The Union Cabinet approved a new National Education Policy (NEP) on July 29 after a gap of 34 years. It promises major changes at every level. Key proposals include a standardized entrance test for universities, four-year undergraduate degrees and abolition of the M.Phil programme. The school system will change to a 5+3+3+4 structure, while the medium of instruction will be the mother tongue or local language till Class V.
The proposed school curricular structure will replace the existing 10+2 (Class 1 to 10 of general education followed by two years of foundational education, 3 years of preparatory, 3 years of middle school and 4 years of secondary school. This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group 3-5 under the formal education system.
It proposes inclusion of vocational education and internships from Class 6. There will be no rigid separation of vocational and academic streams. Instead of just scores, the report card of students will reflect their skills and capabilities. Board exams will continue for Classes 10 and 12, but will be made easier with the aim of ensuring holistic development of students.
For higher education, a single regulator has been proposed to govern all higher education institutions (HEIs), except law and medical colleges. Norms for both, public and private HEIs will be made the same. There will be at least one HEI in each distinct. Top foreign universities will be allowed to set up campuses in India. Flexible undergraduate education of 1 year duration with multiple entry-exit and points appropriate certification is a major change for students.
Another sweeping change was the Ministry of Human Resource Development was renamed the Ministry of Education.
First education policy of the Century
India has had three education policies so far. The first education policy was announced in 1968 when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, and the second in 1986 during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as PM. The 1986 policy was revised in 1992 when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the PM. The third is what has been approved by the Union Cabinet under PM Modi recently. A new NEP was part of the BJP manifesto ahead of the 2014 elections. The NEP committee was headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan.
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