National Credit Framework : A shot in the arm for India’s Skill Revolution
From bustling cities to secluded villages, education in India is seen as the beacon of hope that creates the path to a more promising future for the individual and the Nation. Education lays the foundation upon which are built the dreams and aspirations of millions of citizens in the country. It is the key to realizing the nation’s full potential, as is beautifully articulated in the words of Nelson Mandela, "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world".
In recent years, the education system has undergone significant changes. The Indian government has implemented several guidelines and initiatives to enhance the quality of education and make it accessible to every student. In addition, India has been working on revising its educational policy with the roll out of the National Educational Policy 2020. NEP is a policy that encourages students to become lifelong learners and acquire the necessary skills to enter into a field of interest.
The NEP 2020 acknowledges that the current education system in India needs to be strengthened, as it is limited in its ability to balance classroom knowledge with skill development and hence has suggested several changes to address this inadequacy. The National Credit Framework has been designed to implement NEP and enhance the quality of education offered to our students. This will be instrumental in removing economic disparity among individuals by ensuring that education leads to employability and thus facilitates Nation-building.
What is the National Credit Framework?
The National Credit Framework (NCrF) has been jointly developed by UGC, AICTE, NCVET, NIOS, CBSE, NCERT, Ministry of Education, DGT, and Ministry of Skill Development to implement the vision and intent of NEP 2020. It seeks to make education more holistic by seamlessly integrating general (academic) education, vocational education and experiential learning. The NCrF has developed a comprehensive credit-based framework to establish and formalize a national credit accumulation and transfer system which will integrate both general & vocational education while ensuring mobility of candidates between the two systems to ensure continuous and on-going commitment to learning.
The NCrF provides for a broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic education that allows for need based curricular structures and enables the choice of creative combinations of subjects and disciplines. It encompasses the qualification frameworks for higher education, vocational & skill education and school education, namely National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF), National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) and National School Education Qualification Framework (NSEQF) also popularly known as National Curricular Framework (NCF) respectively.
Some of the key attributes of the NCrF are as follows:
Caters to the need for a multi-disciplinary and holistic education across sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities and sports by enabling multiple entry - multiple exit (MEME) pathways in general & vocational education
Provides for the accumulation, storage, transfer and redemption of credits for all learning across academic and vocational streams
Removes distinction and establishes academic equivalence between vocational & general education
Enables mobility within & between streams through the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC)
Ensures flexibility for students to choose their learning trajectories and career choices, including the option for mid-way course correction or modification, as per their talents and interests
NCrF also recognizes blended and online learning, thus promotes extensive use of technology in teaching and learning. This provision also improves access and opportunities for Divyangs.
Promotes the Internationalization of education by enabling equivalence of courses and qualifications, provisions for credit transfer, and encourages international exchange of students and faculty with foreign universities
Provisions for educational acceleration of gifted students with special learning abilities and recognizes knowledge and skills acquired informally through family inheritance, work experience, or other methods to enable their progression and mobility into the formal education and learning ecosystem
How are the credits measured?
The National Credit Framework ensures that the total number of Notional Learning Hours for credit assignments across school education, higher education, vocational education and skill development has to be 1200 hours per year, for which every student/learner will receive 40 credits. In addition, the credit points help the students choose the various programs available at multiple levels, this being one of the principles laid down by the National Credit Framework (NCrF). Furthermore, there are credits for additional courses or training during the learning experience. Moreover, the credit system ensures that the academic credits are rewarded by storing them digitally in the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) to award the degree earned in the recognized institute. In addition, credit systems include School and Higher education, which come under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS).
Is it a Win-win for all -- youth, academia, corporates and country?
The NCrF will enable the transformation of India by providing high quality education opportunities along with effective skill development. This will help to reap India’s demographic dividend by making education and skilling truly aspirational.
The NCrF promises to be a game changer by mainstreaming skill education and experiential learning including skills acquired in a professional capacity. This will help to make these skills an integral part of the education system thereby ensuring that the youth is provided with educational opportunities along with quality skills. Research corroborates that countries with higher levels and standards of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities in domestic and international job markets. The United Nations in the epic summit of 2015 on ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ places emphasis on ‘skill’ apart from the ‘basic necessities’ for people across the world. Employers in India are already grappling with the issue of employability of our young graduates. The NCrF strives to correct this problem and in the words of Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, Chairperson NCVET “Make India the skill capital of the world.”
Get Set to increase the uptake of apprentices and improve employability
India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 62% of its population in the working-age group (15-59 years), and over 54% of its total population below 25 years of age. In 2019, UNICEF had reported that at least 47% of Indian youth will not possess the education and skills necessary for employment by 2030. The NEP 2020 and NCrF are cognizant of these statistics and thus seek to correct the incongruities in our present education system. India’s demographic dividend needs both educational opportunities and effective skilling to be the driving force of economic growth and social development.
Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany and the United States are examples of countries which have a highly evolved apprenticeship program which enjoys the support of employers and is aligned with national and international qualification frameworks. The adoption of the NCrF can place India on the path to creating a similar growth trajectory for our unemployable youth and draw the focus back on Gandhi's philosophy of 'Shram Pratishtha' or hands-on learning.
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