NEP 2020 — Considerations

a. No Hard Separation. NEP 2020 gives clear mandate to move away from the current practice of streaming into Science, Arts/Humanities, and Commerce. Instead, students can choose subjects across Curricular Areas. Thus, the Secondary Stage design should enable both breadth through engagement with a variety of subjects across streams — including Art Education, Physical Education and Well-being, and Vocational Education — as well as depth in areas chosen by students.

b. Breadth and Depth. Students should have breadth and depth across multiple disciplines and depth in chosen subjects.

c. Choice and Flexibility. Students should have flexibility and choice across subjects and Curricular Areas.

d. Reduced Content Load. ‘Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials, to make space for critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery based, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning.’ [NEP 2020, 4.5]

e. Reduced Exam Pressures. ‘Board exams will also be made ‘easier’, in the sense that they will test primarily core capacities/competencies rather than months of coaching and memorization.’ [NEP 2020, 4.37]

Explanation of NEP 2020 — Considerations in Secondary Stage: –

a. No Hard Separation: The NEP 2020 emphasizes moving away from the traditional practice of dividing students into distinct streams such as Science, Arts/Humanities, and Commerce. Instead, it encourages students to choose subjects from various Curricular Areas. This means that students will have the opportunity to select subjects based on their interests and passions, regardless of which traditional stream they might have been categorized into previously. This approach aims to provide a more well-rounded education and allow students to explore a broader range of subjects, including Art Education, Physical Education and Well-being, and Vocational Education. Additionally, the design of education at the Secondary Stage should support both a wide exposure to different subjects and a deeper focus on the subjects students are most interested in.

b. Breadth and Depth: The NEP 2020 envisions students acquiring both breadth and depth in their education. This means that students should have exposure to multiple disciplines and subjects, ensuring a broad understanding of various areas of knowledge. At the same time, they should also be able to delve deeply into the subjects they are passionate about. This approach aims to provide a holistic education that nurtures a well-rounded perspective while allowing students to specialize in their chosen areas of interest.

c. Choice and Flexibility: The policy underscores the importance of offering students the freedom to choose subjects and Curricular Areas based on their individual interests and aptitudes. This kind of flexibility in education helps students engage more actively with their studies and pursue learning paths that resonate with their aspirations. The idea is to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to education and instead cater to the diverse interests and talents of students.

d. Reduced Content Load: The NEP 2020 suggests that the curriculum should focus on essential concepts and knowledge, reducing the excessive content load that students are often burdened with. By streamlining the curriculum to its core essentials, there’s more space for fostering critical thinking, holistic learning approaches, inquiry-based learning, discovery-based learning, discussion-based learning, and analysis-based learning. This shift aims to move beyond rote memorization and encourage students to think critically, analyze information, and engage deeply with the subject matter.

e. Reduced Exam Pressures: The policy acknowledges that the current examination system can often lead to excessive pressure on students, with a focus on extensive coaching and memorization. The NEP 2020 proposes making board exams “easier” in the sense that they will assess students’ core capacities and competencies rather than solely relying on their ability to memorize large amounts of information. This change is intended to encourage a more comprehensive evaluation of students’ understanding, application of knowledge, and critical thinking skills, reducing the emphasis on rote learning and exam-centric preparation.


The NEP 2020 promotes a departure from rigid subject divisions (Science, Arts, Commerce) in favor of interdisciplinary learning. Students can choose subjects across areas, fostering both broad engagement (Art, PE, Vocational) and focused depth. This approach prioritizes breadth and depth across disciplines, offers flexibility in subject choice, reduces content load for critical thinking and holistic learning, and aims to ease exam pressures by assessing core capacities rather than rote memorization. Curricular Structure at Secondary Stage

a. To enable the vision of NEP 2020, the Secondary Stage will be designed in two phases —Grades 9 and 10, and Grades 11 and 12. In Grades 9 and 10, students engage with a breadth of curriculum across Curricular Areas. In Grades 11 and 12, more specialisations and choices are available to students while still maintaining significant breadth.

b. Grades 9 and 10 will ensure breadth, building on the learning achieved in the Middle Stage with clear continuity between the two stages.

i. Study 3 Languages — R1, R2, R3 — at least two of which are native to India Study 7 subjects — Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Social Science, Science, Art Education, Physical Education and Well-being, Vocational Education, and Interdisciplinary Areas. Each of these subjects will be a well-integrated and coherent study of multiple disciplines; for example, in Science — Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and

Earth Science. Again, the emphasis would be on learning core concepts/competencies rather than the memorisation of facts.(See Figure 2.3i)

ii. Learning Standards for these subjects are articulated in the corresponding Curricular

Areas for this phase in this NCF, and it is expected that all students attain these Learning Standards. (See Part C, Chapters 2-9)

iii. All Secondary Schools will need to offer 3 Languages as well as all the 7 subjects, so that all students are able to complete Grade 10. Out of these, Art, Physical Education and Well-being, and Vocational Education would be examined locally. (See § on


c. Grades 11 and 12 will enable depth of study based on choices that students make.

i. To ensure that students have a depth of learning across a range of human knowledge,

students will have to:

1) Choose two Languages from Group 1, at least one of which is native to India.

2) Choose four subjects (with an optional fifth subject) from at least two of the

following groups:

Group 2: Art Education, Physical Education and Well-being, Vocational


Group 3: Social Science and Humanities, Interdisciplinary Areas

Group 4: Science, Mathematics & Computational Thinking

(See Figure 2.3ii)

These Groups have been created to address the requirement of breadth of study in

NEP 2020, which is why there is a requirement to choose subjects from at least two

groups. In the longer term, as schools develop the requisite capacity, it will be

desirable for students to have to take subjects from all three Groups above to develop

well-rounded thinking. (For more details on Groups, Curricular Areas, and Subjects

see Figure 2.3ii)

The following are some of the key considerations for designing the subject courses in Grades 11 and 12.

1) In the case of subjects based on academic disciplines, the intent would be to give adequate exposure to the key conceptual structures and theories of the discipline and develop capacities of inquiry in that discipline. The students would develop an understanding of how this discipline behind the subject fits within the Curricular Area and the open questions that the discipline is currently engaging with. This would enable students to make informed decisions about the pursuit of this discipline in higher education or to study it on their own.

2) In case of Interdisciplinary Areas, a very wide range of subjects can be offered. Art Education can offer specific forms of art as subjects, while Physical Education and Well-being can offer specialisations based on practices such as Yoga. In the case of vocational areas, the subject should equip students to enter the world of work in a particular vocation. Contemporary subjects, such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, Holistic Health, Organic Living, and Global Citizenship Education, as recommended by NEP 2020 can be offered as courses in appropriate Groups. An illustrative list of subjects is given in Figure 2.3ii.

3) This NCF states the broad aims for the Curricular Areas and does not specify the Learning Standards for Grades 11 and 12 that must be achieved in each subject. These have to be articulated specifically in terms of Competencies and Learning Outcomes for each subject by syllabus developers. However, this NCF has specific illustrations of a few disciplines (See Part C, Chapter 10).

4) Since students would have a wide choice, syllabus/course designers of subjects should not assume that students would choose a ‘complementing’ subject. For example, the Biology courses in Grade 11 and 12 cannot be designed on the assumption that students are enrolled in Chemistry in their Grade 11 and 12.

5) Subjects can be offered at different levels. For example, there can be a Basic Mathematics subject as well as Advanced Mathematics. Students will be given the choice of opting for different levels.

ii. Students are expected to make their choices on the basis of their passions and interests,

and their future plans either in the world of work or in higher education after their school completion. See Figure 2.3iv for some illustrative combinations that students may choose.

Below Pic Figure 2.3ii

NCFSE-2023 -Secondary Stage

Explanation of Curricular Structure In the Secondary Stage,

a. Secondary Stage Phases:

  • In the Secondary Stage, there are two phases: Grades 9 and 10, and Grades 11 and 12.
  • In Grades 9 and 10, students learn a wide variety of subjects from different areas.
  • In Grades 11 and 12, students have more choices and can specialize while still learning broadly.

b. Grades 9 and 10:

  • During these grades, students’ study three languages, with at least two being Indian languages.
  • They learn seven subjects, like Math, Social Studies, Science, Arts, Physical Education, Vocational Education, and more. These subjects are a mix of different areas.
  • The focus is on understanding core concepts rather than just memorizing facts.

c. Grades 11 and 12:

  • These grades allow students to specialize in subjects they choose.
  • They pick two languages, one being Indian, and then choose four subjects from different groups: Art and PE, Social Studies, Science, and more.
  • This mix ensures a broad education.
  • For academic subjects, the aim is to understand the main ideas and theories of the subject.
  • For interdisciplinary subjects, like Art or Physical Education, students can pick specific areas to study.
  • Vocational subjects prepare students for specific jobs.
  • Modern topics like AI or Global Citizenship can also be studied.
  • While the NCF provides the overall goals, specific details for each subject are created by curriculum designers.
  • Students have freedom in their choices. For example, they can take both basic and advanced levels of a subject.
  • Students decide based on their interests and future plans.

NEP 2020 outlines how high school education will work in two phases: Grades 9 and 10 focus on learning a variety of subjects, while Grades 11 and 12 let students choose their favorite subjects to specialize in. Students will get a broad education and also have a chance to dive deep into what they’re passionate about, whether it’s academic subjects or practical skills.The goal is to prepare students well for their future studies or careers.