Education Reforms in India Post Independence (Part – IV)

By Sudakshina Kundu Mookerjee

The New National Education Policy:

The new NEP proposes a model of splitting up school education in to four stages of 5+3+3+4 years. According to the ministry of Human Resource Development the school education will be split up into stages with 5 years of Fundamental, 3 years of Preparatory, 3 years of Middle and 4 years of Secondary.   The Fundamental years start from includes Nursery at the age of 4 y e a r s f o l l o w e d b y J u n i o r Kindergarten (KG) at 5 years, Senior KG at 6 years, Class 1 at 7 years and Class 2 at 8 years. The three years of Preparatory cover classes 3 to 5 for age groups 9 to 11 years. The classes or standards 6 to 8 form the Middle stage for children aged 12 to 14 years. The last stage called the Secondary include the classes 9 to 12 for the teenagers between 15 to 18 years of age. The two Examinations existing at present at the end of classes 10 and 12 respectively will be replaced by a single examination after the final year. The medium of instruction of different subjects will be in the vernacular, mother tongue or the national language up to class 5 and English will be taught as a subject.

The idea of training the young minds in stages seem to be a promising one. However, this will have i t s advantages if only the stages are properly utilised to train the children effectively in the basic life skills. The success will depend entirely on the execution, i.e., framing proper curriculum, defining appropriate syllabus, designing effective teaching methodologies and finally on the ability to evaluate the learning outcome by scientific and objective methods. Certain points must be considered while framing this curriculum:

  1. Since the first five years of the Fundamental stage are supposed to cover children in the age group of 4 -8, covering three infant classes and standards 1 and 2, hence stress must be given at this stage to enable the children to read, write and handle numbers with ease. They should also be guided to form good habits of health, hygiene and social behaviour. It is also imperative to make t h e m a w a r e o f t h e i r surroundings including the environment and acquire skills of social interaction.
  2. In the first two years, the child must be given the chance to adapt to a learning environment. This will make him/her capable to learning new skills and with interest.
  3. In the next three years the subjects to be taught may include the languages and arithmetic so that the 3-Rs ( R eading, W r i t ing and Arithmetic) can be honed. In addition, it is preferable to include ‘activity-based’ learning about hygiene and environment. This may be done by hands-on training, group activities etc. The first years may be able to inspire team spirit and group activity, a must for a healthy life style.
  4. The most important aspect is defining a realistic and attainable set of minimum learning skills at the end of each year. There should be a proper balance between the required level of the learning skill and the ability of the l e a r n e r t o f u l f i l t h e requirement. This needs careful designing as the capability and aptitude of all the learners are not the same. Hence, the minimum learning skills must not be the same for all categories of learners. For example, the basic level of acquiring the competence in the three Rs, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, at the end of first stage of 5 years of primary education must be well defined as this competence is the foundation of education. However, every student may not acquire the proficiency in all the three Rs at the same time. At the end of each of the first five years, the level of proficiency of the student has to be evaluated so that the student may be guided in the next year and given extra help to catch up with others and make up for the weakness. So in each year, each skill set must have two levels of learning, one for the faster learners and one for the slower ones.
  5. In order to attain this end, continuous evaluation is essential for assessing the competence acquired by each of the learners at the end of each academic year.
  6. The second Preparatory stage comprising of 3 years should cover   students   of   classes/ standards 3 – 5 . General S c i e n c e , h i s t o r y and geography may be introduced at this stage but through group activities and not just book learning. They must learn to understand the reason behind the different natural phenomena, get to the roots of their heritage, appreciate the potentials of their geographical location, and be made aware of the things present in their surroundings. Here too the subjects like language and mathematical skills etc must be tuned to the capabilities of the students. Hands-on training in different crafts and other skills related to their life-style must be introduced. These trainings m u s t a l s o m a t c h t h e requirements of the region and the training potentials available.
  7. From this second stage, there should be a wider choice of learning skills. There will be some compulsory subjects like language for mode of expression, computational skills for enhancing the logical power, and awareness about health, hygiene and environment. Other than these there must be scope of training in subjects and skills relevant to the region and in keeping with its life-style. For example, in an agrarian region the focus will be on agriculture, animal husbandry etc. In the industrial belt the training should be more technical skill-set based. There are various other occupations related to a particular region; some are tourism based, some are fruit growers, others may depend more on riverine and marine resources. Every region must have its special skill requirements built into the curriculum   along   with   the c o m p u l s o r y l e a r n i n g programmes. Every student must be made aware of the diversities of these regions so that it becomes easier to assimilate the knowledge through practical experiences of everyday living.
  8. The compulsory subjects must have the syllabus framed at two levels just like in the formative years; one for those who have acquired the skill sufficiently well and another for those who need more support and cannot handle a more demanding course work. This will help the weaker students to improve their capabilities. The levels of the compulsory papers offered to the students will depend on their overall performance in the previous year and how far they meet the minimum learning skills specified. It is often found that a large section of the students fails to meet the learning abilities they are supposed to have acquired for the standard they are studying in. This short coming can be easily plugged if there are two training programmes for t h e d i f f e r e n t l e a r n i n g capabilities of the target students and backed up by remedial classes.
  9. The continuous evaluation must continue. But at the end of the year an over-all end-of- the term assessment must be done to find out how much a student meets the required learning skill. His/her course work for the next year must be offered accordingly.
  10. The same pattern may be repeated in the Middle stage for standards 6-8, but with more advanced curriculum. There should be a record of the aptitude of every student and any particular inclination must be encouraged at this stage.
  11. The last stage of four years or t h e S e c o n d a r y s t a g e comprises of classes 9-12. Here every student must have the opportunity to choose either the formal education or vocational stream according to his/her aptitude and ability. This will be based on the record of their overall progress from the lower classes. The evaluation will have to be based on grades and not individual marks.
  12. There must be scope for internship for those who choose vocational stream. Nursing, Primary teaching, carpentry, weaving, pottery & ceramics, poultry farming, running orchards, computer applications & servicing etc must also be part of the vocational courses. The list is longer. The students of class 12 who choose teaching as one of their subjects must be given an opportunity to help the teachers in the primary classes as teaching assistants. This will help in training effective teachers in the long run, the most important step at building a strong education ecosystem.
  13. At every stage there should be training in ethics and civics in order to groom responsible citizens. This can only be done through case s t u d i e s a n d s p e c i a l l y designed videos to inspire the students.
  14. Digital divide is ever widening in our country. Lack  of  electricity  and equipment may prove detrimental to shifting more towards ICT based learning. The Open Source software will go a long way to empower the schools at very little cost. The television may help   in   offering   teaching m o d u l e s a l o n g w i t h programmes aired over internet and distributed through education related channels specially designed for the purpose. It must be remembered that these are additional teaching aids and not alternative for teachers as these only supplementary and not replacement for teacher centric learning. A teacher helps the student to self-learn rather than spoon-feeding them by guiding the students how to ask questions and then find the answers by themselves.
  15. Therefore, there should be continuous upgradation of the curriculum to attune with the demands of a changing world. In this context training of the teachers to handle new teaching modules and topics becomes very important.


  1. By Order : H o n o u r a b l e E d u c a t i o n M i n i s t e r , Government of India; https:// education-policy-nep-2020
  2. National education Policy 2020;

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