Dr. C.N. Ashwatha Narayana, Karnataka’s minister of higher education, recently announced that National Education Policy 2020 will be implemented in the state from the academic year 2021-2022. He made the decision after meeting officials from the state higher education council. The announcement made Karnataka the first state in the country to implement the revolutionary education policy that will several students.
The NEP proposed many changes which will allow students greater flexibility when it comes to choosing subjects and changing colleges mid-way through their course. A student can discontinue their course after two years and still get a diploma degree. They can also choose to study for four years and get an honours degree.
Some people have criticized the move. “Such a decision taken in haste to begin implementing NEP in Karnataka will certainly affect first-generation learners in an adverse manner. While small colleges are amalgamated to bigger colleges or universities, access to higher education for students from marginalised communities will be minimised as well,” Niranjanaradhya V P, a developmental educationist based in Bengaluru, told The Indian Express. Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also criticized the move and called it a dictatorial decision.
Let’s take a look at some of the key initiatives launched under the National Education Policy 2020.
From 10 + 2 to 5 + 3 + 3 + 4
According to the new system, students will spend 5 years in the foundational stage (pre-school to class 2), 3 years in the preparatory stage (class 3 to class 5), 3 years in the primary stage (Class 6 to Class 8) and 4 years in the secondary stage (class 9 to class 12).
Before the education policy was introduced, students had to choose between three streams – science, commerce and humanities after passing out from 10th standard. Even if they wished to, they could not study Physics and History together. Currently though, students have that option.
Students are also given more freedom to explore vocational jobs like carpentry, welding and plumbing. In 6th standard itself, they’ll experience a six-day bagless period where they’ll be given hands on training to do these jobs.
Academic Bank of Credit (ABC)
An initiative launched under the National Education Policy 2020 is the new Academic Bank of Credit system. According to this, a student has the option to exit a course midway and join another course without losing any years. They are provided the freedom to get 50 credits from outside the college/university in which they are enrolled. If a student wishes, they can also accrue credits by enrolling in online courses through SWAYAM, NPTEL, V-Lab, etc.
Even though this makes things easier for students, some people have criticized the move. In a statement, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) wrote, “In their total advocacy of online/virtual solutions, they overlook the following: a) the digital divide of - access (class, caste, gender, region, rural/urban), and affordability (for the affluent/poor); b) the dilution of rigor and intensity of courses; and c) impact on working conditions of teachers with fluctuating workload which will lead to loss of employment and casualisation/contractualisation.”
A revolutionized evaluation system
With the new evaluation system, the report cards issued at the end of the year has changed. Students are asked to self-evaluate themselves and also asked to rate their classmates. According to the National Education Policy, “The progress card will be a holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report that reflects in great detail the progress as well as the uniqueness of each learner in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. It will include self-assessment and peer assessment, and progress of the child in project-based and inquiry-based learning, quizzes, role plays, group work, portfolios, etc. along with teacher assessment.”
Foreign colleges given permission to set up campuses in India
Universities in the ‘top 100’ category will be allowed to set up campuses in India. Every year, 750,000 thousand students spend nearly $15 billion to study abroad and the Indian government wants a share of that pie. As of now, some foreign universities have partnerships with Indian colleges like IIT Bombay allowing for student exchange. Now, they have the freedom to operate independently.
While the Indian Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal has expressed excitement, it remains to be seen if foreign universities are able to cope with the bureaucracy present in India.