NEP 2020: Policies on School Infrastructure

School Infra

Introduction:

A decent infrastructure is essential for quality education, India’s NEP 2020 emphatically observes. It proposes “School Complexes”, or “School Clusters”, with better private/public participation to ensure quality physical environment in School Education. There’s focused attention on SEDGs (Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups) and disadvantaged areas of the country, with respect to school infrastructure development. Where physical schools are not feasible, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) facilities will be enabled.

Section 5.9 of NEP 2020 document states:
“A very first requirement in this direction will be to ensure decent and pleasant service conditions at schools. Adequate and safe infrastructure, including working toilets, clean drinking water, clean and attractive spaces conducive to learning, electricity, computing devices, and internet, library and sports and recreational resources will be important to provide to all schools in order to ensure that teachers and students including children of all genders and children with disabilities, receive a safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environment and are comfortable and inspired to teach and learn in their schools.”


Document Referred:
National Education Policy 2020 (PDF format – 60 pages) by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

The NEP 2020 is a vast document, with elaborate sections of “School Education”, “Higher Education”, “Other Key Areas of Focus” (like ‘Adult Education‘) and “Making it Happen” (implementation). We (Miracle Learning Solutions) attempt to briefly cover every important point of this detailed policy document, in our own words. For easy reading, we’ve divided the whole document into multiple parts. This is the fourth part, addressing “Policies on School Infrastructure”.

To read the other parts, please use the links below:

NEP 2020: Introduction & Overview of School Education Policies
NEP 2020: Student-centric Policies in School Education
NEP 2020: Teacher-centric Policies in School Education
NEP 2020: Policies on Learning Environment in Schools


A major policy decision that directly affects Schooling Infrastructure:

NEP 2020 constitutes the new 5+3+3+4 academic structure, re-configuring the existing 10+2 structure. A student will now enter into formal education at the age of three (3). The corresponding age ranges will be 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 years, respectively. The School Infrastructure (buildings, class room spaces, supporting facilities etc) must now suit the clearly-distinct four school categories.

new structure

  1. The first 5 years (Pre-school or Foundational) comprises 3 years of pre-school education & 2 years of lower primary schooling (grades 1 & 2)
  2. The second 3 years (Medium or Preparatory School) covers grades 3, 4 & 5.
  3. The third 3 years (Middle School) covers grades 6, 7 & 8.
  4. The last 4 years (High or Secondary School) would prepare students for University education. Grades 9 & 10 will be its first phase, and 11 & 12 will be the second phase.

 

Ideal School Infrastructure, as envisaged by NEP 2020:

School Infra

Let’s look at the Schooling Infrastructure-related policies of NEP 2020:

  1. School complexes or Clusters, ideally one per District across the country, is recommended.
  2. Every School must have clean drinking water, clean & working toilets and pleasant classroom spaces.
  3. Public – Private Partnerships (PPP), in a properly regulated manner, is allowed/promoted.
  4. There will be specifications & standards for every building and physical element in the School infra.
  5. To enable “education for all”, the specifications & standards might be relaxed in exceptional cases, with proper permission/authorization.
  6. Philanthropic private participation will be encouraged to improve the physical conditions of Schools across the country.
  7. Where physical schools cannot be made available, Open and Distance Learning must be enabled.
  8. There will be enhanced focus on under-privileged or under-developed areas of the country. Principles of Equity & Inclusion must always be followed.

Let’s check a few infra-related policies a little closer:

1. Expectations on the Schooling Infrastructure and Learning Environment:
Starting from the choice of locale, special care will be taken to ensure that the School environment is conducive to learning. Right from Anganwadis, every School must have high-quality infra (including working toilets, clean drinking water, clean and attractive spaces etc.), play equipment and well-trained teachers & supporting staff.
Clean Toilets
NEP 2020 proposes School Complexes or Clusters to improve the standard of education and administration. Within a radius of 5 to 10 miles, there can be one Secondary School (grades 9 to 12) and multiple schools that offer foundational / preparatory / middle school grades. Resources like libraries, science laboratories & equipment, computer labs, sports facilities and equipment, hostels, housing area, play grounds etc can be shared. Teachers, counselors, technical and maintenance staff can be shared; extra-curricular activities can be grouped & improved; various clubs/circles to promote healthy competition and peer-tutoring among students can be formed. Examples of such clubs/circles could be Science Circles, Math Circles, Music Performance Circles, Chess Circles, Poetry Circles, Language Circles, Drama Circles, Debate Circles and Sports Circles.

Improved support for children with disabilities can be given in School Clusters.

2. Involvement of Private / external entities in Education:
Public Private Combo
Private schools or entities can participate in the School Clustering program. Only philanthropic Private participation is accepted. Every public school can be paired with a private school, wherever possible, to standardize and improve their quality. The whole system must gradually grow towards free education for all.

3. Steps to ensure Equity & Inclusion:
Disadvantaged districts / areas or classes of people across the country will be identified, and there will be intensified or concentrated effort to give them proper education, which includes development of better infrastructure. State/UT governments, Central govt and philanthropic private agencies would work together to achieve this aim.

4. Caring the disadvantaged / underprivileged / transgender / physically or mentally-challenged:
Education is the best tool to achieve economic and social equality. Doing justice to the Equity & Inclusion policy directives, adequate support will be given to every underprivileged student to ensure “education for all”. Free hostel accommodation, free bicycles, incentives in cash etc are only a few provisions to support them.

Where students are unable to attend physical schools, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programs, or State Institutes of Open Schooling (SIOS) programs will be enabled.

The Government of India will constitute a ‘Gender-Inclusion Fund’ to build the nation’s capacity to provide a quality and equitable education for all girls as well as transgender students.

5. Controlled relaxation to certain rules, to enable education among the masses:
Education for all

To handle extreme cases of disadvantaged sects, a few regulations can be relaxed if that would enable education. For example, if the qualifying criteria for a building to be termed as a School acts as a hindrance to Education in an otherwise impossible situation, the rule may be relaxed with caution and permission. In other words, the overemphasis on inputs, and the mechanistic nature of their specifications will be changed to suit the ground realities, without compromising the quality of education.

6. Reusing existing establishments, renewing them (like Anganwadis, Ashramshalas etc):
Existing infrastructure, mechanisms and staff must be reused in the implementation phase of NEP 2020. Changes must be smooth, gradual and inclusive of the existing infrastructure.

Renewing Anganwadis:
The Anganwadi Centres will be strengthened with high quality infrastructure, play equipment and well-trained Anganwadi workers/teachers. Every Anganwadi must have a well-ventilated, well-designed, child-friendly and well-constructed building with an enriched learning environment. Funds for this program will be provided by the Central and State/UT governments.

 

It’s time to summarize:
summary

India is a fast-progressing Nation, especially with respect to all-around Infrastructure development. It’s quite natural that India’s new Education Policy gives significant attention to the infra development of the country’s Schools, Colleges, Universities and every other element that participates in the nation’s formal Education. With innovative concepts like School complexes or Clusters, public-private participation, together with the considerably enhanced budget allocation and a committed government machinery, a highly improved Schooling infrastructure does seem a closer reality!

 

NEP 2020: Introduction & Overview of School Education Policies
NEP 2020: Student-centric Policies in School Education
NEP 2020: Teacher-centric Policies in School Education
NEP 2020: Policies on Learning Environment in Schools

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