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NEP-2020: Vision and Pathways

After thirty-four years since the launch of the National Policy on Education in 1986, a new National Education Policy-2020 has been announced and is currently under implementation. The National Education Policy envisions to have an education system that is second to none with equitable access to the highest quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background. The vision of NEP-2020 is in sync with Goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), which seeks 'to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all'. The New Education Policy, aligned with India’s aspirational goals of 21st century, proclaims to transform India into a global knowledge superpower. Besides being global in its outlook, the policy is also India-centric, as it intends ‘to instill among the learners a deep rooted pride in being Indian, not only in thought, but also in spirit, intellect, and deeds, as well as to develop knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions that support responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global wellbeing, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen. ’* Based on the vision, NEP-2020 has set 2040 as the deadline to fulfill the goals, targets, and pathways so that the child who gets entry into the education system under the new policy would exit with having gone through the new policy processes. The distinctive thrusts of the new education policy are as follows:

Universalisation of Education

The New Education Policy aims at universalising school education (achieving 100% GER i.e. Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool to secondary level) by 20302 and higher education (increasing the GER in higher education to 50 %) by 20353. The universalisation of goals and targets need to be seen in terms of areas and groups, as the states and groups within a State are at different levels of educational attainment. It is expected that universalisation of school education will provide scope for maximizing enrolment in higher education. Besides providing universal access and enrolment, the policy also suggests to undertake measures to bring back drop-out children to schools and to prevent this from occurring further.

National Education Policy 2020 Principles

 recognising, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student;
 according the highest priority to achieving Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) by all students by Grade 3;
 flexibility in their own paths in life according to their talents and interests;
 no hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra- curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc.;
 multidisciplinary and a holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports for a multidisciplinary world;
 emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for- exams;
 creativity and critical thinking to encourage logical decision-making and innovation;
 ethics and human & Constitutional values; promoting multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning; life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience;
 focus on regular formative assessment for learning;
 extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for Divyang students;respect for diversity and respect for the local context;
 full equity and inclusion as the cornerstone of all educational decisions;
 synergy in curriculum across all levels of education from early childhood care and education to school education to higher education;
 teachers and faculty as the heart of the learning process;
 a ‘light but tight regulatory framework’ to ensure integrity, transparency, and resource efficiency of the educational system;
 outstanding research as a requisite for outstanding education and development;
 continuous review of progress based on sustained research;
 a rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient, and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions;
 education is a public service; access to quality education must be considered a basic right of every child;
 substantial investment on public education system as well as the encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation;

Curricular and Pedagogical Restructuring

Following Liberal Education approach, NEP-2020 envisages restructuring of the existing curriculum and pedagogy in both school and higher education, to realise the vision and fulfill the policy’s goals and targets. It recommends modifying the existing 10+2 pedagogical structure in the form of a new structure of 5+3+3+4, having a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from the age of 3 years. The policy recommends universal provisioning of quality early childhood care and education based on strong pedagogical components to be achieved by 2030. NEP considers the 3-8 years age as the foundational stage of a child critical for his/her overall development. Every student should attain foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) by grade 3. The curricular and pedagogical structure of school education should match with developmental needs and interests of learners at different stages of their development corresponding to the age ranges/grades. The main thrust of structural reforms in higher education is transforming higher education institutions into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and knowledge hubs. Multidisciplinary education based on liberal education is an academic and pedagogical approach to develop multiple capacities in the students by integrating formal and informal learning opportunities such as teaching, research, and community engagements and promoting interdisciplinary perspective academic practice.5 Being multidisciplinary, institutions will restructure the pedagogy, permitting the scope for choices of subjects to students and it is also expected that affiliated colleges will gradually phase out giving whys to multidisciplinary universities and colleges by 2035. The policy also recommends building world class multidisciplinary Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) called Multidisciplinary Educational Research University (MERU). Equity and Inclusion in Education NEP 2020 envisages achieving Equitable and Inclusive quality education for all. It reaffirms the commitment of bridging up the social category gaps in access, participation, and learning outcomes at all levels of education. The policy considers equity as an inclusive notion focusing on Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) and areas.6 Recognising the large intra-state variations, the policy recommends declaring the regions with large populations from the disadvantaged groups as Special Education Zones (SEZs), where all the schemes and policies can be implemented more effectively. The policy suggests implementing suitable strategies to address the problems of access, participation, and learning outcomes for the SEDGs and to eliminate different types of disparities (both group and area specific) in both school and higher education. Promoting equity in learning outcomes from early childhood care and education through higher education is one of the major goals of NEP-2020.

Reforms for Effective Governance

Following the ‘light but tight approach’, the policy sets up transformative agenda in governance for achieving the goals and targets in education. In school education, some of the major reforms include: a) setting up school complexes/clusters, b) setting up of school standards and autonomy and c) reforming school examination boards. The governance reforms in higher education include setting up a single regulator on Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) with four verticals for regulation, namely National Higher Education Resource Centre (NHERC) accreditation, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), funding Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC), and academic setting of General Education Council (GEC). The idea behind creating a single regulator is to initiate the problems of over-regulation in higher and professional education.

Standard Setting and Accreditation for School and Higher Education

As far as Standard Setting and Accreditation for School and Higher Education is concerned regarding school education, the NEP-2020 advocates for the institutionalisation of effective quality assurance and accreditation system by establishing State School Standards Authority (SSSA) as an independent state wide body; in higher education the policy envisages to set up NAC as one of the verticals of HECI. It is expected that the new governance will make the system more transparent and accountable.

Vocational Education

NEP envisages strengthening the skills component in general education and raise the status of vocational education by integrating it into the mainstream formal education. It is expected that by 2025, over 50% of the learners through the school and higher will have exposure to vocational education.

Quality Academic Research

The policy advocates for developing a strong culture of research and knowledge creation to make India a knowledgeable superpower. It calls for setting up the National Research Foundation (NRF) with a special mandate to foster research and innovation in universities and colleges including interdisciplinary research.

Use of Technology

The new NEP 2020 proposes to set up a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to serve as a platform to better the ideation process, improve learning, assessment, planning, and administration. This policy aims to see that technology is appropriately integrated into all levels of education for: improving teaching, learning, and evaluation processes; supporting the preparation of teachers and their continuous professional development; enhancing educational access to disadvantaged groups; and streamlining educational planning, administration, and management.

Raising Public Expenditure on Education

The policy commits to raise the public expenditure on education to the recommended level of 6% of GDP as envisaged by the 1968 Policy. The policy also identifies the following key longterm significant areas for financing to cultivate an education system; (a) universal provisioning of quality early childhood care education; (b) ensuring foundational literacy and numeracy; (c) providing adequate and appropriate resourcing of school complexes/clusters; (d) providing food and nutrition (breakfast and midday meals); (e) investing in teacher education and continuing professional development of teachers; (f) revamping colleges and universities to foster excellence; (g) cultivating research; and (h) extensive use of technology and online education.

Internationalisation in Education

NEP-2020 advocates for greater internationalisation in education by creating avenues for having larger number of international students studying in India and providing opportunities to students interested in studying abroad. NEP 2020 points out that high performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similar selected universities, e.g., those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India. A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place and such given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.

Promotion of Indian Languages, Art and Culture

NEP-2020 advocates the use of Indian languages, art, and culture at all levels of education. The policy has proposed establishing an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) to promote Indian languages. It has also been pointed that Sanskrit will be mainstreamed in schools and higher education institutions. The policy also makes it explicit that proficiency in Indian languages will be included as part of qualification parameters for employment opportunities.


Thus, the vision of the National Education Policy-2020 is quite comprehensive and long standing. Keeping in mind the comprehensive nature of the vision and principles of the policy, pathways have been chalked out to realise the associated goals and targets. The gaps between the current and desired educational outcomes are to be bridged by major systemic reforms and suitable strategies/programme interventions from early childhood through higher education. The policy is both global and local in its outlook and intent. It makes a significant headway from earlier policies by putting quality education as the topmost agenda of educational reforms, strengthening the foundations of education, catering to the educational needs of the most disadvantaged, and making India a global leader in education.