“Learners will change how they act in the world when old ways are no longer effective in getting what they want.”
The National Education Policy (NEP) introduced this year by the Government of India will have a huge positive impact on the learning system and the learning outcomes in the coming years. This will change the way we look at education and is here to stay for our children in the days to come. If implemented successfully and with thought, the NEP can transform the education system in India making our children more empowered for the future.
The National Education Policy 2020 is based on the pillars of Access- Access to education to all the students irrespective of their geographical location/resources; Equity- amongst all the teaching fraternity along with the student body; Quality- the quality of teaching and curriculum transaction will have to undergo a complete change to make it more effective; Affordability- looking at making education affordable to all the students from various levels of the society and creating a sense of equality among everyone, for which they have reached out to all the educators all across India for their valuable suggestions and inputs; and Accountability- where not only the students but the school, teachers as well as the parents are accountable for the child’s learning process.
Firstly, the NEP aims to make students independent learners and most importantly self-reliant when it comes to academics and other co-curricular areas. The NEP ensures that it gives a holistic approach to the education system in India. As a school, we are constantly striving to make students learn beyond the textbooks, understand the concepts, and to be able to apply knowledge. The NEP also focusses on developing education standards in remote areas and in the villages, where the students are not as privileged as those in the cities. The NEP is strongly devising methods to make education more accessible, while also providing the access to technology which can help students become self-reliant.
Secondly, the NEP is looking at making education skill-based and ensuring that the curriculum is being transacted by using newer and more engaging teaching methodology, while also taking care of the student pedagogy. This is very pertinent in today’s scenario where there are so many opportunities for children to look forward to. It becomes very essential that a school supports this mode of learning which will help our students to take up future opportunities and show exemplary performance. The successful application of skills also gives students an extra edge to compete and get placed in top universities in India and abroad.
Thirdly, the NEP strongly focuses on research and innovation and how it can be successfully implemented in the classrooms. This aspect of NEP is something that has always made our students excel through our curriculum which is based on developing the research and innovative skills of the students through the activities and the projects assigned such as a ‘Makery’ (the school’s very own Makerspace) for grades 6-12 and a Design Challenge for all grades. These make the students more creative and also to empathize with their surroundings. Through the skills of research and innovation, our country can move ahead and make progress with the new advancements all over the world and keeping pace with them.
Although NEP is looking at transformational reforms in schools across India, it will also make India a knowledge superpower. And with the ‘Make In India’ move within our country, it will also reduce the brain drain from India. Our youth will be able to contribute to the growth of our own nation, to be able to identify the areas of progress and concerns in our country, and aim towards a collaborative growth.
NEP also lays emphasis on aspects like better infrastructure in schools, innovative education centers, and labs which will help in better learning, and efforts to bring back dropouts into the mainstream. This will help them pursue optional courses to facilitate completion for them. Facilitating multiple pathways to learning among others using various new pedagogic tools and strategies is also an important aspect.
The concept of replacing the 10+2 structure of the school curriculum with a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure will benefit younger children and also assist them in learning the concepts based on their development. The NEP will also ensure that the new education system will also be in tune with global best practices for the development of the mental faculties of a child. It focusses on the well-being of the students across the country and also deal with how to handle it with the help of experts in this field.
There are quite a few initiatives & methodologies that are already integral to Ekya Schools, in line with the proposed NEP 2020 policy. Some of them are integral to our curriculum are:
1- We lay more emphasis on literacy and numeracy in the first 5 preliminary years of the child’s education.
2- We have moved away from rote learning and focus more on skill-based learning.
3- Having a 360-degree assessment pattern which we practice at our schools as well. This includes portfolio assessment, class participation, notebooking, individual and group activities, and project-based assessments to help the students do research from their end, come to a conclusive decision and represent their learning through their project. This helps them to be more thorough with the concept and are able to comprehend way better.
4- While the NEP focuses on e-resource learning, which we already do this by sharing resources with the students online as pre and post-work which helps them assimilate and understand the concepts at a wider level.
5- We already focus equally on scholastic and co-scholastic areas of the child so that the feedback about the child’s progress is holistic.
6- The NEP is looking at providing flexibility to the students in what they want to learn. Our curriculum is also designed in a similar way which encourages students to come up with their own answers and there is no single right answer to any question. We encourage students and teachers to be flexible in their thoughts and expression and help them come out of the fear of being incorrect.
7- We also promote multi/trans-disciplinary, crosscutting concepts that help students to connect concepts across learning areas and teach them not to learn any subject in isolation.
8- We have also replaced the rote method of learning and the examinations are based on conceptual understanding aiming to develop student’s analytical skills.
9- For our proprietary curriculum, we look at local and global contexts that the students relate to across all learning areas and similar lines have been outlined in the NEP as well.
10- We focus a lot on the well-being of our student community and extend our support to them through our counselors.
Last but not the least, just like the way NEP is looking forward to teacher training, growth, and additional courses, we at our schools already have a strong Professional Development (PD) team in place. The PD team helps groom our teachers both personally and professionally through individual and group sessions, online additional courses, building their capacities and through constant support and mentoring.
This is how- as a Head of School and as an academician – I was able to look at NEP and its prospects.
About the Author:
Mrs. Swati Soni is the Head of School at CMR National Public School which has a rich legacy of over 27 years. She has academic experience in teaching and administration of over 16 years in various schools and colleges in Bangalore. Mrs. Soni has received a gold medal for her Masters in Microbiology Sciences from Goa University. She also has an MBA in Human resources. She is fanatical in the pursuit of a quality progressive education system where skills are more important than rote learning, and is a staunch believer that learning happens beyond books.