The draft new education policy unveiled on Friday proposes a complete restructuring of higher education by reintroducing the four-year programme in Liberal Arts Science Education (LASE) with multiple exit options and scrapping the MPhil programme.
Pursuing a PhD, the draft proposes, shall require either a Master’s degree or a four-year Bachelor’s degree with research.
“The three-year traditional B.A., B.Sc., as well as B.Voc. degrees will continue as well for those institutions that wish to continue such programmes, but all Bachelor’s degrees will move towards taking a more comprehensive liberal education approach,” states the draft made public within hours of its submission to the new HRD Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, on Friday.
In addition to the undergraduate overhaul, the policy has pitched for inclusion of early childhood education (from age 3 onwards) as part of formal school education and reconfiguration of school curriculum and pedagogy in a new 5+3+3+4 design, corresponding to age group of 3-8 years, 8-11 years, 11-14 years, and 14-18 years, respectively.
NDA’s second bid at new edu policy
This is the NDA government's second attempt at drafting the new education policy. The HRD Ministry, under NDA-II and Smriti Irani as its minister, had set up a committee with late TSR Subramanian as it chairman. That panel’s report was submitted in 2016, but another committee was constituted once Prakash Javadekar took over. The new report is the one drafted by the second panel led by scientist K Kasturirangan.
The draft also makes a case for the extension of the Right to Education Act “downwards to include up to three years of early childhood education prior to Grade 1, and upwards to include Grades 11 and 12”. More significantly, it calls for a review of Clause 12(1)(c) – providing for mandatory 25 per cent reservation for economically weaker section students in private schools – in wake of its alleged misuse.
The draft policy was submitted by the Dr K Kasturirangan-led committee on Friday and was made public for feedback immediately. Addressing the media soon after its submission, Pokhriyal told reporters, “The new policy is coming after a span of 30 years and we will study the report on it received by us today. States and other stakeholders will give feedback and the report should come in the public domain soon.”
Other recommendations of the reports include:
# An increase in the number offshore campuses of Indian institutions abroad and permitting the world’s top 200 universities to set up branches in India to internationalise higher education.
# A single independent regulator called ‘State School Regulatory Authority’ (SSRA) for the school education sector and a separate single regulator (National Higher Education Regulatory Authority) for higher education. All other current regulatory bodies such as AICTE, MCI, BCI, may turn into Professional Standard Setting Bodies that set standards for professions (e.g. for teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses, etc.).
# While private schools are free to set their fees, they shall not increase school fees (taken under any head) arbitrarily. The percentage fee increase permissible based on inflation, etc. will be decided by SSRA for every three year period.
# Private schools to not use the word ‘public’ in their names. ‘Public’ schools will only be those that are funded fully or partially by the government
# A new apex body for education called the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog to be set up. It will be headed by the Prime Minister and be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education on a continuous basis.
# School curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to make space for more holistic, experiential learning. No hard separation of content in terms of curricular, extra-curricular, or co-curricular areas. No hard separation of arts and sciences also proposed.
# School students should be allowed to take board examination in a given subject whenever they think they are ready.
# Contribution of ancient Indian knowledge systems to mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine to be included in school curriculum.
# All higher education institutions to be restructured into three categories. “Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high quality teaching; Type 2: Focused on high quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research; Type 3: High quality teaching focused on undergraduate education.”