Understanding the New Education Policy 2020
Updated: Apr 6
The author became acquainted with the far more contemporary English Cambridge board over the past few years as a part of his lower-high school education. This allowed him to be in a privileged position to explain the intricacies of the New Education Policy 2020. He is humbled by this privilege and only hopes to put that to better cause with this article wherein he will be looking at the school-based impacts and reforms of the NEP 2020.
The world progressed into the 20th century with the onset of the glamorous 2000s and while almost everything followed in silent obedience there were still a few things left behind in the 1900s. Sadly, one of those things was the Indian education system which until this week was still mired in the archaic teachings of the late 1990s while hoping to prepare the next generation of leaders of this great nation. With the announcement of the New Education Policy 2020, the Modi government has passed one of the most groundbreaking and sweeping legislation in living history that will certainly mark a new era, far removed from its predecessor, for the Indian education system.
Succinctly summarising this policy isn’t an easy task as every little fine detail is of great significance in the grander scheme of things. The government has brought more flexible subject combinations for the high school students of 9th to 12th whilst also introducing vocational courses class 6th onwards. They are now going to introduce a new division of the education system which will divide the schooling years right from nursery to 12th in 5+3+3+4 pattern on which I will explain more later. They have also renamed the HRD Ministry to a more convenient Ministry of Education while introducing more religion and culture into the courses than ever before. Also, the board exams and report cards will see more knowledge and skill-based evaluation. The most alarming change was the compulsory use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction as it proves entirely contradictory to the government’s intentions of creating an internationally competitive board for the Indian youth.
The government has finally come to terms with the fact that the streaming system was not only restrictive but also bounding for students due to the evident lack of flexibility in the boards. For scores of years, students had been forced to choose a life path at the tender age of 16 years without having had the right exposure to know what they would want to do later in their lives. With the introduction of vocational courses and subject choices in middle and high school, the government is going to finally introduce more practicality and flexibility into the courses. The development of skill over rote learning is a necessity in today’s day and age as the world is progressing and revolutionising at a rapid pace.
The introduction of religion and culture into the courses is a welcome change as today’s generation is increasingly drifting away from culture, religion and heritage which are the three hallmarks of an Indian upbringing. We have all grown up with the values and cultures christened in the Vedas, the holy scriptures and our mythologies and these being our guiding compasses in life are the strongest assets anyone can possibly have. These additions to the curriculum will help preserve the rich history of India while also protecting the local dialects from threats of extinction.
These threats were not unfound and it was time that the government addressed them, and with the NEP 2020, the government has delivered a stellar response that will placate the threats of extinction. The policy further outlined the introduction of mother tongues or local dialects as a medium of instruction at least until Grade 5 if not Grade 8 and, frankly, this point was met with confusion and bewilderment. Understandably the government wants the local dialects and mother tongues to be taught to students but it is baffling to know that for the sake of national spirit the government is willing to play games with a child’s future as English is the universal language and most job opportunities demand fluency and proficiency in this language. While the policy doesn’t make this a compulsion it also doesn’t give schools a free hand in this matter either. It states that schools need to teach 3 languages out of which two have to be Indian native languages. This is not only undemocratic but also a violation of freedom of choice as students wanting to flourish in foreign languages aren’t going to be a given a choice to do so. I am not against mother languages and local dialects but rather against the use of them as a primary language or a medium of instruction.
Apart from that, the new semester-based certification system is a very noble approach which I feel can also help fight the poverty of the nation. Many children have had to face those tyrannical circumstances where due to their family’s weak financial condition they have had to forego school for a job instead. Making things further worse for these students was the grotesquely unjust system which didn’t give them credit and certification for their previous efforts and hard work all because of their leaving school halfway through the curriculum. This robbed them of the chance of gaining a white-collar formal job which could have put their accumulated knowledge to better use and also amplified it through practical learning. The new system will improve on this injustice by providing certification for every semester attended in full and this will then help those very students to gain a more fulfilling job that will further their knowledge and growth.
The policy as a whole is radical, bold and daring as it proposes a system which is not only far removed from the current educational system but also one that has never been seen before in India. The policy has been received with rave and warm reviews by the pubic and education experts. Still, even after the successful initial reaction, the policy’s success is entirely dependent on implementation as a policy in writing and a policy in exercise are two very different things. It took the government more than 28 years to finally become aware of the many flaws and obscenities in our current education system and despite their unrushed efforts, these sweeping reforms are more than welcome as its always better late than never. As education expert Meeta Sengupta says, “This is a NEP that offers Choice, Chance and Change”