New education policy seeks to junk 10+2 format, ‘high-stakes’ exams

1NEW DELHI: Replacing the 10+2 system, replacing ‘high stakes’ Class 10 and 12 exams with subject-wise ‘modular’ assessments anytime between Classes 9 and 12, ‘census’ examinations for classes 3, 5 and 8 to track progress throughout the school experience and deregulating higher education to allow students to opt for courses, exit them mid-way and resume them at fully autonomous public and private institutes — these are some of the key recommendations of the new education policy that the Modi government is set to make public as it begins its second stint.

Key to the policy is an overarching emphasis on a ‘liberalised’ and flexible education system which allows for mobility as well as exposure to the liberal arts.

The policy document — recommended by a nine-member committee headed by eminent scientist Dr Kasturirangan — calls for restructuring of both higher education and school education regulatory regimes and assessment/examination systems. It underlines the glory of ancient Indian universities of Nalanda and Takshashila and their ‘liberal’ approach to education. It underlines the need to bring in the rich Indian culture, tradition and knowledge systems besides strong underpinnings of ‘ethics’, constitutional values and contribution to community or ‘seva’ in the education system.

The committee also recommends a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog chaired by the prime minister. It will have on board the Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, education minister and top academics. It also recommends that the HRD ministry be renamed the Ministry of Education. ET breaks down the details:

The policy recommends replacing the 10+2 format with a 5+3+3+4 structure. This implies five years of a ‘Foundational Stage’ that will include three years of pre-primary and classes 1and 2. It will be followed by three years of ‘Preparatory Stage’, three years of middle school and four years of secondary stage.

All students will take ‘state census examinations’ in grades 3, 5 and 8 where they would be tested on core concepts, knowledge and higher order skills. The grade 3 census examination, for instance, would test basic literacy, numeracy, and other foundational skills. Each year of the secondary stage will be divided into two semesters. Each student would take five to six subjects in each semester.

To counter “the harmful effects of board and entrance examinations”, the panel recommends restructuring them to a ‘modular’ format allowing students to take the board examination in each subject at the end of the semester in which they take that subject. Students will be expected to take a total of at least 24 subject board examinations, or on average three a semester instead of final examinations.

Language is a key focus of the policy which strongly recommends making the mother tongue the mode of instruction at least until class five and preferably till at least class eight. It says Sanskrit be offered at all levels of school and higher education as one of the optional languages on par with all Schedule 8 languages. All students will be asked to take at least two years of a classical language of India in classes 6-8, with the option to continue through secondary education and university.


The panel suggests that higher education system be brought under a single regulator — National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA). While University Grants Commission (UGC) will become a purely grant providing body. The likes of All India Council for Technical Education, Medical Council of India and National Council for Teacher Education should evolve into professional standard setting bodies, the panel suggests.

The policy suggests three types of universities. Research-focussed universities, comprehensive teaching and research universities and Type 3 will only focus on teaching.

Emphasising on liberal arts and liberal education tradition of Takshashila and Nalanda, the committee has recommended a four-year bachelor of liberal arts or bachelor of liberal education degree.

The panel suggests that undergraduate courses move to a three- or four-year duration with multiple exit options allowing for say an advanced diploma in a discipline after completing two years of study or a diploma after completing one year.

Different designs of Masters programme are proposed from a twoyear programme with the second year devoted entirely to research or an integrated five-year bachelor’s/masters programme besides a one-year masters programme for those who have completed a fouryear programme.

Similarly, institutes will be permitted to offer PhD with either a master’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree with research.


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