Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] National Education Policy 2020

NEP 2020 has recommended primary education in local languages, facilitating possible entry of foreign universities in India, creating a single higher-education regulator, and easier board examinations.
By IASToppers
July 31, 2020


  • Introduction
  • Major Highlights of NEP
  • Radical Changes
  • Challenges
  • Conclusion

National Education Policy 2020

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The Union Cabinet has passed India’s first new National Education Policy on 29 July 2020. It replaced a 34-year-old National Policy on Education, 1986 and introduces wide-ranging reforms aimed at making the Indian education system more contemporary and skill-oriented. NEP has renamed the HRD (human resource development) ministry as the education ministry.

Major Highlights of NEP:

1. Schooling starts at 3 years:

  • NEP expands 6-14 years of mandatory schooling to 3-18 years of schooling.
  • The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.
  • For emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, 10+2 structure of school curriculum replaced by a 5+3+3+4 structure for ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years.

2. Mother tongue as medium of instruction:

  • Focus on students’ mother tongue as medium of instruction in both public and private schools but it is not compulsory.
  • Wherever possible, medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, preferably till Grade 8 and beyond will be home language, mother tongue, local language or the regional language.

3. Science, arts, commerce division gets blurred:

  • No rigid separations between arts and sciences, curricular and extra-curricular activities & vocational and academic streams.
  • Vocational education will start in schools from 6th grade, and will include internships.

4. Single regulator for higher education institutions:

  • Higher Education Commission of India will be a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
  • Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
  • Affiliation of colleges will be phased out in 15 years and mechanism to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

5. Multiple entry and exit options in degree courses:

  • Undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration with multiple exit options within this period.
  • College will be mandated to give certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme.

6. Transfer of Credits:

  • An Academic Bank of Credit will be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.
  • Freedom from periodic inspections in schools, colleges and universities and place them on the path of self-assessment and voluntary declaration.

Radical Changes:

  • The urgency of foundational learning is recognised and upgraded it to a mission.
  • The exit and re-entry of students in universities, combined with ability to transfer credits across universities, this gives true freedom to students to find their best fit.
  • The multi-disciplinarity, across schools and higher education, flexibility given in board exams and introducing vocational courses with internship.
  • The reform that students can choose any subjects, and disbanding concept of streams frees up students to work to their talents rather than to an administrator’s diktat.
  • Other include focus on teacher training for schools, fund for educating girls, and freedom for university course length.
  • Creating a framework for teachers to only teach and not be co-opted for other duties is desirable.


1. Expenditure in Education:

  • The goal of 6% of GDP to be spent on education was first articulated in 1948.
  • However, in the last 6 years, expenditure in education has declined in real terms.

2. Idealistic goals:

  • The goals of 50% Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education and 100% in secondary school are laudable.
  • However, it is currently 25.8% in Higher Education and 68% in Class 9, which make the goals more idealist than realistic.

3. Right guidance:

  • With multiple choices and multi-disciplinarity, there must come some support in making those choices for the young.
  • This must be a part of the structural shift and needs resources, training and a clear place in the changed structure.
  • Faculty training in university teaching remains a huge gap too.

4. Research environment:

  • The NEP should have offered more tangible & realisable targets for research.
  • Total investment on research & innovation in India declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.6% in 2018.
  • There are currently only 15 researchers in India per 100,000 of population, compared with 111 in China.


The features of NEP 2020 are laudable and welcome as they demonstrate resilience and future-readiness. It brings choice & vision but needs champions and implementers to realise the targets.

The toughest criticism of NEP is that it is quite idealistic. This gap between vision and tasking will need more than action plans and implementation strategy. Hence, it requires right steps to ensure that aspirations are matched by implementation.

To read the National Education Policy 2020 in detail, kindly visit the link given below:

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