Draft National Education Policy on School Education

Published: June 10, 2019

The broad recommendations related to school education in the draft National Education Policy is outlined below:

Early childhood care and education

  • Attributing a major part of learning crisis wherein children in primary school fail to attain basic math and reading skills to a tragic deficiency in early childhood care and education (ECCE) of children in the age group 3-6 years, the draft recommends that ECCE be made an integral part of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
  • The draft policy recommends increased investment in existing Anganwadi centres (meant for providing basic nutrition, healthcare and pre-school education to 3-to-6-year-olds), locating Anganwadi centres in primary schools, encouraging primary schools to add pre-school, and building high-quality standalone pre-schools in areas where existing Anganwadis and primary schools are not able to fulfil ECCE requirements to strengthen and expand ECCE.
  • The policy recommends bringing all aspects of ECCE under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to ensure continuity from pre-primary to primary schools

Reading and Math Skills

A large number of children currently in elementary school are unable to read and understand the basic text and solve simple addition and subtraction problems, To address the deficiency the draft policy recommends:

  • Redesigning school curriculum for Grades 1 to 5 for including a dedicated mathematics and reading hours every day, activities that relate classroom maths to real-life maths, weekly puzzle-solving sessions to inculcate logical thinking together with language and maths-focused morning assemblies.
  • National Tutors Programme under which the best performers of each school will be enrolled for up to five hours a week as tutors for students who have fallen behind.
  • Remedial Instructional Aides Programme to allow instructors from the local community to hold remedial classes during schools hours, after school hours and during summer vacations for students who need help.
  • School preparation module to be prepared by NCERT for all Grade 1 students for ensuring the children have the required learning levels (letters, shapes, colours, numbers) before starting the Grade 1 syllabus.
  • Vacancies to be filled urgently to ensure a pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1.
  • A nutritious breakfast, in addition to the midday meal, for improved learning.

Curriculum and pedagogy

The National Education policy, 1986 standardised the school education with a uniform 10+2 structure. The draft policy recommends:

  • Reconfiguration of curriculum and pedagogy in a 5+3+3+4 design to recognise different stages of development of cognitive abilities in children which corresponds to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory stage), 11-14 (middle stage), and 14-18 (secondary stage).
  • The foundational phase to comprise of five years of flexible play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based learning and interaction and instilling of multilingual skills in children.
  • A preparatory phase of three years (Grades 3, 4 and 5) of basic education which incorporate some textbooks as well as aspects of more formal classroom learning.
  • Three years of middle school education (Grades 6, 7 and 8) for developing more abstract thinking and subject teaching leading up to a secondary education phase of four years (Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12)
  • The secondary phase to comprise of four years of multidisciplinary study, with each year divided into two semesters. Grades 11 and 12 to be considered a part of the secondary stage.
  • Some essential common subjects for all with flexibility in selecting elective courses so that all students can expand their horizons as they see fit and explore their individual interests and talents.
  • The choice among science, arts and commerce to be delayed so that it is based on a student s experience and interests and not dictated by parents and society.
  • No hard separation of school content in terms of curricular, extracurricular, or co-curricular areas, and between arts and sciences.

Languages

  • The draft recommends the continuance of the three-language formula with flexibility in the choice of languages, as long as students can show proficiency in any three languages.
  • Reduction in curriculum load and reorientation of the curriculum to promote multilingualism, ancient Indian knowledge systems, scientific temper, ethical reasoning, social responsibility, digital literacy and knowledge of critical issues facing local communities.

Board exams

  • Class 10 and 12 Board examinations must serve as tools to check for basic learning, skills and analysis, which one should pass comfortably without coaching and cramming.
  • For eliminating the life-determining and high stakes nature of Board examinations, the draft calls for changes like allowing students to sit for the examination twice in any given school year.
  • A shift to a modular approach in which a student is able to sit for the Board exam in a range of subjects across eight semesters.

Governance of Schools

Decentralization the operation, regulation and policy-making related to school education which is currently vested with the Department of School Education with three separate bodies:

  • Policy-making by a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (Education Commission at the national level, headed by the PM).
  • Operations by the Department of School Education.
  • Regulation by an independent State School Regulatory Authority or SSRA in each state, which will set basic and uniform standards for both public and private schools; academic matters, including standard setting and curriculum.

School management committees or SMCs be set up in private schools similar to the ones operating in government schools.

The percentage of increase in fees be decided by SSRA for every three-year period based on inflation.

Private schools should not use the word public in their names in any communication, documentation or declaration of status.

Right to Education Act

  • A detailed review and subsequent amendment of the RTE Act for extension downwards to include up to three years of early childhood education prior to Grade 1, and upwards to include Grades 11 and 12.
  • Review of Clause 12(1)(c) which provides for mandatory 25% reservation for economically weaker section students in private schools in the wake of its alleged misuse.

Other Recommendations

  • Early vocational exposure of various livelihoods (gardening, pottery, electric work, etc) will be taught at Foundational and Elementary levels to impart basic knowledge.
  • Students progress throughout school should be mapped regularly through state census examination in Grades 3, 5, and 8 and not just at the end of Grades 10 and 12.
  • Teachers must not be engaged in time-consuming, non-teaching work such as electioneering and cooking of midday meals.
  • Para-teacher (Shikshakarmi, Shiksha-Mitra, etc) systems to be stopped by 2022.
  • All schools will be accredited as per the School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework.

The draft policy has been placed in the public domain for feedback and suggestions.

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