Hyderabad: The sweeping reforms spelt out in the New National Education Policy 2020, the first policy formulation in the education sector in 34 years, have largely been welcomed across the board.
Among the changes proposed are a restructuring of school education, replacing the 10+2 model with a four-stage progression that will take the sting out of the board exams. Also, a SAT-like university entrance test will be introduced with the option of choosing a four-year bachelor’s degree at the undergraduate level.
BVR Mohan Reddy, executive chairman of the IT company Cyient and chairman of the board of governors of IIT Hyderabad, called it a watershed moment for Indian education. "Large scale transformational reforms in school and higher education are the need of the hour. The policy presents several forward-looking initiatives for universal access to education, and paves the way for high student-inclusion," he said.
However, there were reservations expressed over tweaks to the medium of instruction as set out in the new policy. As per the NEP 2020, the emphasis will be on mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction till Grade 5 at least, preferably till Grade 8 and beyond as well.
Educationist Vasireddy Amarnath, chairman of Slate the School, Hyderabad, found this it impractical. "In Hyderabad, for example, schools have students from various backgrounds and communities. There are students speaking Urdu, Malayalam, Bengali and so on. So how do we derive the medium of instruction in such cases?"
Dr Usha Reddy, principal of Meridian School, Hyderabad--who has a role in drafting the policy -- shared a similar thought: "Using the mother tongue to help a child comprehend better is understandable and teachers even today opt for local language in class. However, the decision to whether or not put it down as a policy should be left to schools and parents."
She further added that for parents who want their child to be prepared for the global market, English as a language will continue to be the first choice.
The parents we spoke to were more concerned how the new policy will be implemented and whether the reforms will be heavier on their pockets. On the issue of medium of instruction, Anumod Thomas, father of three children, said, "The concept of using a local or regional language or even the mother tongue is not practical for families who move cities frequently. Students moving to a new region will find it difficult to grasp the local language. English is a binding language."