- The article highlights that National Education Policy has several innovative ideas and daring proposals.
National Education Policy
- Thirty-four years after the last National Policy on Education was introduced, in 1986, the National Education Policy, 2020 was announced and approved by the Union Cabinet.
- A majority of the path-breaking proposals submitted by the Dr. K. Kasturirangan Committee, in the 2019 draft National Education Policy, seems to have been approved and a few important proposals that figured in the draft have been ignored in the final policy.
Education as a public good
- There are statements in the policy such as “education is a public good” and “the public education system is the foundation of a vibrant democratic society”.
- The recognition of education as a public good has important implications for public policy in planning, providing, and financing education.
- It also has important implications for the state’s approach towards private education.
- It is public education that contributes to the building of nations, their growth socially, economically, politically, culturally, and technologically and the building of a humane society.
- The policy promotes a holistic education as well as each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres, emphasises extra-curricular activities, emphasises research, speaks of substantial investment in a strong, vibrant public education system, and so on.
Major recommendations approved
-Early childhood care and education
- The major recommendations of the Committee that have been approved include
- A 5+3+3+4 system in school education that incorporates early childhood care and education;
- Universal education that includes the secondary level;
- Adoption of school complexes;
- Breakfast in the school meal programme; and
- Introduction of vocational education at the upper primary level.
- The proposal that medium of instruction until at least Grade 5 will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language will reduce elitism and dualism in schools to a great extent.
- Reforms proposed in higher education include
- a multidisciplinary system offering choices to students from among a variety of subjects from different disciplines;
- integrated (undergraduate, postgraduate and research levels) education;
- a four-year undergraduate programme; and
- overhauling of the governance structure in higher education.
- There will be just one regulatory body for the entire sector in the Higher Education Commission of India.
- The policy also places emphasis on the liberal arts, humanities, and Indian heritage and languages
- Facilitates selective entry of high-quality foreign universities
- Aims to increase public investment in education to 6% of the GDP
- Promises to provide higher education free to about 50% of the students (with scholarships and fee waivers); and
- Aims to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 50% by 2035.
- The three-language formula will promote national integration.
Missings of the final policy
- There were proposals or statements that were made in the draft but are missing in the policy
- All commercially oriented private institutions will be closed as per the draft policy but the 2020 policy promises closure of substandard teacher education institutions only.
- The draft policy promised doubling public expenditure on education to 20% of the total government expenditure, from 10%. The 2020 policy simply reaffirms the commitment to allocation of 6% of GDP.
- Setting up of a National Education Commission at the national level and a similar one at the State level did not find a place.
- There is no mention of State School Education Regulatory Authorities in the 2020 policy.
- There is also no promise of ‘full’ recruitment of teachers at all levels, though the policy promises robust recruitment mechanisms to be put in place.
New proposals in the final policy
- There are some proposals which did not find a place in the draft but found its place in the final policy which includes
- The establishment of a model Multi-Disciplinary Education and Research University in every district
- In school education, a National Assessment Centre has been promised to make assessment and evaluation more holistic.
- The policy, unlike the draft, rightly recognises the need to strengthen the Central Advisory Board of Education.
Despite bold reforms envisaged, the real challenge lies in implementing these long overdue reforms to reap the benefit.