The draft of the much-awaited National Education Policy (NEP) has been approved today by the Union Cabinet. It has been finalised after around six years of rigorous consultation with the stakeholders and receiving recommendations from two committees constituted for preparing the draft.

The last committee which was headed by Dr K Kasturirangan submitted the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 to the HRD Ministry on 31 May, 2019.

The draft proposes the setting up of a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) which will replace the University Grants Commission, All India Council of Technical Education and Council of Architecture as well as various other bodies which perform accreditation.

The HECI is proposed to be an umbrella body which will have verticals to perform the role of accreditation, funding, setting of standards and regulation. The NEP proposes to give multiple entry and exit options for the students.

Under graduate education can be of three or four years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.

The student may get a certificate after completion of one year, advanced diploma after two years, bachelor’s degree after three years and bachelor’s with research after four years. One of the other proposals is of setting up a National Research Foundation, as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

It also proposes to set up a National Mission for Mentoring which will provide support to university and college teachers. Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out, according to the draft, 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 by the draft policy that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degreegranting College, or a constituent college of a university.

The NEP emphasises on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels ~ pre-school to secondary ~ and achieving a 100 percent gross enrollment ratio in schools by 2035. The uncovered age group of three to six years shall be brought under school curriculum.

“NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3 pc (2018) to 50 pc by 2035. At least 3.5 crore new seats will be added to higher education institutions,” HRD Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said at a press briefing.

A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERTs, SCERTs, teachers and expert organisations from across levels and regions.

The NEP proposes vocational education from sixth grade which will include internships. The curriculum in schools will be replaced by a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education to be developed by the NCERT.

While the policy says that board exams for grades 10 and 12 will continue, it proposes assessment of all students in grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority.

KEY REFORMS

  • A single regulator for all higher education institutions, to be called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) which will replace the University Grants Commission, the All India Council of Technical Education and Council of Architecture as well as various other bodies which perform accreditation.
  • A common entrance exam for admissions to universities and colleges to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) and common norms to be in place for private and public higher education institutions.
  • Multiple entry and exit options for students. Undergraduate education can be of three or four years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. The student may get a certificate after completion of one year, advanced diploma after two years, bachelor’s degree after three years and bachelor’s with research after four years.
  • 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
  • Board examinations to be made low stake; the focus will be on testing concepts and knowledge application. Home language, mother tongue or regional language to be medium of instruction up to class 5. School curriculum will be reduced to core concepts and there will be integration of vocational education from class 6.