After a policy preparation period of over five years, the union cabinet on July 29 approved the new education policy for the country. Coming after 34 years of the previous policy in 1986, the National Education Policy 2020 is expected to guide the education process, system and rules in coming two decades as it comes up for a review in 2040 after ‘complete’ implementation.
After being approved by the union cabinet on July 2020, the New National Education Policy 2020 replaces the 34- year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. According to a statement released by the government on the same day, the new policy is built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability and is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.
In a tweet PM Narendra Modi said, “I wholeheartedly welcome the approval of the National Education Policy 2020! This was a long due and much awaited reform in the education sector, which will transform millions of lives in the times to come!”
The approved policy which comes after five years of consultation and preparation is majorly the same as the last draft NEP in circulation a few months ago and includes early childhood care & education (ECCE) as a prominent forwarding looking feature. However, what is also significant is the expansion of universalization of education from pre-school to senior secondary level, ie entire school years, though it is not clear at this juncture if the Right to Education will be extended both ways for this purpose.
Vocational education, use of technology and awareness about ancient knowledge systems are also areas of emphasis in addition to restructuring of school and higher education.
NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in a bid to improve foundational learning, an area of concern for the past couple of decades. The new policy recognizes the strong link between a good school education and its corresponding effects on quality of higher education and potential of students. The old structure of 10+2 as reported earlier is made into 5+3+3+4 and vocation education exposure with internships starts at class VI.
Similarly, under the NEP 2020 scheme, the undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration, with multiple exit options within this period—a a certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor ’s degree after a 3-year programme. The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option since it allows the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education in addition to a focus on the chosen major and minors as per the choices of the student. Undertaking a Ph.D. shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. The M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued.
The Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) proposed under NEP 2020 will be the new UGC from a layman point of view all existing regulatory bodies (UGC, AICTE) will be repealed. It will have four verticals– the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) as the regulator for higher education excluding medical and legal education; the National Accreditation Council (NAC) as the accreditor; the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and financing; and the General Education Council (GEC), the academic apex body for HEIs.
For school education, NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. As per the new policy, a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.
Further, all students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim. A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body. NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters. States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).
Setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups are other important proposals in the NEP 2020. It also says that every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities.
For teachers, NEP says about a common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.
The announcement and revealing of the NEP evoked mixed reaction from outright excitement to pessimistic criticism. The Prime Minister speaking at a follow up event organized by UGC spelt out the larger objectives of NEP 2020. He said the Policy was formulated keeping in mind two biggest questions: Whether our education system motivates our youth for Creative, Curiosity and Commitment Driven Life? And whether our education system empowers our youth, helps in building an Empowered Society in the country? On this he expressed satisfaction that National Education Policy takes care of these pertinent issues.
But the implementation and translating this vision into reality is what bothers a lot of people. “The final policy talks about universalisation of school education from 3-18 years, without making it a legal right. Hence there is no mandatory mechanism for the union and state governments to make it a reality. Without the RTE Act, universalisation will be very difficult. There are significant drop-outs after elementary levels, especially among girls. The RTE Act is the highest stage reached in the evolution of education policy in India and it confers a legal right, while a policy document doesn’t confer such rights,” said RTE Forum in its reaction and added that this policy in the name from philanthropic schools and PPP, is laying the roadmap for entry of private players in education, which will further commercialise education and the existing inequalities will be exacerbated.
However, Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) said that the New Education Policy is flexible and brings a lot of much needed reforms such as multiple entry exit points, vocational education at school level and academic banking of credits, which will completely transform the education landscape. “This new policy has set a new paradigm by emphasizing on multidisciplinary and liberal education, doing away with affiliating system, moving towards institutional and faculty autonomy, co-existence of public and private higher educational institutions on equitable terms to promote research, credit-based system of curricular composition for different levels of qualifications, engagement with society, practice labs and focus on emerging technologies to plan, design and deliver the 21st century education,” remarked Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI.
The criticism of the policy is also done on counts of it being breaking away from the tradition of presenting such important national documents in the Parliament and not involving states and reputed educationists in the consultation process. West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee went to the extent of saying, “ I feel that it has been copied from foreign education systems. Still there is a need to read the NEP in its entirety to find out how much of it has been copied.” He criticised the Centre for approving the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 without debating it in Parliament.‘This new education policy was not tabled and discussed in the Parliament but approved by the Union Cabinet. It was not even sent to the states to look into its aspects,” he added. According to Chatterjee, no educationist from West Bengal featured in the committee which was formed by the Centre to draft the NEP.
The policy seems aspirational, it references and glosses over high-level desirable attributes, but doesn’t bother to work out the feasibility or the methodology to make the plan work, said Ashwin Malik Meshram , Spinnaker Analytics, Boston, IITian & Education Reformer. Vishnu Kartik CEO Xperiential Learning Systems and Director The Heritage, Gururgram summed it well: “The devil is in the details, but the new NEP has touched upon some key levers which will have high impact on student learning levels. One is of course bringing on ECCE into NCF. Another is the decision to reduce the curriculum into core. This will provide significant opportunity to focus on critical skills and capacities and would be gateway reform on curriculum and assessments.”
Dr Sanjay Gupta, Vice Chancellor, World University of Design in his reaction said, “It’s a very welcome step because it has brought back the focus on education, especially on building multidisciplinarity and making the education holistic. In fact, many steps which has been announced were long awaited, like the multiple entry and exit points, the credit-based system, and the removal of M. Phil”
And Saumil Majmudar, Co-founder, CEO and Managing Director, Sportz Village pointed out : “We expect that sports and play, will be delivered and assessed with the same rigor and structure as core academic subjects, thereby ensuring all children experience the magic of Play and Sport, and we develop a nation of healthier and fitter children through the school system. The emphasis on Vocational Education is also a great step towards all-round development of children and we hope children will be able to choose Physical Activity and Sports as a Vocational subject. We look forward to the translation of the policy to reflect in a more playful, fun and engaging school environment for children while meeting the adult goals of learning outcomes.”
Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education
NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondary. Infrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes, association of counselors or well-trained social workers with schools, open learning for classes3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs are some of the proposed ways for achieving this. About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into main stream under NEP 2020.
Early Childhood Care & Education with new Curricular and Pedagogical Structure
With emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.
NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 . ECCE will be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of institutions including Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum. The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.
Attaining Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
Recognizing Foundational Literacy and Numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.
Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy
The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for holistic development of learnersbyequipping them with the key 21st century skills, reduction in curricular content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking and greater focus on experiential learning. Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.
Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.
A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.
Multilingualism and the power of language
The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options. No language will be imposed on any student. Students to participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.
NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim. A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body .
Equitable and Inclusive Education
NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups(SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities. This includes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs. Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras
Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path
Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.
Schools can be organized into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance and ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.
Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education
NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters. States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders.
Increase GER to 50 % by 2035
NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.
Holistic Multidisciplinary Education
The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.
An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.
Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding, and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
Rationalised Institutional Architecture
Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions providing high quality teaching, research, and community engagement. The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges.
Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.
Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty
NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty thorughclearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment , freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable
A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree .Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.
Financial support for students
Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.
Open and Distance Learning
Thiswill be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER. Measures such as online courses and digital repositories, funding for research, improved student services, credit-based recognition of MOOCs, etc., will be taken to ensure it is at par with the highest quality in-class programmes.
Online Education and Digital Education:
A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered. A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.
Technology in education
An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management
Promotion of Indian languages
To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs, and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes .
Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.
All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.
Policy aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.
The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
NEP 2020 has been formulated after an unprecedented process of consultation that involved nearly over 2 lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakhs Gram Panchayats, 6600 Blocks, 6000 ULBs, 676 Districts. The MHRD initiated an unprecedented collaborative, inclusive, and highly participatory consultation process from January 2015. In May 2016, ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Late Shri T.S.R. Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, submitted its report. Based on this, the Ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’. In June 2017 a ‘Committee for the Draft National Education Policy’ was constituted under the Chairmanship of eminent scientist Padma Vibhushan, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, which submitted the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 to the Hon’ble Human Resource Development Minister on 31st May, 2019. The Draft National Education Policy 2019 was uploaded on MHRD’s website and at ‘MyGov Innovate’ portal eliciting views/suggestions/comments of stakeholders, including public.