12 Sep 2021  |   05:21am IST

NEP 2020, from paper to practice?

NEP 2020, from paper to practice?

National Education Policy (NEP), the much awaited policy document, which is a shift from RTE to RTQE (Right to Quality Education ) is in place after the Union Cabinet approval on July 28, 2020, a much required reform which finally saw the light of the day almost a year prior to our 75th Independence day .

Since now that the CM has announced “Go-live on NEP” from next academic year, we will have to swiftly move beyond taking all stake holders into confidence. NEP is a paradigm shift and for such large scale transformation it will need strong foundation, consulting support from Organisational Development (OD) experts and a detailed strategic and execution plan in place factoring the ground reality, with election round the corner the continuity and consistency will matter the most.

This article is the first in its sequel attempting to analyse the NEP and its missing piece sand how we can support the Government and the stake holders in its seamless transition.

We begin with the “Inherent Goals and Associated challenges”of the 9 key chapters of the NEP document.

1.  Early Childhood Care and 


     Education (ECCE)

Inherent NEP goal:

NEP Extends the Right to Education eligibility window from 6-14 years to 3-18 years. With a goal of having 100 per cent of children ‘school-ready’ by 2030, the policy pushes for universalisation of ECCE.

It suggests investment in infrastructure such as play equipment and child-friendly buildings, as well as continuous professional development (CPD) of ECCE teachers and anganwadi workers through a six-month certification programme, including some online components.

Associated Challenges:

Multiple & matrix reporting will create more bureaucracy. 

It assumes that both hardware, software and talent to execute is adequate and in place which is not the case.

2.   Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN)

Inherent NEP Goal:

It recommends a three-month preparatory course for students, access to digital content through energised textbooks (ETB-DIKSHA), student-led peer learning, and community tutoring are recommended as some of the means to achieve 100 per cent foundational level (up to Grade 3) learning by 2025.

Talent pool: Teacher vacancies to be filled in a time-bound manner, with a priority to disadvantaged areas and sections of the society.

Associated Challenges:

Operational definition on “what aspects” of FLN is missing hence measurement will be ambiguous. 

A National Book Promotion Policy is mentioned. What is missing is provision and access ease to relevant, age-appropriate reading materials across different languages for students.

3.  Universal access to education at all levels

Inherent NEP Goal:

It aims at a commitment to achieve 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) across all levels by 2030.

It recommends an investment in resources such as infrastructure and teachers for students till Grade 12; as well as ensuring social workers and counsellors are made available to students, so they can address factors contributing to dropout rates. 

It needs rigorous tracking of 100 per cent of children, through a technology-based platform to ensure no one is left behind.

Associated Challenges:

The ratio of mentors/trainers or counsellors to children at various levels is not spelt out neither there is any clarity on sourcing or budget allocation. 

Inclusiveness on school drop outs owing to socio economic – child labour and socio cultural   child marriages contributing to legal violations are not strongly safe guarded.

4.  Curriculum and pedagogy in schools

Inherent NEP Goals:

NEP encourages local languages to be the medium of instruction at least up to Grade 5; 

A multi-disciplinary approach, and reducing content by targeting core learning competencies.

Digital age subjects such as coding and computational thinking (among others) introduced at a middle school level.

Students will now have liberty to choose subject courses in secondary school (primarily in arts, physical, and vocational education).

Associated Challenges:

The policy says to use local languages ‘wherever possible’, which inherently supports the status quo — which is the existing three language formula — to continue.

The policy includes a seemingly exhaustive list of pedagogies, values, skills, and methods, which are all ‘feel good factors’ in absence of any structure, system and resources in place.

With dynamically increasing migration, the issue of  children’s ‘mother tongue’ and home language being different from the local language used for instruction in schools.

The policy asks educators to integrate ‘Indian knowledge’ systems. However with non-uniformity in resources coupled with a pathetic network which is a key driver for digital/virtual platform, integrating and executing complex ideas which look so lucrative promising to make every child a “star” may turn out to be a nightmare.

5. Testing and assessments

Inherent NEP Goals:

It suggests that the focus on measurable learning outcomes at all levels of the newly proposed schooling system, with testing at 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade levels.

It promotes formative assessments (those that are conducted on an ongoing basis covering smaller portions of the syllabus), peer assessment, and holistic progress reports, to measure the ongoing academic progress of the children.

Associated Challenges:

The policy suggests formation of two new agencies: PARAKH and NTA — could lead to excessive over-centralisation, and potential hazard of evaluation psychosis for children. 

The growing digital divide, poor connectivity, affordability of coaching will be a major challenge for the holistic progress report card for students and parents and also their admissions into IITs/NITs via promoting Olympiads, but with Covid created deeper socio-economic inequalities, the poorer families will further suffer.

Mushrooming of Alternative educational system both brick & mortar and virtual (Kota factory, coaching classes, Private tuitions/Edu apps) have somehow escaped the radar of NEP 

6. Teachers and teacher education

Inherent NEP Goals:

The policy requirement proposes the minimum teacher education degree requirement to change from the current two year D.El.Ed/B.Ed degree to a four-year B.Ed undergraduate programme, by 2030.

NEP strongly suggests promotion based on merit, rather than on seniority and teaching level (elementary/primary/secondary). There are also options for vertical mobility of teachers, where high-performing teachers can be promoted to work at a district or State level.

Associated Challenges:

There is no dynamic career advancement for teachers documented /approved which contradicts the purpose, NEP success is a direct function of teachers’ engagement, motivation and management as they will have to upscale themselves continuously and with lack of credit system and accumulation to what extent NEP momentum will sustain is a question to be tackled upfront.

Support for Special education is superficial as it hardly mentions about provisions, budgets and teacher-student ratios and in absence of all this it will be a mere lip service.

7.   Equitable and inclusive education

Inherent NEP Goals:

It suggests that the ‘Gender Inclusion Fund’ which supports female and transgender students by driving state-level inclusion activities, developing sufficient infrastructure for safety, and targeted boarding. 

Creation of Special Education Zones (SEZs) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs)/KVs to be set up in aspirational districts, with targeted focus on improving the quantity and quality of learning.

Associated Challenges:

The policy document has pious intent on bridging the gap which exists in social categories and or for children with special needs but no firm road map.

There is downward trend on the educational outcomes of certain minorities which is not been captured in the policy more specific to their revival, inclusion and facilitating a level playing field for children.

With growing atrocities and sexual abuses the policy does not explicitly cover “Boarding/residential schools” which are quite significant and important factor of educational system.

 8. School complexes

Inherent NEP Goals:

It emphasises on Re-organising smaller schools with very low enrolment into a ‘school complex’ structure, which connects 10-15 such small schools into one administrative unit, will help reduce school isolation, efficiently use teaching learning resources, and increase governance and accountability, especially in rural/Adivasi parts of India.

Its core value on Providing autonomy to plan and implement the initiative locally is a good idea in principle. School Complex Management Committee (SCMC) and public representation at a school complex level will encourage decentralised implementation as well as higher engagement of parents.

Associated Challenges:

Untested assumptions that schools are in 1 km radius and hence can and should opt for shared resources, also that  Logistics its availability, safety and affordability for stake holders namely teachers, mentors, students and parents is unverified on contrary the ground reality is diagonally opposite.

9.  Standard setting and school accreditation

Inherent NEP Goals:

It strongly envisages to bring in transparency and accountability across schools by setting up (SSSA), which incorporates learning related indicators as well as student feedback into school ratings.

3 Key result areas namely Development, performance, and accountability to be three key pillars of supporting officers and teachers in the system.

Associated Challenges:

The present overload of administrative work, insufficient staff, contract system and mindset will add to the reluctance and resistance.

It is a irony that when corporates struggle to integrate their performance appraisals, to expect schools to ramp up with no provision for incentives, promotion, role efficacy will simply be a paper tiger. 

NEP policy document as it is shared largely tilts on explaining the “Why” and partially on“What” aspect but has left the most important piece unarticulated the “How” aspect. May be it is left for each State to decide and the first and fast mover will precisely be the turning point for its success.

But we have “advantage Goa” for a State like ours which has strong per capita income, literacy ratio manageable size, NEP has an inherent potential to make Goa not only as the next “Educational Hub” but create immense career/job opportunities for our own people.

In our next article we will share “Simple-Smarter-Superior” strategies, models for NEP’s installation, execution and traction.

Article compiled by 

Kishor M. Shah - Manager Trustee GDP 


Shivram Krishnan – Director: GDP Foundation; Col.Sukhaman Singh (Retd) - Deputy Director: GDP Foundation. Contact: [email protected]