2023 AUG 15

Mains   > Social justice   >   Education   >   Education


  • Karnataka government has decided to discontinue the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in the state's higher education institutions starting from the upcoming academic year.


  • The first National Policy on Education was promulgated in 1968, the second was in 1986. NPE 1986 underwent modifications in 1992.
  • TSR Subramanian Committee was constituted under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to suggest recommendations for the education policy. The panel submitted its report in 2016, but the government rejected it.
  • Committee for Draft National Education Policy (Chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan) was constituted in 2017 and the panel submitted its report on May 2019 for public consultation.
  • National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is based on this draft and will replace the National Policy on Education, 1986.


  • School Education:
    • Universalisation of education:
      • Universalization of education from preschool to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
    • Restructuring school curriculum:
      • The current 10+2 structure of school education will be redesigned into a 5-3-3-4 design.

    • Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):
      • ECCE consists of play-based and activity-based learning comprising of alphabets, language, puzzles, painting, and music for children in early years of their life.
      • A national curricular and pedagogical framework for ECCE will be developed by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT).
      • Aanganwadi workers with senior secondary qualifications and above, will be given a six-month certification programme in ECCE.
    • Achieving foundational literacy and numeracy:
      • The committee recommends that every student should attain foundational literacy and numeracy by grade three. To achieve this goal, a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be setup under the MHRD.
      • All state governments must prepare implementation plans to achieve these goals by 2025. 
      • A national repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy will be made available on government’s e-learning platform (DIKSHA).
    • Ensuring universal coverage and inclusivity:
      • It recommends that schemes/policies targeted for socio-economically disadvantaged groups should be strengthened.
      • Further, special education zones should be setup in areas with significant proportion of such disadvantaged groups.
      • A gender inclusion fund should also be setup to assist female and transgender students in getting access to education.
    • Reforms in curriculum content:
      • Curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to its essential core content to allow for critical thinking, discussion and analysis based learning.
      • Students should be given more flexibility and choice in subjects of study, particularly in secondary school.
      • A new and comprehensive national curricular framework for school education will be undertaken by NCERT in accordance with these principles.
      • This framework can be revisited every five to ten years
    • Medium of instruction:
      • The current three language formula will continue to be implemented.
        • (i) Hindi, English and a modern Indian language (preferably a southern language) in the Hindi-speaking states
        • (ii) Hindi, English and the regional language in the non-Hindi speaking states.
      • Further, Sanskrit should be offered as an option at all levels of education.  
    • Assessment of students:
      • To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, examinations will be conducted in grades three, five, and eight.
      • Students can choose their subjects, and will have the option to take the exams on up to two occasions during a given year.
      • Further, a National Assessment Centre will be setup under the MHRD as a standard setting body for student assessment and evaluation.
    • Teacher training and management:
      • The existing B.Ed. programme for teacher training will be replaced by a four-year integrated B.Ed. programme that combines high-quality content, pedagogy, and practical training.
      • Further, teachers will be required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuous professional development training every year.
      • A national curriculum framework for teacher education will be formulated by the National Council for Teacher Education, in consultation with NCERT.
      • Teachers should not be engaged in non-teaching administrative activities and excessive teacher transfers should be stopped.
    • Effective governance of schools:
      • The NEP recommends grouping small schools together to form a school complex.
      • The school complex will consist of one secondary school and other schools, aanganwadis in a 5-10 km radius.
      • This will ensure: (i) adequate number of teachers for all subjects in a school complex, (ii) adequate infrastructural resources, and (iii) effective governance of schools.
    • School regulation:
      • It recommends that the Department of School Education  should only be involved in policy making and overall monitoring, but not in regulation of schools.
      • An independent State School Standards Authority should be set up in each state. It will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools.  A self-regulation or accreditation system will be instituted for schools.
  • Higher Education
    • Increasing GER:
      • The NEP aims to increase the GER in higher education to 50% by 2035 (GER was 26.3% in 2018).
      • Institutions will have the option to run open distance learning and online programmes to improve access to higher education, which will improve GER in the country.
    • Restructuring of institutions:
      • All higher education institutions (HEIs) will be restructured into three categories:
        • (i) Research universities focusing equally on research and teaching
        • (ii) Teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching
        • (iii) Degree granting colleges primarily focused on undergraduate teaching.
      • All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy - academic, administrative, and financial.
      • All HEIs should eventually be transformed into large multidisciplinary universities and colleges with 3,000 or more students.
      • By 2030, there should be one multidisciplinary HEI in, or near every district.
    • Multidisciplinary education:
      • The curricula of all HEIs should be made multidisciplinary to integrate humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
      • The undergraduate degree will be made more flexible with multiple exit options with appropriate certification.
        • For example: students will receive a certificate after one year, diploma after two years, bachelor’s degree after three years, and bachelor’s with research degree after four years.
      • Further, an academic bank of credit will be established to digitally store academic credits earned from various HEIs for awarding degrees based on credits.
      • HEIs will have the flexibility to offer different designs of masters' programmes.
      • The M.Phil. programme will be discontinued.
    • Regulatory structure:
      • The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be setup with four independent verticals:

National Higher Education Regulatory Council as a single regulator (including teacher education, excluding legal and medical education)

National Accreditation Council for accreditation of institutions

Higher Education Grants Council for financing of higher education institutions

General Education Council for specifying the curriculum framework and learning levels for higher education.

    • Improving research:
      • The Committee observed that investment on research and innovation in India is only 0.69% of GDP, compared to 2.8% in the USA, 4.2% in South Korea and 4.3% of GDP in Israel.
      • The NEP recommends setting up an independent National Research Foundation for funding and facilitating quality research in India.
      • Specialised institutions which currently fund research, such as the Department of Science and Technology, Indian Council of Medical Research will continue to fund independent projects.
    • Foreign universities:
      • High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries.
      • Similarly, selected top global universities will be permitted to operate in India.
    • Vocational education:
      • The NEP aims to ensure that at least 50% of learners in school and higher education should be exposed to vocational education by 2025.
      • A National Committee for Integration Of Vocational Education will be setup under the MHRD for this purpose.
      • The National Skills Qualifications Framework will be detailed further for each discipline vocation and profession.
  • Other recommendations
    • Financing education:
      • The NEP reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education.
    • Adult education:
      • A national curriculum framework for adult education will be developed to cover five broad areas:
        • (i) Foundational literacy and numeracy
        • (ii) Critical life skills (such as financial and digital literacy, health care and family awareness)
        • (iii) Vocational skills development
        • (iv) Basic education (equivalent of middle and secondary education)
        • (v) Continuing education (through engaging courses in arts, technology, sports and culture).
    • Technology in education:
      • The National Education Technology Forum (NETF) will be setup to facilitate decision making on the induction, deployment and use of technology.
      • This Forum will provide evidence-based advice to central and state governments on technology-based interventions.
    • Digital education:
      • Alternative modes of quality education should be developed when in-person education is not possible, as observed during the recent pandemic.


  • Lack of consensus with the states:
    • As education is a concurrent subject any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the States. As NEP is only a policy, not a law, implementation of NEP depends on further regulations by both States and the Centre
  • Some of the proposals require legal changes:
    • The proposal for a Board of Governors for universities may also require amendments of the Central and State Universities Acts.
    • An Act may be required to set up the National Research Foundation as a fully autonomous body
  • Some proposals have long gestation period:
    • The process of converting affiliated colleges into degree granting autonomous institutions and then further into fully fledged universities is estimated to take at least 15 years.
  • Increase in funding not achieved for the last half-century
    • The NEP reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education. However, such an increase in funding has been proposed but not achieved for the last half-century
  • Issues with stress on regional language as medium of instruction:
    • The three-language policy has its merits. But in a large and diverse country where mobility is high, the student should have the option to study in the language that enables a transfer nationally.
  • Neglect in promotion of democratic ideals:
    • The democratic ideal is neither mentioned nor used in articulating the aims of education or curricular recommendation
  • Challenges that stem from bureaucratic culture:
    • NEP envisages a set of national level regulatory institutions. However,  past experiences show that these are mostly subverted by the deeply entrenched bureaucratic culture that will pervade any new institution created within the larger governmental ecosystem
  • Issues with top-down approach:
    • Setting up of national level regulatory institutions may lead to centralisation and imposition of a uniform template.
  • Political biases in pedagogy
    • Implementation of many proposals under the NEP will face difficulties in a period where pedagogy has become deeply politicised. Eg: The debates on removal of selected portion from history.
  • NEP’s broad categorisation of Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Group (SEDG) hamper equity:
    • It fails to accommodate diverse social realities. Discrimination on caste, religion and gender lines are different from each other. Clubbing everyone under ‘SEDG’ will not help us to acknowledge real issue of discrimination.


  • NEP 2020 is a step in the right direction, signalling the “new normal” in education with its focus on critical thinking, experiential learning, interactive classrooms, integrated pedagogy and competency-based education
  • It acknowledges the 21st century need for mobility, flexibility, alternate pathways to learning, and self-actualisation.
  • But the real test of NEP will be translating it to action.
  • With a consensus-based and demand-driven implementation of NEP, India can leverage the full potential of its demographic dividend


Q. “The gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is desirable must be bridged through undertaking major reforms”. Discuss in the light of National Education Policy 2020.



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