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Draft National Education Policy 2019 [Mains Article]

The Draft National Education Policy 2019 is full of provisions that many in the education sector have been desperate to see for decades. However, many of the policy’s omissions and contradictions, combined with the previous track record of central and state governments in implementing existing education policies also diminish the hope.
By IT's Mains Articles Team
August 05, 2019


  • Introduction
  • Highlights of the Draft National Education Policy 2019
  • Drawbacks of the draft
  • Challenges in implementation
  • Suggestions
  • Key Facts
  • Way Ahead

 Draft National Education Policy 2019

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  • The Committee for Draft National Education Policy, chaired by K. Kasturirangan, submitted its report on May 31, 2019.
  • The committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.


Ministry of Human Resource Development. IASToppers

  • The report proposes an education policy, which seeks to address the challenges of: (i) access, (ii) equity, (iii) quality, (iv) affordability, and (v) accountability faced by the current education system.

Highlights of the Draft National Education Policy 2019:


Early Childhood Care and Education:

  • It recommends developing a two-part curriculum for early childhood care and education. It includes (i) guidelines for up to three-year-old children (for parents and teachers), and (ii) educational framework for three to eight-year-old children.
  • High-quality early childhood care and education will be provided for all children between the ages of 3 and 6 by 2025.
  • All Indians between ages 3 and 18 to be in school by 2030, the Right to Education Act will be extended from pre-school to class XII.

Early Childhood Care and Education IASTopper

The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act):

  • Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.
  • The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education (three to 18 years).
  • The draft Policy recommends, there should be no detention of children till class eight.


Curriculum framework:

  • The draft recommends restructuring the curriculum framework. The new curriculum would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design.
  • 5-3-3-4 design will comprise of: five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two), three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).

School exam reforms:

  • The draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight. It also recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities.
  • The students can choose their subjects, and the semester when they want to take these board exams. The in-school final examinations may be replaced by these board examinations.

School infrastructure:

  • The draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex.
  • A school complex consists of one secondary school (classes nine to twelve) and all the public schools in its neighbourhood that offer education from pre-primary till class eight.
  • The school complexes, being semi-autonomous, will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre.

 Teacher management:

  • The draft Policy recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.
  • Teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.

Regulation of schools:

  • The draft Policy recommends separating the regulation of schools from aspects such as policymaking, school operations, and academic development.
  • The draft suggests creating an independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state that will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools.
  • The Department of Education of the State will formulate policy and conduct monitoring and supervision.

National Higher Education Regulatory:

National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) IASToppers

  • The draft proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) that would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education.
  • This would imply that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice.

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC):


  • The draft Policy recommends separating NAAC from the UGC into an independent and autonomous body, NAAC will thus function as the top level accreditor, and will issue licenses to different accreditation institutions, who will assess higher educational institutions once every five to seven years.

Establishment of new higher educational institutions:

  • The draft Policy proposes higher educational institutions be allowed to be set up through a Higher Education Institution Charter from NHERA.
  • Currently, higher educational institutions can only be set up by Parliament or state legislatures.
  • India’s current 800 universities and over 40,000 colleges will be consolidated into about 10,000-15,000 institutions of excellence to drive improvement in quality and expansion of capacity.

Restructuring of higher education institutions

All types will grant their own degrees and there will be no system of university affiliations.

  • Type 1 universities focused on research but also teaching all programmes, undergrad to doctoral
  • Type 2 universities focused on teaching all programmes while also conducting research
  • Type 3 colleges focused on teaching undergrad programmes

Establishing a National Research Foundation

  • It proposes separate institutions for regulation, funding, standard setting and accreditation, a National Research Foundation, and a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog/ National Education Commission.

Moving towards a liberal approach:

  • The draft Policy recommends making undergraduate programmes interdisciplinary by redesigning their curriculum to include: (a) a common core curriculum and (b) one/two area(s) of specialisation.

Professional development of faculty:

  • The draft Policy recommends development of a Continuous Professional Development programme and introduction of a permanent employment (tenure) track system for faculty in all higher education institutions by 2030.

Creation of National Education Commission

  • It also suggests creation of a National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, as an apex body for education, to be headed by the Prime Minister.
  • It will oversee the implementation and functioning of several bodies including the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the proposed National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, and National Research Foundation.

Financing Education

  • The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education.
  • It seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years.

National Mission on Education through information and communication technology:

  • The Mission will encompass virtual laboratories that provide remote access to laboratories in various disciplines.
  • A ‘National Education Technology Forum’ will also be setup under the Mission, as an autonomous body, to facilitate decision making on the induction, deployment and use of technology.

Vocational courses:

  • All school students must receive vocational education in at least one vocation in grades 9 to 12.
  • The draft Policy targets to offer vocational education to up to 50% of the total enrolment in higher education institutions by 2025, up from the present level of enrolment of below 10%.

Central Institute of Adult Education

  • The draft recommends establishment of an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT, which will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education.

National Repository:

  • A National Repository will be setup to maintain all records related to institutions, teachers, and students in digital form.

Adult Education:

  • The bill proposes to establish an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT, which will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education.
  • The draft also aims to achieve ‘universal foundational literacy and numeracy’ through initiatives like the National Tutors Programme and the Remedial Instructional Aides Programme.

Three Language Formula:

  • The draft Policy recommended that three language formula (English, Hindi and any modern Indian language) be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided.
  • Further, schools in Hindi speaking areas should also teach Indian languages from other parts of India for the purpose of national integration.

Promotion of Indian languages:

  • To promote Indian languages, a National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit will be set up.

Drawbacks of the draft:

  • The draft currently lacks a sense of meaningful inclusiveness of students with Disabilities.
  • It misses to provide solutions to close the gap of access to quality education between India’s rich and poor children. The draft does not specify a common minimum standard that every school has to maintain. These creates conditions where quality of facilities in some schools will sink lower, widening the gap further between poor and rich.
  • The draft places considerable emphasis on the decentralized mechanisms for supporting teachers. However, no separate funding has been earmarked for this despite it is a full time activity and needs to be staffed and resourced accordingly.
  • The draft policy does not say anything on the Institutions of Eminence and agencies like the Higher Education Funding Agency.

Challenges in implementation:

  • It recommends doubling of public funding to 6% of the GDP and increasing overall public expenditure on education to 20% from the current 10%, it is not feasible in the near future given that most of the additional funding has to come from the States.
  • Expanding coverage under the RTE Act to include pre-school children is extremely important, but it should be introduced gradually, keeping in mind the quality of infrastructure and teacher vacancies.
  • Setting up the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog will face many administrative problems. Bringing medical or agricultural or legal education under one umbrella is likely to be met with stiff opposition.
  • The sheer scale of changes expected, the rapid timeline, the absence of a strong mechanism for handholding states on the education policy and the probable inadequate budget raises questions on the full implementation of this policy.


  • India should move towards a national system of education that shapes India’s next generation and enforce standards of quality across the country.
  • The idea of regulation being brought under the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, standard setting under the General Education Council and funding under the Higher Education Grants Council may require a revisit so that there is synchronisation with the current Bill for the Higher Education Commission of India.
  • Language issues have to be handled sensitively in view of their emotional overtones, since protests are often made without understanding the spirit of the text.
  • While establishing new institutions for Pali, Prakrit and Persian is a novel idea, strengthening the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysuru and upgrading it to a university with an extended mandate to take care of these languages is a better option.
  • Given the fact that the most of the India’s education policies have not been fully implemented, government should address the reasons behind the past policy-practice implementation gap in executing this policy.

Key Facts:

  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18.
  • The total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.
  • Less than 5% of the workforce in the age-group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India.

Way Forward:

  • The details about financing and institutional structures should be brought out at the earliest, perhaps by an inter-departmental committee under the Cabinet Secretary.
  • The draft lacks operational details and does not offer insights into how the policy will be funded.
  • The centre must also ensure that the policy does not face litigation, state resistance, and operational challenges on the ground.

operational challenges IASToppers


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