India has seen a series of reforms through, education policies, acts, plan of action, and curriculum frameworks. However, despite a considerable improvement in our education system, we are still far from meeting the defined targets like universal enrollment, inclusion, quality, and accessibility of education.
Undoubtedly, the Kothari Commission, NEP 1968, 1986, POA 1992, RTE 2009, and NCF 2005 have restructured our education system to a great extent.
But when it comes to delivering the best quality education to all our students, we are still behind the targets.
And with all this already in store, what’s even worse is the disruption caused by the pandemic!
As the virus threats continue, the need for a more resilient system is underlined And the NEP 2020 is a ray of hope in this pandemic age when the Indian schooling system needs bigger and better reforms.
Let’s take a quick recap of the hits and misses of all the Education Policies implemented in India & Decode why NEP 2020 is a better version of them all!
1. Kothari Commission
Kothari Commission is one of the most important landmarks for educational reforms in independent India. It laid the foundation of the 10+2+3 schooling pattern. And came up with some visionary recommendations for the marginalized students. Its three- language formula, scholarships, and remunerations for teachers proved beneficial in for our mainstream system. And till date, our education policies in India use its recommendations as a baseline in some form or the other.
Due to the economic condition of the newly independent nation, the recommendations of this commission could not be followed as it is. And this led to certain gaps in the National Education Policy in 1968 which was created on the recommendations of this commission.
2. National Education Policy 1968
The first education policy, NEP 1968 rolled out in the year 1968 is known for fulfilling the directive principle ‘free and compulsory education up to the age of 14 years’. It standardized the recommendations of the Kothari commission through a formal process. And implemented several reforms across the stages of school and vocational education.
The next policy in line i.e. NEP 1986 took the reforms to the next level. And once again it filled in the voids of the previous policy and made way for a better educational system.
3. National Education Policy 1986
NEP 1986 was in line with the previous education policies. And it aimed at improving the educational opportunities within the masses. From universal enrollment to the retention of students, this policy covered numerous aspects that needed attention. And it suggested effective ways of introducing incentives to promote the education of the girl child. Operation blackboard within this policy helped to improve the school infrastructure. And the improved focus on elementary education did help in improving the schooling structure.
Later in the year 1992, this education policy was reformulated through a ‘Plan of Action’. And this further helped to improve the areas like adult education, micro-planning, non-formal schooling options to meet the goals of the national education policy.
The next main reform was suggested through a document published by the NCERT. It is also known as the NCF 2005.
4. NCF 2005
As a periodic revision of the curriculum framework, NCF 2005 was launched with the vision of 21st-century education. It introduced the idea of student-centric learning. And helped in reducing the curriculum load for improved results. It highlighted an instructional delivery that can support the student’s learning beyond the textbooks and rote methods. In addition, this framework also added a dimension of constructivist learning. And focused on the inculcation of new-age skills like critical and creative thinking.
This framework mainly dealt with the curriculum, pedagogies, and instructional delivery. And it did help in bringing more students into the mainstream schooling system.
Despite a series of reforms for decades, the Indian students did not enjoy education as a fundamental right. And finally, in the year 2009, education was made a fundamental right for students between 6 to 14 years of age.
5. Right to Education 2009
RTE 2009 gave a new dimension to the vision of the education policies in India. It made education a fundamental right. And made the government directly responsible for the education of students in the defined age bracket. It streamlined the process of school transfers, infrastructure, amenities. And addressed the issues of quality education for students from weaker sections of society through 25% reservation.
Of late, RTE has been a game-changer for student enrollments. And it helped in standardizing the processes further in the next and most recent education policy, the National Education policy 2020!
Since we have already jotted down the striking features of NPE 2020 in this series, let’s jump to it’s recommendations that prove its relevance in the current times.
What makes NPE 2020 different and better than the previous policies?
By far, we have discovered the striking features and contributions of the various education policies in India. And the most recent addition to this lineup is the NPE 2020.
This education policy was announced at the time when India was battling against the pandemic. And it did expand the vision of the Indian education system with some futuristic choices and promising educational alternatives.
Unlike the other policies prior to this one, NPE 2020 standardized early childhood education. And it also focused on improving the gross enrollment ratios for higher grades, which were not given much importance in the previous policies.
For the first time ever, this policy highlighted the need for experiential learning. And it also resolved numerous challenges of our mainstream system through ‘flexible’ learning opportunities.
Online schooling and technological knowledge are also given due importance in this visionary policy. Besides, it has also touched upon a sensitive topic of ‘transfer of teachers’ in great detail like no other previous policy. The introduction of online learning platforms and the ways to deal with the challenges of the digital divide are also some noteworthy features of this recent policy. And last but not the least, its suggestion to improve educational alternatives such as virtual schooling platforms is a truly legendary step.
NPE 2020 is an outline for a new education system in India. And it has the potential to address the challenges in our system through the use of technology. It envisions a student-centric schooling system with the unmatched advantages of flexible learning. And in this post-Covid world, this is what most of our Indian students truly need!
Of all the policies till date, NPE seems to be the most futuristic and promising!
And as per the ex- Union Education Minister rightly describes it as a focus policy to transform India into a knowledge superpower!
Let’s hope it holds true in the years to come!