QUESTION : What are the key features of the National Education Policy, 2020? Discuss how it will facilitate the universalization of education in India.




  • National Education Policy ,2020


  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the National Education Policy 2020.
  • The new policy aims to pave way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems in the country.
  • This policy will replace the 34 your old National Policy on Education (NPE),1986.

 Do you know?

  • MHRD will now be called Education Ministry
  • This is the first new education policy in 34 years
  • A panel headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan submitted a draft Education Policy in December 2018


 National Policy on Education, 1968:

  • This first policy on education was based on the recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1964-1966).
  • The policy aimed at compulsory education for all children upto the age of 14 years and better training and qualification of teachers.
  • The policy called for focus on learning of regional languages, outlining the “three language formula” to be implemented in secondary education – the instruction of the English language, the official language of the state where the school was based, and Hindi.
  • The policy also encouraged the teaching of the ancient Sanskrit language, which was considered an essential part of India’s culture and heritage.

 National Policy on Education, 1986:

  • This policy aimed at special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalise educational opportunity, especially for Indian women, Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities.
  • It launched “Operation Blackboard” to improve primary schools nationwide.
  • The policy expanded the Open University system with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, which had been created in 1985.
  • The policy called for the creation of the “rural university” model, based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, to promote economic and social development at the grassroots level in rural India.

 Modification of 1986 National Policy on Education in 1992:

  • It aimed to conduct a common entrance examination on all India basis for admission to professional and technical programmes in the country.
  • For admission to Engineering and Architecture programmes, the government laid down a Three – Exam Scheme (JEE and AIEEE at the National Level and the State Level Engineering Entrance Examinations (SLEEE) for State Level Institutions).
  • This was done to take care of varying admission standards in these programmes and to maintain professional standards.
  • It also solved the problems of overlaps and reduced physical, mental and financial burden on students and their parents due to multiplicity of entrance examinations.
  • In May 2016, ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Shri T.S.R. Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, submitted its report.

 o Based on this report, the Ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’. 

  • In June 2017 a ‘Committee for the Draft National Education Policy’ was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. K. Kasturirangan, which submitted the Draft National Education Policy, 2019
  • This draft was made public and opened for feedback after the Lok Sabha election in May 2019.
  • NEP 2020 has been formulated after the process of consultation that involved nearly over 2 lakh suggestions from 2.5 lakhs Gram Panchayats, 6600 Blocks, 6000 ULBs, 676 Districts.



  • New Policy aims for universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 % Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
  • NEP 2020 will bring 2 crore out of school children back into the main stream through open schooling system.
  • The current 10+2 system to be replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.
  • Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools ; Vocational Education to start from Class 6 with Internships
  • Teaching up to at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/ regional language. No language will be imposed on any student.
  • Assessment reforms with 360 degree Holistic Progress Card, tracking Student Progress for achieving Learning Outcomes
  • A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree .


  • Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50 % by 2035 ; 5 crore seats to be added in higher education.
  • The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and  multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.
  • Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate Transfer of Credits
  • Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models  of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
  • Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have four independent verticals  – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,  and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
  • Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.


  • 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.
  • NEP 2020 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
  • The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.


Constitutional Provisions:

  • Part IV of Indian Constitution, Article 45 and Article 39 (f) of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), has a provision for state-funded as well as equitable and accessible education\The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976 moved education from the State to the Concurrent List.
  • The education policies by the Central government provides a broad direction and state governments are expected to follow it. But it is not mandatory, for instance Tamil Nadu does not follow the three-language formula prescribed by the first education policy in 1968.
  • The 86th Amendment in 2002 made education an enforceable right under Article 21-A.

Related Laws:

  • Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009 aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years and enforces education as a Fundamental Right.
  • It also mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups

 Government Initiatives:

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Scheme, Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVS schools), Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV schools) and use of IT in education are a result of the NEP of 1986.


  • This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986.
  • The policy is based on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability.
  • It is also aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The policy aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary, suited to 21st century needs and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.


  • Lack of resources and capacity.
  • Dozens of mother tongues, a link language that despite being the global language of choice is alien to most.
  • A persistent mismatch between the knowledge and skills imparted and the jobs available.
  • Indian Education is mostly theory-oriented rather than practical in behaviour.
  • Getting Qualitative Education is another issue.


  • The problem with the new policy is that there is no clarity on how it is to be implemented and does not break-free from the pressures of the old education system.
  • Needed more tangible and realizable targets
  • Total investment in research and 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 the population, compared with 111 in China.
  • Burden on the existing school infrastructure:
  • The NEP 2020 had also left many unanswered questions on the upgrade of school infrastructure and shortage of qualified and trained teachers.
  • Centralizing tendencies:
  • It is being said that the policy is an attempt to lead to total privatization, commercialization, and over-centralization.
  • This may result in higher fees, attacks on the autonomy of universities, and no permanent jobs in teaching.
  • Not enough provisions for removing digital divide
  • Disparities between the rich and poor, urban and rural, show up strikingly in access to digital tools.
  • The new policy is also completely silent on sports.


  • Provisions in the original draft: Language issues caused the most outrage at that time, because the original draft had called for mandatory teaching of Hindi to all school students.
  • Greater flexibility in the new policy: However, the final policy document makes it clear that no language will be imposed on any State. The three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of also the students themselves, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.
  • Classical languages: Sanskrit will be offered as an option at all levels of school and higher education.Other classical languages will also be available, possibly as online modules, while foreign languages will be offered at the secondary level.
  • Mother tongue : Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/ mother-tongue/ local language/ regional language. According to the new policy, this will be followed by both public and private schools.

Other provisions in the new policy :

  • A new curricular framework is to be introduced, including the pre-¬school and Anganwadi years.
  • A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will ensure basic skills at the Class 3 level by 2025.
  • Students will begin classes on coding as well as vocational activities from Class 6 onwards.
  • Indian knowledge systems, including tribal and indigenous knowledge, will also be incorporated into the curriculum in an accurate and scientific manner.

Implementation of the new policy :

  • Education is a concurrent list subject, also most states have their own school boards.
  • Therefore, the state governments would have to be brought on board for the actual implementation of this decision.


  • Resources are never the main roadblock to success in education. NEP 2020 provides the ingredients and the right recipe. What we make of it depends entirely on us.


  • A New Education Policy aims to facilitate an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach, which takes into consideration field experiences, empirical research, stakeholder feedback, as well as lessons learned from best practices.
  • It is a progressive shift towards a more scientific approach to education. The prescribed structure will help to cater the ability of the child – stages of cognitive development as well as social and physical awareness. If implemented in its true vision, the new structure can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world
  • Among the many imperatives, the deadline to achieve universal literacy and numeracy by 2025 should be a top priority that will crucially determine progress at higher levels.

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