West Bengal State Education Policy – The Government of West Bengal has notified the State Education Policy (SEP), 2023. This includes introduction of a semester system at the secondary and higher secondary levels in government-run educational institutions, among other key provisions.
The State Government of West Bengal formed an Expert Committee in April 2023 to formulate an educational policy.
The Committee conducted an extensive review of initiatives undertaken by other states, such as Maharashtra and Kerala, and reports from previous education commissions at the national and state levels before presenting its recommendations.
The notification was issued after the State Education Policy (SEP) received approval from the state cabinet on August 7, 2023.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Key Highlights
The State Education Policy (SEP) encompasses a wide range of reforms and innovations.
Key highlights are as under:
- Educational Structure: Present structure of school education follows 5+4+2+2 pattern. It is proposed that the same structure be continued in the State.
- Three-Language Formula: A three-language formula for upper primary education (Class 5 to 8) emphasises the ‘mother tongue’ as the medium, with flexibility for a second language.
- ‘Bangla’ as a Subject: ‘Bangla’ will be introduced as a subject from Class I to Class 12 to promote linguistic diversity.
- Unique Identity Cards: Individual identity cards will maintain comprehensive educational records.
- Semester System: A phased semester system is recommended from Class 8 onwards to enhance assessment methods.
- Higher Secondary Emphasis: Focus on higher secondary education with challenging coursework, extracurricular activities, and a smoother transition to university.
- Higher Education: Measures to boost higher education include increasing Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), resource-sharing, and improving employability.
- Financing: Allocating 6% of GDP to the education sector for adequate resources.
- Swift Implementation: These changes are slated to be implemented in the upcoming academic year.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Goals
The State Education Policy (SEP) sets ambitious goals to transform the academic landscape in West Bengal:
- Achieving 100% GER: The policy aims to achieve a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 100% at the Secondary and Higher Secondary levels by 2030, ensuring access to quality education for every child.
- Promoting Vocational Proficiency: At least 50% of students graduating from Secondary and Higher Secondary education are expected to have proficiency in at least one vocational subject, bridging the gap between education and employability.
- Literacy and Numeracy: By 2025, the SEP strives to attain 100% proficiency in numeracy and literacy among students up to Class 3, laying a strong foundation for lifelong learning.
- Comprehensive Student Tracking: The policy emphasises the need for comprehensive tracking of every child’s academic journey within the state, ensuring they are prepared for a successful future.
- Optimising Educational Infrastructure: By maximising the utilisation of human and physical infrastructure in schools and higher education institutions, the SEP seeks to provide students the best possible learning environment.
- Higher Education GER: The policy aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio at the higher education level to 50% by 2035, enhancing access to tertiary education.
- International Excellence: By elevating educational institutions and students to international standards of excellence, West Bengal aspires to become a prominent education hub for India’s eastern and northeastern regions and neighbouring countries.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Recommendations for School Education
West Bengal State Education Policy – Structure of School Education
- The current school education structure in West Bengal follows a 5+4+2+2 pattern, starting with pre-primary, primary, upper primary, secondary, and higher secondary education.
- The proposed approach suggests retaining this structure but adding two years of early childhood education at Anganwadi centres.
- Afterwards, students would attend one year of pre-primary education at government or private pre-primary schools while keeping the primary, upper primary, secondary, and higher secondary frameworks unchanged.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
- West Bengal currently has around 1.2 lakh Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) serving over 82 lakh children aged 0-6 years, with more than 36 lakh falling within the 3-6 years age bracket.
- The School Education Department has introduced pre-primary classes in approximately 49,000 schools, and private unaided institutions also offer pre-primary education.
- The policy recommends efforts to co-locate AWCs with primary schools or, if not possible, establish a functional linkage using a hub-and-spoke model.
- The curriculum for AWCs will be carefully designed by the Expert Committee on School Education to facilitate a smooth transition to primary school levels.
- The Committee proposes the development of unique identity cards with embedded memory chips, encompassing records from age 3 (pre-primary) to Class 12.
- To enhance Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) efficiency, the recommendation includes establishing a state-level task force led by the Chief Secretary to foster inter-departmental coordination among various departments involved in child welfare and development.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Primary Education
- To achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) by 2025, the School Education Department of West Bengal has initiated a comprehensive campaign known as “Daksha Bangla”.
- This campaign aims to enhance learning outcomes and promote consistency and uniformity in education.
- The policy proposes reviewing and updating learning outcomes from pre-primary to Class 4.
- It encourages schools to implement enriching activities like ‘Anand Parisar’ and ‘Graduation Ceremony,’ introducing ‘Bangla’ as a subject from Class I to 12 for students in other mediums of instruction, and creating curricula, syllabi, and textbooks in languages aligned with government-approved mediums of instruction.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Upper Primary Education
- The policy recommends introducing a three-language formula for students in Classes 5 to 8 in West Bengal, emphasising the use of the mother tongue as the primary medium of instruction.
- This formula ensures language diversity, with languages such as Nepali, Santhali, English, Urdu, Hindi, and Kurmali being the medium of instruction in respective medium schools.
- The three-language formula primarily targets the upper primary level, considering developmental needs and capacities of students at this stage.
- It encourages active involvement of the students in promoting hygiene, effective communication, and collaborative skills, with initiatives like ‘Anand Parisar,’ ‘Graduation Ceremony,’ including the following activities to foster holistic development:
- Spelling Bee
- Creative Writing
- ‘Shishu Sansad’
- Additionally, there’s a focus on horizontal and vertical integration between higher-level and lower-level schools to facilitate mentorship and optimal resource utilisation.
- The rationalisation of teachers is also emphasised to maintain an appropriate Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR).
West Bengal State Education Policy – Secondary Education
- The policy recommends efforts to help students make informed career choices through accessible career counselling services.
- It emphasises the importance of integrating higher-level schools with lower-level ones to provide mentorship, optimise resources, and maintain an appropriate Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR).
- Encouraging students to participate in internship programs and summer projects is recommended to nurture critical thinking skills and provide exposure. Initiatives like the Vidyasagar Science Olympiad aim to ignite scientific curiosity in students.
- Additionally, programs such as ‘Anand Parisar’ for soft skill enhancement, ‘Graduation Ceremonies’ for recognizing student achievements, and various activities like Quiz, Spelling Bee, Creative writing, Oration, Debating, Storytelling, and ‘Shishu Sansad’ are consistently promoted to foster holistic development.
- Efforts are recommended to create synergy between secondary/higher secondary schools, Polytechnics, and Engineering/Medical Colleges, facilitating smoother transitions for students pursuing diverse educational paths.
- Curriculum and syllabus at various levels will be rigorously evaluated against national and international standards, with a phased introduction of a semester system for enhanced formative assessments starting from Class 8 and onwards over the next three years, promising a more dynamic and effective educational system.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Higher Secondary Education
- Schools in West Bengal are encouraged to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in higher education and future careers.
- This includes offering challenging coursework, promoting participation in extracurricular activities, and providing opportunities for students to explore various career options.
- Summer projects in collaboration with higher education institutions are also recommended to enhance exposure to practical learning experiences.
- To facilitate a smoother transition from school to university, the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE) may introduce a phased semester system in Classes 11 and 12.
- Examinations may include a combination of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and descriptive questions. Model MCQ books may be developed for promoting practice among the students.
- The SEP advises the State to establish a policy ensuring high-quality libraries and laboratories in schools.
- Initiatives like the Vidyasagar Science Olympiad are encouraged to nurture scientific curiosity among the students..
- Horizontal and vertical integration between higher-level and lower-level schools should be considered to facilitate mentoring by advanced institutions and optimal resource utilisation.
- Rationalising teacher allocation is recommended to maintain an appropriate Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR).
- Higher secondary students are encouraged to engage in internship programs and summer projects related to their chosen subjects. Collaborations with media houses, publishing firms, and corporate entities can be explored for these opportunities.
- Efforts should also be made to promote convergence between professional institutions such as Hotel Management, Aviation, Tourism & Transport-related institutes and appropriate levels of schools to provide students with diverse educational pathways.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Digital Education and ICT
- The future of education is expected to be a hybrid model, combining traditional offline learning with the strategic use of digital technology to enhance the teaching and learning experience.
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools should be integrated into school education to benefit students and teachers.
- The Banglar Shiksha platform is identified as a key component in this transition. The School Education Department is recommended to prioritise the development of adequate ICT infrastructure and computer labs to support this initiative.
- To stay updated with technological advances, the curriculum should incorporate subjects related to cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), blockchain, robotics, and scientific computing.
- These subjects may be introduced at the higher secondary level to prepare students for the demands of the modern workforce.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Assessment and Evaluation
- In West Bengal, all government-aided/sponsored schools currently implement the ‘Peacock Model’ of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) up to Class 8.
- Extending this holistic assessment approach is recommended by maintaining a comprehensive report card based on the ‘Peacock Model’ from pre-primary to Class 12.
- To facilitate this, the School Education Department (SED) should utilise the Banglar Shiksha portal to create and maintain a holistic report card that tracks academic progress of the students throughout their academic journey, from pre-primary to Class 12.
- Furthermore, an annual State Achievement Survey (SAS) is suggested to assess the learning levels of students in Classes 3, 5, 8, and 10, providing valuable insights into the education system’s effectiveness.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Health and Nutrition
- The State offers hot cooked Mid-Day Meals (MDM) to approximately 1.15 crore students on a daily basis in approximately 84,000 schools up to Class 8.
- To ensure the nutritional quality of MDM, regular checks are essential. The policy advises schools to promote health awareness through camps, Special Health Days, and Exercise Days.
- Additionally, it recommends organising student health check-ups in collaboration with local Primary Healthcare Centres.
- Maintaining student health profiles at the school level is recommended. Schools can also involve students in maintaining kitchen gardens and introduce the ‘Shishu Sansad’ concept in all schools.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Comprehensive School Sports Policy
- The policy recommends creating a comprehensive ‘School Sports Policy’ aligned with the Sports Policy of the State.
- This policy will emphasise collaboration between various state departments, including School Education, Youth Services and Sports Department, Panchayat & Rural Development Department (P&RD) and Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Department (UDMA) to enhance sports and youth development initiatives in schools.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Inclusive Education
The State Government of West Bengal aims to ensure that every child, especially those from traditionally marginalised communities, has access to education. A dynamic mapping system will be developed to plan inclusive education effectively.
- Children with Special Needs (CWSN): To support children with special needs (CWSN) in schools, the state will provide assistive devices, technology-based tools, and teaching-learning materials. A comprehensive policy will facilitate the transfer of CWSN to schools with higher concentrations, ensuring minimal travel distances. Efforts will be made to hire special education teachers within five years.
- Out of School Children (OoSC): The State intends to achieve a 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the secondary and higher secondary levels by 2030.
- An annual child survey via a mobile app will identify OoSC, with data integrated into the Banglar Shiksha portal. Children aged 14+ will be encouraged to join open schools like National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and West Bengal Council of Rabindra Open Schooling (WBCROS).
- Open Schooling: WBCROS will consider introducing upper primary and primary level education to accommodate traditionally marginalised communities. Alternative education centres in collaboration with civil society will be established.
- Adult Education: The state will expand educational opportunities for adults through WBCROS and NIOS. Policies will strengthen Adult High Schools, model education centres, and transform libraries into hubs for lifelong learning and knowledge sharing.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Vocational Education and Skilling
- West Bengal has integrated vocational courses at the Higher Secondary level to develop a skilled workforce, offering 13 optional elective courses.
- Depending on school location, students will gain exposure to vocational skills through various means such as summer schools, industry visits, and handicraft workshops.
- Synergy between higher secondary schools and higher education institutions is encouraged for a broader exposure to students across subjects.
- The policy recommends introduction of the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF)-aligned curriculum in schools and Madrasas to provide industry-specific skills.
- Synergistic efforts will bridge secondary/higher secondary schools with existing ITIs, Polytechnics, and Engineering/Medical Colleges.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Teachers as a Professional Cadre
- Continuous professional development is deemed crucial for teachers to improve classroom transactions. The policy recommends developing training programs and teacher handbooks covering various aspects of teaching and learning processes.
- It calls for establishing a potential teacher transfer policy to ensure an appropriate PTR in rural areas, similar to the compulsory service of medical doctors.
- Disparities in PTR at the district, block, and school levels should be addressed with a general transfer policy based on micro-level analysis.
- Reviewing and revising the number of sanctioned teaching posts based on current enrollment trends is recommended to normalise PTR across regions.
- The SEP recommends introducing a performance-linked promotion policy for teachers at all levels, utilising Academic Performance Indicators (APIs) reviewed by a committee to create a transparent and objective metric for promotion.
- The role of Boards of Primary, Secondary, and Higher Secondary Education in advising the School Education Department on this policy is essential.
- Additionally, a survey should be conducted to assess the number of Para Teachers in schools under the School Education Department, with a subsequent policy devised to facilitate their growth.
West Bengal State Education Policy-School Clusters
- The policy encourages schools in West Bengal to create clusters for resource sharing and community building, fostering vertical and horizontal integration between schools at different levels.
- Initially, this approach will be implemented with 1,313 selected schools in the Innovating Banglar Shiksha program, with each school mentoring ten neighbouring schools.
- The plan is to eventually expand this model to encompass all aided and sponsored schools in the State.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Mentoring and Monitoring
- The policy recommends implementing mentoring and monitoring through a system of supportive supervision.
- School Inspectors, District Inspectors, and Assistant Inspectors should regularly visit schools in their respective areas, following checklists that encompass teaching, learning, and non-academic aspects.
- To facilitate this, the policy suggests creating descriptive performance indicators for both teachers and inspectors, and collecting data through a mobile app.
- This data should be integrated with the Banglar Shiksha portal to provide real-time insights into the state of school education.
- Additionally, the policy proposes involving retired teachers and School Management Committees (SMCs) in this process. Furthermore, guidelines for conducting annual Community Audits will be developed as part of this approach.
West Bengal State Education Policy – Innovative Initiatives
The policy proposes several innovative initiatives:
- Promoting a Culture of Reading: To address the shortage of librarians, existing teachers in Secondary and Higher Secondary schools will be motivated and trained to manage libraries on a rotational basis.
- A hub-and-spoke model will be established, connecting public libraries with elementary schools to encourage reading habits. Guidelines for a reading program and regular Reading Melas will be organised to foster a culture of reading.
- Accreditation of Schools: The state will establish a State School Accreditation Authority (SSAA) to quantitatively assess and rank schools using an objective matrix of performance indicators.
- Accreditation will begin with Higher Secondary schools and gradually extend to lower-level schools, with recognition for individual teacher efforts.
- Targeted Interventions for Disadvantaged Regions: Remote and hard-to-reach regions in the State of West Bengal will receive special attention, including the establishment of more hostels, improved infrastructure, and efforts to ensure a healthy pupil-teacher ratio.
- Socio-emotional Learning (SEL): Guidelines for integrating SEL across all school levels will be prepared, with professional development for teachers and non-teaching staff. SEL topics will be included in the ‘Ujjiban Charcha’ initiative.
- Comprehensive School Safety: A Comprehensive School Safety & Security Programme (CSSSP) will be promoted to cover disaster risk reduction, safe learning environments, and child protection, considering the increasing frequency of natural disasters due to climate change.
- Culture of Houses, Alumni, and Community Donations: The concept of houses named after eminent personalities will be introduced, fostering a sense of identity and community in schools.
- A comprehensive policy for donations from alumni and the community will be developed to support educational initiatives. Similar concepts will be encouraged at the college level.
West Bengal State Education Policy – FAQs
What is the West Bengal State Education Policy, 2023?
The West Bengal State Education Policy, 2023 is a comprehensive educational framework recently introduced by the Government of West Bengal. It includes various reforms and innovations aimed at improving the education system in the state.
What are the key highlights of the West Bengal State Education Policy?
Some key highlights include maintaining the existing pattern of school educational structure, introducing a three-language formula, emphasising ‘Bangla’ as a subject, implementing a semester system, and focusing on higher secondary education and higher education, among other initiatives.
What are the primary goals of the West Bengal State Education Policy?
The policy aims to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the Secondary and Higher Secondary levels by 2030, promote vocational proficiency among students, ensure 100% proficiency in numeracy and literacy by 2025, optimise educational infrastructure, and increase the GER at the higher education level to 50% by 2035.
What are the changes recommended for the structure of school education under the West Bengal State Education Policy?
The current 5+4+2+2 school structure will be maintained, but two years of early childhood education will be added. Additionally, pre-primary education will be introduced, and a comprehensive student tracking system will be implemented.
How is early childhood care and education proposed to be enhanced under the West Bengal State Education Policy?
Efforts will include physically co-locating Anganwadi Centres with primary schools, developing unique identity cards for children, and establishing a state-level task force for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) coordination.
What are the recommendations for upper primary education in the West Bengal State Education Policy?
A three-language formula will be introduced, emphasising the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction. Initiatives like ‘Anand Parisar,’ ‘Graduation Ceremonies,’ and various activities will promote holistic development of the students.
What are the initiatives planned for secondary education under the West Bengal State Education Policy?
Secondary education will focus on informed career choices, mentorship, internship programs, and curriculum evaluation. A phased semester system will be introduced for enhanced formative assessments.
What is the approach outlined in the West Bengal State Education Policy towards digital education and ICT integration?
The policy envisions a hybrid model of education, integrating traditional offline learning integrated with digital technology. ICT tools will be used, and subjects on advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will be introduced.