Transforming India into a vibrant knowledge hub

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the new National Education Policy and renamed the HRD Ministry as Education Ministry. The National Education Policy, the first since 1986, makes the mother tongue/regional language compulsory medium of instruction up to at least class five. This, along with the new policy of a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure, instead of the usual 10+2  curricular structure will make students take school examinations in classes 3, 5, and 8 as well. This will be similar to students writing their class 10 board exams to enter higher secondary school or class 12 board exams to enter undergraduate. The new structure corresponds to the age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years. The new system will cover four stages -- Foundational Stage (three years of Anganwadi or pre-school followed by classes 1-2), Preparatory Stage (classes 3-5), Middle Stage (classes 6-8), and Secondary Stage (classes 9-12).
Making board exams easy and reduction of the curriculum to core concepts are some of the reforms that the new policy states.
While Board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be continued, they will be reformed to eliminate the need for taking coaching classes. Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development and will also be made easier by testing core capacities.
Notably, students will be allowed to take board exams two times in a given school year: One main examination and one for improvement, if desired.
Under the new education policy, the new supervisory body will replace UGC and AICTE, and there would be one Regulatory Body.  All higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges, will be governed by a single regulator.  When a student moves to higher education, he or she will have the choice between 3 and 4-year undergraduate courses. They will also have multiple entry and exit options in degree courses. This in simple terms means that a student after completing the first year in a discipline or field is eligible to exit with a certificate; a diploma after 2 years of study; or a Bachelor's degree after a 3-year programme. Meanwhile, MPhil courses, whose relevance is increasingly under the scanner off late, will be discontinued.
The New Education Policy will specifically emphasise e-learning, an issue that has bothered the education system amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
A panel led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Kasturirangan had submitted the draft of the new policy to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ when he took charge last year. The draft was then put in the public domain to seek feedback from various stakeholders and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry about the same. In the era of knowledge where learning, research, and innovation are important, the new education policy will transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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