Union Cabinet approves New Education Policy 2020, brings in major reforms

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On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet approved National Education Policy 2020 bringing major reforms in higher education including a target of 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 2035 and provision for multiple entry and exits.

Addressing a press conference here, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said a 21st century National Education Policy (NEP) has been approved by the cabinet today.

“Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval to the new education policy for the 21st century. It is important as for 34 years there were no changes in the education policy. I am confident that this will be welcomed by entire society and nation as well as the world’s educators,” he said.

Under the new education policy, the government said the national mission will now focus on basic literacy and numeracy.

Announcing the changes, Javadekar said there are major changes in the pedagogical structure of curriculum with no rigid separation between streams, adding all separations between vocational, academic, extra-curricular will be removed.

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Making board exams easy, reduction of curriculum to core concepts, replacement of 10+2 structure of school curricula with a 5+3+3+4 structure and medium of instruction up to class 5 in mother tongue or regional language, are among the many school education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy.

Elaborating on the reforms, School Education Secretary Anita Karwal said at a briefing, “Board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be continued, but will be reformed to eliminate the need for taking coaching classes”.

She further said, “Board exams will be redesigned to encourage holistic development and will also be made easier by testing core capacities and competencies. All students will be allowed to take board exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired. All students will take school examinations in classes 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority”.

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A per the new policy, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced with a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years respectively.

“This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of anganwadi and pre-schooling,” she said

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).

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“Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects so that they choose their own paths according to their talents and interests. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.”

Amit Khare, Higher Education Secretary, said it was a historic day and the country has got a New Education Policy (NEP) after 34 years.

“Following the new education policy and reforms, we will achieve 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 2035,” he said.

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He said the NEP includes graded academic, administrative and financial autonomy for institutions and a single regulator for all higher education, working under a self-disclosure based transparent system for approvals in place of numerous ‘inspections’.

“There are over 45,000 affiliated colleges in our country. Under graded autonomy, academic, administrative and financial autonomy will be given to colleges on the basis of the status of their accreditation. E-courses will be developed in regional languages. Virtual labs will be developed and a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) is being created,” Khare said.

He said a wide consultation process was adopted in the formulation of NEP 2020. “All 250,000 gram panchayats were approached through online platform. Opinions of governments, departments, academic and common people were taken,” he said.

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