The Government of India on July 29 introduced the National Education Policy 2020 that aims to bring big reforms in the education and skilling of the youth, preparing them for the future. This represented the nation’s first education policy of the 21st century, replacing the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. The policy has been designed to help India empower its rich human resource on the way to developing an inclusive and sustainable society/economy. The NEP 2020 aims to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education, including vocational education, from 26.3 per cent in 2018 to 50 per cent by 2035. The policy plans to add 35 million new seats in higher education institutions to expand access to everyone. Built on the pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability, this policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The policy aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making college education more holistic, flexible, and multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs.
The key features for Higher Education under the Policy includes:
Holistic Multidisciplinary Education
- The policy envisages broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Undergraduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education, and multiple entries and exit points with appropriate certification.
- UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, a Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years, and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.
- An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards the final degree earned. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
- The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
Regulation of Higher Education
- The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
- The HECI has four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard-setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation.
- HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have the powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards.
- Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation, and academic standards.
Rationalised Institutional Architecture
- Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well-resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions providing high-quality teaching, research, and community engagement.
- The definition of the university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges.
- Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years, and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
- Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College or a constituent college of a university.
Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty
- NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty through clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment, freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.
- A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
- A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.
The NEP 2020 was formulated after a process of consultation that involved over 200,000 suggestions from 250,000 Gram Panchayats, 6,600 Blocks, 6,000 ULBs, 676 Districts.
Financial support for students
- Under the NEP 2020, efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs.
- The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships.
- Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.
- The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in the Education sector to reach 6 per cent of GDP at the earliest.
Open and Distance Learning
This will be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER. Measures such as online courses and digital repositories, funding for research, improved student services, credit-based recognition of MOOCs, etc., will be taken to ensure it is at par with the highest quality in-class programmes.
Online Education and Digital Education
A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible has been covered. A dedicated unit to orchestrate the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
Technology in Education
An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration, and management.
Promotion of Indian languages
- To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes.
- Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.
All professional educations will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities, etc, will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions. The policy also aims to achieve 100 per cent of youth and adult literacy.
The NEP 2020 was formulated after a process of consultation that involved over 200,000 suggestions from 250,000 Gram Panchayats, 6,600 Blocks, 6,000 ULBs, 676 Districts. The MHRD had initiated an inclusive consultation process from January 2015. In May 2016, the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy had submitted its report. Based on this, the Ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016.’ In June 2017, the Committee for the Draft National Education Policy was constituted, which submitted the Draft National Education Policy, 2019, on May 31, 2019. The Draft Policy 2019 was uploaded on MHRD’s website and at the ‘MyGov Innovate’ portal eliciting views/suggestions/comments of stakeholders, including the public. The elaborate process allowed for the creation of an inclusive and empowering policy that is expected to help develop the global workforce of the future.
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