NEP 2020: Making education more inclusive

The New Education Policy (2020) is a historic effort and first omnibus policy after thirty-four years, under Modi regime. The purpose of NEP is a framework to guide the development of education in the country.

This is India’s third policy which replaces the 1986 NEP. According to the Government, the NEP 2020 is formulated after having considered over 2 lakh suggestions from different levels of local self-bodies, 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, 6,600 blocks, 6,000 ULBs and 676 districts with the aim of holistic productivity and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society with an increased Gross Enrollment Ration (GER) of 50% by 2035.

The National Education Policy, 2020 has conveyed the structural change in the education system which aims to make India the global knowledge superpower ensuring equity and Inclusion.

Equity and Inclusion

The aim of equity and inclusion is now at the heart of new NEP. In the fields of higher or school education, inclusion involves restructuring the whole system with the aim of ensuring the wide range of educational opportunities; this includes curriculum, pedagogy and recreational opportunities, etc. The policy is designed to avoid segregation and isolation of ethnic and linguistic minorities, those with disabilities and also those who face learning difficulties due to language barriers and are at the risk of educational exclusion. We make sense of the world through language and this creates and recreates power, authority and also legitimation. NEP 2020 has set the goal for all to be authoritative with the command of different languages at different levels of education.

Inclusion of community participation

An attempt has been made to develop conscious awareness of roles and duties and inclusion of community participation which would minimize the exclusion of students on the basis of language and disability. This will motivate students to learn more about the diverse culture of India, its knowledge system and tradition and also to sensitize them on human values, empathy, tolerance, human rights, gender equality, inclusion, and equity which will develop respect for diversity.

Beyond all, equal respect for all religions with the idea to develop or bring back creative human endeavor, required for the 21st-century education system, has been the main focus of NEP 2020.

Gender equality and inclusion

NEP aims to ensure equity and inclusion in and through education by addressing all forms of exclusion and marginalization, disparity, vulnerability and inequality in education access, participation, retention and completion and in learning outcomes.

Gender equality and inclusion are vital in achieving these aims and leaving no one behind. Education needs a greater focus on accessibility, equity and quality. Remarkable signs of progress have been noticed in the past few years in respect of female participation up to secondary level. Such progress could be because of Government’s policies and programmes run for girl child-like “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”, “Sukanya and Balika Samridhi Yojana” and many more.

But girls’ enrolment is lower than that of boys at upper secondary education. Gross Education Ratio during 2015-2016 stands only 23.4% against 25.4% for boys in higher education and the gap is visible at all the social categories.

Now, NEP’s biggest effort is to bring gender sensitivity as an integral part of curriculum and gender inclusion fund to be raised upto class 12 which covers all the socio-economically disadvantaged groups and also the transgenders.

The condition of the primary education at government schools, the dropout rates of girls has put the country on the back foot in education. But the new NEP has given more focus to school learning with a new way of coping multi-disciplinary programs and focuses on the 21st-century skills in teaching, learning and assessment.

Alternative and innovative education centres will led to multiple pathways of effective learning and widespread participation of students of different groups.

Inclusion of new Pedagogical system for Early Child Care Education

Early Child Care Education (ECCE) is not available to most young children, particularly children from economically disadvantaged families. Almost 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development and growth occurs prior to the age of 6. Inclusion of this system will help children of early age to attain optimal outcomes in the domains of physical and motor development, cognitive development, socio-emotional-ethical development, cultural/artistic development, and the development of communication and early language, literacy, and numeracy. The division of Pedagogical system has been done with an intension to include the children of early education with the age group 3-5 into Formal education and also to include this stage of education into the school curriculum as per Global standard which was not done earlier. The method to include the coding system in early education is to compete with the developed countries and including mother tongue as a medium of Instruction at early stage of education will give advantage to understand them better as it is done in Europe. The flashy story books with pictures and signs, toys and activity based learning of the private nursery and LKG classes always excluded the poor family who could not afford all this but now new pedagogical and curriculum structure of schools education has been developed with flexible, multi-level, play-based, activity based and inquiry based learning for all.

Inclusion of Skill Courses

Other focus has been given to make student learn life skill when they complete their schooling so that they can be self-reliant by then. By including contemporary subjects, vocational courses and extra curriculum activities from the school level will pull back students towards their schools. “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, will be established to support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs and vitalize students to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities.

Inclusion of Graduation Research and Exclusion of M.Phil

Inclusion of four years of undergraduate programme will help those students who could not continue their studies due to many anomalies. They have multiple exit and entry option. Students can go for a one-year sabbatical.

They can discontinue their graduation and they can store their credits in the academic bank so that in future it can be restarted. Post-graduation is either for one year or two depends on students passing years of Graduation.

Those who have completed their graduation with research will have to do one year PG. MPhil remains a less frequently chosen and awarded qualification whereas, PhD is awarded the world over. Therefore, scrapping two years of M.Phil Degree will save the time of students to move and decide their future ahead. Yes, it is going to affect those centres and institutions which are having M.phil and PhD as main degree programmes and students get direct admission in the M Phil course after the completion of M.A degree. Scraping M Phil will leave only one course left at the centres, i.e. PhD.

But of course, more time will be given to the research work and it will inspire them to develop critical thinking and creativity on sustained research and regular assessment by educational experts. Promoting high-quality research will uplift society and exclusion from Inclusion will be done through a new knowledge system.

NEP 2020, also include research capabilities and output across disciplines. The societal challenges could be addressed only through high-quality interdisciplinary research across fields and the very best research in the world has occurred only in multidisciplinary university settings. Last pioneering thing happened in India was Right to Education and was inserted in the Constitution under Article 32 A. The Indian Constitution says free and compulsory education for all children upto 6-14 yrs, but the promise of providing education to all is still an obscure goal till date. Education has never been the criteria of voting rights because any person literate or illiterate who completes 18 years can vote.

As the cornerstone of all educational decisions, the ray of hope has come through the new National Education Policy, 2020, which talks about sustainable human development and universal education learning with equity and learning outcomes with research oriented mindset. India has always placed education at the centre of its development agenda and with bridging the gender, social, regional gaps with community participation it will raise the spirits towards equal opportunities to all ensuring equity in this policy. It is going to be the beautiful blend of both ancient and modern knowledge system which not only inculcate you to acquire knowledge but also helps in integrating Indian culture and ethos.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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