A CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020
Author: Khushi Paliwal, University College of Law, Mohanlal Sukhadia University
The National Education Policy 2020 was the most awaited and exciting policy for Indians as this transforms the old rote learning methods of education to actual conceptual means. It was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 29 July 2020.
The first attempt to establish an education policy in India was somewhere around 1966 and shows its significance in a document published by Prof. DS Kothari. The implementation of the same thought was done by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1968, which called for a “radical restructuring” and proposed equal educational opportunities in order to achieve national integration and greater cultural and economic development.
The second such thought of education policy was brought up by the Rajiv Gandhi Government in 1986 which took almost 6 years for its proper implementation and reached 1992 and the same policy was in practice for 34 years until the year 2020 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come up with New Education Policy.
It is just a policy, not a law as education is a subject matter which comes under concurrent list, but its further implementation depends on both the states’ and the center’s regulations.
EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION POLICY IN INDIA
- UNIVERSITY EDUCATION COMMISSION (1948-49)
It was the first education commission of independent India, also known as Radhakrishnan Commission. It was appointed in November 1948 under the Chairmanship of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan studied the problems of university education in India & needed to submit his reports on the same.
- SECONDARY EDUCATION COMMISSION (1952-53)
In 1952 Union Government of India appointed Dr. A Laxman Swamy Mudaliar as a chairman of secondary education commission, also known as Mudaliar Commission. The major aim behind this was to examine the existing system of secondary education in the country and to suggest measures to improve it.
- EDUCATION COMMISSION (1964-66) UNDER DR. D. S. KOTHARI
It was popularly known as Kothari Commission, was an ad hoc commission set up by the Government of India to examine all aspects of the educational sector in India, to evolve a general pattern of education and to advise guidelines and policies for the development of the same.
- NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION, 1968- Passed by Parliament (First NEP)
This policy called for fulfilling compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14, as stipulated by the Constitution of India and focused on specialized training and qualification of teachers. It was also called for education spending to increase to six percent of the national income
- 42ND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, 1976- Education in Concurrent List
The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 transferred five subjects to Concurrent List from State List and education was one of them.
- NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION, 1986 (Second NEP)
This new policy by Rajiv Gandhi Government was called for “special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize educational opportunity,” especially for Indian women, Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities.
- NPE 1986 modified in 1992 (Programme of Action, 1992)
The National Policy on Education of 1986 was modified in 1992. It is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in India. The principles included in the NPE-1968 are also included in the new policy with some modifications.
- In May 2016, ‘COMMITTEE FOR EVOLUTION OF THE NEW EDUCATION POLICY’ under the Chairmanship of Late Shri T.S.R. Subramanian submitted its report then The Ministry announced formation of a new committee.
NEP 2020 BACKGROUND
The Committee for drafting the National Education Policy (NEP) was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017 and it was headed by Dr. K. Kasturirangan who submitted his reports on May 31, 2019. Consequently, the draft National Education Policy 2019 was shared by the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) for public comment and got approved by Cabinet as The National Education Policy 2020 (Third NEP).
KEY FEATURES OF NEP 2020
SCHOOL EDUCATION CHANGES
- Early Childhood Care and Education:
The main objective behind NEP is to groom students from the very beginning, keeping in mind this perspective, the government focused on kids from 3-6 years of age group to get “free, safe, high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education” by the year 2025. 
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy:
There are several reports which show that a large proportion of students in elementary schools are unable to read, write, learn, solve and understand due to lack of basic foundation, which in near future force them to drop out or leave them behind against others. Under NEP a special mission-based committee has been set up which will work in maintaining a 30:1 pupil-teacher ratio at all schools and try to encourage parental participation etc.
- Reintegrating Dropouts and Ensuring Universal Access to Education:
Numerous studies show the fact that most of the students usually began dropping out after grade 5 and it became difficult to bring those dropouts back to education. That’s why NEP tries to focus on effective and sufficient infrastructure to encourage students back to school.
- Curriculum and Pedagogy in Schools:
The new system has replaced the old 10+2 to 5+3+3+4 design of pedagogical structure which will follow this substructure-
- 5 years of the Foundational Stage: 3 years of pre-primary school and Grades 1, 2.
- 3 years of the Preparatory Stage: Grades 3, 4, 5.
- 3 years of the Middle Stage: Grades 6, 7, 8.
- 4 years of the High Stage: Grades 9, 10, 11, 12.
This brand new system not only covers the curriculum content but also enhances the critical thinking of one’s mind by debates and discussions, experimental learnings, etc., and most importantly now students can study arts, science, sports, etc subjects altogether. For example, now one can opt political science with physics. Apart from this, this system also fulfills the old demand for teaching and learning in one’s mother tongue until grade 5 including sign languages and ancient Indian languages like Sanskrit.
It is quite obvious that for developing students teachers are the key and for making the teachers more trained and qualified the NEP has proposed special merit-scholarships with guaranteed employment, incentives to take up jobs in rural areas and decided to decrease teacher transfers so that the teachers can become more accountable and responsive.
HIGHER EDUCATION CHANGES
When we emphasize the foundation or roots it leads to strengthened upbringing but at the same time higher structure too plays a vital role because it leads an individual to a specific direction. Hence when one comes to the age to attain higher education usually suffers from multiple things including societal and peer pressure, chaos regarding subject selection, due to the desires of getting high paid jobs and getting admission in famous colleges; students often run behind percentage and not knowledge. So here NEP comes up with a few reforms which break these stereotypes and allow students to grow:
- Approaching a system of multi-disciplinary universities and colleges: In universities and colleges it is important to break certain prejudices, harsh activities like ragging etc. Because these are shrines of education where all students need to be treated equally with equal distribution of opportunities.
- Moving towards a liberal undergraduate education: It is a high time that we look at education in a broader manner. It need not be limited in a particular field like science or commerce etc.
- Supporting faculty and institutional autonomy: The NEP would like to make institutions and staff autonomous so that it generates a sense of responsibility, innovation and regulation in their work.
- Establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF): The main aim of NRF is to provide funding to all institutions across India for research proposals. 
- Reformed regulation system: Some measures are as same as the previous policies but this time more focus will remain on its implementation and whosoever does not adhere to the guidelines set up under NEP, strict action could be taken against them.
- 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.
- National Assessment Centre- ‘PARAKH’ has been created to assess the students.
- It also paves the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
- It emphasizes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
- New Policy promotes Multilingualism in both schools and higher education. National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation to be set up.
- It also aims to increase the public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest. Currently, India spends around 4.6 % of its total GDP on education.
LOOPHOLES OF THE SYSTEM
Apart from being open, liberal and full of visions, this policy still represents many drawbacks. For example introduction of classical languages to school education is a controversial topic because even research scholars find it extremely difficult to learn certain archaic languages. Furthermore, making everything digital when network availability is not ensured to remote areas is again a big challenge in itself. The most distressing fact is that the policy opens its paths to privatization which will surely result in high fees and more dropouts and takes us away from the important motto of the policy.
Every year 8,934 students are committing suicide in India  just because marks become the topmost priority in the education system and left an individual away from his actual capabilities. The New Education Policy 2020 shows that education is much more than cramming of subjects, meeting deadlines and obtaining marks but the real meaning of education is to obtain knowledge, skills, values and to do and make progress in the field in which one really finds his interest.
There is no doubt that if the complete policy is implemented in a proper manner it can take Indian education to new heights. Although some of its objectives lack clarity of goals we really cannot judge this until its written plans turn into action. We can only hope for the best results after all it has been brought keeping in mind the holistic development and happiness of students.
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