National Education Policy 2020 – A Leap Towards Holistic And Liberal Education System

The Indian education system needs to focus on creativity and lifelong learning which will be essential in preparation for a career where the key constant will be continuous disruptions.

The advent of the fourth industrial revolution places us in the midst of continuous disruption by digital technologies. This revolution is expected to transform economies, jobs, and society itself through new technologies and processes. With education being the key component in shaping the future workforce, transforming the current education system through adoption of innovative and contemporary teaching and learning methodologies is the need of the hour. 

The Indian education system needs to focus on creativity and lifelong learning which will be essential in preparation for a career where the key constant will be continuous disruptions. It is envisaged1 that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. Accordingly, it is important to imbibe a culture of knowledge seeking and lifelong learning during the formative years of the youth to prepare them for being the future workforce.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 announced by the Government of India seems to have been primarily developed based on the above premise and provides direction and guidance covering a child’s academic journey from pre-school through higher education. The policy aims at making the Indian education system at par with the contemporary international standards keeping in mind the accessibility for all social, economic, and geographic backgrounds. 

The key transformational change in the school system is bringing in a structural change from the current 10 + 2 system to a 15-year cycle with the formal inclusion of early childhood care education. The new structure follows a 5 + 3+ 3 + 4 format starting with foundational learning at the pre-school level. The focus at pre-school and preparatory levels would be to build foundation level literacy and numeracy skills through age-appropriate conceptual learning methodologies. The structure takes cognisance of a child’s developmental journey during their formative years and gradually introduces different subjects to build the child’s interest in seeking and acquiring knowledge. The pedagogy for the school learning journey is expected to imbibe critical characteristics required in the contemporary world and workplace like logical thinking, problem-solving, along with social skills like communication, teamwork, etc. In the above context, the National Council of Education Research and Training has been given the mandate of developing a national curricular and pedagogical framework for early childhood care and education for pre-school and a new national curricular framework for school education. 

It is proposed to introduce vocational training from grade 6 with an internship to integrate vocational education within the formal schooling system. This measure may help in removing societal reservations on vocational education and allow students make an informed choice on their education and career path based on their aptitude and competency and help prepare them to meet the needs of the future workplace. 

In higher education, one of the key features in the policy is to make undergraduate education broad-based through multi-disciplinary offerings with flexible curricula, integration of vocational education and students having the option of choosing a creative combination of subjects as per their area of interest. Such choice and flexibility are expected to help match youth aspirations and enable innovations expected in the workplace of the future. 

The policy also allows students multiple entry and exit options during the course of their undergraduate or postgraduate programme, with appropriate certification. During a 4-year undergraduate programme, a student may opt to exit with a certificate after 1 year, advanced diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s degree after 3 years and will earn a Bachelor’s with research degree if the 4-year course is completed. Even on exit without completing the full duration of the programme, students will have the option to re-enter the programme from where they had left off, at the same or in a different institution. An academic credit bank has been envisaged for digitally storing academic credits earned from a single or multiple higher education institutes so that these can be counted towards earning the final degree. This flexibility gives students adequate options in planning their careers, taking care of life events that may require them to discontinue their studies temporarily at any juncture.  

The policy also promotes the internationalisation of education through both institution to institution collaborations and student and faculty mobility. These measures are likely to improve the quality of education and align with the needs for India’s economic development. 

However, implementing policy measures is expected to be challenging. Significant investments will be required in infrastructure, technology, curriculum design, teachers’ training and other related areas to successfully implement the policy measures. To finance the implementation, the policy envisages that the centre and state governments will work together to increase public investment in the education sector to reach 6% in line with other developed countries. However, with competing needs across sectors for budgetary allocation, such quantum of public investments in the education sector has not been achieved in the past. Effective implementation of the new policy is likely to play a critical role in helping India achieve its economic and development aspirations. 

- The article has been authored by Anindya Mallick, Partner, Deloitte India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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