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National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Overview, Reforms, Objectives!

‘Education’ plays a significant and remedial role in improving and balancing the country’s socio-economic framework.

The education system in India dates back to ancient times where children were taught in Gurukuls. The Guru used to teach as per the interest of the child, subjects varying from Sanskrit to the holy scriptures and from Mathematics to Metaphysics.

At that time, the Guru-Shishya system was the only means of education in India The Indian education system was enhanced with the emergence of universities such as Nalanda, Takshashila, Manassa, Ujjain, and Vikramshila.

The modern school education system was brought to India originally by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s.

The Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education was the first Board established in India in 1921. Then, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana, was set up in 1929.

Eventually, in 1952, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a national level education board was introduced in India.

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Present Education System In India

Since the early days of Independence in 1945, the Indian Government has always focused on improving the literacy rate.

Free and Compulsory Education is made as to the Fundamental Right to children aged 6 to 14, under various articles of the Indian Constitution.

Education in India is primarily provided by government schools, government-aided private schools, private schools, and international schools.

According to the Education Statistical Yearbook 2019, there are around 15,22,346 recognized primary, secondary, and higher secondary schools in India.

As of 2020, India has over 1,000 universities and 52,627 colleges.

The approximate ratio of private schools to public schools in India is 5:7. The private school system is competing with the public schools at the primary and secondary level, with 29% of students in the 6 to 14 age group receiving private education.

However, the private schools in India are regulated by the government in terms of what they can teach and what form they can operate alongside other aspects.

Levels of Education

The Indian education system is divided into different levels as following

Structure of the Indian Education System

The central board and most of the state boards uniformly follow the “10+2” structure of education. In this structure, the first 10 years is schooling, the next 2 years is higher secondary education and then followed by graduation.The first 10 years are further categorized into 4 years of primary education and 6 years of High School.

The Education Commission of 1964–66 has recommended the 10+2 pattern.

Educational Statistics in India

India holds a prominent position in the global education industry and has many accomplishments to celebrate.

There are over 250 million school going students in India, the highest in the world. Over 70 million children attend pre-primary, primary school with a consistent increase in primary enrolment.

The Right to Education Act has played a crucial role in reducing the number of Out of School Children (OOSC) aged 6 to 14 years, from 13.46 million in 2006 to 6 million in 2014.

Moreover, India has one of the largest networks of higher education institutions in India. There were around 37.4 million students enrolled in higher education in FY19 with Gross Enrolment Ratio of 26.3%.

According to UNESCO’s latest report, the literacy rate among the population aged 15-24 years is 91.6%; among 15 years and older, it is 74.37%; and among 65 years and older, it is 45.38%.

As per the market estimates, the Indian education market size is estimated to almost double to USD 180 billion by 2020, from USD 101.1 billion in 2019.

Major Education Initiatives by Government

Following are some of the recent initiatives taken by the Government of India (GOI)

Evolution of National Education Policy in India

The achievements and progress in education being enjoyed today can be attributed to the vision of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Minister of Education in India.

Abul Kalam emphasized the need for robust governance by the centre over education throughout the country by implementing a uniform educational system.

In 1961, the Government of Jawaharlal Nehru formed the ‘National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)‘, as an autonomous organization to formulate and implement education policies.

However, the urgency for an education policy was first felt in 1964 when Congress MP Siddheshwar Prasad criticized the then government for lacking a vision and philosophy for education.

Subsequently, based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1964–1966), the Government of PM Indira Gandhi announced the first National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1968. The Policy was prepared to improve the quality of education in the country and provide education to all the citizens.

National Policy on Education 1968

In 1986, the Government of PM Rajiv Gandhi introduced the second National Policy on Education.

National Policy on Education 1986

The 1986 NPE was revised in 1992 by the Government of PM PV Narsimha Rao. The Programme of Action (PoA) 1992 has called for a common entrance examination across India for admission to professional and technical programs. In 2005, Former PM Manmohan Singh adopted a new policy based on the “Common Minimum Programme” of his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

After the 1986 NPE, significant socio-economic changes have taken place in India, emphasizing the need for the education sector to gear itself towards the demands of the 21st century.

In a bid to prepare a new National Education Policy (NEP), the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released the Draft New Education Policy (DNEP) in 2019, followed by several public consultations.

In July 2020, the Union Cabinet of India has approved the third National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), replacing the previous NPE 1986.

New Education Policy Consultation

In January 2015, the government had initiated a consultation process to formulate a New Education Policy.

The Committee for the preparation of the DNEP has taken consideration of expert opinions, field experiences, empirical research, and stakeholder feedback for an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach.

The draft NEP is primarily based on the foundational pillars, namely Access, Affordability, Equity, Quality, and Accountability.

The Committee received over 2 lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, 6,600 blocks, 6,000 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), and 676 districts.

After the submission of the Draft Report, the State Governments and various Ministries were invited to give their opinions on the Draft National Education Policy 2019.

The Committee held meetings with State Education Secretaries of School Education and State Secretaries of Higher and Technical Education. An Education Dialogue was also organized with MP’s of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka, and Odisha.

National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

On 29th July 2020, the Government of PM Narendra Modi approved the ‘National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020)‘, with an aim to transform India’s education system by 2040.

The NEP, after a gap of 34 years, has put in place a slew of education reforms in both the higher education and school sector. It intends to bring a systematic reform in the education sector rather than an incremental reform.

The NEP 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century and aims to address our country’s current developmental imperatives.

The Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the current education structure, including its regulation and governance, to forge a new education system that is on par with the aspirational objectives of 21stcentury education.

The New Policy also renamed the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) as the Ministry of Education in a bid to bring the focus back on education and learning.

If implemented as per the plan, the new norms will reduce regulatory hassles, promote autonomy, and benefit students, education providers and the labor market.

Principles of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

The foundational principles of NEP 2020 are Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability. The Policy believes that the education system should develop good human beings with rational thinking, compassion, empathy, courage, resilience, scientific temper, creative imagination, and ethical values.

The fundamental principles of the Policy are

A Vision of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

National Education Policy 2020 envisions an India-centric education system that provides high-quality education to all, thereby transforming India sustainable into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society in the world.

Objectives and Reforms of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

The NEP 2020 paves for numerous significant changes in the Indian education system. The changes and objectives of NEP 2020 are as follows

1) School Education

2) Higher Education

3) Teacher Education

4) Other Major Objectives

National Education Policy (NEP) – Making it Happen

The reforms and objectives of the NEP 2020 are provided from a broader perspective, and it’s not mandatory for state governments to follow them.

For instance, Tamil Nadu does not follow the three-language formula prescribed in the first education policy in 1968.

So, as both central and state governments can make their own laws on education, the proposed reforms can only be implemented if both the governments work collaboratively.

However, this will not happen immediately. The Government of PM Narendra Modi has set a target of 2040 to accomplish the entire Policy.

Moreover, sufficient funding is imperative for the full implementation of the NEP 2020 as a shortage of funds crippled the 1968 NPE.

The central and state governments should substantially increase the spending on education to attain the goals with excellence and the corresponding multitude of socio-economic benefits.

The Indian Government is planning to organize subject-wise committees with members from relevant central and state ministries in order to develop implementation plans for each aspect of NEP.

They will list action plans for multiple bodies, including the HRD Ministry, NCERT, State Education Departments, Central Advisory Board of Education, School Boards, and National Testing Agency, among others.

Yearly joint reviews of the progress of the implementation of the Policy will be conducted against the targets set.

In 2030, a comprehensive review of the status of the implementation of the Policy in its entirety will be conducted.

In the decade of 2030-40, the whole Policy will be in an operational mode, followed by another comprehensive review.

In Conclusion

National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a big revolution replacing the 34-year-old policy idea and envisioning to bring about the much-needed modification in the Indian Education System. The Policy has maintained a delicate balance between the traditions and the interdisciplinary approach, which is the need of the 21st century.

NEP has the potential to revamp the skills of the youth of our country and has all the right tools that are needed to be competitive at the global level.

Needless to say, the New Education Policy is undoubtedly a progressive and ambitious policy that India is waiting for. All the Best!!

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