parents should understand that while its good to expose your child to coding early on in life, but they should not make a fuss about it.
2. Education in regional language: It has proposed that till 5th standard, the medium of instruction for kids should be home language, mother language, or regional language. Since the proportion of local students will be more, schools will be forced to use regional language as the medium of instruction. Now the problem is that there are many people majorly government employees who are transferred from one state to another regularly. In that case, it would become difficult for migrated kids to learn different and multiple regional languages. Also, in my opinion, more emphasis should be put on learning English, which is missing right now.
3. Poor infrastructure of state schools: My parents are in the teaching profession, so I know this for a fact that there are many schools that are not even able to provide necessary facilities like toilets, mid-day meals, and drinking water for kids. The ratio of teachers to students is meager. If even the basic infrastructure is missing, how can we expect that they would provide vocational pieces of training and coding facilities to students?
4. Investing 6% of GDP in education: The target of investing 6% of GDP in education has been here since 1986 but haven't met a single time. This percentage always lies from 3%-4%. It has been planned that this whole new system will be implemented by 2040. It would be interesting to see if the target will be achieved this time or not.
It's appreciation worthy that the government has finally taken steps in the right direction. Although there might be problems in its implementation, I am hoping that the future of the students would be much better than what we had.