The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 remains a game-changer on many grounds. For example, it is for the first time that the policy is supporting school education at all levels – preschool to secondary. The 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponds to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years respectively. The foundation stage for the age-group 3 to 6 and 6 to 8 in Class-I and II comprises multilevel and flexible play/ activity-based learning.
The new National Curriculum Framework (NCF), which is coming from the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), will make the curriculum for the first five years of the school, which comprises the foundation stage, including three years of pre-primary and Classes I-II. This way there will be continuum in learning between the curriculums of Class-I and II (age-group of 3-6 years), as there was a gap earlier.
Also, the training material of teachers and assistant teachers for Anganwadis will be prepared by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). The policy puts stress on quality in early childhood care and education (ECCE) program. Moreover, the best investment that India can make is on children’s education considering that the future of the country depends on it.
In addition, the policy talks about equitable and inclusion in education, which addresses the needs of children with special needs as well as those belonging to the marginalized sections of society.
Bringing information and communication technology (ICT) tools for training, experiential learning and as part of the overall approach in teaching will foster tech-enabled learning. It is certainly like interplay of education and technology, which augurs well in the long run.
These remain a few of the plus points that the policy brings to the table at first glance. However, there is need to address a few gaps on which the policy remains unclear.
NEED FOR MORE CLARITY
While the NEP 2020 is focused on Angawadi Centres (AWCs) and Balwadis, it isn’t specific with regard to private schools as such. A few pertinent questions about what would be their responsibilities aren’t clearly stated. The policy is, in fact, absolutely mum when it comes to issues of private schools.
Earlier, for private school teachers, after Class-XII a two-year diploma was the minimum qualification prescribed by NCTE. However, NEP 2020 does not mention anything with regard to teacher-training qualification.
While NEP 2020 mentions about the age-group of 3-6 years or Classes-I and II, which will be under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), but for the age-group 6-8 years, whether it would fall in the ambit of the MWCD or the Department of Education, the policy fails to address this.
The policy definitely looks good on paper. If a few of these issues mentioned above are clarified, it will take off beautifully and address the key issues in the education sector for which it was formulated in the first place.
(The author of this article Dr Reeta Sonawat is Director Early Childhood Education, Ampersand Group)