Can the new NEP 2020 reform the Indian Education System?
Aptly quoted, that Indian Education System can be defined as, “It's several year-long processes of converting a dreamer kid into the confused and unemployable youngster”
After a long wait of 34 years, the Indian education system gets an outhaul. It is often said that to change a country, change the education system of that country. And now it has started.
On 31 July, the much-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) was announced by HRD Minister Ramesh Nishank and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar after the Union Cabinet approved the new policy earlier in the day.
The education system of India, we all know how broken the system of education in our country has become. It teaches us rote learning. It teaches us to memorize whatever is being taught blindly. In exams, students are expected to photocopy whatever the teacher says or whatever is written in the books because these exams are everything. You only have to score marks, irrespective of whether you understand anything or not.
And to bring these useless marks, students study even 12 hours a day. All their free time, their hobbies and their playtimes are destroyed. Their whole life is spent struggling this way, and the pressure results in this to push kids into depression. Some even suicide and some who walk out realize that the skills needed by them in real life, we're never really taught!!!
Is this expected from our education system? Then what about other countries, do they follow the same?
Let's see the education system of a country that is always viewed at the top whenever we talk about education.
In this country, the education system of Singapore, 20% of the Singaporean government expenditure is spent only on education. This escalates the facilities and infrastructure of schools. India has a student-teacher ratio of about 25 students per teacher, but in Singapore, it is almost half, i.e., 12 students per teacher.
According to the PISA ranking, which tests students of a country and judges them on subjects like mathematics, science, and reading, Singapore has always been the topper every year. On the other hand, India last attempted this test in 2009 and got 73 out of 74.
About 97% of the students are studying from coaching centers, according to a 2008 report. The exciting thing is that Singapore has a compulsory education after 1996. In that education, students are divided into streams at an early age, which affects students' equality.
This is the reason that the Singaporean government removed the streaming system and started SSB, i.e., Subject Based Banding, which allows students to choose the specific level category (G1, G2, G3) in a particular subject. This helped students study the remaining issues with other students, which will not restrict the students' mindset.
Can we learn from these developed countries?
This is excellent news that our government has brought in; they have addressed almost all the significant criticism points in their new policy and brought a revolutionary change in the Indian education system.
Subjects' flexibility: One of the first and significant criticisms is that our educational system tries to fit the students into three categories after class 10. If someone has the interest in any other subject, he couldn't do anything. But now students have the facility to choose their topic by themselves. After implementing this policy, the 90's kids may feel jealous as they didn't have that much flexibility.
5+3+3+4 Education system: Govt. replaced the existing 10+2 academic structure to 5+3+3+4 system now. It has become more similar to the education system of the western developed countries.
Foundational stage: Students in the age group of 3-8 years will be part of the foundational step. This stage will be split into two:
Three years of playschool and two years in primary school (grades 1 and 2).
Preparatory Schooling Stage: For children between 8-11 years of age in grades 3 to 5. There will be a greater emphasis on experiential learning across the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.
Middle school: For students between 11-14 years in grades 6 to 8. The thrust for this the level will be to have a subject-oriented pedagogical learning style.
Secondary level: The final stage is for students between 14-18 years. This stage is again split into two sub-stages: covering grades 9 and 10 in one cohort and 11 and 12 in another.
Evaluation: Assessments will be done not only by the teachers, but the students will also self-evaluate themselves. The rest of the students in the class will also evaluate a particular student. This step is beneficial because self-assessment is one of the most common aspects of critical thinking.
Government Expenditure: The repeated criticism against the Indian education system is that the government should spend more on education, like in other developed countries, as we have seen Singapore's example. The govt. has decided that at least 6% of the GDP will now be spent on education. Right now it is 3%, which is insufficient as compared to other developed countries. And 6% of GDP target is excellent in the first step.
Rote Learning: The problem that no one can forget is rote learning in the Indian education system. The government said that it would try and change this as well. Exams would be designed as they don't require much memorization or rote learning. But how exactly this will be achieved is not mentioned.
Changes after school education
Apart from setting a target to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education from 26.3% to 50%, some other changes are made in the college education system.
Multiple Entry-Exit Systems with Appropriate Certifications: While the three-year traditional BA and BSc degrees will continue, the new policy has introduced a four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor's program and an option to exit and enter the course at any time.
If a student exits the program after
Year 1: they will receive a vocational certificate
Year 2: an Advanced Diploma
Year 3: Bachelor's degree
Year 4: Bachelor's degree with research.
Students can resume the course after a specified period prescribed by the Higher Education Commission.
After a four-year degree program, a student can directly do a year of Master's degree and then proceed for the PhD program. The MPhil program is being discontinued.
Credit Transfer and Academic Bank of Credit: Students will have an academic bank of credit. If he/she takes a break in the third year for a fixed period prescribed by the Higher Education Commission, he/she can utilize the credits stored in the digital locker whenever they wish to resume. This approach is instrumental and already exists in most of the developed countries.
Permission to set up the top 100 foreign institutes has been permitted to set up their campuses with India.
Focus on Vocational Education System: Govt. has said that it would be integrated into all schools and higher educational institutions in a phased manner in the next ten years. The aim for the next five years, 50% of students in schools and higher education institutions will have exposure to the vocational education system.
Teachers: A common national professional standard will be set for the entire teacher by 2022. A four-year integrated BA degree would be the minimum qualification required to become a teacher by 2030.
These are some points that will be very beneficial to the Indian Education System, but some issues are also most criticized. What are they?
Language: The education of the child until the 5th grade should be in-home language, mother language, and regional language. This is not compulsory, but it will force the schools not to teach in English but teach in the local language as this would restrict the movement of the people from one state to another. Why is this criticized so much?
Because English is essential at an international level and it is becoming necessary to learn English in every country. It is required to do any work at the national level.
Anti-Democratic: Students and teachers' bodies have criticized this policy of being anti-democratic. Some parties have also criticized it. They said that the states were not consulted before making this policy as education is a concurrent subject that comes under both the Centre as well as the state list.
Theoretical: This policy changes things theoretically. But to implement them practically in real life will be a very long, complicated process because as we have seen conditions in schools that lack proper teachers and adequate infrastructures.
In conclusion, the Indian education system must change for the better. It must give the students equal opportunities to shine better in the future. We need to let go of the old and traditional ways and enhance the teaching standards to create a better world.