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Author: Rushika Rabha

Campus Law Centre, Delhi University

On the 29th of July,2020 the Union Cabinet approved the new national education policy of India. This policy is aimed at making changes from school to higher education but mainly making drastic changes in the current functioning of the system to equip the system with the necessary mechanism for imparting quality education. Additionally, with this policy, the government aims to increase the spending on education to touch 6% of the GDP. Education is part of the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution; therefore, it will require coordinated efforts of the centre and the state to actualize the goals of this policy. Certain bodies are also to be set up under this policy to maneuver the implementation process.


“The gap between the current state of learning outcomes and what is required must be bridged through undertaking major reforms that bring the highest quality, equity, and integrity into the system, from early childhood care and education through higher education.[1]

The draft National Education Policy, 2019 is the first change in the national education policy of the 21st century to modernize the Indian education system that was last brought out in 1986. The first-ever educational policy was formulated in 1968. The objective behind this policy was to mould India’s education system to adapt to the changing technological landscape. With exponential changes in technological innovation like machine learning and artificial intelligence, students need to augment their technological knowledge, however, a sustainable future is one where educating a child about climate change and humanities is important. Hence, the policy takes a multidisciplinary approach to learning. Additionally, the Ministry of Human Resource Development will be renamed to the Ministry of Education.

Principles of the Policy

The core principles that are to guide the education system are, inter-alia, “fostering the unique capabilities of each student” by nurturing a holistic development of the student in both academic and non-academic fields, interdisciplinary mobility and freedom by eroding the concrete differentiation between the sciences and arts, encouraging research as an important facet of education, emphasis on conceptual understanding through creative and critical thinking and imbibing ethical, constitutional and democratic values in the future generation. Furthermore, education is an inalienable right of every child which must be ensured by the state through public service.

Changes in School Education

  1. The 10+2 education system will be changed to a “pedagogical and curricular” with a 5 (Foundational) + 3 (Preparatory) +3 (Middle) + 4 (secondary) structure from ages 3-18. An investment in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) will encompass children from disadvantaged families who do not have access to ECCE that gives them the means to stay in the education system throughout their lives. Since “85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs before the age of 6”, it is crucial that a child’s cognitive development stage is handled with utmost care. To ensure universal access to education, Anganwadi centers will be well equipped and teachers will be appropriately trained and these centers will be amalgamated into “school complexes/clusters”.

  2. “Foundational literacy” and “numeracy” have been set forth as the goals in the early learning stages that this educational policy is to achieve by the year 2025. The policy highlights that currently there is a “learning crisis” in the country as children in elementary schools have not attained the foundational literacy and numeracy they need to excel in higher stages of learning. The Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) will serve as a national repository for resources on foundational literacy and numeracy.

  3. Teachers who have the necessary knowledge of the local languages will be given special attention as one of the important principles of this policy is the promotion of multilingualism. The student to teacher ratio of under 30:1 is to be ensured at every stage of schooling.

  4. In addition to the already existing midday meals, breakfast will also be provided to children. Children are to undergo regular health checkups so that 100% immunization is ensured.

  5. To curb the dropout rate and ensure a 100% Gross Enrollment Rate till the secondary level by 2030 the policy proposes two initiatives. Firstly, an effective infrastructural design that makes education accessible to students till grade 12, and the second is to carefully trace students so that it is ensured that they are enrolled or have the requisite opportunity to re-enter the school system.

  6. To facilitate the process of grasping knowledge students will be taught in their mother tongue or regional language or local language, wherever possible, till the 5th Grade and preferably till the 8th grade and beyond. This mode of instruction is to be followed in both public and private schools.

  7. Vocational activities are to be undertaken by students from the 6th grade where they will intern with local vocational experts.

  8. The current assessment system will be transformed into one where the students will get their “360-degree multidimensional report card” which will reflect their progress in the domains of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor development. State census examinations will be conducted for students in grades 3,5 and 8[2].

  9. Although board exams for the 10th and 12th grades will be continued, the policy aims to eliminate the need for coaching classes. Furthermore, students can give the board exams twice so that the best of the two attempts will be counted.

Changes in Higher Education

  1. Higher education institutes will be transformed into multi-disciplinary institutions with each such institute striving to have 3000 or more students. The policy categorizes higher education institutes into three categories- the research-intensive universities, the teaching-intensive universities, and the autonomous degree-granting colleges. It is to be noted that these three categories are not watertight, an educational institute will have the freedom to move from one category to the other.

  2. By 2040, this policy aims to elevate all higher education institutions to become multidisciplinary institutions with greater levels of student enrollment, hence by 2035 the policy aims to increase the gross enrollment ratio in higher education from 26.3% in 2018 to 50% by 2035.

  3. The higher education institutions are to gradually attain full autonomy both academic and administrative so that they can effectively “encourage high-quality multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary teaching and research across fields”. “Graded autonomy” in the place of “affiliated colleges” is a system that is envisioned in this policy.

  4. A holistic amalgamation of the sciences and humanities with the incorporation of vocational subjects in higher education institutions is envisaged.

  5. The undergraduate program structure will be either of 3- or 4-year duration with multiple exit points, however, the 4-year multidisciplinary program will be the preferred option.

  6. The M. Phil program is discontinued as per this policy. For admission in Ph.D., a master’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree with research is required.

  7. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities or MERUs whose standards will match that of IITs and IIMs.

Changes in Teaching

  1. To invigorate and revamp the teaching profession, the regulatory system will monitor the quality of teacher education institutions so that the quality of programmes offered will be educationally sound.

  2. By 2030, the minimum qualification for school teachers will be the 4-year integrated B.Ed. the course which will be offered by multidisciplinary higher education institutions.

  3. The Teacher Eligibility Test will be extended to cover all stages of school education, i.e. foundational, preparatory, middle, and secondary. The teacher interviews will be used to gauge the proficiency of teachers in local languages. This model will also apply to teachers in private schools.

Regulatory System for Higher Education

  1. To effectively regulate the functions of regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting will be performed by independent bodies that will cooperate with each other. Furthermore, they will be functioning under one umbrella institution, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).

  2. The four verticals that will be functioning under the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) are, the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), which will be the single regulator for higher education barring medical and legal education, the National Accreditation Council (NAC), the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) which will carry out the funding and financing part of higher education and the General Education Council which will frame expected learning outcomes for higher education programmes.

Vocational Education

  1. The policy underscores the lack of proper vocational education in India, the Indian workforce is alarmingly behind in vocational education as compared to countries like the United States of America, Germany, and South Korea. This lack of proper vocational training can be attributed to the perception that vocational education is lower in the social status hierarchy than formal education hence the need for vocational education is not emphasized.

  2. To overcome the aforementioned problem, the policy will be integrated vocational programmes in mainstream education. It will begin early in middle and secondary school and will continue in higher education as well.

  3. In alignment with sustainable development goals 4.4 which is to “substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”[3]By 2030, the policy aims to make 50% of students in schools as well as higher education institutions have exposure to vocational training. To realise this goal MHRD will constitute a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Training.

The Burgeoning of Quality Academic Research

  1. A “robust system of research” is crucial in today's time for empowering the social, economic, environmental, and technological progress of the nation. India’s research and innovation investment are lagging behind the developed countries.

  2. A National Research Foundation is envisioned to catalyze India’s journey towards quality research. The National Research Foundation aims to encourage research by providing merit-based but equitable peer-reviewed research funding, incentives, and improving the capacity for research in institutions.

Implementation of the Policy

  1. An effective policy is one whose implementation has been well thought out. Otherwise, the policy remains stagnant on paper. To oversee the process of implementing various bodies will work in a coordinated manner so that all levels of education the objectives of the policy are realised. The bodies that will be involved in the implementation of the policy are MHRD, CABE, Union and State Governments, education-related Ministries, State Departments of Education, Boards, NTA, the regulatory bodies of school and higher education, NCERT, SCERTs, schools, and HEIs.

  2. The policy fleshes out the following principles that will act as a guide for policy implementation, “implementation of the spirit and intent of the Policy”, systematic implementation of each step in the process, the most crucial steps are to be implemented first for a strong basis which can support the rest of the policy objectives, comprehensive not a piece-meal method of achieving the policy’s goal, collaborative action of both the centre and the state, adequate supply of resources-human, infrastructural, and financial and lastly, reviewing the process of implementation so that all the needs are met.

  3. The policy projects that it will be in operational mode in the decade 2030-40.


After 34 years, India’s education system has finally been scheduled to undergo substantial changes in the coming years. The new education policy aims to shift the focus of education to be just memorising and reproducing answers to a more holistic and comprehensive learning environment where students can develop in ways that are not merely related to studies. To renew interest in the Indian languages, this policy provides various provisions to allow students to learn in their mother tongue thereby removing language barriers. Technological advancement in the 21st Century is rapid and students from a very tender age need to familiarise themselves with its use, this policy introduces classes on coding from the 6th standard onwards. Vocational education is also given due importance by introducing vocational courses from school to higher education. Different regulatory bodies have been set up to ensure the smooth functioning of the educational machinery at every level. Research-based learning has emphasised and the investment in research is to be increased. Furthermore, without competent teachers imparting education under this policy, the outcome will be fruitless. Therefore, this policy provides a framework to constantly improve teaching institutes so that it does not breed a substandard quality of training. If this policy is successfully implemented, it will bring in some of the necessary changes that are urgently required in the Indian education system so that its quality parallels that of the developed countries in the world.

[1]https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf [2]http://www.dialogue.ias.ac.in/article/20944/observations-on-the-draft-national-education-policy [3]https://indicators.report/targets/4-4/

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