The Union Cabinet approved the new national education policy on July 29, making it the third one. The last two were in 1968, and then in 1986. The policy focuses on improving basic numeracy and literacy.
The policy is making a path for foreign universities to set up campuses in India as well as possibly starting to dismantle the rigidity of degree courses. There are also a few changes at the school level.
What does the new National Education Policy really aim at?
The medium of instruction until Grade 5 will be the mother-tongue or regional language. Then, from Class 6, vocational education will be a part of a student’s regular education. In order to decrease stress, syllabus in other subjects will have only core concepts.
Therefore, a student’s report card will now also include their skills and capabilities instead of only the marks in main subjects. Furthermore, students from class 6 can take internships in vocational courses.
Firstly, the Human Resource Development Ministry aims to increase the enrolment ratio to 50% by the year 2035.
Secondly, the Ministry plans on replacing UGC and AICTE with a Higher Education Council of India. This single body, the HECI will handle the higher education sector on its own, though it will have 4 independent vertical bodies for regulation, funding, accreditation and setting learning outcome standards.
Also, professional councils will become Professional Standard Setting Bodies (PSSBs). This includes ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research), VCI (Veterinary Council of India), NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education), CoA (Council of Architecture) and NCVET (National Council for Vocational Education and Training).
Besides that, a body called the NRF (National Research Foundation) will try to create a conducive ecosystem for research by funding and mentoring will be set up.
Another body called the NETF (National Education Technology Forum) will be formed to set up e-courses in regional languages and virtual labs.
M.Phil will be scrapped. Instead, students can take an integrated 5-year program if they want to pursue a PhD. This will include a four-year Bachelor’s degree, along with one-year Master’s.
As it is for schools, the new NEP aims at the cancellation of single, extremely important exams in universities too. Instead, the HRD Ministry wants a comprehensive approach to scoring in universities. This seems rather contradictory to UGC’s stubbornness for final-year students to write exams amidst the pandemic.
New National Education Policy to have holistic approach to education
Next, the HRD Ministry wants higher education institutes to become more flexible and have a broader approach to learning. Hence, all colleges and universities need to concentrate on becoming multidisciplinary by 2030. Therefore, students in science and engineering will also learn humanities and other subjects, and vice-versa.
The curriculum will introduce the concept of choosing majors or dual majors (specialisations). Also, it will include the learning of ‘useful capacities’, such as communication skills and social responsibilities. Moreover, students can choose ‘minor’ subjects that are unrelated to their major(s).
In fact, this also means that the LASE (Liberal Arts Science Education) course will soon return. Furthermore, any institutions with only one stream like technical education will gradually withdraw.
Lessened rigidity of semester systems
The current semester system is rather rigid. However, the new national education policy plans on changing that. Once students begin college, the course will essentially have checkpoints. After the first year of graduation, students will get a certificate. If they complete two years, they get a diploma. Finally, when they finish the third year (or fourth year, depending on the course), they will receive a degree.
Furthermore, Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare talked about introducing a Digilocker system. Essentially, this is a locker for credits. Basically, a student can store credits in the first and second year of college. Then, in the third year, if they wish to take a break, they can use credits for further education to continue the course within a limited time period. Hence, students have more exit and entry options as per the new policy.
Foreign university campuses to establish in India
The new education policy lets Indian institutions have off-shore campuses for the world’s top 100 foreign universities. Therefore, students can technically study in foreign colleges while in India.
These foreign universities will have certain different rules regarding regulation, governance and content norms that are similar to India’s autonomous institutions.
Earlier, the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill was not a welcome option as the universities would increase education costs. Hence, a large population of students would immediately be unable to afford it. However, it seems that the decision changed now. Moreover, there will be a cap on the fees for all educational institutions.
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