To improve quality of teachers, the B.Ed. programme will be replaced by a four-year integrated programme that combines high-quality content, pedagogy, and practical training.
India will double public investment in education to 20% of its public expenditure or 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade, amplify the right to education by extending it to all in age group of 3-18 years (from 6-14 years now) and enhance the gross enrolment ratio in higher education from about 26% now to 50%, according to the National Education Policy (NEP) approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.
The country will also let foreign universities set up campuses here, a move that would not only make these centres of relative excellence accessible to larger sections of the Indian population, but will also help curb the copious dollar outflows on higher education by Indian students abroad, which at last count were roughly $7 billion a year.
An education policy for the country was last framed in 1986, and it saw some modifications in 1992.
Under the NEP, modelled on the K Kasturirangan report submitted to the government in May last year, early childhood care and school education will be revamped with a no-detention policy up to class 8, and a 5-3-3-4 curriculum design, comprising foundational (up to class 2), preparatory (class 3 to 5), middle (6 to 8), and secondary (9 to 12) stages. The idea of course is to catapult the learning outcomes and pupil development to benchmark global levels, with focus on basic literacy and numeracy for all, and emphasis on learning in mother tongue in the initial years, so as to bring higher outcomes in terms of language and comprehension skills. An independent State School Regulatory Authority will be set up for each state that will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools
In parallel, higher education will undergo an overhaul, by dispensing with the current system of multiple regulators who have overlapping mandates and also the centralised system of decision-making.
With a view to increasing the autonomy of higher education institutions, a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) will be set up to replace the existing individual regulators, including those in professional and vocational education areas. This means the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice; also, the University Grants Commission (UGC) will now confine its role to providing grants to institutions.
To improve quality of teachers, the B.Ed. programme will be replaced by a four-year integrated programme that combines high-quality content, pedagogy, and practical training. “An integrated continuous professional development will also be developed for all subjects. Teachers will be required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuous professional development training every year,” the NEP stated.
Given that India spends much less than global peers on research and development – just 0.7% of GDP is expended on R&D compared with 2.8% by the US and 2.1% by China, the NEP envisages the creation of National Research Foundation, an autonomous body, for funding, mentoring and building the capacity for quality research in India. The Foundation will consist of four major divisions: sciences, technology, social sciences, and arts and humanities, with the provision to add additional divisions, and will be provided with an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore or 0.1% of GDP .
Another important feature of the NEP is the emphasis being laid on vocational courses “All school students must receive vocational education in at least one vocation in grades nine to 12. The proposed school complexes must build expertise in curriculum delivery that is aligned to the competency levels under the existing National Skills Qualifications Framework, it said. Currently, India’s vocational educational standards are below par and this has resulted in a grave shortage of skilled/employable manpower for the industry. The Kasturirangan committee had observed that less than 5% of the workforce in the age-group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India. This is in contrast to 52% in the USA, 75% in Germany and 96% in South Korea. It recommends integrating vocational educational programmes in all educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) in a phased manner over a period of 10 years.
The NEP also talks about a National Mission on Education through information and communication technology, The mission will encompass virtual laboratories that provide remote access to laboratories in various disciplines.
Announcing the Cabinet decision, Union human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said his ministry will now be called ministry of education.
Currently, the central government’s annual budgetary spend on education is roughly Rs 80,000 crore (almost equally divided between school and higher education). The state governments contribute to over 75% of public spending on education. According to some recent analyses, the budgetary spending on education has in recent years been stagnating, if not declining after adjusting for inflation. Also, the states’ education expenditure took a hit during the 14 Finance Commission period, consequent to the restructuring (reduction) of the centrally sponsored schemes via which some of the education schemes are rolled out. While the budgetary spending remained constrained, the sector got the benefit of the specific cesses – a 2% education cess was introduced in 2004 to finance the universal midday meal in public schools and later, in 2007-08, a 1% secondary and higher education cess was introduced and, again, in 2018-19, the education cess as well as the secondary and higher education cess were merged into a health and education cess at 4%. The education sector also receives part of the proceeds of a social welfare surcharge of 10% on import duties.
The national education policy seeks to rely primarily on the economic growth to meet the growing financing needs of the education sector. It believes that public expenditure on education will increase as the GDP expands.