Late last month, the Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 , paving way for large scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.
Following the unveiling of the NEP, Education Secretary Amit Khare announced indicative timelines for speedy implementation of some of its provisions especially those that would not carry immediate financial implications.
“The recommendations are being divided into non-financial and financial reforms and the former will be started early. Many of the reforms do not require funds, but a new way of thinking. For example, multiple entry and exit is not related to funding, but to modular courses and credit bank and so it can be done.” Khare said when asked on the implementation plan.
Here are some of the key recommendation of the NEP and likely implementation timelines.
1. Multiple exit and entry points into higher education will be available from 2020-21; the four-year degree programme will be introduced by 2021 for Central universities and for others by 2022.
The NEP 2020 allows HEIs (Higher Education Institutes) to offer undergraduate degree that can be of either 3 or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications
HEIs will have the flexibility to offer different designs of Master’s programmes: (a) there may be a 2-year programme with the second year devoted entirely to research for those who have completed the 3-year Bachelor ’s programme; (b) for students completing a 4-year Bachelor ’s programme with Research, there could be a 1-year Master’s programme; and (c) there may be an integrated 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme. Undertaking a Ph.D. shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. The M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued.
2. An Academic Bank of Credit to be established by December 2020 for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.
An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognized HEIs so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned. The 4-year programme may also lead to a degree ‘with Research’ if the student completes a rigorous research project in their major area(s) of study asspecified by the HEI.
3. Common entrance tests will be worked out by February-March 2021, and administered, possibly, by May 2021.
The NEP 2020 positions National Testing Agency (NTA) as a premier testing organisation that will offer 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.
The common entrance exams shall test conceptual understanding and the ability to apply knowledge and shall aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams. Students will be able to choose the subjects for taking the test, and each university will be able to see each student’s individual subject portfolio and admit students into their programmes based on individual interests and talents.
The NTA will serve as a premier, expert, autonomous testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for undergraduate and graduate admissions and fellowships in higher education institutions. The high quality, range, and flexibility of the NTA testing services will enable most universities to use these common entrance exams - rather than having hundreds of universities each devising their own entrance exams - thereby drastically reducing the burden on students, universities and colleges, and the entire education system.
It will be left up to individual universities and colleges to use NTA assessments for their admissions.
4. Establishment of Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Likely By 2022
The proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), which is set to replace the UGC, will take over the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).
HECI will comprise of four independent verticals within one umbrella institution
The draft of the Bill will be put up in public domain in September 2020 and will be taken up in parliament after that.
5. Indian institutions setting up campuses abroad and allowing foreign universities’ campuses in India ( Implementation dates unclear)
NEP recommends that High performing Indian universities should be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, selected universities e.g., those from among the top 100 universities in the world should be facilitated to operate in India.
NEP calls for a legislative framework to facilitate such entry , and such universities be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India. Furthermore, research collaboration and student exchanges between Indian institutions and global institutions must be promoted through special efforts. Credits acquired in foreign universities will be permitted, where appropriate as per the requirements of each HEI, to be counted for the award of a degree.
The new regulator Higher Education Commission of India will have to bring new regulations. Setting up foreign university in India might require a bill.
6. Achieving 50 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education, including vocational education, by 2035
NEP calls for establishment of more HEIs in underserved regions to ensure full access, equity, and inclusion and says that by 2030, aim should be to establish at least one large multidisciplinary HEI in or near every district.
NEP calls for increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. While a number of new institutions may be developed to attain these goals, a large part of the capacity creation will be achieved by consolidating, substantially expanding, and also improving existing HEIs
7. The formulation of a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education (NCFSE) by 2020-21
The formulation of a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be undertaken by the NCERT - based on the principles of this National Education Policy 2020, frontline curriculum needs, and after discussions with all stakeholders including State Governments, Ministries, relevant Departments of the Central Government, and other expert bodies, and will be made available in all regional languages.
The NCFSE document shall henceforth be revisited and updated once every 5-10 years, taking into account frontline curriculum.
8. National Professional Standards for Teachers to be laid down by 2022
A common guiding set of National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by 2022, by the National Council for Teacher Education in its restructured new form as a Professional Standard Setting Body (PSSB) under the General Education Council (GEC), in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers from across levels and regions, expert organizations in teacher preparation and development, expert bodies in vocational education, and higher education institutions.
The standards would cover expectations of the role of the teacher at different levels of expertise/stage, and the competencies required for that stage. It will also comprise standards for performance appraisal, for each stage, that would be carried out on a periodic basis.
The NPST will also inform the design of pre-service teacher education programmes. This could be then adopted by States and determine all aspects of teacher career management, including tenure, professional development efforts, salary increases, promotions, and other recognitions.
Promotions and salary increases will not occur based on the length of tenure or seniority, but only on the basis of such appraisal. The professional standards will be reviewed and revised in 2030, and thereafter every ten years, on the basis of rigorous empirical analysis of the efficacy of the system.
9. New assessment system for schools by the academic session of 2022-23
NEP reckons that the current nature of secondary school exams, including Board exams and entrance exams -and the resulting coaching culture of today - are doing much harm, especially at the secondary school level and is replacing valuable time for true learning with excessive exam coaching and preparation.
While the Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, the existing system of Board and entrance examinations shall be reformed to eliminate the need for undertaking coaching classes. To reverse these harmful effects of the current assessment system, Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development; students will be able to choose many of the subjects in which they take Board exams, depending on their individualized interests.
NEP recommends Board exams to focus on testing primarily core capacities/competencies rather than months of coaching and memorization; any student who has been going to and making a basic effort in a school class will be able to pass and do well in the corresponding subject Board Exam without much additional effort.
To further eliminate the ‘high stakes’ aspect of Board Exams, all students will be allowed to take Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired.
10.Extending support Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) by 2030
NEP says that over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in the early years in order to ensure healthy brain development and growth.
Presently, quality ECCE is not available to crores of young children, particularly children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Strong investment in ECCE has the potential to give all young children such access, enabling them to participate and flourish in the educational system throughout their lives.
Universal provisioning of quality early childhood development, care, and education must thus be achieved as soon as possible, and no later than 2030, to ensure that all students entering Grade 1 are school ready.
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 in two parts, namely, a sub-framework for 0-3 year-olds, and a sub-framework for 3-8 year-olds, aligned with the above guidelines, the latest research on ECCE, and national and international best practices.
11 Establishment Of Nationa Research Foundation (NRF) (Work In Progress)
NEP calls for establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF) with the overarching goal of enabling a culture of research to permeate through our universities.
NEP calls for envisioning NRF as a reliable base of merit-based but equitable peer-reviewed research funding, helping to develop a culture of research in the country through suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research, and by undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research at State Universities and other public institutions where research capability is currently limited.
The NEP calls for NRF to competitively fund research in all disciplines and implemented through close linkages with governmental agencies as well as with industry and private/philanthropic organizations.
The NEP proposed that the NRF be established by an act of parliament, and have four major divisions - Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities/Arts, and is given an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore with autonomy over its finances and governance.
The Union Finance Minister in her maiden budget speech in 2019 announced establishing of the National Research Foundation (NRF) as part of the government’s ongoing push to reform higher education .
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