India's NEP 2020 - For Integral Education

  • This article examines India’s new education policy from different angles.

After nearly four decades India has now her third National Education Policy with the approval of new NEP 2020 on July 29, 2020. It will be guiding our educational journey for the next 20 years. The Indian government has adopted the spirit and many recommendations of the draft NEP 2019 of Dr K Kasturirangan Committee and numerous suggestions given by all stakeholders thereof. 


Given the critical juncture we have reached in the 21st century let us examine this NEP from different angles.

Is the NEP 2020 a paradigm shift? Is it for an organic and integrated change in learning and development? How far is it learner-centric? How far the new NEP synchronises demands of modern life with the traditional value system of Indian society? How far can this NEP be implemented given the budgetary constraints and education being a concurrent subject with the States of Indian Union?


'Integral Education' is the hallmark of this NEP. 

That is why it has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to impart different aspects of social reality to a child, in a holistic manner, following the ancient Indian education system when the students had the opportunity to learn Chauthusashti Kalas - sixty-four arts/disciplines within the educational complexes.


In that sense the new NEP is a paradigm shift in Indian educational system in that it focuses on learner-centric systemization of the learning process based on the biological, physical and mental development of a child with the flexibility of multiple entry and exit options as well as a Credit Bank concept of academic and vocational achievements (Academic Bank of Credit).

All-round development of a child  depends on a balanced learning process based on his/her potential and interest. In this way when a child attains adulthood he/she must find an opportunity to channelise their energy into fruitful vocations to realise their dreams for a meaningful life with cultural values rooted in society. 


The new NEP has taken care of this goal by adopting an integrated approach from the age of three.

From the pre-school stage of ages 3-6 years to the secondary school up to 18 years of ages, the whole school education has been divided in the 5+3+3+4 class-structure based on the bio-psychological stages of development of a child.

The Indian State has rightly taken the responsibility of educating her future citizens from a very early stage of 3-18 years of ages instead of the present 6-14 years. Of course, there remains the question of setting up of proper physical infrastructure, quality pre-primary teachers training, and integration of the Anganwadi system with the school education system. 


As there will be no straight jacketed divisions of arts, science and commerce streams in the secondary stage of classes 9-12, the students would have much freedom to choose subjects as per their potential and interest.

At this stage the 'psychometric profile' of every student should be properly assessed for future vocations. 


Again, vocational education has been merged with the general education to uphold the dignity of labour as well as to provide an opportunity for every student so that at the end of school education the child is proficient in atleast one vocational stream for a gainful profession in later life.

Here, 'School complex' system adopted by the policy would provide necessary synergistic efforts in integrating education at local level by exchanging resources amongst institutions of a cluster and expertise of experienced resource persons.


In higher education also, a student would have the flexibility of pursuing graduate and post-graduate courses as per their choice of subject and duration of studies to get a graded certification in the structure of 1 year certificate, 2 years diploma, 3 years graduation, 4 years special graduation and commensurate 1 or 2 years post-graduation in a flexible course structure based on credit system. Here also the aim is to integrate Arts with STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects for an integral education. 


In the case of medium of education, the NEP is clear enough to follow a three-language policy with the mother language as mandatory up to age of 11 years i.e. class 5 along with regional and foreign languages including English, thus curtailing English elitist culture. So there is no question of imposition of Hindi, thus settling the vexatious issue unambiguously.

On the other hand, the NEP stresses on learning and propagating Sanskrit and other classical and Indian languages to ensure the cultural rootedness in modern life.


Integral Education requires standardisation of curriculum and assessment of learners at every level of educational structure. That is why the NEP has gone for a National Curriculum Framework and a holistic assessment through a new national assessment centre PARAKH. In the same line the National Testing Agency (NTA) would take common college entrance examinations.

Here the NTA can also be mandated to take appropriate assessment tests at school levels, particularly at the 10th class. 

Encouraging a meritocratic culture is also a prime goal of an integral education substantiated by the NEP. Thus this policy integrates both the disadvantaged sections of the society as well as gifted students with special talents by proposing different mechanisms like Special Education Zones - SEZs, Gender Inclusive Fund, Topic-centered and Project-based Clubs and Circles etc. It also stresses e-learning and adult learning for left-out sections of society.


In the cases of teaching, research and administration of the whole education system, this NEP has adopted the principles of transparency, reward and separation of power.

The policy envisages a National Professional Standards for Teachers by 2022. To oversee research there will be a National Research Foundation along with a novel idea of the ancient Guru-Shishya Parampara through a National Mission for Mentoring.

And, in case of the regulatory system of higher education, there will be an umbrella institution, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to integrate four functional areas of regulation of all education except medical and legal education, accreditation, funding and financing, and assessment of learning outcomes with four vertical councils. 


Integral Education necessitates interdisciplinary collaboration in education structure. That is why the policy stresses to make every Higher Education Institutes including private institutes become multidisciplinary within a foreseeable future. 


Lastly, the new NEP has acknowledged education as a public goods and service which requires every educational institution, be it public, private or minority institution, to be transparent and accountable in respect of governance.


Surely, this NEP is very much visionary with an Integral Education approach rooted in Bharatiya values and traditions. But to make it happen requires much budgetary support, private investment and collaboration with States.

Integral change in the education system in India would usher in Integral Education.


Author is a Research Analyst with Ph.D in Entrepreneurship. He is also guest Management faculty and authored research articles and books

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