Dr Swati Popat Vats shares her insights on the new National Education Policy (NEP) released by the Ministry of Education (formery known as Ministry HRD)
It’s a proud moment for our country that after 34 years, our new National Education Policy is released today. We may dissect it all we want, but lets start by congratulating the government and the committee that worked hard on ensuring that vision of millions of Indian educators and policy makers is developed for the larger enhancement of education of our country.
Also an important move is to rename Ministry of HRD to Ministry of Education (MoE). The new policy is an integrated yet flexible approach to education but the ‘devil’ will of course be in the details!
“The National Education Policy 2019 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.”
- Most importantly, the Commitment of ECCE to children from age 3 onwards has been honoured in the new education policy.
- ECE for all by 2030, this is worth applauding and achievable only with cooperation of all state governments.
- A national curriculum framework for ECCE is laudable, but the devil here will be how much say each state will have in this as it is imperative that a common guideline and goal should be drafted and state governments should not have the power to deviate from these essentials. As it is not fair for young children in different states to get a differing head start in life.
- A preparatory class called ‘Balvatika’ in Anganwadis for 4 to 5 year old children? preparatory for what? Will they not follow the foundational age group of 3 to 8 years?
- A welcome initiative is the National foundation of Literacy and Numeracy Mission- hope that literacy would Include first and second languages. And an earnest hope that numeracy designed by the foundation should be found in the curriculum and text books used by schools
- The Policy takes cognizance of the differences in the development of cognitive abilities in children. The flexibility in the first five years will enable equalising of the multiple cognitive abilities of children.
- 4 year integrated B.Ed degree by 2030, what about ECE? Still no guidelines or a common course for ECE teachers!
- A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions. Will this include ECE teacher courses?
- 6% GDP on education is a welcome move, how much on ECE? This needs to be identified too .
- Parakh the National assessment center, we sincerely hope that they also define assessment for early years so that developmental delays and learning lags can be identified and rectified early on.
- It takes a village to raise a child, and the village identified in this policy for ECE is jointly the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs. How this village works together will decide the success of ECE in this country.
- NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8. A welcome move, ECA is hopeful that states will ensure the implementation of the same and thus remove the traditional,formal, stressful curriculums being followed by many preschools. The policy advocates that children of ages 3-8 have access to a flexible, multifaceted, multilevel, play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based education. How this will be implemented and assured is going to be work in progress.
- ECCE will be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of institutions including Anganwadis and pre- schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum – the question is what will this training comprise of? This needs to be identified at the earliest else different states will have different standards and quality of ECE teachers.
- Mother tongue is a good move but difficult to implement. In cities where multiple language children are in the same class, which language will the teacher teach in?
- State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF), will this include ECE?
- A single pedagogical unit called the “Foundational Stage”. It is necessary, therefore, to develop and establish such an integrated foundational curricular and pedagogical framework, and corresponding teacher preparation, for this critical Foundational Stage of a child’s development. – how schools will work this out and train already existing teachers in this will be the struggle. Also this needs to be part of ECCE teacher training programs, and other teacher training programs.
- Also does it mean that exiting private standalone preschools can now extend to grade 2?
- A very heartening includion is that All school children to undergo regular health check-ups and health cards will be issued- we hope this will include ECE children too.
- A good initiative for health of young children is the inclusion of an energizing breakfast in addition to midday meals.
Overall the new education policy is a great vision to change the educational landscape in this country and it vitalises education by ensuring that ECE becomes the starting point of education for all children.