NEP 2020 is path breaking as it is not only the first education policy of the 21st century but for the first time policy makers have woken up to the fact that Early Childhood Education is critical for the development of the child. I will touch upon the Early Years as I am an Early Childhood practitioner.
Quality ECCE has been denied to a vast majority as the pre-primary sector is not just unorganized but disorganized too. Anybody with just a drawing room can open an Early Childhood Centre. Every pre -school has their own curriculum not following developmentally appropriate practices. You are dealing with fragile minds and to subject little babies to adults who are clueless about ECCE is criminal!!
An important aspect of the new policy is replacing the existing 10 + 2 structure with a new pedagogical and curricular structuring 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 thus bringing 3 years of Pre Primary classes and integrating it with 2 years of Primary (Class I and Class II) as Foundational Years. Hence no 2.5 year old baby will enter a Nursery class Pan India!
Other important aspects of NEP that will impact education:
- Pedagogy to make learning holistic, experiential, integrated, inquiry driven and learner-centered for attaining optimal outcomes in all domains of development.
- Transition from Pre-Primary into Primary classes seamless.
- Integrating art, music, dance, puppetry into teaching modules.
- Highest priority given to achieving foundational literacy and numeracy by Grade III.
- Inclusive education
- Activity-based, hands-on learning to achieve learning outcomes.
- 21st century specific sets of skills and skill sets which will teach ‘how’ to learn, replacing rote learning.
- Continuous Professional Development (CPD) through workshops for teachers as they are at the center for teaching.
The policy sounds progressive and quite detailed but implementation of the policy will depend on a lot of factors mainly allocation of funds for such an ambitious program. Also the three language system with emphasis on teaching through the mother tongue in early years would be a challenge given the demography of India. However, let’s laud the positive steps taken. Implementation also depends on the stakeholders who need to work to ensure that we make the policy work.