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NEP National Education Policy 2020

Chapter 2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy: An Urgent & Necessary Prerequisite to Learning

2.1. The ability to read and write, and perform basic operations with numbers, is a necessary foundation and an indispensable prerequisite for all future schooling and lifelong learning. However, various governmental, as well as non-governmental surveys, indicate that we are currently in a learning crisis: a large proportion of students currently in elementary school - estimated to be over 5 crore in number - have not attained foundational literacy and numeracy, i.e., the ability to read and comprehend basic text and the ability to carry out basic addition and subtraction with Indian numerals.

2.2. Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy for all children will thus become an urgent national mission, with immediate measures to be taken on many fronts and with clear goals that will be attained in the short term (including that every student will attain foundational literacy and numeracy by Grade 3). The highest priority of the education system will be to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy in primary school by 2025. The rest of this Policy will become relevant for our students only if this most basic learning requirement (i.e., reading, writing, and arithmetic at the foundational level) is first achieved. To this end, a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on priority. Accordingly, all State/UT governments will immediately prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools, identifying stage-wise targets and goals to be achieved by 2025, and closely tracking and monitoring progress of the same.

2.3. First, teacher vacancies will be filled at the earliest, in a time-bound manner - especially in disadvantaged areas and areas with large pupil-to-teacher ratios or high rates of illiteracy. Special attention will be given to employing local teachers or those with familiarity with local languages. A pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of under 30:1 will be ensured at the level of each school; areas having large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students will aim for a PTR of under 25:1. Teachers will be trained, encouraged, and supported - with continuous professional development - to impart foundational literacy and numeracy.

2.4. On the curricular side, there will be an increased focus on foundational literacy and numeracy - and generally, on reading, writing, speaking, counting, arithmetic, and mathematical thinking - throughout the preparatory and middle school curriculum, with a robust system of continuous formative/adaptive assessment to track and thereby individualize and ensure each student's learning. Specific hours daily - and regular events over the year-on activities involving these subjects will be dedicated to encourage and enthuse students. Teacher education and the early grade curriculum will be redesigned to have a renewed emphasis on foundational literacy and numeracy.

2.5. Currently, with the lack of universal access to ECCE, a large proportion of children already fall behind within the first few weeks of Grade 1. Thus, to ensure that all students are school ready, an interim 3-month play-based ‘school preparation module’ for all Grade 1 students, consisting of activities and workbooks around the learning of alphabets, sounds, words, colours, shapes, and numbers, and involving collaborations with peers and parents, will be developed by NCERT and SCERTs.

2.6. A national repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy will be made available on the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA). Technological interventions to serve as aids to teachers and to help bridge any language barriers that may exist between teachers and students, will be piloted and implemented

2.7. Due to the scale of the current learning crisis, all viable methods will be explored to support teachers in the mission of attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy. Studies around the world show one-on-one peer tutoring to be extremely effective for learning not just for the learner, but also for the tutor. Thus, peer tutoring can be taken up as a voluntary and joyful activity for fellow students under the supervision of trained teachers and by taking due care of safety aspects. Additionally, it will also be made far easier for trained volunteers - from both the local community and beyond - to participate in this large-scale mission. Every literate member of the community could commit to teaching one student/person how to read, it would change the country’s landscape very quickly. States may consider establishing innovative models to foster such peer-tutoring and volunteer activities, as well as launch other programmes to support learners, in this nationwide mission to promote foundational literacy and numeracy.

2.8. Enjoyable and inspirational books for students at all levels will be developed, including through high-quality translation (technology assisted as needed) in all local and Indian languages, and will be made available extensively in both school and local public libraries. Public and school libraries will be significantly expanded to build a culture of reading across the country. Digital libraries will also be established. School libraries will be set up - particularly in villages - to serve the community during non-school hours, and book clubs may meet in public/school libraries to further facilitate and promote widespread reading. A National Book Promotion Policy will be formulated, and extensive initiatives will be undertaken to ensure the availability, accessibility, quality, and readership of books across geographies, languages, levels, and genres.

2.9. Children are unable to learn optimally when they are undernourished or unwell. Hence, the nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed, through healthy meals and the introduction of well-trained social workers, counsellors, and community involvement into the schooling system. Furthermore, research shows that the morning hours after a nutritious breakfast can be particularly productive for the study of cognitively more demanding subjects and hence these hours may be leveraged by providing a simple but energizing breakfast in addition to midday meals. In locations where hot meals are not possible, a simple but nutritious meal, e.g., groundnuts/chana mixed with jaggery and/or local fruits may be provided. All school children shall undergo regular health check-ups especially for 100% immunization in schools and health cards will be issued to monitor the same.

( Source : PDF of National Education Policy 2020 at Ministry of Education, India website.)

< 1. ECCE Early Childhood Care and Education  |  2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy  |  3. Curtailing Dropouts and Ensuring Universal Access to Education >

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NEP 2020 Introduction


1. ECCE Early Childhood Care and Education : The Foundation of Learning
2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy: An Urgent & Necessary Prerequisite to Learning
3. Curtailing Dropout Rates and Ensuring Universal Access to Education at All Levels
4. Curriculum and Pedagogy in Schools: Learning Should be Holistic, Integrated, Enjoyable, and Engaging
5. Teachers
6. Equitable and Inclusive Education: Learning for All
7. Efficient Resourcing and Effective Governance through School Complexes/Clusters
8. Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education


9. Quality Universities and Colleges: A New and Forward-looking Vision for India’s Higher Education System
10. Institutional Restructuring and Consolidation
11. Towards a More Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education
12. Optimal Learning Environments and Support for Students
13. Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty
14. Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education
15. Teacher Education
16. Reimagining Vocational Education
17. Catalysing Quality Academic Research in All Fields through a new National Research Foundation
18. Transforming the Regulatory System of Higher Education
19. Effective Governance and Leadership for Higher Education Institutions


20. Professional Education
21. Adult Education and Lifelong Learning
22. Promotion of Indian Languages, Arts and Culture
23. Technology Use and Integration
24. Online and Digital Education: Ensuring Equitable Use of Technology


25. Strengthening the Central Advisory Board of Education
26. Financing: Affordable and Quality Education for All
27. Implementation
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