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National Education Policy: New 5+3+3+4 structure and 10+2 system explained

Here is what the new pedagogical structure of 5+3+3+4 means, its various stages and impact on existing students

New education policy | New national education policy


In major “school to college” reforms, the government on July 28 unveiled the new National Education Policy that restructures school education by setting out 3-6 years as pre-school age and dilutes the emphasis on board exams, among other changes. One of the sweeping reforms is the transition from the decades-old 10+2 format to 5+3+3+4 structure. The policy aims at transforming the pedagogical structure from the existing 10 years + 2 years to a more inclusive transition from foundational to the secondary stage.

Here's all you need to know:

What is the 5+3+3+4 system of education?

The 5+3+3+4 structure brings into fold the already existing play schools within the ambit of ‘formal education'.

Will the 10+2 system of education now be redundant?

No. With the 5+3+3+4 system of education, the 10+2 system would not change in terms of the years a child spends within the formal education system in the country at the school level. The new structure brings into fold the already existing play schools within the ambit of ‘formal education’.

National Education Policy 2020: 5+3+3+4 system of education explained

Today, a student (in most urban cities) enters formal education at the age of 3 by means of play schools. Then, the child moves to a ‘school’ which is Kindergarten 1 and 2 and this is followed by 12 years of secondary then higher secondary education. The new structure now proposes dividing the same structure into cognitive developmental stages of the child – early childhood, school years, and secondary stage.

Know the age-wise break-up of the 5+3+3+4 system of education

Foundational years for age group of 3-8 years

The foundational years of a child's education will consist of 3 years of pre-school/Anganwadi education and 2 years of primary education, including class 1 and 2. It will be for the age group from 3-8. To this, the grades 1 and 2 or classes 1 and 2 for students of ages 6 to 8 would also be added, keeping the focus on development of language skills and teaching by  play-based and activity-based curriculum.

Preparatory stage for age group of 8-11 years

The preparatory stage under the National Education Policy will cover school education from class 3-5 with a focus on experimental learning. It will cover the age group of 8-11 years. The focus would shift to play, discovery and activity-based and interaction classroom learning. The focus till this stage would remain on the development of language and numeracy skills.

Middle stage for the age group of 11-14 years

This will cover school education from class 6-8 and will be for the age group of 11-14 years. The structure aims to transform the pedagogy from the existing system to a more experiential learning in the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences and humanities. The focus would be on critical learning objectives and not on learning by rote.

Secondary stage for 4 years

This will cover school education from classes 9-12 in two phases. The first phase will be 9-10 and second 11-12. The changes include a multidisciplinary study where students would be able to pick and choose any set of subjects from the available structure. The focus would be on greater critical thinking and flexibility, allowing children to pick subjects of their interests – even technical and arts.


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