The National Education Policy; Broken down for Gen-Z by Gen-Z!
TL;DR - The new National Education Policy has finally brought the Indian Education System to the 21st century. It outlines proposed changes to the curriculum, examination structure and many other elements of the system.
After a 34 year lull, on 24th July 2020, a long-overdue policy was released that subjects the education system in India to a complete overhaul. This reform paves the way for transformational changes in the educational landscape. It indicated a departure from the dependence on rote learning to a much more diverse and experiential education system. More notably, the National Education Policy 2020 rests on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability and is aligned with the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
An old-timer and transitional member of Gen-Z unpack the NEP for Gen-Z. Read away!
1. Breaking the mould? A long-overdue departure from single-stream learning
The internet and most social circles are rife with evidence that practically all by-products of the previous education policy will vouch for this fact - high school was too soon for any of us to really pick a single stream without having snuck a peek at all our options. A 2015 study stated that 75% of Indian students wanted to pick humanities for college, and yet we’re a nation that has been consistently famous for belting out engineers, doctors and lawyers. The new NEP accounts for this and makes room for us to explore multiple permutations and combinations of various streams equipping us with enough information and experience for when we’re finally ready to set out in the real world and face all its challenges and offerings.
2. Experiential learning - Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn!
(Clause 4.6 - 4.8)
The man on the 100 dollar bill really did say it best. While there’s much to be said for classroom learning, due credit must be given to the intangible educator we all seem to remember a lot more fondly in retrospect - experience! Be it a Model UN on the global water crisis, the science and cultural fests we prepared tirelessly for, or that camping trip where we learnt how to cook rice, some of our fondest and most retentive learning experiences were outside the confines of a classroom and beyond the pages of our textbooks. Thankfully, the NEP too finally seems to finally take cognizance of the same. It makes room for the integration of experiential learning with conventional rote learning methods. Every lesson worth learning really does hold the potential to be so much more palatable!
3. Addressing the elephant in the room - Mental Health
Despite student suicide rates rising by almost 26% since 2014 and on a steady incline, we have to admit that efforts to address mental health have been surface-level at best, in India. But this excluded elephant in the room is finally being given a front-row seat next to physical health by the NEP, which stresses on the importance of sensitizing our schools and us students on the nuances of mental health and the introduction of better infrastructure to holistically address problems related to it.
4. Extracurriculars - the pen is no longer mightier than the basketball!
So let’s face it - we grew up believing the sport we played or the drama club we were part of was ancillary and optional, at best, to our learning journey, and not integral to it. But extracurriculars are “extra” no more. The NEP strips away that narrative by giving extracurriculars and co-curricular equal weightage as the subjects in our syllabus, with no hard and fast division between the two - both playing equally significant roles in making us who we are!
Also Read: We need to get our children outdoors!
5. Say Goodbye to Rote Learning!
There was this comical quote doing the rounds some years ago: There are two things in India which are needed for a student to succeed - Roti & Rote. For the longest time, we were taught about the importance of memorizing things, especially for exams. But guess what? The entire examination curriculum including the daunting and all-consuming Class 10th and 12th Boards Exams too have been revamped to give more importance to application-based learning rather than rote memorization. Board exams, our very own Everest for as long as we can remember, will be made easier as they will primarily test core competencies.
6. Change, the only constant - a case for the inclusion of contemporary subjects
If there’s anything the last decade, and more specifically 2020 has taught us, it is that the world moves fast and our education has to be dynamic to keep up. After all, change IS the only constant. To further this adaptive capacity and facilitate our growth, the NEP paves way for the incorporation of a whole range of contemporary subjects we’d otherwise have only learned about through extracurriculars or self-learning. As part of the new vision outlined by the NEP 2020, such contemporary subjects will be inculcated in the syllabus to facilitate our integration into the real world and help us be at the forefront of such change - a generation of solvers!
6. We can finally have our cake and eat it too - reforms in college admissions & approach
One of the biggest worries on our minds as school students was college admissions and entrance examinations and our absolute lack of knowledge or preparedness with respect to them. The docket of different examinations has always been intimidating with the varying syllabus for each of them. The new policy aims to introduce a singular entrance test for all colleges pan-India and also encourages colleges to adopt a Minor-Major style program that will allow students to choose a major and minor field of study. Now all those of us who wanted to study Engineering with Environmentalism, for instance, can FINALLY do so!
Also Read: Re-imagining the Future Of Education by Worldview Education
So, what does this mean for the Gen-Z?
The National Education Policy is a major step for India, and a departure from conventional learning to a more diverse, holistic and dynamic education system. In the last 10 years, Worldview itself has been on a similar pursuit - engaging over 35000+ students in immersive out-of-classroom experiences that range from conferences in collaboration with universities like Harvard, where they can don the hat of diplomats and discuss world events in-depth, to interactive engagements where they learn about sustainability, nature and culture on foot or out in the open huddled under the stars, among other things. The larger idea behind this is to develop adaptive capacity among our generation, equipping us today to deal with all that’s to come tomorrow. These changes outlined in the NEP, if implemented properly, hold the potential to place the youth of India at the forefront of growth.
Suggested Watch: Re-imagining Education by Worldview
What are your views and thoughts on the National Education Policy? What works and what doesn't? What shouldn't have been part of it and what are the potential implementation challenges?
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If you would like to read the National Education Policy in-depth, click here.