We live in a world replete with innovations, where technology is evolving faster than ever to change every aspect of our living. Where artificial intelligence and automation are driving transformations across industries, making the future of work even more unpredictable. For such unknown and unforeseen times, the education sector needs to revamp itself for the demands of the 21st century. This has led educators and institutions across the world to equip Gen Z with the adaptability, agility, and confidence to thrive in jobs that may not even exist today.
As a breakthrough response to this scenario, the Union Cabinet of India recently replaced the 34-year-old National Education Policy framed in 1986 with the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). Formulated on the mainstays of values, innovation, and research, the policy stands for an all-encompassing vision to liberate knowledge from the conventional pedagogy and emphasise independent learning skills, from early years onwards. Bringing you some of the key highlights out of the many ground-breaking reforms of the New Education Policy and how they will impact K-12 education:
The revolutionary 5+3+3+4 structure
The most talked-about aspect of the NEP 2020 is the modified 5+3+3+4 education model, supplanting the current 10+2 structure. Divided into four stages of foundational, preparatory schooling, middle school, and secondary level, the new model individually acknowledges a child’s educational needs at different growth milestones. But what makes this model truly unique is that it institutionalised preschools under the fold of formal education. This landmark decision was much overdue as a child’s foundational education is as significant as higher studies, which sets the groundwork for a successful future. Moreover, this policy has also replaced bookish learning with a more practical-based education, encouraging students to take up internships as early as sixth grade.
More focus on experiential learning
Students learn better when they can apply their knowledge to the real world. The New Education Policy, therefore, heavily focuses on experiential learning, instructing institutions to break the four walls and create space for application, discovery, and creation. Schools can begin with designing STEM-enabled classrooms, upgrading their laboratories with innovative learning tools, and enrich the course material with educational apps. By infusing exciting hands-on learning into core academics, a school can facilitate a deeper understanding of important concepts in each area, piquing curiosity and opening minds to new horizons.
Internships starting sixth grade
Going by traditional ways, a child would spend a significant part of his or her learning life progressing from grades to grades with negligible exposure to the real, professional world. The New Educational Policy breaks this mould by introducing vocational education right from middle school. Internships would no longer be reserved for college-goers. School students too can now join professionals and work with them as an apprentice. From working with a chef or assisting a sculptor, this will allow the young ones to identify their inherent talent, learn one or more crafts beyond their curriculum and even develop them as a choice of career.
Flexibility in making subject choices
Say goodbye to the age-old obligation of picking just one among science, commerce, and arts streams. The NEP 2020 has introduced the freedom to choose any set of subjects in secondary school, ensuring a more multidisciplinary education. This means a student can club physics and biology with accountancy – one of the core subjects in the commerce stream. Every educational institution wants to enable students to be independent learners and this new flexibility in subject choices will allow schools to personalise the curriculum to match their future ambitions.
Greater emphasis on tech-based learning
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the fastest-ever shift of education to the online platforms. This has also revealed the need for educational institutions to be digitally ready, both in terms of content as well as capacity building. The New Education Policy advises schools to upgrade their existing digital infrastructure and create a resource pool to ensure preparedness in crisis. For instance, schools were swift in upgrading their technical facilities in lockdown so that students continue to study seamlessly through online education at home. NEP 2020 aims to bring digital equity across schools so that no one is left behind during unprecedented times. Furthermore, NEP 2020 has acknowledged that coding is not a specialised skill-set, but a core competency. Therefore, to prepare students for the 21st-century, the policy also directs educators to introduce coding as a subject from sixth grade onwards.
Creating a hub for global education
India has always been a part of the international career ecosystem. Now, the New Education Policy 2020 is poised to position India at the focal point of global learning. Schools and universities can play a pivotal role by introducing international scholarships, and global knowledge exchange programmes. Open platforms of virtual connectivity can be set up where students interact, exchange ideas and culture, as well as collaborate on projects with peers from countries abroad. By catalysing the creation of a global community, educational institutions can contribute immensely to making India the new global study destination.
From bag-less days to bringing extra-curricular activities and sports at par academics – there are so many exciting developments, ready to be ushered in with the New Education Policy 2020. This comprehensive policy is amongst the most progressive action plans undertaken within India’s education landscape. If implemented well, the NEP 2020 has a high potential of establishing the nation as a truly creative, innovative, and intellectually advanced global knowledge superpower.
About the Author
Rajiv Bansal is a Business Leader with over 25 years of experience in Education industry in India, APAC, Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean, across the continuum of Skill Development, Employability and K-12 segments. In his current role as Director-Operations at GIIS, Rajiv is responsible for business development, overseeing all operational matters related to infrastructure, academics, affiliation, compliances, recruitment & training, finances and driving the profitability & growth agenda of GIIS’s School business in India.