National Education Policy 2019 : 10 brilliant ideas…

Prof Milind S Marathe
Draft of New Education Policy 2019 was open in public domain from 31st May 2019 for comments and assessment. The vision of the policy is “ The National Education Policy 2019 envisions an India centrededucation system that contributes directly to transforming our nation sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education to all.”
I am very happy about the three things in the vision. First its title is “National Education Policy 2019” and not “New Education Policy 2019”. Replacement of word “New” by “National” speaks a lot. Secondly vision mentions very loud and clear that it is “Bharat Centric Education System”. As Swami Vivekanand said “ Education is not the  amount of information that we put in to your brain and runs riot there, undigested , all your life but we must have life-building, man-making, character –building assimilations of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you are more educated than a man who has got by heart a whole library.” Bharatiya ethos of education is development of body, mind, intellect and aatman of an every individual. Synchronized involvement of Head, Heart and Hand is the key of holistic education. Thirdly this education system will be instrumental in transforming Bharat in to a vibrant yet sustainable knowledge society by providing high quality education to all. I am putting 10 important, innovative ideas in NEP 2019.
1)    Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and re-structuring of school curriculum in to 5+3+3+4 design:-
Neuroscience shows that 85%  of Child’s Cumilative Brain Development occurs from 0 to 6 years and thus learning process for a child starts immediately after birth. Various levels of neglect and deprivation in early childhood is the root cause of deficiencies in development of critical areas of brain and so excellent care, nutrition, physical and emotional hand-holding, nurture is a must for all children. In Bharat almost all poor, rural children don’t get this support. NEP 2019 included education of this age group, 3 to 6 years for the first time under Ministry of Education and suggested re-structuring of school curriculum in to 5+3+3+4 design which is a very welcoming step. Foundational stage from age 3 to 8 comprises of pre-primary school of 3 years and grade 1 and 2 . It will have flexible, play-based, activity based, discovery based learning. Preparatory stage from age 8 to 11 is of 3 years and grade 3rd, 4th and 5th will comprise of reading, writing, speaking, language, art, science, mathematics, sports and physical education. Middle stage from age 11 to 14 is of 3 years and grades 6th,7th and 8th  will comprise of more formal style of learning with social science, humanities, deeper and experiential learning of subjects. High stage is of age 14 to 18 of 4 years and grades 9th , 10th, 11th and 12th. It will be now multi-disciplinary study, vocational subjects, skill-based courses with great depth, greater critical thinking, more flexibility with student’s choice.
It’s a complete revamping of school education. Every student in grade 5 and beyond will achieve foundational literacy and numeracy. All stages can heavily incorporate local traditions, ethical reasoning,digital literacy, creative, collaborative and exploratory activities. This will move the school education system towards learning how to learn, increased flexibility in choice of subjects, No hard separation in terms of arts and science,  in terms of curricular, extra-curricular and co-curricular. No hard separation of Vocational or skill based streams and academic streams So everything is equally important and equally curricular. RTE is extended up to 18 years.
2)    Education in the Local Language or mother tongue:-
Language is not only the medium of instruction but it is the expression of an Individual, of a society and its collective continuity in culture. The science has proved that young children learn best through their local language, which is the language spoken at home and children between ages of 2 to 8 have an excellent capacity to learn multiple languages. NEP 2019 strongly suggests that the medium of instruction preferably till grade 8th or at least till grade 5thwill be the home language/mother tongue/local language. It also suggests continuation of three language formula in its spirit to make students capable in communicating in multiple languages with required flexibility. Learning science bilingually, study of Sanskrit, study of foreign languages, standardization of Indian Sign Language,
3)    Special Care of Under-represented groups (URGs) in education:-
URGs in education are categorized by NEP 2019 in to those having given gender identities like women and transgender individuals, given socio-cultural identities like SC, St, OBCs, Muslims, migrant communities, given special needs like learning difficulties and given socio-economic identities like urban poor and rural needy. Enrollment of URGs decline steadily from grade 1 to 12 and even steeper in higher education. Lack of access of good quality schools, poverty, social beliefs and biases and un-familiar, un-relatable curriculum and text books are the obstacles in equitable and inclusive education of URGs. NEP 2019 is very sensitive towards this issue and has come up with various measures to attain full equity and inclusion. Targeted scholarships and other financial support, bicycle provision for transport, declaring large population regions of certain URGs as Special Education Zones,  availability and capacity development of teachers, reducing pupil-teacher ratio to 25:1 and very importantly to change the culture of schools to make them free from discrimination, harassment intimidation and make them sensitize about the needs of  URGs.
4)    Concept of School Complex:-
Because of strong drive of  Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) and notable efforts of the States, Bharat now has achieved near 100 % enrollment of children in primary schools. But U-DISE data of 2016-17 shows 28 % of public primary and 14.8 % of upper primary schools have less than 30 students and even less. 119303 single-teacher schools are working. This shows that we have not yet touched to quality aspect of schools. Due to small size of school it’s very difficult or next to impossible to allocate good human resources as teachers, physical resources like laboratory equipment, library books, facilities for sports, music and arts activities. Governance and management become difficult with small size  and vibrancy is lost. It starts functioning sub-optimally. For optimal learning environment a minimum critical number of students per division is necessary. One option is merging or consolidation of schools, but it hampers access in rural.
Thus NEP 2019 has come up with very good and workable  idea of School Complex. Nearby schools will be organized in to School Complexes and will be treated as a basic entity for governance. It will enable to share key physical resources as well as human resources like expert teachers, counselors, music teacher, computer lab instructor. This complex can integrate ECCE, vocational education, needs of special children and so on.
To be contd