On the day the new government took charge at the Centre, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released the draft of the National Education Policy (NEP). The policy, when finalized, will serve as a policy document which will guide the direction of education in the country.
The draft policy, which was released on Friday, has been compiled by a committee led by Dr K Kasturirangan and the MHRD has placed the draft in public domain for feedback and comments until June 30. Here are 10 salient features present in the draft National Education Policy.
- Co-location of anganwadis and pre-schools with primary school. This action aimed at reducing the rate of early dropouts will involve ensuring that the students who graduate from anganwadis and pre-schools will have a primary school in the same building or complex so that there is a smooth transition for the child in terms of learning environment. This also helps the parents with logistical troubles since they do not have to seek a new school to enroll their child once he or she completes pre-school.
- Extending RTE ambit to secondary and higher secondary classes as well. The draft NEP has recommended that the existing Right To Education Act be amended to include secondary education – classes 9,10,11 and 12 – also in its scope. If done right, this move will ensure compulsory education for children till the age of 18 from the existing age of 14.
- The draft NEP has also devised extensive guidelines for language education in the country. According to the policy, importance is to be given for teaching in home languages and making available high quality textbooks for science in the home language till class 8.
- The three-language policy in schools to be continued, but will be implemented from primary classes itself. While the policy prescribes that schools in Hindi-speaking states teach one other Indian language in addition to English and Hindi, it also says that in non-Hindi speaking states, the three language policy will have the regional language, Hindi and English. The change in language choice by students in the middle school will be allowed, but on the condition that they would need to have the expected level of proficiency in three languages in Board Examinations. However, more clarity is expected on this statement.
- When it comes to college education, the draft NEP aims to eradicate the present system of universities affiliating the colleges. In due course of time, the NEP aims to have universities and autonomous colleges, both of which are capable of awarding degrees by themselves.
- Revamping of undergraduate courses to four years (from the erstwhile three-year Bachelor courses) and discontinuing M.Phil degree in the country.
- Centralised Exit examinations for medical students similar to NEET. This exit exam will play the dual role of acting as the entrance test for PG courses. This move is aimed at easing the exam burden on MBBS graduates and enable them to focus on their residency.
- A new authority to fund research at the college-level will be put in place. The National Research Foundation (NRF) will be created for enabling research and innovation and will function in addition to the research funding done by bodies like ICAR, DST etc.
- National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) shall be the sole regulatory body for higher education including professional education in the country. National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), Medical Council of India (MCI), Bar Council of India (BCI) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) shall be Professional Standard Setting Bodies and set standards for practice of the respective professions.
- National Education Commission to be established to oversee the educational vision of the country. The Ministry of HRD to be renamed as Ministry of Education to bring back focus into education.