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National Education Policy 2020

Updated: Dec 28, 2023


This blog will shed light on the History and the Highlights of the New Education Policy. To give a brief history of the topic, a lot of other policies were implemented in the education sector by the British. However, in 1947, India faced a major setback with regards to the infrastructure, social and economic challenges. During that time, the first Education Minister, Mr. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, saw that the government might not focus as much on education because there were other livelihood issues then. He then focused on creating and designing a basic education framework in the country. The Four Commission idea used today was put down then. The idea of these commissions was to actually research on what has already happened in India, what do the people in India need and what kind of education system should we have a lot of focus on. From 1948 to 1966, a lot of focus was given only on Secondary Education and University Education. It was perceived that the Primary Education or relevant education was very easy. During this time, institutes like Indian Institute of Technology came into inception in 1961. UNCTR also came into existence during this time. The focus was to improve the secondary education and the technical education in the country, or the university education in the country.

In 1968, the Lottery Commission presented a report to the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. That's when they realized the need to radically restructure the education system. The report stated that there was a very high chunk of the Indian population had an understanding of basic numeracy, basic alphabets and numbers. The drop-out rates were high as ever. Data showed that if a student started primary school during this time, there was only a 45% to 50% chance that the student would complete 8th grade and only a 10% to 15% chance that the student will attend college. With the data, it was concluded that the development of the nation depends upon how educated the people of that country are. The report also suggested that an education policy be put in place and implemented. It was also proposed that the education spending should increase to 6% of the GDP.

When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India, the gaps in the Education Policy were found even further. A policy which would emphasize on the disparities in the model and which would provide equal opportunities to all – women, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste citizens was proposed to be formulated. The policy also called for expanding scholarships, address education, recruiting more teachers from schedule class communities and incentives for poor families to send their children to school regularly. With all these ideas, the Right to Education Act was drafted. The idea of this act was every student irrespective of their caste, religion, and social standing will be able to achieve education. Emphasis on elementary education was also placed. This was the first time when it was realized that elementary education has a huge impact on how the students learn in the later phases of their life. Operation Blackboard was also initiated during this time. The focus of Operation Blackboard was one to get students to the schools and second was to improve the quality of education in the elementary levels.

Indira Gandhi National Open University was set up to emphasize the importance of university education. The P.V. Narsimha Rao government understood that the economy of the nation would depend upon the quality of the education so a university-based education was required in India. It was also suggested that Government Bodies be formed which would monitor the quality of the university level education. Technical education was given a lot of importance hence the Engineering field was booming. National level entrance exams like JEE, AIEEE were started. State Committees for education like AICTE, UGC were set up so that the colleges could get grants from the government and created state level entrance exams. This ensured that the State and Centre have a control on university education which was a revolutionary step.

In India, the Education Policy was not revised for 15 years. The current New Education policy was proposed in 2020. In January 2015, a committee was set up under the then cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian. The committee handed out several surveys in schools and to different stakeholders to understand the shortcomings in the current education system. Based on the responses, the committee submitted a report in 2017 which led to the formation of a draft NEP in 2019.

Highlights of the New Education Policy (NEP):

1. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): Extends the Right to Education eligibility window from 6-14 years to 3-18 years. With a goal of having 100 percent of children ‘school-ready’ by 2030, the policy pushes for universalization of ECCE. Investment in infrastructure such as play equipment and child-friendly buildings, as well as continuous professional development of ECCE teachers and anganwadi workers through a six-month certification programme, including some online components.

2. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN):

A three month preparatory course for students, access to digital content through energized textbooks, student-led peer learning, and community tutoring are recommended as some of the means to achieve 100% foundational level learning by 2025. Teacher vacancies to be filled in a time-bound manner, with a priority to disadvantaged areas and sections of the society.

3. Universal access to education at all levels:

A commitment to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio across all levels by 2030. Rigorous tracking of 100% of children, through a technology-based platform to ensure no one is left behind. Encouraging different public-private partnership school models to curtail the number of dropouts and out-of-school children.

4. Curriculum and pedagogy in schools:

The policy encourages local languages to be the medium of instruction at least up to Grade 5; promotes bi-lingual education and textbooks for learning; as well as multiple languages at middle and secondary levels. The suggested 5+3+3+4 class system focuses on defining learning levels at each critical juncture, taking a multi-disciplinary approach, and reducing content by targeting core learning competencies. New age subjects such as coding and computational thinking introduced at a middle school level. Students can now choose subject courses in secondary school.

5. Testing and assessments:

Focus on measurable learning outcomes at all levels of the newly proposed schooling system, with testing at 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade levels. Promoting formative assessments, peer assessment, and holistic progress reports, to measure the ongoing academic progress of the children. Student choice to be incorporated in the 10th and 12th grade board exams. The policy suggests doing so by offering freedom of subject choice, allowing best of two attempts, and choice of difficulty.

6. Teachers and teacher education:

The policy proposes the minimum teacher education degree requirement to change from the current two year D.El.Ed/B.Ed degree to a four year B.Ed undergraduate programme, by 2030. Excessive teacher transfers to be halted, in principle, leading to better continuity with students, as also provision for local residence. Policy strongly suggests promotion based on merit, rather than on seniority and teaching level. There are also options for vertical mobility of teachers, where high-performing teachers can be promoted to work at a district or state level. Promotion of blended learning teacher training programmes for CPD of teachers and school principals, with at least 50 hours of CPD mandated per year.

7. Equitable and inclusive education:

The ‘Gender Inclusion Fund’ which supports female and transgender students by driving state-level inclusion activities, developing sufficient infrastructure for safety, and targeted boarding. Special Education Zones and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas /KVs to be set up in aspirational districts, with targeted focus on improving the quantity and quality of learning.

8. School complexes:

Re-organizing smaller schools with very low enrolment into a ‘school complex’ structure, which connects 10-15 such small schools into one administrative unit, will help reduce school isolation, efficiently use teaching learning resources, and increase governance and accountability, especially in rural/Adivasi parts of India. Providing autonomy to plan and implement the initiative locally is a good idea in principle. School Complex Management Committee and public representation at a school complex level will encourage de-centralized implementation as well as higher engagement of parents.

9. Standard setting and school accreditation:

A strong push to bring in transparency and accountability across schools by setting standards through a dedicated agency , which incorporates learning related indicators as well as student feedback into school ratings. Development, performance, and accountability to be three key pillars of supporting officers and teachers in the system, promoting greater alignment and clarity in job roles, periodic performance measurement structures, and timely feedback mechanisms.

10. Undergraduate degree courses to have multiple exit options:

The undergraduate degree courses will be of either 3 or 4- year duration, with multiple exit options. A certificate course after completing 1 year in a discipline or field, including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme. The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option.

11. IITs to become multidisciplinary institution, opening doors for humanities students:

Even engineering institutions, such as IITs, will move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education with more arts and humanities. Students of arts and humanities will aim to learn more science.

12. National Committee for integration of vocation Education -Lok Vidya:

‘Lok Vidya’, i.e., important vocational knowledge developed in India, will be made accessible to students. The education ministry, would constitute a National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education. Every child to learn at least one vocational subject and exposed to several more. Sampling of important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc., as decided by States and local communities during Grades 6-8. By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education. A 10-day bagless period sometime during Grades 6-8 to intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc.

13. NIOS to develop high quality modules for Indian Sign Language:

NIOS will develop high-quality modules to teach Indian Sign Language, and to teach other basic subjects using Indian Sign Language.

14. Dedicated unit for digital and online learning:

A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education. A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered.

15. National Scholarship portal for SC, ST, OBC, SEDGs students to be expanded:

Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.

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