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All You Need to Know About New National Education Policy 2020

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About the New National Education Policy 2020

The New National Educational Policy 2020 was approved by the Cabinet Committee of Central Government after a long struggle of 30 years, as it was first introduced way back in 1986. This new National Educational Policy 2020 is expected to pave the way in making “India a global knowledge superpower” as it is aimed at creating transformative reforms in School and Higher education in the country.

This National Education Policy 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century and aims to address the many growing developmental imperatives of our country. The new education policy 2020 ensures that all students, irrespective of their place of residence, a quality education system, with particular focus on historically marginalized, disadvantaged, and underrepresented groups is provided. The new policy is divided into four parts that focus on making it happen as soon as possible in the near future. We may as well say, it is a step to make our educational system on par with the modern and developed countries to enable a bright and improvised future.

Background of the National Education Policy 2020

The New National Educational Policy 2020, as we know has travelled through a period of significant changes with regards to our country, society and the world at large. It was framed in the year 1986 and was modified in 1992. More than three decades have passed ever since its modification and had finally seen its light on 31st May 2019 where the Government had initiated the process of drafting a New National Educational Policy to make an inclusive, participatory and holistic approach in consideration to the expert opinions, field experiences, empirical research, stakeholder feedback, as well as lesson learnt from the contemporary world. A special meeting of CABE on National Education Policy was held.

As this draft was uploaded (also translated in 22 languages) on MHRD’s website and in other portals educing views/suggestions/comments of the stakeholders and the general populace as it based on the foundational pillars, access, affordability, equity, quality and accountability. Around 2 lakh suggestions were received and following the same, a meeting was held on 7th November 2019 by the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Resource Development.1

Vision: National Education Policy 2020

This National Education Policy 2020 envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, that is Bharat, sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower. The Policy envisages that the curriculum and pedagogy of our institutions must develop among the students a deep sense of respect towards the Fundamental Duties and Constitutional values, bonding with one’s country, and conscious awareness of one’s roles and responsibilities in a changing world.

The vision of the Policy is to instil 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 well-being, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen.2

Outcomes of National Education Policy 2020

The purpose of this policy fundamentally relies on developing good human beings capable of rational thought and action, possessing compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper and creative imagination, with sound ethical moorings and values. It aims at producing engaged, productive, and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive, and plural society as envisaged by our Constitution. 

The major outcomes of National Education Policy 2020 are, such as,

  • Universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% GER in school education by 2030.
  • A new 5+3+3+4 school curriculum with 12 years of schooling and 3 years of Aganwadis/Pre-schooling has been introduced.
  • An emphasis on foundational literacy and numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools.
  • Board Exams to test core concepts and application of knowledge.
  • Common Standards of Learning in Public & Private Schools
  • Higher Education curriculum to have Flexibility of Subjects and multiple entry/exit to be allowed with appropriate certification.
  • It promotes Multilingualism in both schools and HEs.
  • To advocate an increased use of technology with equity and National Educational Technology Forum to be created.

Major Reforms for School Education under New National Education Policy 2020

Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development. A good educational institution is also important and is one in which every student feels welcomed and cared for, where a safe and stimulating learning environment exists, where a wide range of learning experiences are offered, and where good physical infrastructure and appropriate resources conducive to learning are available to all students. 

So, here are the major reforms in the School Educational System,

  • The existing 10+2 Structure to be modified to 5+3+3+4 structure. The structure would coverages of 3 to 18 years of age. Foundational State of 3 and 2 years would include playschool and Grades 1 and 2, Preparatory Stages of Grade 3 to 5, Middle School of Grades 6 to 8 and Secondary Stage of Grades 9 to 12. The complete structure has been explained in detail here:-
  • Foundational Stage (5): For ages 3 to 8 years, the foundational stage has been suggested. The multi-level play activity-based learning would include 3 years at Aganwadis, pre-school or as commonly called playschools and the kindergarten classes catering to ages 3 to 6. In addition to this, the grades 1 and 2 or classes 1 and 2 for students of ages 6 to 8 would also be added. Thus 3 years of pre-school to KG and 2 years of Class 1st & 2nd would total it to 5 years of education. The focus would be on the development of language skills and teaching by the play-based and activity-based curriculum.
  • Preparatory Stage (3): This is for ages 8 to 11 or classes 3 to 5. The focus would shift to play, discovery and activity-based and interaction classroom learning. The focus till this stage would remain on the development of language and numeracy skills, in accordance with the cognitive development of a child. The medium of instruction till Grade 5 would be home language or mother tongue or local language. Three languages would be taught to all students – and states would decide which ones.
  • Middle Stage (3): Referring to the classes 6 to 8, the new structure aims at transforming the pedagogy from the existing system to more experiential learning in the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences and humanities. The focus would be on critical learning objectives and not on rote learning.
  • Secondary Stage (4): This includes classes 9 to 12 or the secondary and the higher secondary as we know them today. The changes suggested at this stage include a multidisciplinary study where students would be able to pick and choose any set of subjects from the available structure. The focus would be on greater critical thinking and flexibility, allowing the child to pick subjects as per their interests – even technical and arts.3
  • Emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education or ECCE for ages 3 to 6 where provisions would be made to ensure universal access to high qualify ECCE across the country in a phased manner.
  • 4 years for higher secondary gets lift up – Arts, Commerce, Science removed – Students to choose what they want to choose. Coding to begin from Class 6. Music, Arts, Sports, would be at the same level. Students will be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in secondary school – including subjects in physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills.
  • Early childhood care and education to get a complete National mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy to be set up to focus on foundational literacy.
  • Indian Knowledge Systems, Languages, Culture and Values to be given focus. Furthermore, Technology would be used extensively. E-Content in Regional Languages would be developed and not only in Hindi and English. Schools to be digitally equipped. National Educational Technology Forum, NETF would be formed.
  • All-State/UT governments will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 to be achieved by 2025.
  • NIOS and State Open Schools will also offer A, B and C levels that are equivalent to Grades 3, 5, and 8 of the formal school system; secondary education programs that are equivalent to Grades 10 and 12; vocational education courses/programs; and adult literacy and life-enrichment programs.
  • Curriculum content will be reduced in each subject to its core essentials – key concepts, ideas, applications and problem-solving. Emphasis on critical thinking and more holistic, inquiry-based, discovery-based, discussion-based, and analysis-based learning.
  • The three-language learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India.

Teachers – The Eye-openers of Future

Teachers truly shape the future of our children – and, therefore, the future of our nation. To ensure that outstanding students enter the teaching profession – especially from rural areas – a large number of merit-based scholarships shall be instituted across the country for studying quality 4year integrated B.Ed. programmes. Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) will be strengthened to inculcate better test material, both in terms of content and pedagogy. The TETs will also be extended to cover teachers across all stages (Foundational, Preparatory, Middle and Secondary) of school education.

To ensure an adequate number of teachers across subjects – particularly in subjects such as art, physical education, vocational education, and languages – teachers could be recruited to a school or school complex and the sharing of teachers across schools could be considered in accordance with the grouping-of-schools adopted by State/UT governments. School Principals and school complex leaders will have similar modular leadership/management workshops and online development opportunities and platforms to continuously improve their own leadership and management skills, and so that they too may share best practices with each other. A technology-based comprehensive teacher-requirement planning forecasting exercise will be conducted by each State to assess expected subject-wise teacher vacancies over the next two decades.

Major Reforms for Higher Education under New National Education Policy 2020

The new National Education Policy 2020 lays particular emphasis on the development of the creative potential of each individual. It is based on the principle that education must develop not only cognitive capacities – both the ‘foundational capacities’ of literacy and numeracy and ‘higher-order’ cognitive capacities, such as critical thinking and problem-solving – but also social, ethical, and emotional capacities and dispositions. And, here are the major reforms in the Higher Educational system of the country,

Criticisms of National Education Policy 2020

In response to the National Education Policy 2020 that received the Union Cabinet nod, student and teachers’ bodies have released statements saying the new policy encourages “Radical Privatization” and “Informalization” of Education and Privatizing the Educational Sector in the name of providing quality education. The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has said the NEP will “dismember” universities by transferring the power over to a board of governors. Student bodies such as the Student Federation of India (SFI) said that the policy has a “centralized nature” and encouraged “radical privatization” while the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) has said that the policy advocates ‘Informalization’ of education.

  • It was criticized that the concentration of power lies within a board of governors in Universities, as the policy states “on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies.”
  • The teachers also criticized “the feedback system” where opinions are “sought” but “not debated” and have asked the government to engage in a dialogue with academia.
  • Massive protests and criticism from across the country had erupted over the draft of the new education policy. “People from various walks of life demanded that such an education policy not be implemented and that more extensive discussions and consultations be held. Ignoring all that, the Union Cabinet has taken advantage of an extraordinary situation and passed the new education policy,” said SFI.
  • The anti-democratic nature of its content, its centralized nature and its recommendations for radical privatization were all questioned.
  • KYS, in its statement, stated, “Instead of tackling the real issues such as the number of government schools, the quality of teaching in such schools and the strategy of the central government to bring more children into formal mode education by earmarking more funds for public-funded education, the new NEP among other retrograde measures openly advocates Informalization of Education both at secondary and higher levels.”
  • SIO, in its statement, said: “While the draft attests the ‘public good’ nature of education, it does so while positing a commercialized form of education. It fails to redact many of the existing measures which have led to commercialization, while actively proposing a market model of education in the policy,”5
  • It also said that the creation of “centralized” bodies proposed in the policy is against the federal structure of the constitution as education comes under the ambit of both the central and state governments.


Providing universal access to quality education is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership on the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation. Universal high-quality education is the best way forward for developing and maximizing our country’s rich talents and resources for the good of the individual, the society, the country, and the world. Meanwhile, the loopholes present in the policy should be amended/ reformed and should primarily focus on providing quality education, irrespective of the socio-economic background and status of the student.

If this policy is implemented at its desirable rate, India will have the highest population of young people in the world over the next decade, and our ability to provide high-quality educational opportunities to them will determine the future of our country. But, it should also be taken into consideration that “bulldozing changes” will only result in “grave consequences” for the country.


  2. National Educational Policy 2020

Meera Bharathi S

Student, Tamil Nadu National Law University

Meera Bharathi is a curious and enthusiastic person who loves writing. She has co-authored a few anthologies. She believes that a legally empowered society can pave the way for a better environment for the people to live in. For any clarifications, suggestions and feedback kindly find her at

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