www.devdiscourse.com | September 21, 2020
The final National Education Policy (NEP) has adopted some crucial suggestions of the Draft NEP 2019 but dropped several controversial recommendations. Here we present an analysis of how the final NEP differs from the Draft NEP 2019 submitted by Dr. K. Kasturirangan Committee.
After several months of discourse, the 436-page Draft NEP has come out in the form of 62-page final National Education Policy 2020 which will decide the future of the education system in India for the many years to come. Several suggestions of Dr. K. Kasturirangan Committee regarding reforms in higher education did not make it to the final version but a significant number of suggestions for reforms in school education have been adopted.
Devdiscourse, as a media platform, intensively covered and actively participated and in this discourse by conducting an interactive Live Discourse titled 'SDG 4 for India: National Education Policy 2019'. Besides, Devdiscourse also voiced the concerns of commercialization of the education in India by conducting Live Discourse on the topic 'JNU Protest and Discourse on Commercialization of Education'.
The Center of Excellence on Emerging Development Perspectives (COE-EDP) conducted an in-depth analysis of the policy and this article is aimed at tracking key recommendations of the Draft NEP which were accepted in the final NEP and also those which were not accepted.
National Research Foundation
Draft NEP had recommended constituting the National Research Foundation (NRF) with an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore for research and innovations in different areas. The final NEP has the provision of NRF but with no financial allocation (17.9-11). It will act as a merely a coordinating body among various organizations such as the University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), etc., to ensure synergy of purpose and avoid duplication of efforts. The NRF will be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields, reads the provision in this regard.
National Education Commission
The proposal of setting up a National Education Commission on the pattern of NITI Aayog, erstwhile planning commission is not in the final NEP. There is, however, a provision of Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) with four verticals i.e. National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), National Accreditation Council (NAC), Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), and General Education Council (GEC). This structure will be only for higher education but NEC was proposed for the entire education system. There is no mention of political positions in NHERC.
The NHERC will function as the common, single point regulator for the higher education sector including teacher education but not medical and legal education (18.3). Thus the medical and legal education will continue to be regulated as usual.
Besides, the professional councils, such as the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Veterinary Council of India (VCI), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), Council of Architecture (CoA), National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), etc., have also been retained. These bodies will be restructured as Professional Standard-Setting Bodies (PSSBs), will continue to draw the curricula, lay down academic standards, and coordinate between teaching, research, and extension of their domain/discipline, as members of the GEC. As members of the GEC, they would help in specifying the curriculum framework, within which HEIs may prepare their own curricula.
No to Private Boards of Assessment (BOAs)
In addition to the existing school examination boards such as CBSE, ICSE, and State Boards of Examinations; the Draft NEP by Dr. K. Kasturirangan committee had proposed to set up an unlimited number of private and university 'boards of assessment'. This model was apparently imported from the United Kingdom.
Devdiscourse thoroughly investigated this issue in light of several reference studies conducted in the United Kingdom. After it was found that the private assessment boards were a failed experiment in the UK, Devdiscourse created awareness against this devastating provision. Besides in our 14 point suggestions, we had specifically recommended deleting the provision which was meant to enable universities and the private sector to establish boards of assessment (BOAs). Thankfully, the entire provision of private boards/ university boards has been scrapped.
The much-hyped provision of integrating district hospitals with medical colleges has not been accepted. As per the Draft NEP proposal of 16.8.6 about 600 or so district hospitals in the country were to be upgraded to teaching hospitals at the earliest by investing in infrastructure for targeted medical specialties and in stationing adequately qualified teaching faculty. This proposal is not accepted in the Final NEP. Besides, the regulation of medical, technical, and legal education will be as usual with minor modifications.
Institutes of medical education will become Multidisciplinary Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and MBBS students will also be provided a basic knowledge of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy). There is more focus on indigenous and multidisciplinary knowledge in medical education as well.
National Testing Agency
The government has accepted the proposal of setting up a National Testing Agency (NTA) as a single platform for conducting admission tests for all the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India. "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," (4.42).
Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education
The acceptance of a multidisciplinary education system in the final NEP 2020 is being considered a revolutionary step. As per the policy, the students at school and college level will have options to choose electives across existing disciplines.
Devdiscourse, with an objective to present a factual clarity on the topic, published interviews of three senior academicians from three leading Indian universities where courses on Liberal Arts were being conducted. They were Dr. Uma Narain, founder Dean of JDSoLA, NMIMS University Mumbai, Dr. Sanjay Modi, Executive Dean, Lovely Professional University, and Dr. Shivakumar Jolad of FLAME University, Mumbai. All three academic leaders unanimously supported the idea of liberal education.
In the new policy, 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, arts and crafts, and vocational skills, in addition to science, humanities, and mathematics, will be incorporated throughout the school curriculum, with a consideration for what is interesting and safe at each age.
The final NEP has also accepted the provision of multidisciplinary HEIs. There will be three kinds of HEIs - Teaching-intensive Universities, Research-intensive Universities, and Autonomous degree-granting College (AC). The existing colleges and universities will have to change as per the new criteria. Besides, the existing system of 'Deemed University' and 'Deemed to be University' will also be abolished.
Courses and Curriculum in Higher Education
The final policy has also accepted the recommendations for restructuring the under-graduate and post-graduate programs but provided flexibility to HEIs.
An HEI may offer an integrated 5-year Bachelor's/ Master's program or 4 years Bachelor's program or 3 years Bachelor's program as per the existing system. The students completing 5-year Bachelor's program will be eligible for Ph.D. while those pursuing 4 years Bachelor's program will have to complete the 1-year Master's Program in Research to apply for Ph.D. Similarly, those opting for 3 years Bachelor's program as per the existing system will be required to purse 2 years of Master's to apply for the Ph.D. program.
There shall be no M.Phil. program. It means, all the students will be required to pursue 5 years of post-schooling study to be eligible for the Ph.D. program. The policy provides huge flexibility to students to choose subjects as per their interests across disciplines of the existing system. Besides, the policy also mandates for the inclusion of indigenous curriculum and increased focus on indigenous research.
Devdiscourse had supported various provisions of multilingual and three language formula of the Draft NEP. These provisions have been retained with some modifications. Besides, there is a strong emphasis on the indigenous knowledge system from school education to higher education and research. The state governments have been asked to develop curriculum in local/ regional languages and also local content.
Central Government will also set up Model public universities for holistic and multidisciplinary education, at par with IITs, IIMs, etc., called MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities) to attain the highest global standards in quality education. The provisions to set up the Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation for the promotion of Indian languages have also been adopted in the final NEP.
The new school structure of 5+3+3+2 has been accepted but the new NEP has rejected the idea of private boards of assessment (BOAs). There is flexibility in choosing subjects but the board examination will continue at 10th and 12th standards.
The introduction of the semester system from Grade 9 to 12 has not been accepted in the final policy. However, the state boards have been given the option to opt for semester examinations or modular examinations to lessen the burden on students (4.10). These options for semester examinations have been given to all the four stages of school education i.e. Foundational (5), Preparatory (3), Middle (3), Secondary (4). The policy states that the medium of instruction up to Grade 5 and preferably till Grade 8 should be local language/mother-tongue but this provision is optional for the school. In the Draft NEP, Grade 8 students of science discipline were required to learn and write in English.
Besides, the provision of Census examinations for the students of Grade 3, 5, and 8 have also been rejected. The new provision (4.3.7) reads, "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,". However, the policy promises to reform the board examination from 'memory' based on 'core captaincy based' evaluation. The recommendation of extending mid-day-meal up to the 12th standard has not been accepted. However, a 'simple but energizing' breakfast has been proposed for the students covered under the existing mid-day meal program (2.9).
NEP has accepted the idea of school complexes under which all the private and government-operated schools in a territory of about 5 to 10 km will be grouped under a leading secondary school for sharing of pedagogy, management, and expertise. Besides, the paring of one private and one government school has also been accepted for resource sharing. The policy, however, has not accepted the demand for reserving the term 'public school' only for the government-funded schools. The Draft NEP had suggested the government to prohibit private schools from using the term 'public school' in their names and also in all the official communications (P.8.3.2).
The final NEP has incorporated most of the provisions related to teacher education but the promotion of a teacher from one stage of the school system to another will be only if s/he is qualified for the post. It means a teacher of the foundation stage will not be promoted into the preparatory stage merely on the basis of experience. The Draft NEP has recommended experienced-based promotions. Besides, the recommendation of engaging school teachers for teaching B.Ed. students at the university level have also been rejected.
Those interested to pursue a career as a school teacher may opt for 4 years of integrated B.Ed. program after 12th or 2-year B.Ed. program after 3 years of Bachelor's degree or 1-year B.Ed. program after 5 years of integrated Bachelor's degree. All these courses will be offered by multidisciplinary HEIs as standalone B.Ed. Colleges will be phased out (5.23). The school teachers will be provided with incentives and additional facilities for rural appointments.
The Way Ahead
The final NEP is silent on one of the most crucial demands of the teachers to stop contractual appointments which may cause further resentments and discrimination in the teaching community. Though the proposal of a uniform 5 years of probation period for teachers in higher education has been replaced with an unspecified probation period, the final NEP has not accepted the concept of mixed faculty of academic and industry experience.
The final NEP has accepted several provisions related to the use of technology and the internet of things (IoT). Besides, the provisions of the policy related to multilingual, multidisciplinary, and holistic education are also commendable.
NEP 2020 has also allowed performing Indian higher educational institutions to open campuses in foreign countries and the top 100 global universities to open campuses in India. In pursuance to the principle approval, the ministry has been directed to provide required guidelines. In an exclusive interview with Devdiscourse, IIT Delhi Director Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao and the Dean, Alumni Affairs, and International Programs, Prof. Sanjeev Sanghi, had supported the idea. Prof. Rao informed us that IIT Delhi already had an offer to open a campus in Egypt and was waiting for approval by the ministry.
However, the real impact of any policy depends on the way it is implemented. As the NEP is a crucial document to decide the future of India which has about 17.5 percent global population. The effective implementation of this policy will also be crucial in achieving SDG 4 (Quality Education) and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
VisionRI's Centre of Excellence on Emerging Development Perspectives (COE-EDP) aims to keep track of the transition trajectory of global development and works towards conceptualization, development, and mainstreaming of innovative developmental approaches, frameworks, and practices.