NEP 2020: Student-centric Policies in School Education

Aug 22, 2020


Which is the foremost Student-centric Policy revision of NEP 2020?

NEP 2020 constitutes the 5+3+3+4 structure, re-configuring the previous 10+2 academic structure (4+3+3+2). 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 in the new 5+3+3+4 structure, respectively.
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.


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 Part 2, addressing “School Education: Student-centric Policies”.

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

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


Ideal School Students, as envisaged by NEP 2020:
ideal students


Let’s check the important Student-centric policies of NEP 2020:

1. Say NO to “rote learning” (by-heart learning), and get ready to “Learn how to learn”!
Learn How to learn

This is in line with the requirements of the fast-paced & ever-changing world, where “smart working” is preferred over “hard working”, and where abilities to “adapt swiftly” and “innovate spontaneously” assumes critical importance. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program recommends “Discovery-based learning” & “Discussion-based learning” to achieve this objective.

2. Give due importance to one’s mother-tongue!
mother-tongue first

The medium of instruction will be the student’s home language, up to 6th grade. The same is recommended until 8th grade. This policy will revitalize the otherwise-withering Indian languages, and is expected to give better comprehensive & expressive capabilities to students.

3. The Three-language learning paradigm:
Besides the student’s home language, there’s provision to learn two other Indian languages (from the 22 languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution). This approach is to promote Multilingualism, and it will begin in the Foundational Stage itself. Sanskrit will be an important option throughout the Schooling period.

4. The Multi-disciplinary learning approach:

Upholding the Holistic & Integrated style of education, every student would take lessons from various disciplines that would make him/her better-equipped to face the modern world. The BIGGER PICTURE is always kept in mind. As an output of this Policy, a Doctor of Medicine is most likely to have a reasonably-good grasp of arts, farming and music, say. Cool, right?!


5. Simplified and highly-engaging curriculum!
Why should formal education be boring & sometimes a torture?
Please save me
Resorting to a simplified curriculum and engaging pedagogy, with minimum text books, students will now follow an activity-based, fun-filled learning style until 8th grade. There will be minimum load of text books on students, and their school bags will be much lighter! With each higher grade, the curriculum would slowly and steadily pick up momentum, adding material that would merge smoothly with the student’s learning curve.

6. The critical High School (or Secondary School) Stage is made a lot easier!
This is a critical phase, with four years of multidisciplinary study. It will build on the subject-oriented pedagogical and curricular style of the Middle Stage, with greater depth, greater critical thinking, greater attention to life aspirations, and greater flexibility and student choice. This phase will adequately prepare the Student for University education. Highly-engaging pedagogy will make this phase easier.

7. Enhanced focus on India:

Why should we ignore our local heroes, and be obsessed with the foreign ones?!
Students would be taught Indian culture, its heritage, traditions and its heroes in every sphere like Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Arts and Engineering. Indian scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Madhava, Patanjali, Panini and Thiruvalluvar would be recognized. World-class institutions of ancient India, such as Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila and Vallabhi will be academically rebuilt & revisited. This would develop better self-respect, confidence and appreciation for own country in the minds of students, which will go a long way towards national integration.

8. Let’s LIVE the principle Unity in Diversity!

India’s diversity in culture, religion, language and race must not hinder its progress as a Nation. Every student will be introduced to his nation’s diversity at a very young age, which will be developed consistently in higher grades. A module on student’s own “Identity” is included, to help him understand and interact with his Society better. The fact that Education is a great leveler and is the best tool for achieving Unity in Diversity will always be kept in mind. In the Middle grades (6 to 8), there’s this “The Languages of India” program, which will introduce & familiarize all major languages of the nation before Students. It’ll be fun, for sure!

9. Students have flexibility & better choices in the Secondary Schooling stage!

Students will have better flexibility in learning, where he/she can structure the curriculum starting from the secondary schooling stage. Subjects in physical education, arts, and vocational crafts offer choices.

10. Option to study foreign languages:
foreign languages

Students have the option to learn foreign languages in the secondary schooling stage. Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, or Russian can be some of the options.


11. Vocational Training:
vocational training

Aligned to the holistic / multidisciplinary / integrated learning principle, every Student will take vocational training in the secondary schooling stage. Carpentry, Metal work, Pottery, Electrical work and Gardening / Farming are a few vocational crafts offered. Locally available talent or expertise (‘specialized instructors’) may be hired and utilized here.

12. Developing soft skills, cognitive skills & Life skills:
Students will be given adequate training on soft / cognitive / Life skills like teamwork, communication, resilience, emotional intelligence, problem-solving techniques, creativity, critical
thinking, ethics, Constitutional values, spirit of service, democratic spirit, cleanliness, courtesy, etiquette, scientific temper, empathy, compassion, courage, perseverance & grit, liberty, responsibility, pluralism, equality, justice, tolerance, human rights, gender equality, non-violence, global citizenship, crisis management, healthcare basics (like first-aid) and leadership. Don’t worry, all these will be done through interesting, entertaining and engaging activities!
say NO to drugs

Scientific explanations of the detrimental and damaging effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs will be given emphatically.

13. The much-needed special focus on Technology and the Digital world:

Great emphasis is given to technological education because of the direction that today’s world is taking towards digitization, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Machine learning, AI, computational mathematics, computer science, data science, smart apps, Digital libraries etc are given due importance. Teachers will be given consistent technology training.

14. 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.

Specially qualified teachers and supporting staff will be employed to teach/support the physically or mentally-challenged students. Local sign languages will be respected and taught, wherever possible and relevant. The under-represented groups of the Country will be identified and given special attention. The Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) will be adjusted to Students’ advantage in such cases / areas (like 25:1 rather than the standard 30:1).

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.
School for All

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.

15. Caring for Students’ all-around health:
Along with the existing mid-day meal program, a staple breakfast program will also be undertaken to ensure students’ physical health. Counselors, Mentors will be employed to support students in their emotional issues.

16. Positive Changes in Student assessment:
This must be happy news for all kids!

The student assessment methodology will be completely revamped to ensure transparency, simplicity and ease. Students will be tested for their conceptual understanding rather than rote-learning. Exam-fear will be a thing of the past, the policy envisages. The overall approach can be seen as ‘light but tight’.

There will be formal assessments in grades 3, 5 & 8, along with board examinations in 10 & 12. The Grade 3 examination would test basic literacy, numeracy and other foundational skills.

17. What about gifted students, exceptional talent?
Gifted Kids

Geniuses, please raise your hands!!

Specially talented or gifted students will be identified, utilized, promoted and nurtured to scale greater heights. They can be utilized in peer-tutoring. There will be accelerated mode of learning for them. BEd programs may allow specialization in the education of gifted children, and Teachers with such specialization will be employed to coach them.

18. No disparity across disciplines; no hard separations!
This rule is applicable to both Student and Teacher communities. Ensuring Equity, NEP 2020 strictly prohibits disparity in every aspect of teaching and learning. Every subject for learning will have equal value, respect and chances. Teachers in various schools – foundational to secondary level – will have more or less the same pay, roles, importance and respect.

19. Focus on Local Culture / flavor / language / personalities / teachers:

There will be adequate focus on the Student’s Local Place attributes. Its culture, flavor, folklore, traditions, language, heroes, eminent personalities, art forms etc will be given due importance. Teachers from the local community must find sufficient representation in every School’s teaching staff. Eminent local personalities / talents will be invited to formally teach and interact with Students. They can also be utilized in the “vocational training” module.

20. Special mention of “Foundational Literacy and Numeracy”:

One of the core purposes of Education is to ensure “Foundational Literacy and Numeracy” among all adults. Every adult must be able to read & write (at least in the native language), and do basic arithmetic functions. For the student community, foundational literacy and numeracy must be achieved by grade 3. For the whole of India, 2025 is the target year.


21. What’s NEP 2020’s take on the University entrance test?
Rote-learning must not be the criterion for University admission. Instead, it must be conceptual understanding, adaptability, innovativeness and the ability to learn. All admission test and process will be handled by a single Government agency, which will ensure standardization, transparency and focus.


Let’s summarize:

With promises of lighter school bags, highly-engaging pedagogy, lots of fun ‘n activities, easier examinations, multidisciplinary learning, concession to the poor & disadvantaged, breakfast & mid-day meal programs, and friendlier schooling environment & teaching staff, the new Policy set does seem appealing! If its realization or implementation can be equally good, there’s no doubt that Schooling will be lot more pleasing and exciting than what it is today!


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




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