Draft National Education Policy (2019):

Teaching, learning and evaluation aspects

The team at Ekya, examined the Draft National Education Policy to understand the government’s vision of education and the possible implications of its implementation. Education policies directly affect schools, parents and most importantly, our children because they highlight (or in some cases may not highlight) critical issues that impact our students’ learning and well-being. While this Draft education policy received numerous critiques, the policy nevertheless has taken into cognizance issues that face our children, teachers, and parents.
Here is an insightful look at the policy and its implications by Ms. Remy who is part of the team that is involved in conducting research and analysis for school development.
This blog piece briefly highlights key draft policy features directly related to curriculum, teaching, learning, and evaluation.

The Draft National Education Policy formulated by an expert committee was released in June, proposing several ideas for reforming the entire Indian education system. The policy is reasonably comprehensive covering pre-school education to higher education. For the purposes of this blog, only relevant features of the policy will be explored, and not in its entirety.

From restructuring the current education structure and updating the focus and approach of our curriculum and pedagogy, to promoting usage of technology in education and assessments for learning – what is clear from the draft policy is that overhaul of our education system is absolutely critical for the development of capabilities of our children.

Our children’s capabilities may not be fully realized if we neglect our education deficits. At the same time, it may be difficult to transition into a knowledge-based economy that relies on human capital for economic progress rather than capital or resources. In short, the rationale of the policy is to address the current human capital gaps and prepare our children for the future.

Having reviewed specific aspects of the policy related to school education, we are going to outline some noteworthy aspects of the draft policy that our school and parent community should be acquainted with.  

These are as follows:

  1. Restructuring the school education system from grade/standard to stages
  • The proposed structure is divided into the foundational stage (3 years of pre-primary and Grade 1-2), preparatory stage (Grades 3-5), middle (Grades 6-8) and high (Grades 9-12) stages. 
  • This new structure takes into serious consideration the cognitive development points that take place in young children. 
  • This further helps clarify the curriculum and pedagogy suitable for each stage. For example, the policy states the need for play-based, activity-based and discovery-based flexible styles of learning and interaction in the foundational stage. 
  • Similarly, in the subsequent stages, the teaching-learning processes are expected to evolve appropriate for each stage.
  1. Transitioning towards a curriculum that better prepares our children for the future
  • Skills such as scientific temper, sense of art and aesthetics, Indian languages, communication, ethical reasoning, digital literacy, knowledge of India, and knowledge of current affairs are proposed to be integrated into the design and implementation of the national curriculum.
  • Additionally, physical development and cognitive development with the aim to instil problem-solving and logical reasoning skills starting at the foundational stage (pre-primary – Grade 2) are proposed to be integrated as part of the curriculum.
  • The policy also highlights the importance of vocational exposure starting from middle stages (Grades 6-8) and above to be incorporated as part of the curriculum.  
  • Project-based learning is recommended to help uncover children’s talents, dispositions, and interests, instead of relying on one universal learning and evaluation approach
  • Promoting children’s interests and talents through topic-centered and project-based clubs, Olympiads and competitions 
  1. Enabling the use of technology for improving teaching-learning processes and outcomes
  • The scope for using technology is exhaustive. The policy highlights using technology in areas such as training and professional development of teachers, for learning and evaluation, immersive and interactive content creation.  
  • Instilling the value of lifelong learning (a skill needed to succeed in the 21st century) among teachers is also emphasized. Subject knowledge of teachers needs to be continuously upgraded. Online education is one of the suggested means for upskilling teachers’ subject knowledge.  
  1. Reducing the board exam pressure on students
  • Taking cognizance of the pressure of the board examinations on children, the policy has suggested flexibility in choice and of subjects and time whenever they feel most ready. 
  • This is a step seen among the policy designers to promote holistic development, flexible and individualized curricula, and assessment for learning. The draft policy discourages rote learning strategies and opting for coaching to prepare for the board examinations. 
  • The proposed format for board examinations will follow testing of understanding of concepts and knowledge, critical thinking, analysis and application over content.

What do these draft provisions mean for us?

Clearly, the Draft National Education Policy is a vision document. The focus of this policy has been on describing that vision and to help form the basis for the development of a relevant and robust education system. It will be a monumental task to implement the recommendations; nevertheless, it serves as a guide for everyone involved in education to evolve our thinking on some of our dated education practices.

Ekya is in sync with the policy’s vision specifically with regards to the proposed curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation. In fact, our journey to fulfil our vision of ‘preparing our students for a rapidly evolving future’ had started a few years ago.  All the aspects mentioned above are at the core of what we do in our schools. It is time that we give serious attention to equipping our children with knowledge and skills so that they can confidently navigate their futures and fulfil their aspirations.  

About the writer:

Ms. Remy has completed her masters from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex. She is passionate about topics related to girls’ education and, women and work.

Posted by Ekya

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