Come May 2023, when the new academic year kicks off, a drastic change in India’s education system will come into play – a change that would help with a more “seamless and inclusive transition” from the pre-school ages to higher classes.
The decades-old 10+2 schooling system will be replaced by a far more progressive 5+3+3+4 structure, according to the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
It does not mean more school years for students. The new structure only brings three years of playschool learning within the realm of formal education, and combines kindergarten with classes 1 and 2.
The first five years – foundational years – will focus on language development and play- or -activity-based education methods for children in pre-school, class 1 and class 2. The next three years – preparatory stage – will continue to concentrate on language development as well as numeracy abilities for kids in classes 3, 4 and 5. The following three years – middle stage – will emphasize on critical learning objectives with focus on experiential learning in the Sciences, Mathematics, Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities for students in classes 6, 7 and 8.
Then come the final four years of school – secondary stage – during which students of classes 9,10, 11 and 12 will be allowed to choose from a range of subject combinations best suited to their talents and interest instead of being forced into the rigid Science, Commerce or Arts streams.
By no means does it mean that the 10th and 12th Board exams will seize to exist. They will continue, albeit, minus the stress and anxiety they cause students and their parents.
“…The existing system of Board and entrance examinations shall be reformed to eliminate the need for undertaking coaching classes,” according to the NEP 2020.
“Board exams will also be made ‘easier’, in the sense that they will test primarily core capacities/ competencies rather than months of coaching and memorization; any student who has been going to and making a basic effort in a school class will be able to pass and do well in the corresponding subject Board Exam without much additional effort,” the document states.
It goes on to add: “To further eliminate the ‘high stakes’ aspect of Board Exams, all students will be allowed to take Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired.”
Based on four pillars – Access, Equity, Quality and Accountability – the NEP aims to bring more than 2 crore students into the mainstream and achieve 100% gross enrolment ration (GER) from pre-school to secondary by the end of 2030, turning India into a “global knowledge superpower.”
It is hardly surprizing then that all of the esteemed academicians we have interviewed for this issue from across the country – including Prof. Manohar Nayak, Founder and Chairman of Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA); Dr. Ram Kumar Kakani, Director of IIM, Raipur; Dr. Bhimaraya Metri, Director of IIM, Nagpur; and Sanket Goel, Dean of the Sponsored Research and Consultancy Division at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) – sung high praises for the direction in which the NEP 2020 is set to take Indian education.