July 29, New Delhi: Save the Children welcomes the long awaited changes in the New Education Policy. It is extremely overwhelming to see an emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE – 3 to 8 years), with a focus on foundational learning through an integrated/convergence approach with various Ministries such as Health, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and Ministry of Education (MoE).
Save the Children has been working and advocating towards the provisioning of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as one of the key strategies that will prepare children with the required school readiness skills which will thereby improve the quality of learning in primary schools. By providing ‘the right start’ in the early years, Early Childhood Care and Education has an immense potential to change the lives of children from the marginalized section and groups of society.
A National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of eight will now be developed by NCERT. The policy also includes preparatory class or Balvatika for children between 5-6 years of age in Anganwadis/pre-schools. We applaud the Ministry of Education in its aim to provide ‘Universal Access to Early Childhood Care & Education by 2030’, with the focus on free, safe, high quality ECCE to ensure that all students entering Grade 1 are school ready.
Convergence between ministries is a welcome move, since, now the planning and implementation of early childhood care and education curriculum will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of Education, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.
The policy also aims to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in school education by 2030. A major ask by Save the Children was also strengthening and extension of KGBVs up to grade 12, which has been included as an intention in the policy. Save the Children focuses on Life Skills which is also very well integrated in all our School Education Projects. The policy aims to attain Life Skills in every grade as a part of the National Curriculum Framework.
What is Missing
However, while the policy has been set in the background of EdTech, which is ideal, but the path to reach to the ideal goal is missing. Also, there is no adaptive programming in context of COVID-19. COVID has impacted access to education facility, and unfortunately, the whole COVID Context and “Back to Learn” component is missing. Also what is missing is parent based learning in light of COVID-19 and closure of Anganwadi Centres, support for parents and teachers’ roles in children’s learning at home. There is also no emphasis on safe resilient school system.
With the timing of the NEP 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19, there is a greater opportunity to build back better and resilient education system in an era of more frequent and damaging crises with important lessons to learn and implement. The NEP 2020 needs to re-imagine and re-align education with the challenges that children are and will be facing to learn in an environment where the pandemic still exists and where schools need to adapt to a new reality. The focus still needs to be on continuation of learning and educational support so that the most vulnerable children are not compromised.
What is New
- EdTech has been integrated to the policy
- Integration of skills into the New Education Policy (which was there in the Education Policy 1986 but limited to Vocational Education and not skills)
- Enhanced Focus on teachers
Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) will be strengthened and extended to cover pre-primary to grade 12 teachers, in both public and private schools.
Continuous opportunities for self-improvement will be offered in multiple modes, such as, workshops, online teacher development modules, etc.
Minimum qualification degree for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree by 2030
Teacher recruitment based on TET, NTA test and teaching demonstration; TET mandatory for teaching
Minimum 50 hours of in-service training per teacher/year
National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) by 2022
IT and data based predictive planning for requirement of students in TEIs; TEIs to move to multidisciplinary colleges and universities by 2030
Note for Editors: Save the Children was involved in the consultative process and submitted key recommendations after undertaking regional and national level consultations with experts, partners, institutions, networks, coalitions and civil society organisations