RTE expansion, schooling and higher studies overhaul in new draft education policy

NEW DELHI: Swinging into action on the first day of getting it’s new minister, the Ministry of Human Resource Development on Friday placed the draft report on the National Education Policy in the public domain. The committee constituted by the government for the preparation of the policy has proposed to rename the MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE).

The report was released by Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’, who took charge of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry on Friday.

The 484-page report has been put on the ministry’s website for suggestions from the public till June 30.

Officials said that suggestions will also be taken from other states on the draft report. “These will then be examined before taking the report to the cabinet in July,” an official said.

“The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 is built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability. It envisions an India-centred education system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all,” the ministry said.

The committee has proposed a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education. It also recommends extension of the Right to Education Act, 2009 to cover children of ages 3 to 18 instead of 6 to 14 years.

“A 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure is based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children: Foundational Stage (age 3-8 years): 3 years of pre-primary plus Grades 1-2; Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Grades 3-5; Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades 6-8; and Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades 9-12. 

“Schools will be re-organized into school complexes. It also seeks to ensure foundational literacy and numeracy through Remedial Instructional Aids Programme (RIAP) and National Tutoring Programme (NTP) and a host of curricular and reduced content load in school education curriculum,” it said

The draft proposes no separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extra-curricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc. will be curricular. “It promotes active pedagogy that will focus on the development of core capacities and life skills, including 21st century skills,” it added. 

The draft proposes a flexible curriculum for secondary education that will enable student choices with no hard streaming and separation among sciences, arts, commerce, etc, as well as integration of vocational and academic streams. 

“Students will have flexibility in choice of languages. The school sector envisages transforming regulation by separating functions to eliminate conflicts of interest: a State School Regulatory Authority will be set up in every state for regulation and regulation will happen through School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework,” the draft states. 

It also limits the role of certification bodies in curriculum and text books to be followed in the schools. “It is proposed that the Directorate of School Education will run all public schools, SCERT to lead all academic matters for entire school education and Boards of Examination will certify but will have no role in determining curricula or text books,” the draft adds.

The Committee has also proposed a massive transformation in teacher education by shutting down sub-standard teacher education institutions and moving all teacher preparation/education programmes into large multidisciplinary universities/colleges. The 4-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed. programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers.

In higher education, a restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions is proposed – Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high quality teaching; Type 2: Focused on high quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research; and Type 3: High quality teaching focused on undergraduate education. 

The draft proposes a four year liberal arts and liberal education programme at the Undergraduate level, with the first year to be focused on broad-based learning. Students will have the flexibility to choose minor subjects as per their liking, regardless of the stream, and their points will be counted in the final credits. However, the three year courses would not be done away with.

“The 4-year programme will provide for greater rigour in a full Liberal Arts Science Education (LASE) education and experience, and also conduct research optionally. Students will graduate with a 4-year LASE degree with Honours, or may graduate with a BSc, BA, BCom or BVoc after completing 3 years with a suitable completion of credits within their subject. A National Programme for the Professional Development of faculty in higher education is also proposed,” the draft states.

The committee has also proposed a new apex body – the Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog, headed by the Prime Minister – to enable a holistic and integrated implementation of all educational initiatives and programmatic interventions, and to coordinate efforts between the Centre and states. 

The National Research Foundation, an apex body is proposed for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

“The private and public institutions will be treated on par and education will remain a ‘not for profit’ activity,” it emphasises.

Several new policy initiatives for promoting internationalization of higher education, strengthening quality open and distance learning, technology integration at all levels of education, adult and lifelong learning and initiatives to enhance participation of under-represented groups, and eliminate gender, social category and regional gaps in education outcomes are also recommended. 

The draft also recommends promotion of Indian and Classical Languages and setting up three new National Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit and an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI). 

“The path-breaking reforms recommended will bring about a paradigm shift by equipping our students, teachers and educational institutions with the right competencies and capabilities and also create an enabling and re-invigorated educational eco-system for a vibrant new India,” it said.

The Committee for the draft National Education Policy, under the Chairmanship of eminent scientist Dr. K. Kasturirangan, was constituted in June 2017 to examine all inputs/suggestions and submit a draft policy.

IANS

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