The government is planning the first phase of implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Sources told Moneycontrol that the initial phase will be completed by April 2022. It will involve reforms in school education.
Reforms in school curriculum to allow vocational skill training, preparation of holistic report card and local language as medium of instruction will be part of the initial reforms, sources said.
“We have been having discussions with education experts and state government officials over the past few weeks. The time is ripe to kick-start the first phase, and, by FY22-end, the first set of reforms will be in place,” said an official.
An email sent to the education ministry seeking details did not elicit any response.
The Cabinet had given nod to NEP 2020 on July 29. Consequently, the Human Resource Development Ministry has been renamed as the Ministry of Education.
NEP 2020 calls for a 360-degree change in the way academic knowledge is being imparted in classrooms.
Medium of instruction
When NEP 2020 was first announced, the medium of instruction turned out to be a bone of contention. NEP calls for the medium of instruction till the fifth grade (and preferably till eighth grade) to be in the mother tongue.
Though the government has said that this policy will be followed wherever possible, sources said that, in the first phase, the 1,239 Kendriya Vidyalayas (central government schools) across the country will be handed the responsibility to implement the language formula in their schools.
“Nothing is being made mandatory. However, KVs will be encouraged to adapt the mother tongue-based instruction for teaching till Class V, so that other private schools can also learn from the benefits. At the outset, the language of the region could be used,” said an official.
Also read: All your questions about NEP 2020 answered
For instance, Assamese would be the medium of instruction in Assam, Tamil in Tamil Nadu and so on. Recruitment of skilled teachers in local languages for schools is also on the agenda.
However, during the initial discussions, the state governments and education experts pointed out that using the 22 official languages in the eighth schedule would mean that the entire syllabus/books would need to be translated.
This could prove to be a challenge when it comes to lesser-spoken languages where finding teachers would be difficult.
“Take Bodo or Maithili, which are part of the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Do we have teachers who can speak these languages flawlessly and will we get translators? These questions need to be answered,” said a Delhi-based education consultant.
Sources said that a plan will also be framed for those students whose mother tongue is different than the local language. Here, English could be used as the default language.
Vocational education and skilling
At the school level itself, a child would be exposed to new skills like coding and local crafts. NEP 2020 states that from the sixth grade, each child will be taught skills like coding and will be mandated to visit local businesses and craftsmen to learn new skills.
Sources said that state governments will be given the responsibility of working with schools and identifying appropriate local businesses where student visits can be planned.
“The idea is that the facility has to be safe. For instance, Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is known for crackers but students cannot be taken to a cracker factory because it is not safe. Individual schools (and state governments) have to plan out activities in a way that students can learn skills in a safe environment,” said an official.
Opportunities will also be given for schools to plan the vocational skilling activities together. This will enable students of different schools to interact with each other.
As part of the implementation programme, the 1.08 million government schools will take the lead in preparing a year-long structured curriculum for vocational education programmes. For technology-based subjects like coding, external partners could be invited to teach students.
Holistic report card
Preparation of a holistic report card for schoolchildren is among the top-most priorities of the government. The idea is to promote not just academic development but also physical activities like sports, martial arts, music and dance.
It will be the responsibility of individual schools to change the complete format of the report card by 2022. Currently, the report card only contains the list of subjects, with parallel columns on the marks obtained.
Under the holistic report card plan, students will be assessed on aspects like participation in extra-curricular activities, inter-school competitions and basic etiquettes. Classroom interactions will also be closely monitored.
“Some students could be natural leaders at the school level itself. So, it is essential that the schools spot these children at an early age and give them responsibilities like organising/managing events, so that their talent can be honed. Similarly, classroom bullies could also be identified and counselling could be given to correct their behaviour,” said an education official.
Further, a student who is good in a particular sport like football, swimming or kabaddi could also be sent to nearby sports facilities.
The holistic report could also have a separate section where the child’s behaviour and performance are reviewed by peers in the classroom. This means that any problematic behaviour like bullying, violent behaviour or frequent mood swings can be spotted early, based on the testimonials of other students.
Will there be implementation challenges?
Though a step-by-step approach has been adopted to implement the first set of reforms, education experts said that the sheer number of schools and students could delay the process.
Government data shows that there are 239.9 million students enrolled across government, aided and private schools in India. India has 1.5 million schools, including 1.08 million government schools, 84,614 aided schools and 3,25,760 private schools.
State governments also need to work out a consensus on the implementation and plan of action. Since education is on the Concurrent List, the real test of implementing the reforms will be on the different states and how private schools adapt to these changes.