Changes in early childhood & k12 education

What has changed in early childhood and K-12 education?

Online learning and modern innovations have brought about a shift in the way K-12 education is imparted. Along with the emergence of advanced technology, we have a new teaching structure for the Indian education system. The practices are recalibrated to complement technological capacities with the introduction of new policies.

The latest one is the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. It is paving the way for large-scale reforms across early childhood education and higher education institutes. The policy emphasises systemic and institutional improvements to regulation, governance and promotion of multidisciplinary academics and research in the Indian K-12 education landscape. The core tenets of the policy are defined as “Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, Accountability” - with an aim to transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub. With the introduction of NEP 2020, vital developments are expected in the education sector for students and teachers, learning and teaching methods and overall institutional management. The future of the Indian education system appears bright with these transformations.

The NEP 2020 covers the entire span of education from early childhood education to K-12 education to higher education. Here are a few highlights of the policy:

Introducing a student-focussed, tech-led curriculum

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the ongoing digital era. They are exposed to key technologies that shape the world today. From Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Virtual/Augmented reality to Big Data - technologies play a vital role in the current education scenario in India. This new-age education framework includes coding and computational thinking skills as well so that students have diverse career options.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, digitisation of the Indian early childhood education sector has been boosted. Remote learning is getting accepted more widely – a trend that is likely to continue even after the pandemic. This has transformed the role of teachers in the learning journey of a student. Now they can apply innovative methods that make education more experiential, flexible and research-driven. It enables students to learn at their own pace and understand concepts better.

Offering a flexible choice of steams and subjects

The Indian education sector is moving towards a offering blend of science, arts and commerce streams to students. The line between arts and sciences, curricular and extra-curricular activities, and vocational and academic streams is blurring by the day. Students can select subjects of their preference across streams. For instance, a student can choose a combination of history, chemistry and music. The fluidity of such a framework empowers students to hone their skills and cognitive abilities for enhanced performance.

Blending diverse learning modes to maximise learning

The hybrid model of K-12 education opens up opportunities for the participative and broad-based learning experience. Adaptation of such blended learning practices offers a flexible and efficient system of education. This includes online teaching techniques, e-courses, and learning apps. This is just the beginning, as the scope is likely to increase to complement the at-home learning trends. The digital content can be offered in diverse global and vernacular languages, further boosting the growth of India’s EdTech sector.

But does that lose the significance of a classroom? Not really. The classroom time is reserved for practical studies, collaborations with other students and more. The use of competent technologies will drive a more immersive learning experience in the classroom and outside of it.

Teaching the teachers about the new education practices

Teachers play a pivotal role in upscaling the Indian academic system. Focussed training modules empower the teachers to win over their technological challenges. Educational institutions have more emphasis on teachers’ upskilling to facilitate flexible and improved teaching practices. Appropriate technical know-how enables teachers to thrive with innovative online teaching methods and also strengthen student engagement and subject comprehension. Most importantly, with advanced assessment technology, teachers can deliver conclusive analysis to improve a student's academic performance.

Inspiring gifted children to excel

Indian early childhood education sector focuses on socially and economically disadvantaged groups (SEDGs). They may include gender, socio-cultural, identities and disabilities. Children with disabilities can attend regular school from the foundational stage to higher education. Here, institutions and teachers play a vital role with cross-disability training and technology-based tools tailored to suit their needs.

The waves of change in the Indian education sector have opened multiple learning opportunities for students. It has also levelled the field for schools that were divided based on geographies, technological access, quality of academics and faculty. The NEP 2020 brought about curriculum modification and increased focus and funds dedicated to technology-led teacher training programs. This is a welcome change that can drive the promising future of Indian K-12 education.

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Mangesh Sawant

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