NEP 2020: Teaching up to grade 5 in mother tongue, 5+3+3+4 school curriculum

With the existing 10+2 school curricula to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curriculum structure and emphasis on mother tongue, local or regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Class 5, but preferably till Class 8, schools and educationists have welcomed the new National Education Policy (NEP). On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet cleared the new NEP 2020 to replace the present policy from 1986.

Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', addressed a joint press conference with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday, highlighting the reforms of NEP 2020. 

According to the new policy, the school curriculum will be 5+3+3+4 -- three years of pre-schooling or anganwadi and 12 years of schooling. This curriculum structure will correspond to the age groups 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years, respectively. Pokhriyal said the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) would develop a new national curriculum for children up to 8 years of age.

In addition, the policy emphasises the use of the mother tongue, local or regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Class 5, but preferably till Class 8 and beyond. Sanskrit will be an option in the three-language formula. Pokhriyal stressed that no language would be imposed on any student and several foreign languages would be offered at the secondary level.

Another major policy reform is that school examinations in Classes 3, 5 and 8 will be conducted by the appropriate authority while Class 10 and 12 exams will be conducted by particular boards.

For higher education, the policy envisages undergraduate (UG) courses of three or four years, with flexibility of subjects and multiple exit options, such as certificate after one year, advanced diploma after two years, Bachelor's degree after three years and Bachelor's with research after four years. An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different institutions, so that these can be transferred and counted towards the final degree earned.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), the authority controlling and funding all higher education institutions, is to be replaced with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) as a single over-arching umbrella body, except for medical and legal education. The HECI will have four independent verticals: the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, the General Education Council (GEC) for standard setting, the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and the National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation. Further, the HECI will have powers to penalise institutions failing to conform 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.

Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes, promotions will be merit-based with multi-source periodic performance appraisals, to rise as educational administrators or teacher- educators. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organisations from across levels and regions.

Pokhriyal claimed that the NEP 2020 would bring two crore out-of-school children back into the mainstream. The new policy aims to pave transformational reforms in both school and higher education, promising to have 100 per cent GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) in school education by 2030 and 50 per cent GER in higher education by 2035 by adding 3.5 crore seats.

The NEP 2020 renamed the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) that worked on the policy as the Ministry of Education, thereby reversing the change in name made by the late Rajiv Gandhi.

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