The United Nations states, "We must take bold steps now to create inclusive, resilient, quality education systems fit for the future." In alignment with this statement, the New Education Policy 2020 is a holistic and bold step towards revamping the traditional education system and making learning more experimental, flexible, learner-oriented and enjoyable.

The New Education Policy (NEP) was brought into force by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, on the 26th of July 2020 to replace the previous National Policy on Education (NPE) formulated in 1986. The significant focus of the New Education Policy 2020 is to improve the quality of education in India through substantial changes in curriculum and pedagogy.

The New Educational Policy is based on the five traditional foundational pillars designed to meet the educational needs of learners in the 21st century. These pillars are:

  • Affordable yet premier-quality education
  • High-quality education to produce rich talents
  • Full equity and inclusion
  • Accountability of all individuals
  • Universal access to education

The New Education Policy 2020 aims to foster a new and advanced way of learning through experiential learning and conceptual understanding, somewhat different from mindlessly learning for exams. Let us take a look at the key highlights of the New Education Policy:

1. The New Pedagogical & Curricular Structure

The New Educational Policy 2020 introduces a new curricular structure, called 5+3+3+4, which replaces the old 10+2 pedagogical model. The new formula expands the schooling age bracket from 6-14 to 3-18 years, due to which the number of years in every phase will be reduced while students spend more time in school. The four stages of the new 5+3+3+4 education system are as follows:

Foundational Stage (Ages 3–8): It constitutes the first five years of a student's education, further divided into two phases.

  • The first phase lies around the first three years of a child’s education, where they are taught in pre-schools, community-based nurseries, Balvatikas, or Anganwadis.
  • In the subsequent two years, children will study in primary schools through multilevel, flexible, play/activity-based learning.

Preparatory Stage (Ages 8-11): The preliminary stage focuses on imparting basic numeracy and literacy skills to students of classes 3-5 aged between 8-11 years. Moreover, learners will become familiar with various other subjects like Mathematics, Arts, and Science.

Middle Stage (Ages 11-13): This stage of the new pedagogy structure focuses on experiential learning through an interdisciplinary approach for students from grades 6 to 8. In this phase, students are exposed to more abstract concepts in various subjects like Sciences, Humanities, Mathematics, and Social Sciences. Additionally, learners will develop core academic and life skills.

Secondary Stage (Ages 14-18): Students from classes 9th to 12th lie under this new education pedagogy stage, further divided into two phases - classes 9-10 and 11-12. Following a multidisciplinary approach, this stage allows students to choose from various subjects per their interests and preferences.

The purpose is to promote children's cultural/artistic, socio-emotional-ethical, cognitive, motor, and physical development.

2. Universalisation of Education in India

The New Education Policy 2020 is designed to systematically provide universal access to quality education across the country, at all levels, from pre-primary to Grade 12. This will be achieved by using cutting-edge learning tools and technologies to impart education digitally, like:

  • Online assessments and exams
  • Online teaching tools
  • Virtual labs and workstations
  • Online learning platforms
  • Digital repositories
  • Smart classrooms
  • Learning Management Systems
  • ERP software

By this, NEP also aims to make the learning experience integrated, fun, holistic, enjoyable and engaging for students.

3. Blended Models of Teaching and Learning

While promoting digital education and learning, the New Education Policy 2020 does not ignore face-to-face, in-person learning and emphasises it equally. It recommends that schools identify and embrace different models for blended learning (Book + Digital) to replicate different subjects appropriately. Some popular types of blended learning models are:

  • Flipped Classroom Model
  • Enriched Virtual Model
  • Individual Rotation Model
  • Flex Model
  • A La Carte Model

In short, Blended Learning (BL) is about creating experiences and opportunities for students that combine face-to-face and distance learning.

4. Inclusion of Essential Subjects, Skills, and Capacities

The New Education Policy 2020 emphasises the significance of preparing learners for today's fiercely competitive world. Therefore, it states that the inclusion of certain contemporary subjects is essential in the school curriculum to ensure students will emerge as highly innovative, productive, and successful professionals. Some of these include:

  • Design Thinking
  • Holistic Health
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Environmental Education
  • Organic Living
  • Global Citizenship Education (GCED)

Moreover, the revised policy suggests schools offer students subjects based on computational thinking and mathematics and helps them develop 21st-century life skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, etc. The motive is to prepare learners to enter the business world or higher education.

5. Promotion of Multilingualism in India

The New Education Policy recommends using mother-tongue, regional or local languages in schools (preferably till class eighth and beyond). In addition, it states that students must learn at least three languages, of which two must be native to India. It also makes Sanskrit a "compulsory" option at all levels of education. Other highlights of NEP on driving awareness of multilingualism and knowledge of India include:

  • Teachers should use a bi-lingual approach to interact with learners.
  • No language will be imposed on any student.
  • Students will be offered foreign languages like French, Japanese, German, etc.
  • Other classical Indian literature and languages will be offered to students as electives.

The purpose is to make learners aware of Indian cultural heritage and multilingualism while increasing their tolerance.

6. A Strong Focus on Empowering Teachers

Teachers are an integral part of learning, and therefore, the New Education Policy 2020 aims to turn teachers and principals into high-quality online content creators through rigorous training. Additionally, it strives to give the teaching profession a long-awaited overhaul through the following approaches:

  • Career Management and Progression (CMP)
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Additionally, NEP 2020 strengthens and makes the teacher recruitment process transparent. The motive is to improve educators' teaching, leadership, and management skills.

Final Thoughts

The New Education Policy 2020 is all set to transform the Indian education system, creating an immense buzz among schools. There is no doubt that the revised policy is a comprehensive framework for transforming primary and higher education in India. With a vision to make India a "Global Knowledge Superpower" by 2030, New Education Policy is something that every school should implement at the earliest