The world is witnessing drastic changes in the knowledge landscape due to several scientific and technological advancements such as artificial intelligence and data cloud. The current scenario indicates the fact that in the future the machines would replace most of the unskilled laborers working in different industries. While companies would be gearing up to employ candidates who possess multidisciplinary abilities across mathematics, science, and humanities.
It is a well-established fact that the prosperity of a nation depends upon several factors namely, economic stability, policies to ensure the protection of the rights of citizens, reassuring developments in all aspects, and education. It should be noted that all these factors are interrelated, but education particularly serves as the sole foundation of all the other components. Lack of effective education can prove to be detrimental for not only the student but also the country’s future.
National education policy 2020 is a framework that is indicative of revitalizing the education structure; introducing many reforms which ensure high quality, integrity, and equality into the system. For instance, the emphasis would be less on content and more on encouraging the students to think critically and polishing the problem-solving skills. Pedagogy must be developed in such a way that it is learner-centered, discussion-based, inquiry-driven, flexible, and holistic.
Some of the key components of NEP 2020 that is to be implemented in school are as follows:
Early Childhood Care and Education
As opposed to the 10+2 structure, the education structure will be reformed to a 5+3+3+4 system covering the ages 3 to 18. Considerable investment in early childhood care and education( ECCE) makes it possible to provide quality education to young children. It should be noted that children who belong to socio-economically underprivileged backgrounds do not receive proper schooling due to which they remain engulfed within the environment of ignorance.
ECCE emphasizes varied play-based, activity-based, and inquiry-based learning to engage the young children in the classroom. A few of the tools that can be used in this regard include art and craft, drawing, painting, alphabets, numbers, counting, drama, music, puppetry, etc. The main aim is to achieve target outcomes concerning physical and motor development, cognitive development. Socio-emotional-ethical development along with the development of communication, early language, and literacy.
However, in the broad context, the goal is to ensure universal access to excellent ECCE across the country, especially among the disenfranchised group. A well-organized system of early childhood education institutions would include
- Stand-alone anganwadis
- Anganwadis co-located with primary schools
- Pre-primary school/sections covering at least age 5 to 6 years.
- Stand-alone preschools- that are required to recruit teachers who have undergone special training in the pedagogy of ECCE.
Part of the initiative would be to provide training to the current Anganwadi teachers and workers for the pedagogical framework developed by NCERT. This new structure will be introduced in Ashramshalas as well located in tribal-dominated areas.
Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
As per several governmental and non-governmental surveys, there are at least five crore students at the elementary level who are not able to read and write. Foundational literacy refers to the ability to read and understand basic texts as well as execute primary addition and subtraction. To make this possible various measures are to be followed such as recruiting teachers who are familiar with the local languages. Thereafter they will be trained efficiently with continuous professional development in terms of foundational literacy.
Learning crises which are widespread among both rural and urban areas, need to be acknowledged and accordingly implement practical strategies. Best practices should include one-on-one peer tutoring, which should be a voluntary activity carried out under the supervision of trained instructors or teachers. Since lack of reading materials such as books and exercise books are often a major concern, a National Book Promotion Policy will be developed.
As per this, campaigns and initiatives would be launched which would ensure that the students irrespective of their socio-economic background gets proper access to books. Malnourishment is a major concern, as due to this many children suffer both physically and mentally, hence as an essential part of this policy it would be imperative to organize regular meals for students.
Preventing drop-out rates and assuring universal access to education at all levels
Despite few significant policies such as the Right to Education Act and Samagra Shiksha, collected data reveals that students after grade 9 tend to drop out of school. This trend has been a regular phenomenon, and a collective effort has to be made to ensure universal access to education for children from all across the country.
One of the first steps towards this goal is to provide efficient and well-maintained infrastructure to all schools; there are many areas where government schools can be seen in a dilapidated state. An urgent initiative to upgrade and enlarge the already existing schools is imperative, at the same time remote areas where the students often have to travel far distances to study need to be taken into account. Building schools in these places should be the top priority along with ensuring safe and practical conveyance.
It is equally important to check and verify if the students who have enrolled are actively participating in the classroom. Providing opportunities to those students who have fallen behind or dropped out is a specific responsibility that ought to be maintained. Social workers and counselors who are connected with the school are required to work and collaborate with teachers, students, and their parents to ensure that the school children are going to school.
With a special focus on Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs), initiatives should be taken to track their progress in the class both scholastic and co-curricular activities. To ensure the retention of these students it is essential to place trained teachers who are well versed in the local languages along with reforming the curriculum to make it more interesting.
Curriculum and pedagogy in school
The structure of the education is to be divided into the preparatory stage, middle stage, and secondary stage. There would be an overall reformation of the curriculum and pedagogy for all levels to make sure that students undergo cognitive development and also are inculcated with all the relevant skills. NCERT will specify this particular set of skills and accordingly will include the mechanisms for early childhood and school education.
Instead of imposing loads of content, each subject will only include core essentials, this will give more opportunity for critical thinking, inquiry-based, analysis-based, and discussion-based learning. Hence the key areas would be concepts, applications, and problem-solving; teaching and learning on the other hand would be carried out in an interactive manner.
As a step towards a cross-curricular pedagogical approach arts and sports both need to be included in the teaching process. This will help to develop collaborative skills, self-discipline, teamwork, and discipline.
Flexibility in course choices
Instead of limiting the options of the students, the policy ensures to give them the liberty to choose subjects as per their interest and aptitude. There will be flexibility within the term duration to opt for different subjects. Lack of separation between curricular and co-curricular and different streams of subjects such as arts, science, and humanities, is a distinct characteristic of the framework.
Integration of essential subjects, skills, and capacities
While there will be a flexibility quotient but there are certain subjects, skills, and capacities which are required to learn by all students so that they could be successful in their future. Apart from proficiency in the language it includes :
- Oral and written communication
- Logical reasoning
- Sense of aesthetics and arts
- Vocational exposure and skills.
Significant pedagogical initiatives should include artificial intelligence, holistic health, organic living environmental education, and global citizenship education. A learning management system ought to be used for making lesson plans and individualized evaluation tests, to check the academic progress and overall development of the student.