NEP – What’s New for School Education?

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has proposed fundamental changes in school education by introducing 3 years of pre-schooling in the existing 10+2 structure. The new policy has also done away with the rigid separation between different academic streams, which means that students will no longer be segregated in Science, Arts or Commerce streams. In addition to this, students will get vocational training with internship options from Class 6 onwards. 

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In regards to improving the teaching-learning progress, the NEP 2020 has made provisions for a tracking mechanism to assess learning outcomes of students. To promote teaching as an early career choice, the existing teacher’s training programme will be made into a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Currently, B. Ed is a 2-year degree programme.

Below are the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 highlights regarding the school education in India.  

NEP 2020 – Key Highlights for School Education 

Serial No. NEP 2020 – Changes in the School Education System
1 The current 10+2 system of education will be replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.  The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.
2 NEP 2020 aims at 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030. 
3 More than 2 crores out-of-school children will be brought back into the mainstream through an open schooling system. 
4 No rigid separation between science and arts, curricular and extracurricular activities, vocational and academic streams in schools
5 Vocational Education to start from Class 6 with Internships
6 Teaching up to at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/regional language
7 Learning outcome of students will be tracked through a new 360-degree Holistic Progress Card 
8 The B.Ed programme duration will be changed from existing 2 years to 4 years by making it an integrated programme (with graduation combined). By 2030, the minimum qualification requirement for teaching will be a 4-year degree in B.Ed. 

NEP 2020 – Introduction of Pre-schooling & Change in Schooling Structure

The much talked about change in NEP 2020 is the overhauling of the existing schooling structure. The new policy has introduced a 3-year pre-schooling as part of the new schooling structure. This is aimed at putting more emphasis on early childhood care and development.  The key NEP elements regarding the schooling structure are listed below:

  • 10+2 structure of school curricula will be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.  
  • The children in the age group of 3-6 years will now come under school curriculum.
  • The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/pre schooling.
  • NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8. 
  • Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) will be delivered through Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum. 
  • The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.

NEP 2020 – Schooling for All

The National Education Policy 2020 aims at bringing school education access to all. For this, the policy states that the government will develop infrastructural support and innovative educational centres to bring back school dropouts into the mainstream. In the NEP 2020, the government has targeted to bring back about 2 crore out-of-school children into the mainstream. To realise this vision, the government will take following actions:

  • The concept of open schooling to be made stronger to make school education more accessible through NIOS and State Open Schools 
  • Secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12 to be created 
  • Students who have dropped out of school shall be provided with options of joining vocational courses. 

NEP 2020 – Flexibility in Curricula and Pedagogy

The National Education Policy has also removed barriers of subject streams (arts, science & commerce) that restricts students of one stream from choosing any particular subject from another stream. Also, the vocational courses will begin at school itself – right from Class 6. 

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Now, students will be able to select a set of subjects that seem interesting to them, instead of compulsorily choosing a particular set of subjects under one stream. 

This flexibility in selection of subjects, according to the NEP document, will lead to critical thinking among students and greater focus on experiential learning. 

To implement this, a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.

As per the NEP 2020 document, students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, curricular and extra-curricular activities, or vocational and academic streams.  

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NEP 2020 – Outcome Based Learning 

The National Education Policy has also emphasised on learning outcomes for school students.  Instead of half-yearly or annual exams only, the students will now have regular assessment.

To make the assessment and tracking of teaching-learning outcomes transparent, a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body. 

According to the NEP, the assessment will be more focussed on testing higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity.  In the new schooling structure, all students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 followed by Board exams for Grades 10 and 12.  

NEP 2020 – A Better Teaching Environment 

The National Education Policy 2020 has also intervened in how teachers will be trained, recruited and evaluated in the new set up.  To standardise the quality of teaching in schools, a common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations. 

The promotion for teachers in schools will be based on their performance on administrative and academic assignments. 

The NEP 2020 also paves the way for a greater level of collaboration among institutions which are geographically close to each other. A cluster-wise resource pool will be created that will comprise infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.

Further, like higher education, the NEP 2020 makes provision for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters in school education as well. As per the policy documents, the States/UTs will set up an independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Also, a separate school accreditation body will be set up to assess the quality in schools.


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