04 Jun 2023  |   06:12am IST

Is Goa ready to embrace the sweeping changes recommended by NEP 2020?

This National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aims to address the many growing developmental imperatives of our country. This Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century education. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the policy amongst parents, students and also the teachers themselves. With the NEP 2020 proposing sweeping changes in the education system of the country, AVIT BAGLE, in the weekly debate Point-Counterpoint, finds out whether Goa is prepared to implement the policy as the new academic year begins on Monday, June 5.
Is Goa ready to embrace the sweeping changes recommended by NEP 2020?

State government will implement  the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 from the new academic year starting on Monday. 

Currently a three-tier 10-2-3 education system is in place. In Goa, primary education is till 4th standard while secondary level begins from 5th Standard. A drastic change is anticipated due to NEP 2020, which will follow the 5-3-3-4 structure. 

The changes in the current examination method and education system of 10th and 12th standards are proposed in the new draft. For the students of 9th and 10th grade, subjects such as Humanities, Mathematics and Computing, Business Studies, Physical Education, Art Education, Social Science, Science and Interdisciplinary Studies will be available. The students will have to clear eight subjects a year, meaning a total of 16. 

Currently the 10th Standard students have to pass in minimum five subjects and the system will be retained for the annual examination. There has been a recommendation to break the traditional structure of Arts, Commerce and Science streams for Class 11 and 12. 

The NEP will allow Higher Secondary Students to choose a total of 16 subjects from three streams such as Humanity, Mathematics and Computing, Business Studies, Physical Education, Art Education, Social Science, Science and Interdisciplinary Studies. 

As per the current methodology of holding examinations, exams for Standard 11th and 12th are held only once. However, the new draft recommends holding exams twice a year in a semester system. The results of both the exams will be announced jointly. 

There is also a provision to have a month-long ‘refresher course’ for the students to revise the concepts they learned last year. 

The Goa University is also all set to roll out NEP 2020-based curriculum at undergraduate level for general education across its affiliated colleges from the coming academic year 2023-24 onwards.

 However, the new curriculum- wherein the undergraduate general programmes would be of four years with honours and research- would be implemented for the student of First Year, while those already in 

the second and final year, will continue with 

the old system of three-years degree 

programme. 

Students, who will be taking admission to the First Year general programme will be given the option of 4-year graduation degree in honours and research and they will have the option not only to go for dual-degree but also choose courses across the disciplines.

The four-year degree program is structured into eight semesters to obtain a degree with honours or research specialisation.

The NEP 2020 has proposed sweeping changes at the elementary and advanced levels of education. With the new academic year set to start from Monday, are we ready to embrace the NEP 2020? 

Director of Education, Shailesh Zingde said, “When the Central Government came up with this concept and thought of implementing the NEP, it had sent us a draft policy. After which we sent the policy to each and every school and management, where we appealed to them to put forth suggestions to SCERT or directly to the Central Government, and this is how it began.” 

“In 2020 when the Central Government decided to implement the policy, we had the task cut out for us on how to implement it in the State. We formed two task forces, one headed by former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, and the other was headed by Subhash Shirodkar. When we got the overall report by both the Task Forces, we started preparation for implementation of the Policy,” Zingde said.

The structure according to the NEP 2020 will change to five + three + three + four instead of four + six + two. 

The students belonging to age group of 3 to 8 will be admitted for the foundation course that is first 5 years, the 3rd 4th and 5th standard will be converted to preparatory stage, 6th, 7th 8th will be converted to middle stage, and last 9th to 12th will be converted to secondary stage. 

“We are starting the admissions for the Foundational Level 1 from this year. There are some pre-primary and primary schools which are registered with the department. We have also come up with the web portal wherein, one will have to seek permission 

to open the Level 1,” the Director of Education said.

“Once the department is assured about all the facilities present in a school under the NEP, for example proper wash rooms, playground etc, only then the department shall give recognition to it. And of course this will take time,” he said.

Will a 3-year-old student get admission in the local Government primary school?

“Except the 1200 Anganwadis, which come under Women and Child department, there are Government’s existing pre primary schools, who can definitely apply there. If given a choice, parents should always opt for the nearest government recognised pre-primary school so that the child is less exhausted,” Zingde said.

Considering the Board examinations, that is 10th and 12th are very vital, what will be the GBSHSE’s role in implementing the NEP?

Chairman, Goa Board of Education, Bhagirath Shetye said, “It’s a wrong notion that 10th and 12th standard Board Exams will be scrapped. The 10th standard Board exams will be held in 2024 for the 2023-24 academic year. The Ministry of Education has gathered details of each and every Board around the country, whose verification 

is taken care of by the concerned Education Department.”

“If the student takes up a two-year diploma course with two other languages and clears it, the student will be considered to have cleared the 10th standard. Same goes with the clearing of standard 12th,” Shetye said.

Secondly, under the ‘Parakh’ scheme, guidelines will be given to the autonomous State boards, so that the variations in the results are standardised. 

A three dimensional assessment of National credit frameworks or  academic credit banks, will be done, the student will be assessed based on his/her academic performance and other skills, and one can redeem the points to be eligible for 10th or 12th class.

When asked about the possible challenges that could arise while implementing the policy, former Union Minister and President Pedne Taluka Vikas Parishad, said, “The government reached out to us, but has failed to have discussions and conferences with the school managements. Gathering each and every management of the state is quite a task, but the Government should have had at least discussion on district or Taluka level.” 

“The confusion about NEP is because the Government remains in one corner, management on the other, teachers on the third and parents on the fourth,” Khalap said.

“In my opinion, until and unless these four do not come together, the perplexity will keep on increasing. There is no doubt about the policy, but implementation of this policy on ground levels seems difficult as we don’t have the required infrastructure as well as the trained teachers,” the former Union Law Minister said. 

For private schools, implementing this policy is a cake walk, as they already have infrastructure for the same. But it can be a burden for local government schools. 

“Parents need to cooperate and teachers should be trained. We get teachers who have cleared B Ed and NET/SET exams. But we don’t have teachers who can teach students at elementary level, like a mother or a sister does at home,” he said. 

“Play schools, IB schools fleece money from parents as education has become a big business. A specific group of society gets the benefit of these unaided schools but on a local level, this kind of infrastructure and tuition is not available for a village kid,” Khalap said. 

Even as the student gets this kind of education, he should be taking it with a relaxed and playful mindset. The parents because of their occupation don’t get time to be with their children, which is necessary. 

“Government plans to make clusters of schools will the small time schools get tagged on to the clusters is the question. There is a lot of disparity among the schools in the villages, and it needs a holistic approach for resolution to make sure all the students across the board get standard education,” he said. 

“The Department of Education must be surveying everything, but there has to be cohesion. Indeed, the first year of implementation will be tough. However, I am sure we shall make way as the time passes. But there should be no confusion,” he said.

 Amaranath Panajikar, a teacher, said, “The officers of the Education Department itself seem to be confused, as they have not framed this policy. Almost after eight months, the secretary has now briefed about foundational education under NEP.”

“They say that the delay is because of the portal. If the portal takes so long, then imagine how long it will take to implement the policy? Who will keep an eye on the Government schools? There are several schools and balwadis, which don’t have the basic amenities. But which official government has looked into the existing schools?” Panjikar asked. 

“The department officials are asking for the details from the private schools, but who will ensure the compliance and take 

approvals for the government schools?” 

he asked.

Panjikar said the new inclusions in the curriculum under NEP are commendable. Already the pre primary schools have this kind of the curriculum where the students are taught in a playful and happy environment. But no one is paying heed to that. 

“The approvals for the schools shouldn’t be another tool to trouble the management. The department and officials are speaking only on foundational one and two but no one is discussing the preparatory, middle school and other stages,” he said.

He emphasised on the need to pay attention and discuss this issue as well, since the parents are facing troubles. The results of Goan students are great, but they don’t get admissions for higher education. 

“Students of Goa in the present day don’t know how to write a proper sentence and this is all because of the way education is disseminated in the State. Inspections of schools are not being done. If these important activities don’t happen today, how will it happen after the NEP?” he asked.

This is the first year and there are several obstacles and criticism. How do you plan to go ahead with the middle segment of education with teacher’s training and preparation for infrastructure in government schools?

Zingde said that presently under Rule 31, the permissions are being issued to schools from first standard onwards. All the facilities of the schools permitted will be uploading all the data including images on the portal and all will be able to view and review the facilities. 

“There is no chance of harassment or troubling anyone. I agree that the inspections are not being held because we don’t have enough The Assistant District Educational Inspectors (ADEIs). While we need 47 ADEIs, we don’t even have 15 at the moment,” he said. 

With the positive mindset of the Education Secretary, Zingde was sure to get more ADEIs and begin the inspections soon. 

“We do conduct inspections, but the ADEIs are so preoccupied that they don’t practically get the time to conduct inspections. Nevertheless, from the next academic year, we may go for Foundational Level 2 and 3 as well. We are aiming to achieve from Foundational level 1 till standard XII by 2026-27, while the target of the Central Government is 2030,” he said. 

“Looking at the state of schools in other states of India where students sit on the floor to get education, Goa can be a trendsetter for the entire country. However, we need the cooperation of all the stakeholders, management, teachers and people to achieve the same. We will make sure that we will give all the due representation to all the managements and teachers of the schools from the next time,” Zingde said.

Will the status of the schools change from unaided to aided while implementing the policy?

“All the teachers, from aided and unaided schools, will have to undergo training. Our target is students and the idea is to give the best education to them,” Zingde said.

Speaking of infrastructure, he agreed some schools don’t have the facilities. 

“We have repaired more than 700 schools. However, sometimes there are cases in which some schools have six students and eight toilets, which create a maintenance problem. I am of the opinion that the PTA shouldn’t interfere in the academics and administration. The school management committees 

should take decisions,” the Director of Education said.

What is the kind of responsibility that the Goa Board has as far as implementation of the NEP is concerned?

According to Shetye, in the future, students will get the subjects of their choice. 

“Currently there are six subjects and one additional subject, which is National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) for IXth and Xth standard. We have got the syllabus of NSQF from Sundarlal Sharma Vocational Institute, Bhopal and the fund for teachers of government schools from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan,” the Chairman of Goa Education Board, said. 

 According to him, the results have increased because of the NSQF. The base of NEP 2020 is the 14 sectors of courses which include IT, Bakery, Beauty Parlour courses which give a hope and motivation to the students to make a career in their desired trade. 

“Artificial Intelligence will replace Computer Science. The meetings with teachers and creation of syllabus have been done and the subjects will be taught, beginning from standard IX. This will be the seventh subject in the NSQF,” he said. 

Physical education, which was the school assessment subject, will become an academic subject. Along with marks for practicals, there will be 40 marks for theory. 

“In fact to make good teachers in the future, a subject by the name Education will be added from Std IXth as the seventh subject. The students having the desire to become teachers will be able to start learning the subject early,” Shetye said. 

Goa Board is the first to have Astronomy as a subject for the last three years and it is in high demand. 

“You never know if some student may do post graduation or research in Astronomy in the future,” he said.

 There are challenges that are being imposed on the management of schools by means of introduction of new subjects under the NEP. As a representative of the management of schools Khalap, said, “If there is no teacher of a particular subject in a school, will the government lend a teacher to a school on loan or transfer the student to the school where it is available? This situation will arise in both secondary and higher secondary levels of schools.” 

“As there won’t be an Art, Commerce or Science graduate degree, rather the student will have to opt for a subject in particular. In this case, where should a student go? At which level will you implement the Parakh System?” Khalap asked. 

“As the assessment of the student shall be taken into consideration from the Foundation Level, will you be implementing it at the Foundation Level, or let it continue how it is right now? So there should be standardisation and the department has to have an explanation for that as well,” he said. 

“Given the salaries and the financial strength of the management, they will not be able to survive these changes. Even the classes for students have to be designed in a way which is soothing to the eyes of the 

students. This means more expenditure,” Khalap added.

When we look at the NEP, is there a provision where students are able to understand and grasp what is being taught in schools?

Panjikar responded by saying that there has to be a provision in the NEP. 

“Masters training for teachers is a welcome move but it has been observed in the past. The training is held, but they do not understand and apply the training. The trainers, if given proper training, will be able to help the cause but because we do not have a 

proper base. The training becomes useless,” Panjikar said.

“The training of the teachers should be in such a way that our students should be able to face any situations in any state of India. With the help of all the teachers, it is possible but the government has to have this kind of mindset,” he said. 

“The director of education himself informed us that there are so few ADEIs in the Education Department. If the government is going to be so irresponsible, then how will it work?” he asked.

 Many schools do not have proper regular teachers and so many schools are awaiting approval for hiring new teachers. The recruitment of teachers has to be completed before the month of May. 

“By the time recruitments are completed, the schools are already preparing for first-term examinations. This should be avoided in the future. There will be a lot of delay by the time all the things from assessment to recruitment fall in place. Eventually, students will suffer,” Panjikar said.

He said that the teachers will always be ready to help the government in implementing the NEP. But the teachers, especially the ones who teach language, are worried that languages may be sidelined. The Director and the Chairman have to clarify these worries.

As far as languages are concerned, how does the Education Department plan to go ahead? Zingade said that as far as the training is concerned, the training calendar for the entire year will be ready even before the academic year starts. 

“However, I would like to request the teachers who are qualified, to come ahead and become master resource persons and trainers because nobody takes up this assignment. The trainers who are not worth it, end up getting employed for this purpose,” he said. 

“The point that Khalap sir mentioned about sharing resources is very important. It is right that higher education has started thinking over this aspect. School education will also have to start the same, because if today there are 25 students for a particular subject, there may not be as many students in the next academic year,” the Director of Education said.

“The numbers can go up or down. We will keep both the options open which are sharing teachers or transferring the student if the child is in favour of the same. We are thinking about the clusters because they are bound to encounter certain problems,” Zingade said. 

“As far as evaluation is concerned it is correct that evaluation has to start from the beginning. In fact, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) is the same, but the teachers have not been doing the same,” he said.

Shetye said that while formulating any scheme, every stakeholder may be a student teacher or parents. It is being done only after taking everybody into consideration. 

“For example, flexibility of subjects, the workload of some will increase and some will decrease. Hence, we will recommend the government to give us existing teachers so that they are accommodated in the existing set up,” he said. 

“As far as language is concerned, if you want to create interest for languages, we will have to have oral tests. Why was reading skills and making the subject a skill oriented teaching? This will definitely protect the regional languages because of any provision, science students can also take up Language as a subject,” he said.

Khalap said that the policy envisages local languages, regional languages for Foundation Level to help the student learn and understand easily. 

“However, in a region like Goa, which has several regional languages and English is a dominant language, how would the government attain an equilibrium in this scenario?” he asked.

Zingade said that there will be foundational education in regional languages. 

“But if somebody wishes to have English, we cannot stop them. The problem we encounter is with our mother tongue because Goa has many languages,” he said.

Considering that there are some practical hurdles in the way of implementing the NEP 2020, it would be prudent that all stakeholders come together and make the implementation easier for the sake of students. Otherwise, confusion will reign and students will suffer. Time will tell how things go from here.


IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar