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National Curriculum Framework NCF 2023 Recommendations, Changes & More

National Curriculum Framework NCF 2023: Recommendations, Changes & More

The National Education Policy 2020 was launched on 29th July’2020 as an initiative to drive the vision of 21st-century education for all Indian learners. It is a visionary step to revamp several aspects of the existing Indian education structure. And the policy (along with national curriculum framework for foundational stage) aims at creating a system that aligns new-age learning with the values of the Indian education structure.

In the words of India’s Education Minister, Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, NEP is a guiding philosophy that will bring about the much-needed change within the Indian education system. This policy aims at transforming the teaching and learning processes (and NCF education) across the nation. And this will fulfill the needs of new-age learning within the mainstream structure of our Indian educational design.

National Curriculum Framework 2023 Goals

Before we discuss some features of NPE 2020 with you, let’s understand the need for NCF 2023.

Why Do We Need NCF 2023?

Guiding Pathway for the New Education Policy:

While the NPE 2020 has already given hope to stakeholders with a vision of 21st-century education, its implementation is subject to an equally visionary framework. NCF 2023 will play the role of this guiding pathway for the new education policy and the NCERT. In other words, the existing NCF 2005 (currently functional) needs to be aligned as per the vision of NPE 2020 to meet the goals and objectives of the new policy.

Textbooks and Content

Another reason why we need NCF 2023 is the need to revamp the instructional material across all stages of education. As the structure of examinations, subject choices, and assessment will undergo major changes, there is a need to keep the instructional material updated as per the new policy.

Eliminating Obsolete Practices

To do away with malpractices like rote learning, narrow educational goals, and the threats of academic rat race, we need a new curriculum framework that can implement all futuristic ideas at the ground level. NCF 2023 will play a crucial role in creating a complete yet holistic approach to all teaching and learning processes. The new framework will help the stakeholders explore and implement approaches like experiential, hands-on, constructivist, and inquiry learning for a holistic experience.

Let’s explore more about this recent education policy.

Prominent Features of NEP 2020

New School Structure-

The recent Education policy’s point number 4, i.e. ‘Curriculum and Pedagogy in Schools’ defines the new structure as follows:

Our previous design of 10+2 will now be replaced with 5+3+3+2. This means that the preschool years will now be a part of the regular school curriculum under the national curriculum framework for foundational stage.

  • The initial 5 years include preschool education along with grades 1 and 2(age 3 to 8 years). The second stage (preparatory) is for grades 3 to 5 (age 8 to 11 years). And the third stage i.e. the middle school with grades 6-8 will be followed by high school grades 9 to 12. These are further divided into two phases 9 and 10 in the first one. And 11 and 12 in the second one(14-18 years).
School Structure in NEP 2020 | National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

Skill Building-

The next step that the policy states is regarding the focus on experiential learning. And increasing the flexibility of subject choice for learners. The curricula will enhance the student’s learning by removing the separation between varied streams like Science, Arts, etc.

  • The idea of skill-building will be envisioned by integrating academic and vocational streams at the school level.
  • This policy also aims at improving infrastructure through digital classrooms and online teaching.

Curriculum Load-

Unfortunately, our students already battle with academic stress and load. In 2019, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh accounted for almost 44% of the total student suicides in the country. And as of 2020, 8.2% of Indian students committed suicide.

Student suicides statewise


Percentage of student suicide in 2020

The much-awaited change (after the previous NCFFS) to reduce the burden of academics and school textbooks is also a part of the new policy. According to the plan, ‘National Curricular Framework for School Education’ will prepare a comprehensive framework along with high-quality textbooks. The state flavor and material will be preserved by states through their self-created textbooks and self-created curricula.

  • The idea of reducing the overall curriculum load is also complemented by preparing textbooks in regional languages.
state wise suicide cases in 2019


The power of multilingualism is globally acknowledged for its surprising advantages. We have more than 5000 languages spoken around the globe. This means that the idea of global education revolves around the linguistic abilities of 21st-century learners.

  • In the new education policy, students will be given the advantage of learning in enriched home/mother/regional/local languages till grade 5 (also up to grade 8).
  • To strengthen the three-language formula, the choice of two languages will be up to the states or students (excluding the English language). This will resolve the controversy of this formula in the non-Hindi Speaking Indian states.

Clearly, the new education policy promises a lot of changes and a line-up of visionary initiatives. However, the implementation part requires a change in the existing NCF 2005 (NCF full form- National Curriculum Framework)

Shortage of Teachers and Quality Issues

In India, 63% of women are eligible to enter the teaching profession every year. However, data proves that only 49.49% of female teachers took up teaching at the primary level – Source page 19 ‘Educational Statistics at a Glance- Indian Ministry of Education’. The new education policy and its framework address all these voids to improve productivity and retain talent within the industry.

percentage of women are eligible for teaching, only 49.39% enter teaching profession

When will NCF 2023 be Implemented?

Till date, we have witnessed four major revisions in the NCF. And the latest (after NCF 2005) is now in the finalizing stage of another major revision. Recently in April’23, the government released a pre-draft created by a committee headed under the former ISRO Chief, Mr. K Kasturirangan.

The government is open to suggestions from the stakeholders, students, and academicians. And the pre-draft (for NCF 2023) is available at the official website of the Indian Ministry of Education.

Let’s take you through the main aspects covered in this proposed pre-draft.

New Proposals: Draft National Curriculum Framework (NCF)?

The structure of the proposed draft includes the following chapters segregated under broad headers:

  1. Approach– The aims, curricula, school stages, areas of education, pedagogy, content, and assessment across all stages, etc.
  2. School Subjects/Areas- Foundation, stage, Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Arts, Interdisciplinary areas, Vocational, Physical, and Secondary stages (grades 11 and 12).
  3. Cross-cutting themes– Values, Inclusion, Guidance, Counselling, Environment, ICT, Rootedness in India.
  4. School Culture and Processes– Culture and Processes
  5. Creating a supportive Ecosystem– Ensuring an appropriate environment for learning, Pupil-Teacher ratio, Teacher empowerment, and Role of Academic and Administrative Functionaries.

As of now, the government plans to introduce the new textbooks from the next year onwards.

What Does the New Policy Envision for Vocational Education & Skill-Building?

Despite many efforts, employability in Indian youth is a huge barrier to their career prospects and aspirations. India has barely managed to reach a mark of 50.3% employability by the year 2023, which was only 45.6% back in the year 2018.

employable talent in India

Most academicians are hopeful about the new policy to revamp the existing patterns of vocational education and skill-based learning. The government has taken some crucial steps to improve employability and meet the aspirational goals for 21st– century students.

Here’s a gist of the prospective goals of NPE 2020 in this regard:

  • By the year 2025, 50% of the students at the school or higher level shall be exposed to vocational education.
  • Integration of vocation education within the mainstream system (in phases).
  • To remove the social status hierarchy associated with vocational studies.
  • Each student to learn at least one vocation (or more).
  • Exposure to vocational education will be given right from the middle school stages.
  • Varied models of vocational learning will be implemented in higher education institutions including opportunities like apprenticeship.
Goals of npe 2020 | NCF 2023

How will the New NCF Education Revamp Our Traditional Designs?

Curricular Areas-

Unlike the typical selection of subjects, National Curriculum Framework NCF 2023 promises to broaden the subject choices in classes 11 and 12. Students will study 16 courses that will be segregated under 8 curricular areas. These areas are defined as:

  • Humanities 
  • Mathematics & Computing
  • Vocational Education
  • Physical Education
  • Arts
  • Social Science
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Inter-disciplinary Areas

Exam Pattern-

  • A semester system is proposed at the class 12 level.
  • Students will have the option to choose subjects over and above any set combination. For example, students who take up Science subjects will also be able to choose subjects like Political Science or History.
  • For secondary stages, a quarterly examination system will be introduced with a weightage of 80% for written and 20% for oral/projects/activities, etc.

Number of Exams-

  • The new exam system proposes board exams to be cleared in order to prove mastery in subjects studied in classes 9 and 10.
  • The pre-draft also proposes ‘Modular Board Examinations’ instead of single year-end exams. The new system will have board exams twice a year. And the scores in both classes 10 and 12 will be based on the overall performance in two years (or at least board exams starting from classes 9 and 11).

Other Changes:

Subject Wise Content Proposal –

Classes 6-8 Social Science to have the following content segregation:

  • Local – 20% i.e. historical context, geography, socio-political life, etc.
  • Regional – 30% i.e. perspectives at the regional level
  • National – 30% in the context of India
  • Global – 20% for widening the worldview

Units –

Classes 9 and onwards will have History, Political Science, Economic Life, and Geography as separate units.

Subject wise content proposal in new National Curriculum Framework (ncf 2023)


Key Areas of Differences between the previous NCFs and NCF 2023

Focus on Addressing Ongoing Challenges

The new NCF 2023 draft focuses on the next level steps to root out the existing age-old problems from the system. For instance, the typical summative pen and paper exams can now have the feasibility of incorporating projects, oral tests, assignments, etc. (refer to point 2.7.2 – Summative Assessment). Similarly, new ideas for assessment like maintaining checklists, using rating scales, observing students in natural settings, and effective questioning techniques are introduced to create a truly enriching experience.

Clarity in Disseminating Knowledge and Shaping Behavior

Under the NCF 2023, there is a clear vision to demarcate the aims of education under broad headers:

Knowledge – Knowing that

Capacities – Knowing how

Values – Beliefs about right and wrong

Disposition – Attitude that forms behavior

Streamlining the Process of Learning

For the first time, this NCF highlights the need to create positive emotional experiences to deepen relationships between students and teachers. Since learning is directly connected with emotions like curiosity, joy, and excitement, the framework focuses on creating a positive environment to boost the learning outcomes.

Introducing the Semester System at High School

To broaden the scope of learning and widen subject choices, NCF 2023 also has a provision to introduce a semester system in grades 11 and 12. To complete the high school i.e. grade 12, a student must complete 16 choice-based courses that will be available semester-wise. This system will help students make better choices of discipline at the later stage.

Final Thoughts

Most of the proposals in the NPE 2020 and the proposed national curriculum framework (NCF) 2023 seem to be quite visionary and thoughtful. However, the effectiveness of the proposed initiatives mostly lies in the hands of the stakeholders. We are the home to one of the world’s largest youth populations. But unfortunately, our nation still stands at a dismal rate of 50% employability. These new initiatives certainly have the potential to drive the change that we need in the upcoming years. But to find the exact impact of the new implementations, we will have to wait for another academic year till these changes are fully implemented!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When NCF 2023 will be implemented?
    The pre-draft for NCF is now open for feedback before its implementation that is planned in the next academic year.
  • What does the new draft national curriculum framework (NCF) propose?
    The NCF national curriculum framework proposes the following changes to revamp our existing educational designs:
    • For students in 9th and 10th 16 courses will be categorized under eight curricular areas.
    • Curricular areas are Humanities (including languages), Physical Education, Mathematics & Computing, Social Science, Vocational Education, Science, Arts, and Inter-Disciplinary Areas.
    • Semester system in class 12.
    • Modular Board Examinations
  • What are the goals of NPE 2020?
    NPE 2020 aims to address the issues of student drop-out rates, extend educational opportunities to the disabled population, and bridge the gap between the varied classes. 
  • Was there a national curriculum framework 2020?
    The Indian government launched the NPE with a plan to devise 4 ncffs (ncf national curriculum framework). The draft for the new framework is completed recently in 2023.

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