How Experiential Learning At Indiahikes Aligns With NEP 2020

How Experiential Learning At Indiahikes Aligns With NEP 2020

Category Experiential Learning, Schools

By Janusa Sangma


We’re all too familiar with the scenes inside an average Indian classroom - textbooks, notebooks, the sciences vs. humanities, and rote learning. But a radical shift in the Indian education system is in the offing thanks to the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

NEP 2020 has a clear vision for Curriculum and Pedagogy in Schools. “Learning should be holistic, integrated, enjoyable, and engaging.”

A standout feature of the policy document is its clear emphasis on Experiential Learning.

“In all stages, experiential learning will be adopted, including hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, story-telling-based pedagogy, among others, as standard pedagogy within each subject, and with explorations of relations among different subjects.” - Section 4.6

It's gratifying when government policies align with our Outdoor Experiential Learning programs.  Over 12 years ago, Indiahikes began with one simple conviction —Everyone Must Trek, because trekking transforms the body, mind, and spirit.

We saw trekkers coming back from the mountains with renewed energy, purpose, and insights about the self. We envisioned outdoor learning programmes to amplify these takeaways. Children would benefit the most from such a programme.

Thus, Outdoor Experiential Learning at Indiahikes was born in 2011. Over 8000 students from leading schools across the country have trekked with us since then. 

Read on for an overview of our programmes and how they meet the goals of NEP 2020.

Overview of Experiential Learning (EL) at Indiahikes

Too many young people today struggle with self-confidence. Many crumble under the slightest pressure since they are unaccustomed to hardships. Others have never experienced the joys of working together towards a common goal.

Indiahikes believes Experiential Learning can help students view their own selves and abilities in a new light. 

Our programme combines the joy and adventure of treks with targeted learning objectives.

Key elements of EL at Indiahikes
  • Immersive, accelerated learning: EL delves faster and deeper into aspects that might take time to emerge in classrooms or at home.
  • Real-world contexts: There are no simulations or role plays on a trek. Our programme design ensures that every action and consequence is real.
  • The role of the facilitator: EL affects enduring change to mindsets and behaviour through “learning by doing.” Expert facilitators guide participants toward sustained behavioural transformation.
How Experiential Learning at Indiahikes aligns with NEP 2020

How NEP 2020 and Outdoor Experiential Learning at Indiahikes align

1. NEP Section 4.4 Holistic development of learners

1.1 Learning how to learn - “To move the education system towards real understanding and towards learning how to learn - and away from the culture of rote learning as is largely present today.”

Regular treks tend to have a singular focus. Everyone gets to the summit or navigates from one point to another. 

At Indiahikes, the focus is on the learning process rather than outcomes. Reaching the summit might be the end goal, but the journey there is far more significant.

The learning journey:

  • Trek: Children embark on an invigorating trek to the Himalayas or hills close to the city. 
  • Activities: Driving the trek are carefully-designed learning activities with specific takeaways.
  • Reflections: Guided reflections with a trained facilitator enable students to act on learnings.

Children form ideas and learn through experience. Since experience is dynamic and unique each time, so too is the resulting knowledge.  

Our treks develop children’s skills and behaviours to respond to different situations. Through experience and reinforcement comes the ability to apply new knowledge.

1.2 Holistic learning and developing 21st century competencies - “The aim of education will not only be cognitive development, but also building character and creating holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key 21st century skills.”

Treks are ideal backdrops to strengthen children's Social and Emotional Learning.

Trekking elicits joy and adrenaline. It also brings up doubt, anxiety, fear, or frustrations. 

  • Our programme design uses the joy and adversity inherent in treks to reinforce learning. 
  • Children experience real-time obstacles and learn how to overcome hardships together. 
  • We design activities and reflections that help children recognise and address their emotions without fearing judgement. 

Consequently, children learn and imbibe 21st century Life Skills through first-hand experience, crucial skills such as:

  • Self-awareness 
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making/Problem Solving 
  • Effective communication 
  • Interpersonal relationships 
  • Coping with stress 
  • Coping with emotions

2. NEP Section 4.5 Enhance essential learning and critical thinking

Learning core essentials - “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.

Treks are ideal learning grounds since the outdoors are unpredictable. Our EL treks combine this element of unpredictability with thoughtfully-designed learning activities.

  • Learning on our treks is both student-led and facilitator-led. We create an environment where students can actively explore and question. 
  • Our facilitators set the stage for discovery, gradually fading into the background and allowing students to take the lead in their own learning journey. 
  • While on the trail, children encounter real-life challenges that need thinking through and solving on the spot. Students step out of comfort zones, ask questions, collaborate, and solve problems together. 
  • Facilitators step in during guided reflection sessions to nudge learning in the right direction. They enable students to see the world differently and think deeply. They help students make connections between various experiences on the trek. 

3. NEP, Page 3

“Education must build character, enable learners to be ethical, rational, compassionate, and caring, while at the same time prepare them for gainful, fulfilling employment.”

Practising compassion and kindness for the self and others is a core objective of the program through myriad activities and experiences.

  • The goal is getting to the summit together. The activities and experiences we design ensures this. Nobody gets left behind on an Indiahikes trek, unless it’s a medical emergency.
  • Children get to know their peers better in the outdoors.
  • On a multi-day Himalayan trek, they come across people they otherwise might not in their daily lives. They meet people across cultures, ages, and religions. 
  • These interactions build students’ curiosity and empathy beyond who and what they know. These qualities go a long way towards fostering healthy, positive relationships in the working world. 

4. NEP Section 4.23: Curricular Integration of Essential Subjects, Skills, and Capacities

Environmental awareness - “Certain subjects, skills, and capacities should be learned by all students to become good, successful, innovative, adaptable, and productive human beings in today’s rapidly changing world.”

NEP 2020 lists several essential skills every student must learn, which includes environmental awareness and resource conservation. 

Caring for the environment is the essence of treks with Indiahikes

  • Children learn about sustainability concepts such as thrifting, repairing, and recycling. All our treks are zero plastic. 
  • Being outdoors brings theoretical concepts alive for students. Through activities, storytelling, and reflections, our facilitators help students see interconnections - how they are part of nature, not separate from it. 
  • Camping in the wilderness immerses students in minimalist living. They camp near water sources and observe first-hand how water is a finite resource. Camps at Indiahikes use specially-designed contraptions to conserve water. 
  • Students actively participate in “Green Trails” – an Indiahikes initiative to leave the mountains better than we find them. Through Green Trails, Indiahikes trekkers have removed over 1 lakh kilos of waste left behind by others on trekking trails. 

The younger generation today is more aware about environmental degradation than others.  Ironically, they are also the most disconnected from the natural world. 

Beyond present-day buzzwords, we believe building connections with the environment begins with a simple step – take children outdoors more often.  

Through Outdoor Experiential Learning, Indiahikes envisions a generation that continually discovers the self and others, forges friendships, finds community, and builds enduring relationships with the natural world.

We believe it echoes what the NEP reiterates is the true purpose of education, “to develop good human beings.” 

Janusa Sangma

Content Writer

About the author

Janusa is most at home exploring a faraway mountain trail. She follows the music wherever it may lead, guided by her ever-constant anchors – a love for writing, the mountains, wildlife, and grassroots work in the social sector.

She enjoys writing for organisations and individuals creating meaningful impact.

Before taking up writing as a full-time profession, she worked with corporates, non-profits, social enterprises, education companies, and PR organisations.

When she's not bent over a computer or buried in a Word Document, you will find her befriending a dog (any dog), swimming, or running for the hills.