September 28, 2020, by Jason Feehily

India’s new National Education Policy 2020

The education sector in India has needed an accelerated growth in quality, innovation and research demanded by the 21st Century. The National Education Policy 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century and aims to address the many growing developmental imperatives of India. The Union Cabinet of India announced this policy on 29 July 2020 and the last policy was framed in 1986.

Post the announcement of the new policy, the Human Resource and Development Ministry (MHRD) has been renamed to Ministry of Education effective immediately.

The NEP aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% to 50% by 2035. It aims to provide more flexibility, subjects and removes rigid separation between streams like arts, sciences, curricular or extra-curricular activities.

Public spending on education by State and Centre to be increased to 6% of GDP (2018-19 budgets was 3% of GDP, expanding the budget by almost double of current spending)

The policy has introduced several changes which will be made across all levels starting from school to college level.

School Education

Key points to note for school education is the introduction of new school structure to adopt 5+3+3+4 pattern as compared to the current structure of 10+2. Post sixth standard the student will have vocational courses available to choose and from eight to eleventh standard students will be able to choose subjects. A new curriculum will be introduced to include skills like coding, gender inclusion and vocations integration from class six.

Higher Education

Under Higher Education, the NEP will introduce a four year undergraduate degree with multiple entry and exit options for students excluding medicine and law courses. UG courses will be flexible and offer multi-disciplinary options with flexible exit points. There is also a mention of one year PG program for those who opt for the 4 year UG program and an integrated 5 year bachelors/masters program. For PhD programs students can either do a master’s degree or the 4 year bachelor’s degree with research. The M. Phil program shall be discontinued.

The policy allows the top 100 foreign universities to set up campuses in India. A legal framework will be developed to facilitate entry for a foreign university and will be offered special regulatory governance and autonomy.

India has a number of regulatory bodies including the University Grants Commission which will be replaced by a new regulator – the Higher Education Commission.

Research

The policy also indicates a comprehensive approach to transform the quality and quantity of research. It is mentioned in the policy about the establishment of National Research Foundation (NRF) which will be set up with a sole responsibility of coordinating with funding agencies and will work with science, engineering, arts, humanities and social sciences.

The NRF will provide a reliable base of research funding, help to develop a culture of research and recognition of outstanding research, and by undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research. The NRF will competitively fund research in all disciplines. Institutions that currently fund research at some level, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), and University Grants Commission (UGC), as well as various private and philanthropic organizations, will continue to independently fund research according to their priorities and needs.

This policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century education, including SDG4, while building upon India’s traditions and value systems. It is a progressive and ambitious policy making India an exciting place to be during the implementation phase.

For a read NEP is available at:

https://www.mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf

Maneeta Sahmey

Country Business Engagement & Partnerships Adviser – India/Sri Lanka

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