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BW Businessworld

New NCF Draft: Will It Be A Game Changer?

The new NCF draft proposes significant changes in the education system of India, with a focus on holistic learning and skill development

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On Thursday (April 6), as a follow-up to the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), the Education Ministry released a pre-draft of the National Curriculum Framework for school education and invited feedback from diverse stakeholders such as teachers, parents, students, educational institutions, subject experts, scholars, childcare personnel, and others.

After receiving feedback, the committee will finalise the next rounds of discussions involving the National Steering Committee led by ISRO Chairman K Kasturirangan.

With the National Education Policy (NEP) already launched in 2020, many people may be wondering about the announcement of the pre-draft of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF). In this article, BW Businessworld provides a comprehensive explanation of the situation.

What Is NEP 2020

The Indian government announced the National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020 to transform the education system in India, comprising both school education and higher education. School education lays the foundation for a child's life, and NEP 2020 recommends a shift from the existing 10+2 structure to a 5+3+3+4 structure. The policy emphasises developmental perspectives and suggests curricular and pedagogical shifts at different stages, including foundational, preparatory, middle, and secondary. 

As per the government statement, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aims to focus on competency-based education, integrating cultural rootedness, equity and inclusion, multilingualism, experiential learning, reducing content load, and integrating arts and sports into the curriculum.

Evolution of National Education Policy and its Frameworks in India

While the government does not frequently change the education policy, NEP 2020 is the third NEP since 1947. The first NEP was launched in 1968, and there were no changes for 18 years until the second NEP was launched in 1986 with new amendments. The latest education policy was launched in 2020. However, the policy only provided the structure to move forward, and the framework creates the rules, structure, guidelines, and other details to implement it properly. The framework is typically released three to four years after the NEP announcement. The first framework was released in 1975, followed by the second in 1988, the third in 2000, the fourth in 2005, and the latest one is expected to be released in 2023.

All the current NCERT books, with the exception of the deletions, are based on the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005.

What Will Happen

The Indian school system may undergo a major restructuring under a new framework. For instance, a student who has picked a combination of physics, maths and chemistry cannot simultaneously study history or political science. But under the proposed system, that will be possible as the NEP envisages "no hard separation" among arts, commerce and sciences. "Modular Board Examinations will be offered as opposed to a single examination at the end of the year. The final certification will be based on the cumulative result of each of the examinations," states the pre-draft NCF.

The proposed changes, which focus on competency-based education, cultural rootedness, equity and inclusion, multilingualism, experiential learning, reducing content load, and integrating arts and sports into the curriculum, aim to improve the quality of education in India.

As per the proposed changes, students in classes IX and X will have to study 16 courses over a period of two years, which have been categorized into eight curricular areas. The changes also include conducting board exams twice a year using a semester system for class 12, as well as providing students with the freedom to pursue a mix of subjects from different streams such as science, humanities, and commerce. These changes are expected to provide students with a more comprehensive and holistic education, preparing them for a rapidly changing world.

Who Is Behind Wall

The Ministry of Education in India has formed the National Steering Committee to work towards the development of National Curriculum Frameworks. The committee was formed on September 21, 2021, and will be chaired by K Kasturirangan, an Indian space scientist who was the former head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Kasturirangan has also received three major civilian awards from the Government of India: the Padma Shri (1982), Padma Bhushan (1992), and Padma Vibhushan (2000). He was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of NEP 2020.

The other members of the committee include Mahesh Chandra Pant, the Present Chancellor of NIEPA (National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration); Govind Prasad Sharma, the Chairman of the National Book Trust; Najma Akhtar, the Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia University; T V Kattimani, the First Vice-Chancellor of Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh (CTUAP); Michel Danino, an Indian author of French origin who is a guest professor at IIT Gandhinagar and was conferred with Padma Shri in 2017 for his contribution towards Literature & Education; Milind Kamble, an Indian entrepreneur and recipient of Padma Shri in 2013 who is the Chairperson of IIM, Jammu; Prof. (Dr.) Jagbir Singh, the Former Professor and HoD, Department of Punjabi, University of Delhi, who is appointed as the new Chancellor of the Central University of Punjab, Bathinda; Manjul Bhargava, an American mathematician of Indian origin who is a recipient of the Fields Medal in 2014; M K Sridhar, a trainer and a Social Activist for Social and National causes who was conferred with Karnataka Rajyothsava Award by the Government of Karnataka and the General President Gold Medal by the Indian Science Congress Association; Dhir Jhingran, the Founder Director of Language and Learning Foundation (LLF), a non-profit focused on improving foundational learning of children in government primary schools; and Shankar Maruwada, the Co-founder and CEO at EkStep Foundation and an entrepreneur and marketing professional with a wide range of experience working on large-scale projects such as the AADHAAR, India’s National Identification Programme, where he was the Head of Demand Generation and Marketing.

How Schools Reacting

Sumitra Goswami, VP Academics, Orchids The International School
The new policy is a welcome move as it will bring a focused and holistic learning outcome amongst students. Rather than being a burden, it will definitely help students explore knowledge in different fields with a wide spectrum.I believe the importance given to subjects such as humanities, vocational education, arts and interdisciplinary areas will help nurture talented and skilled students who will contribute to the country's growth. At Orchids The International School we had already introduced interdisciplinary subjects and are already offering them in our curriculum for three years.

Jonali Das Principal, of Modern English School, Kahilipara 
The New Curriculum Framework paves the way for students to immensely benefit from an interdisciplinary structure. It underlines the overall development of students via an extensive focus on experiential learning and the incorporation of sports and arts in the curriculum which was a much-needed move.

We believe it is a step in the right direction to nurture our students for emerging opportunities and challenges in the digital age as well as futureproof them for Industry 4.0.'