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National Education Policy 2020 for UPSC Exam


Coronavirus outbreak has majorly impacted the education sector in India. Union Minister of Human Resource and Development  released reforms and education plan, National Education Policy 2020, for students that is based on the Kasturirangan committee report.

National Education 
Policy (NEP) 2020

Many students have faced problems in shifting to online learning. The ministry has introduced plans which will bring equality in education. The students will also have the liberty to take a break during their Undergraduate programme and continue from where they have left. Basically, the ministry has introduced a credit system like the United States of America’s Multiple entries and exit system.

History of National Education Policy

I. Inspiration from Woods Dispatch 1854

Wood’s Dispatch is considered as ‘Magna-Carta’ of English Education. This proposal was based on Downward Infiltration theory.

  • Vernacular languages were to be promoted in Primary education. Anglo vernacular medium in Secondary education and English in higher education.
  • It emphasized women education.

II. National Policy on Education, 1968:

  • This was the first policy on education post-independence.
  • It 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
  • The policy emphasised learning of regional languages, and the “three language formula” to be implemented in secondary education
  • The policy also encouraged the teaching of Sanskrit language, which was an essential to part of India’s culture and heritage.

III. National Policy on Education, 1986

  • This policy aimed to remove disparities and to equalize educational opportunity, amoung Indian women,
  • “Operation Blackboard” was launched as a part of this policy.
  • The policy advocated “rural university” model, based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi

Highlights of the National Education Policy 2020

National Education Policy 2020 for UPSC Exam making way for large scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.


  • The first stage of five years – (Children of 3-8 years of age) 

Is focused on discovery learning and learning by play.

Aims to build The foundational literacy and numeracy skills

  • Preparatory Stage (children in the age group of 8 to 11 year – grades 3 to 5)
  • Middle Stage age group of 11-14 years – grades 6 to 8) 
  • Secondary Stage (age group of 14-18 years – Grades 9-12)
National Education Policy 2020 NEP for UPSC Exam New structure for School Education

Reforms in School and Secondary education

Power of Multilinguals

  • National Education Policy 2020 says, 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.
  • Reason behind implementing multilingualism is that, according to research children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8 and that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to young students
  • In addition to Sanskrit, the teaching of all other classical languages [in schedule 8] and literature of India will happen at schools.
  • School complexes and  public library spaces should be used for adult education beyond school hours.
  • Every child to learn at least one vocation and exposed to several more.
  • Vocational training such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc. to be the part of syllabus in schools between grade 6-8.
  • By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education
  • Bagless period for Grades 6-8 once in 10 days will be implemented.
  • Ministry of Defence along with State Governments may encourage opening NCC wings in their secondary and higher secondary schools
  • Government to focus on digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building for school and higher education.
  • A 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 . Violation of the rules will attract Stringent action
  • There will be increased flexibility for students to choose the subjects to study from secondary school. It  includes subjects in physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills
  • There will be no separation among curricular, extracurricular, or co-curricular activities in schools.
  • In the same way, there will be NO hardline separation among ‘arts’, ‘humanities’, and ‘sciences’, or between ‘vocational’ or ‘academic’ streams.
  • Subjects such as science, humanities, and mathematics will be will be taught along with physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills
  • A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on priority
  • 360 degree holistic report card will be given to students, which will not only inform about the marks obtained in subjects, but also their skills
  • The policy also proposes to expand Right to compulsory education between 3 -18 years
    • The NEP aims to achieve fully literate society by 2030

Reforms in Higher education

  • Restructuring the higher education system into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.
    • Tier 1 includes research universities focusing equally on research and teaching,
    •  Tier 2- teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching
    •  Tier 3 – colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels. All these institutions will gradually move towards academic, administrative, and financial autonomy. Government intends to spread ‘research culture’ at the undergraduate level.
  • Foreign universities will be given special permissions and limited procedures to set up institutions in India.
  • Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, except medical and legal education.
  • The NEP establishes National Scholarship Fund to financially support students for higher education.
  • Through NEP government aims to enhance GER [gross Enrollment Ratio] of 50% by 2035
  • Establishing National Research Foundation [NRF] to enable the culture of research amoung youth.  
  • Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) will be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned by students.
  • Engineering institutions, like IITs, will move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education to include arts and humanities.

Controversy Over the Three Language Formula

  • The three-language formula, dating back to 1968, means students in Hindi-speaking states should learn a modern Indian language, apart from Hindi and English and, in non-Hindi-speaking states, Hindi along with the regional language and English.
  • One can see a clear partition of languages between the Southern states and the Northern states which makes it irrational for imposing Hindi in south Indian states.
  • The Kothari Commission in 1964 advocated that students from the north should learn one south Indian language and student from north should learn one language from north India.
  • In the South, especially in Tamil Nadu, there was agitation on the imposition of Hindi.

Issues in the Draft Policy

  • There are negative opinions over integration of foundational learning with schooling. 

Eg. In Europe, compulsory education begins at the age of 6 unlike 3 years according to National Education Policy 2020.

In certain countries like Denmark, Germany and Finland, compulsory education begins at the age of 7.

  • In the draft policy, there is no mention of how the State regulatory body will regulate the government institutions.
  • A constitutional amendment is required to change the limits for compulsory schooling in the country.
  • There is not enough capacity in the country to provide for teachers’ education.
  • Policy prioritizes B.Ed over M.Ed

Way Forward

  • Apart from consulting states, central government needs to consult all the other stakeholders including parents, Students and institutions
  • There should be a course of Masters of Teacher Education and there is a need to build good teacher training institutions.
  • The quality of education provided in the country shall be such that it not only delivers basic literacy and numeracy but also creates an analytical environment and promote scientific temper amoung citizens.

Watch the video to learn more about the NEP 2020:

December 2023