The origins of the classroom-oriented education system can be traced back to colonial days. Schools were focused on creating obedient workers capable of serving the rising industries at the time. Thus, rote learning, copious amounts of note-taking, and rigid routines became common in classrooms.

But eventually, the jarring gaps in the education system became obvious. Modern workplaces demand a lot more skills and the current education model was insufficient to meet its demands. Policy reforms followed and academic curriculums changed. Over the years, academic systems have undergone a complete revamp to align themselves with the goals of the 21st-century workplace.

In that regard, the 2020 National Education Policy (NEP) is a step closer to realising the future of India. The policy encourages holistic development and focuses on developing modern skills such as creativity and critical thinking. Through significant amendments to the academic structure, the NEP 2020 has lifted the burden of strict disciplines that restrict students to a few career options.

The 5+3+3+4 design

According to the new Curricular and Pedagogical structure, school education has been divided into Foundational Stage (pre-primary and grades 1-2), Preparatory Stage (grades 3-5), Middle Stage (grades 6-8), and Secondary Stage (grades 9-12).

This new reform was implemented in light of the severe problems that students faced while learning language and mathematics. The policy notes that approximately 5 crore children in elementary schools lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills. This issue even had an adverse impact on attendance in schools.

With the revision in curriculums, NEP 2020 encourages students to get the basics right. The syllabus will be reduced to its core content that will enable more space for discussions and analysis. Teachers can acknowledge the different learning speeds of students and can offer additional support to help them grasp the concepts better.

‘Multi-disciplinary’ is the way to the future

The education system in Finland is regarded as the best in the world. One of their signature approaches to learning includes analysing real-world problems through different angles. For instance, both advanced fuel chemistry and superior engine performance can reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles.

This multidisciplinary take on subjects breaks the current single-stream system that schools currently have in place. The NEP 2020 aims to integrate different subjects and therefore promote different perspectives to problems. By 2040, multi-disciplinary learning is expected to be the norm in all higher-education institutes.

Modern trends are also being set by innovative thinkers. Through an integrated approach to learning, schools enable students to look beyond individual lessons and connect whatever they have learnt. This will also open up more career options for the students and prepare them for multiple jobs even during school days.

Flexible examination schedules  

NEP 2020 has also managed to change the dreaded outlook most students have towards examinations. It proposes a semester system for grades 10-12 where students will be able to take “flexible and modular board examinations in a given subject in whichever semester they take the corresponding class in school”. They will also be allowed to retake the subject board examination if they can study and do better.

The conventional mode of assessment students have to undergo every year serves more like a memory test. Recent changes saw the introduction of a ‘comprehensive, and continuous evaluation’ but they still depended heavily on arduous assignments. NEP 2020 supports its focus on experimental learning by minimising the emphasis on exam performances.

Inclusion of mother-tongue based education

A key highlight of the NEP 2020 is the inclusive nature of its amendments. Breaking the traditional mould of teaching approaches, the new reforms empower teachers and schools to adopt the best practices that can help students learn the most necessary skills.

Adding to its multidisciplinary approach, the policy highlights the importance of multilingualism and the cognitive benefits it can have on children. The NEP 2020 proposes a three-language formula that promotes the study of mother tongues, classical languages, and regional languages. This new reform ensures that students are acquainted more with their culture and are imbibed with traditional values.

Extensive use of technology to aid learning

The COVID-19 beckoned a necessary change in teaching. Online classes became common and teachers learnt to utilise digital tools to help them explain concepts better.

NEP 2020 proposes to embed technology to build a hybrid classroom that is based on analytical learning and engagement. Teachers will be able to tailor lessons according to individual student requirements and create unique strategies to make teaching more effective.

Various provisions of the NEP 2020 reflect the change of modern times. The society needs more innovators who are adept at various tasks. Rather than restricting students to a single mode of learning, the policy reforms promote schools to develop a strategy that will cater to the needs of individual students. As quoted by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, true learning needs the freedom to think and imagine.