Prof. V.P. Gupta
Rau’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi – Jaipur – Bengaluru
This article caters to Social segment of General Studies-Paper II and
for Essay Paper in UPSC Main Examination
The first thing which the newly elected Government did after coming to power was unveiling the Draft New Education Policy, 2019 which was placed in public domain for wider discussion by all stakeholders till the end of July 2019. Following which the final policy will be released.
EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION POLICY
The development of education is a continuum, which gathers its past history into a living stream, flowing through the present into the future. The education policy of India came into existence with the Kothari Commission report of 1966, from which emerged the National Policy statement in 1968. This Report is considered to be the first comprehensive overview of education in India and the document to which all subsequent policies and programmes have alluded.
Following this, the National Policy on Education was framed in 1986 and modified in 1992.
But with changing times, the dynamics of population’s requirement are also changing. Therefore keeping in mind the quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, the government has decided to come out with a new comprehensive policy.
The policy is based on the recommendations of the Dr. K. Kasturirangan Committee which submitted its report on May 31, 2019. The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017.
1. Early Childhood Care and Education: Currently, since most of the early childhood education is delivered through anganwadis and private-preschools and the focus on the educational aspects of early childhood has been inadequate, the draft Policy recommends developing a two-part curriculum for early childhood care and education.
This will consist of: (i) guidelines for up to three-year-old children (for parents and teachers), and (ii) educational framework for three to eight-year-old children. This would be implemented by improving and expanding the anganwadi system and co-locating anganwadis with primary schools.
2. The Right To Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act): Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of 6 to 14 years. The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education. This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of 3 and 18 years.
In addition, the draft Policy recommends that there should be no detention of children till class eight. Instead, schools must ensure that children are achieving age-appropriate learning levels.
3. Curriculum Framework: The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the developmental needs of students. This would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design comprising: (i) five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two), (ii) three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), (iii) three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and (iv) four years of secondary stage (classes nine to twelve).
The Committee noted that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures. Hence, it recommends that the curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to its essential core content. This would make space for holistic, discussion and analysis-based learning.
4. School Exam Reforms: To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, the draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight. Further, it recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities. These board examinations will be on a range of subjects. The students can choose their subjects, and the semester when they want to take these board exams. The in-school final examinations may be replaced by these board examinations.
5. School Complex: The Committee noted that establishing primary schools in every habitation across the country has helped increase access to education. However, it has led to the development of very small schools (having low number of students). The small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers and critical physical resources. Therefore, the draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. A complex will consist of one secondary school (classes nine to twelve) and all the public schools in its neighbourhood that offer education from pre-primary till class eight.
The school complexes will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education. This will ensure that resources such as infrastructure and trained teachers can be efficiently shared across a school complex.
6. Regulation of Schools: The draft Policy recommends separating the regulation of schools from aspects such as policymaking, school operations, and academic development. It suggests creating an independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state that will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools. The Department of Education of the State will formulate policy and conduct monitoring and supervision.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18. It aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035 from the current level of about 25.8%.
1. Regulatory Structure and Accreditation: The current higher education system has multiple regulators with overlapping mandates and this reduces the autonomy of higher educational institutions and creates an environment of dependency and centralised decision making.
Therefore, it proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA). This independent authority would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education. This implies that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice. The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be limited to providing grants to higher educational institutions.
2. Establishment of new Higher Educational Institutions: Currently, higher educational institutions can only be set up by Parliament or state legislatures. The draft Policy proposes that these institutions could be allowed to be set up through a Higher Education Institution Charter from NHERA. This Charter will be awarded on the basis of transparent assessment of certain specified criteria. All such newly constituted higher educational institutions must receive accreditation as mandated by NHERA within five years of being established.
3. Restructuring of Higher Education Institutions: Higher education institutions will be restructured into three types:
(i) research universities focusing equally on research and teaching; (ii) teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching; and
(iii) colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels. All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial.
4. National Research Foundation: The National Research Foundation will be an autonomous body for funding, mentoring and building the capacity for quality research in India. The Foundation will consist of four major divisions: sciences, technology, social sciences, and arts and humanities, with the provision to add additional divisions. The Foundation will be provided with an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore (0.1% of GDP).
1. Creation of a National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, as an apex body for education, to be headed by the Prime Minister. This body will be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis. It will oversee the implementation and functioning of several bodies including the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the proposed National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, and National Research Foundation.
2. The Ministry of Human Resource Development must be renamed as the Ministry of Education in order to bring focus back on education.
Financing Education : The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education. It may be noted that the first National Education Policy (NEP) 1968 had recommended that public expenditure in education must be 6% of GDP, which was reiterated by the second NEP in 1986. In 2017-18, public expenditure on education in India was 2.7% of GDP.
TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
1. National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology: The Mission will encompass virtual laboratories that provide remote access to laboratories in various disciplines. A National Education Technology Forum will also be set up under the Mission, as an autonomous body, to facilitate decision making on the induction, deployment and use of technology. This Forum will provide evidence-based advice to Central and State governments on technology-based interventions.
2. National Repository on Educational Data: A National Repository will be set up to maintain all records related to institutions, teachers, and students in digital form. Further, a single online digital repository will be created where copyright-free educational resources will be made available in multiple languages.
1. Vocational Courses: All school students must receive vocational education in at least one vocation in grades 9 to 12. The proposed school complexes must build expertise in curriculum delivery that is aligned to the competency levels under the existing National Skills Qualifications Framework. The proposed Higher Education Institutions must also offer vocational courses that are integrated into the undergraduate education programmes. The draft Policy targets to offer vocational education to up to 50% of the total enrolment in higher education institutions by 2025, up from the present level of enrolment of well below 10% in these institutions.
2. National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education: The Committee will be set up to work out the steps that need to be taken towards achieving the above goals. A separate fund will be set up for the integration of vocational education into educational institutions. The Committee will work out the modalities for the disbursement of these funds.
1. Establishing an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT, which will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education. The Framework will cover five broad areas: foundational literacy and numeracy, critical life skills, vocational skills development, basic education, and continuing education.
2. Adult Education Centres will be included within the proposed school complexes. Relevant courses for youth and adults will be made available at the National Institute of Open Schooling. A cadre of adult education instructors and managers, as well as a team of one-on-one tutors will be created through a newly-established National Adult Tutors Programme.
EDUCATION AND INDIAN LANGUAGES
1. The Committee recommended that the medium of instruction must either be the mother tongue or local language till grade five, and preferably till grade eight, wherever possible.
2. Three Language Formula : Introduced by the first National Education Policy, the three-language formula stated that the state governments should adopt and implement study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states. The draft Policy recommended that this three-language formula be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided.
However, to provide flexibility in the choice of language, students who wish to change one or more of their three languages may do so in grade six or grade seven, subject to the condition that they are still able to demonstrate proficiency in three languages in their modular board examinations.
3. To promote Indian languages, a National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit will be set up.