Key ministers of the Union Cabinet, BJP leaders and allies patted themselves on the back on Wednesday evening, after the Cabinet gave the nod for the much delayed National Education Policy, which was announced here.While the BJP President JP Nadda called it "momentous day", Union minister Harsimrat Badal highlighted the long delay after which this reform came.Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the policy, the BJP chief said, "The National Education Policy 2020 brings much awaited reforms and regulatory framework which caters to the need of a 21st century 'New India' and unleash our children and youth's energy for a self-reliant better India."Akali Dal leader and Union minister Harsimrat Badal said that India got its "much-needed education reforms after a gap of 34 years". While junior minister in MHA G. Kishen Reddy said this will help "address barriers to female and transgender children's access to education", and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan dubbed it as "futuristic".The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to a new National Education Policy aimed to bring about several changes in the education system from the school to college level. Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said that following the new education policy and reforms, the country will achieve a 50 per cent gross enrolment ratio by 2035.Speaking at the press briefing, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said: "It is important because there was no change in the education policy in the last 34 years," a sentiment shared by many of his Cabinet colleagues.Not only has the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) been renamed the Ministry of Education, public investment in the education sector will reach 6 per cent of GDP at the earliest. Currently, it is around 4.43 per cent. This has BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy ecstatic as he claims it was his suggestion to increase the expenditure on education.
Outcomes of the National Education Policy will be universalisation of education from primary to secondary by 2030, attaining foundational learning and numeracy skills by 2025, 100 per cent gross enrolment ratio by 2030, and two crore school children joining back. It will also include preparation of teachers for assessment reforms by 2023, an inclusive education system by 2030, board exams only to test core concepts, and instilling at least one vocational skill in every child.The key highlights of the New Education Policy is use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment, a single regulator for higher education, graded autonomy for colleges, and phasing out of the affiliation system in 15 years. It also includes formation of the National Research Foundation, internationalisation of education and multiple entry and exit for students and an academic bank of credit."Since most of the learning happens in the mother tongue, we ensured that wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language," said Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.The major reforms in school education includes universalisation of early childhood care education, setting up of a national mission on foundational literacy and numeracy, 5+3+3+4 circular and pedological structure and no rigid separation between arts and sciences.Students will be taught coding from class 6, there will be vocational integration from class 6 as against from secondary level, and a gender inclusion fund for girl child development. Board examinations will now be low stake and based on knowledge application.The policy also mandates the medium of instruction till at least class 5 and preferably till class 8 and beyond in home or regional language, and 360 degree holistic report card - by children, by classmates and teachers.Besides this, PARAKH - Performance, Assessment, Review and Analysis for Holistic Development - will form the standard, norm and guidelines for the schools so that it reaches the benchmark. Schools will have transparent online systems for self-disclosure for public oversight and accountability.The National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a common entrance exam for admission to higher education institutes, and a National Professional Standard for teachers to be prepared by the NCERT and the NCTE.As the ruling party, its allies and the government scrambled to hail this new education policy, the point they were driving home was simple - it took 34 years of wait and the Modi government to overhaul the nation's education policy.