National Education Policy (NEP) 2020-2023. Aims , Objectives, Recommendations & Key Features of NEP


The Union Cabinet has approved the new National Education Policy 2020 with an aim to introduce several changes in the Indian education system – from the school to the college level. The policy aims to transform the education system to meet the demands of the 21st century and to ensure holistic development of students.

  • Its aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower”.
  • The Cabinet has also approved the renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Ministry of Education.
  • The New Education Policy cleared by the Cabinet is only the third major revamp of the framework of education in India since independence.
  • The two earlier education policies were brought in 1968 and 1986.

Key features of the National Education Policy:

  1. Renaming of Ministry: As you mentioned, one of the notable changes is the renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) as the Ministry of Education. This change reflects the focus on education as a priority for the country.
  2. School Education: The NEP aims to bring fundamental changes to school education, with a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure. It replaces the existing 10+2 system with five years of foundational stage (3-8 years), three years of preparatory stage (8-11 years), three years of middle stage (11-14 years), and four years of secondary stage (14-18 years).
  3. Early Childhood Education: The policy emphasizes the importance of early childhood care and education, focusing on the development of cognitive, motor, and socio-emotional skills in children aged 3 to 6 years.
  4. Multidisciplinary Education: NEP promotes multidisciplinary education and offers students the flexibility to choose subjects across various domains. This allows students to explore their interests and passions more effectively.
  5. Vocational Education: The policy emphasizes integrating vocational education into the curriculum from the secondary level onward, which will help students develop practical skills and enhance employability.
  6. Higher Education: NEP envisions a holistic and flexible higher education system with a focus on research and innovation. It aims to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education while promoting quality and relevance.
  7. Language Policy: The policy supports mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction up to at least the primary level. However, it also emphasizes the importance of learning multiple languages, including classical languages, for holistic development.
  8. Technology Integration: NEP stresses the integration of technology in education, including online and digital resources, to improve access and quality of education.

The National Education Policy, if effectively implemented, is expected to have a transformative impact on the education system in India. As you mentioned, this topic is crucial for the UPSC syllabus and is relevant for both the Prelims and Mains examinations. Aspirants should be well-versed with the key features and implications of the NEP to score well in the exams and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the education sector in India.

What is the new National Education Policy 2020?

National Education Policy of India – Background:

The Ministry of Human Resource Development formed a Committee chaired by Dr K. Kasturirangan for preparing the National Education Policy. The Committee was constituted in June 2017.  The Committee submitted its report on May 31, 2019.

The National  Policy on Education covers elementary and university education in urban as well as rural India. 

  • The very first policy for education was promulgated in 1968 with the second one following in 1986. 
  • The first NPE was based on the recommendations of the Education Commission (1964-66). This policy sought to have a ‘radical restructuring’ of India’s educational system and equalizing opportunities for education for all, to accomplish national integration and better economic and cultural development. 
  • The NPE also called for realizing compulsory education for every child until the age of fourteen, as mentioned in the Indian Constitution. 
  • It also aimed at providing enhanced training and improving teachers’ qualifications.

Features of National Education Policy 2020

The National Education Policy as submitted by the Kasturirangan Committee submitted an education policy that seeks to address the following challenges facing the existing education system:

  1. Quality
  2. Affordability
  3. Equity
  4. Access
  5. Accountability 
  • The policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education. 
  • NEP aims to increase the focus on strengthening teacher training, reforming the existing exam system, early childhood care and restructuring the regulatory framework of education. 
  • Other intentions of the NEP include:
  • Increasing public investment in education,
  • Setting up NEC (National Education Commission),
  • Increasing focus on vocational and adult education,
  • Strengthening the use of technology, etc.

Key Recommendations of National Education Policy 2020

  1. Early Childhood Care and Education
  2. Curriculum Framework
  3. Higher Educational Institutions [Accreditations & Structure]
  4. National Research Foundation
  5. Financing Education
  6. Three Language Formula
  7. The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act)
  8. School Exams
  9. National Mission on Education [Through Communication & IT]
  10. Education Governance
  11. Vocational Courses

Early Childhood Care and Education

The NEP recommended that early childhood care & education be developed in a two-part curriculum consisting of: 

  1. Guidelines for Parents & Teachers of students up to 3 years of age
  2. An educational framework for students between the ages of 3-8 years

The NEP talks about the implementation of these recommendations by expanding and improving the quality of the Anganwadi system and co-locating them with primary schools. 

This will allow coverage of RTE to all children between the ages of 3-18 years. In addition, it suggested the elimination of detention of children until class eight. 

Curriculum Framework

Reforms in the framework of the current curriculum of school education are based on the development needs of the students. The NEP recommends the 5-3-3-4 pattern explained in the table below:

Years StageCurriculum 
5Foundational3 years of pre-primary followed by class 1 and 2
3PreparatoryClasses 3 to 5
3Middle Classes 6 to 8
4Secondary Classes 9-12

School Exam Reforms

Reforms in the school exam recommended by the NEP include tracking the progress of the students throughout their school experience. 

  • It includes State Census Exams in class 3, 5 and 8. 
  • Another important recommendation was the restructuring of the 10th board exam that would mainly focus and test only the skills, core concepts and higher-order thinking & capacities. 

Regulatory Structure and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions

In terms of Accreditation and Regulatory structure, the NEP recommended the following changes:

National Research Foundation

In order to improve the quality of research in India, the NEP recommended:

  • Establishment of a National Research Foundation.
  • It would be an autonomous body that would administer the mentoring, funding and capacity building for quality research in India.

Education Governance

The NEP recommended establishing an apex body for education headed by the Prime Minister under the name Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or National Education Commission.

  • It also suggested changing the name of the Ministry of Human Resources & Development to the Ministry of Education.

Financing Education

Doubling the public investment for education was one of the important recommendations of the NEP 2020.

  • NEP 2020 insisted on the expenditure of 6% of the GDP on education.
  • Doubling the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next decade was recommended. 

National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology

The NEP suggested setting up an autonomous body that would facilitate decision making on the deployment, induction and use of technology. NEP said that this would be achieved by implementing the following measures:

  • Establishment of National Education Technology Forum.
  • The recommended autonomous body would be administered under this mission. 
  • It will also include virtual laboratories in various disciplines providing remote access. 

Vocational Courses 

Recommendations of NEP 2020 with respect to Vocational courses can be listed as follows:

  • Students in classes 9 to 12 must receive vocational education on at least one vocation,
  • Schools should build expert curriculum delivery methods that are aligned with National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) competency levels,
  • Higher Education Institutes must also provide vocational courses that are integrated into undergraduate education programmes.

Three Language Formula

The Policy recommended that the three-language formula be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided. The three-language formula states that state governments should adopt and implement the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states. 

Importance Of Education
Indeed, education plays a crucial role in the development and progress of any society, including in improving and balancing a country’s socio-economic framework. A well-functioning education system can have a wide range of positive impacts, such as:

  1. Human Capital Development: Education equips individuals with knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to participate effectively in the workforce, contributing to the growth of the nation’s human capital. A well-educated workforce can enhance productivity and innovation, leading to economic growth.
  2. Poverty Reduction: Education provides individuals with better opportunities for employment and income generation, which can help lift people out of poverty. It promotes social mobility and reduces income inequality, leading to a more balanced socio-economic structure.
  3. Health and Well-being: Education is often linked to better health outcomes. Educated individuals tend to make more informed decisions about their health, have access to better healthcare information, and adopt healthier lifestyles.
  4. Empowerment and Social Cohesion: Education fosters a sense of empowerment among individuals, enabling them to participate actively in civic life, make informed decisions, and advocate for their rights. It also promotes social cohesion by fostering understanding and tolerance among diverse groups.
  5. Innovation and Technological Advancement: A strong education system encourages research, innovation, and the development of new technologies. This, in turn, can drive economic growth and competitiveness on a global scale.
  6. Cultural Preservation: Education plays a role in preserving and promoting a country’s cultural heritage and traditions, ensuring that they are passed down to future generations.

The mention of ancient Indian education with the Gurukul system and renowned universities like Nalanda and Takshashila highlights the rich historical legacy of education in India. These ancient educational institutions were centers of learning that attracted scholars and students from various parts of the world. They fostered an environment of intellectual exchange and contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge and culture.

However, it’s essential to recognize that modern education systems need to evolve continuously to address the challenges and demands of contemporary society. The Gurukul system, while valuable in its time, may not be suitable for the complexities of today’s world. Modern education needs to be inclusive, accessible, and relevant to the needs of a changing society and economy.

In India and other countries, efforts are being made to reform education systems, enhance the quality of education, and ensure equitable access to learning opportunities. This includes advancements in technology-enabled learning, skill development programs, and policies to promote education for all, regardless of gender, socio-economic background, or geographic location.

By continually investing in education and adapting it to the needs of the times, countries can indeed foster a more balanced and prosperous socio-economic framework.

The Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education was the first Board established in India in 1921. Then, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana, was set up in 1929.

Eventually, in 1952, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a national level education board was introduced in India.

Evolution of National Education Policy in India

School Education

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in India indeed brings significant changes to the education system, with various objectives aimed at improving the quality and accessibility of education. Here are the key changes and objectives of NEP 2020:

New Pedagogical and Curricular Structure: The current ’10+2′ structure is replaced by a new ‘5+3+3+4’ structure, corresponding to ages 3-18. This change aims to provide a more flexible and age-appropriate learning environment for students.

Reduced Examinations: Instead of annual exams every year, students will only attend exams in Class 3, 5, and 8. This move is intended to reduce the burden of exams on students and shift the focus towards continuous and comprehensive evaluation.

Board Exams Modification: Class 10 and 12 Board Exams will continue, but they will be made easier by allowing students to take exams twice a year, and the exam format will include both objective and descriptive questions.

Universal Standards: The policy aims to establish universal standards of learning and regulations in both public and private schools to ensure consistent quality across the education system.

Vocational Education and Coding: Vocational education and coding will be introduced from Class 6 onwards to equip students with practical skills and better prepare them for the job market.

Medium of Instruction: The policy encourages using the mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction at least up to Class 5 and preferably until Class 8 to promote better understanding and learning.

Holistic Progress Card: Report cards will be transformed into 360-degree Holistic Progress Cards, providing a comprehensive report on a student’s skills and capabilities instead of just focusing on marks and grades.

Focus on Core Concepts: The curriculum will emphasize core concepts and critical thinking, moving away from rote memorization and encouraging a deeper understanding of subjects.

Universalization of Education: The NEP aims to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education from Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) to the Secondary Level by 2030, ensuring that all children have access to education.

New National Curriculum Framework: The policy introduces a new National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Educators (ECE), schools, teachers, and adult students to guide the development of a more relevant and modern curriculum.

Open Schooling System: An Open Schooling System will be implemented to bring two crore ‘Out Of School Children’ back into the mainstream education system.

Mental Health Support: The deployment of counselors and social workers in schools aims to improve students’ mental health and well-being.

Midday Meal Scheme Expansion: The Midday Meal Scheme will be extended to include breakfast, ensuring proper nutrition for students and supporting their learning outcomes.

These changes and objectives are intended to transform the Indian education system to be more inclusive, holistic, and skill-oriented, catering to the needs of the 21st-century learners.


Higher Education

It seems like you have provided a list of proposed reforms and changes in the higher education system in India. These reforms aim to promote holistic and multi-disciplinary education, improve research culture, and enhance the overall quality of higher education in the country. Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Undergraduate Program: The proposed undergraduate program will offer multiple exit options, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree in either 3 or 4 years, depending on their preferences and academic progress.
  • Discontinuation of Phil. Courses: Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) courses will be discontinued as part of the reforms.
  • PG Programs: Postgraduate programs will have flexible durations of 1 or 2 years, depending on the field of study and course requirements.
  • Entrance Examinations: The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct entrance examinations for admissions to universities across the country, in addition to existing exams like JEE Main and NEET.
  • Academic Bank of Credits: An Academic Bank of Credits will be established to facilitate the transfer of credits between institutions, making it easier for students to continue their education at different universities.
  • Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs): Specialized universities known as MERUs will be set up to serve as models of best multi-disciplinary education following global standards.
  • National Research Foundation: The establishment of the National Research Foundation will promote a strong research culture and build research capacity across higher education institutions.
  • Higher Education Council of India (HECI): The HECI will be formed as a regulatory body for higher education, responsible for setting regulations, accreditation, and academic standards for both private and public institutions.
  • Verticals of HECI: The HECI will consist of four independent verticals:
  • National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation of higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
  • General Education Council (GEC) for setting standards.
  • Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and financing of colleges and universities.
  • National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation.
  • Replacing Existing Bodies: The HECI will replace the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • Phasing out the Affiliation System: The affiliation system at the university level will be phased out over a 15-year period.
  • Increasing GER: The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education will be increased from the current 26.3% to 50% by 2035.
  • Expanding Seats: The reforms aim to add 3.5 crore seats in higher education to accommodate more students and improve accessibility.

It’s important to note that these reforms, if implemented, could significantly transform the higher education landscape in India and address various challenges faced by the system. However, the successful implementation and impact of these changes would depend on various factors, including adequate funding, effective policy execution, and collaboration between stakeholders.

Teacher Education

  • By 2023, the minimum qualification for teachers will be 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree
  • Emphasis on strengthening and transparency of the teacher recruitment process
  • NCTE to formulate a new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021
  • NCTE to frame National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) 2022

Other Major Objectives

  • Establishment of National Education Commission
  • Establishment of Special Education Zones (SEZs) to improve education among underrepresented groups in disadvantaged regions
  • Gender Inclusion Fund, for improving and providing education for female and transgender children
  • Establishment of National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), a platform to facilitate the free exchange of ideas on technology usage in education
  • National Assessment Centre- ‘PARAKH’ will assess the students
  • Establishment of new language institutions such as the Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation and the National Institute/ Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit
  • Establishment of National Mission for Mentoring, National Book Promotion Policy, National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
  • Increasing the education expenditure from the current 4.6% to 6% of the GDP at the earliest
  • Massive usage of technology in education planning, teaching, learning and assessment

National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a significant reform that aims to transform the Indian education system and make it more suitable for the challenges of the 21st century. It marks a departure from the old policy, which was in place for 34 years, and introduces a fresh vision for education in the country.

One of the key strengths of the NEP is its emphasis on maintaining a delicate balance between preserving the rich traditions and culture of India while promoting a more interdisciplinary and modern approach to learning. This balance is crucial as it ensures that students remain rooted in their cultural heritage while being exposed to diverse fields and perspectives, fostering critical thinking and adaptability.

The policy also focuses on revamping the skills of the youth, which is essential for India’s future development and competitiveness on the global stage. By encouraging a more holistic and experiential learning environment, the NEP aims to equip students with not just theoretical knowledge but also practical skills that are relevant to real-world challenges.

Furthermore, the NEP’s emphasis on reducing the academic burden on students, introducing flexible curricula, promoting creativity and innovation, and encouraging research and critical thinking are some of the key features that can bring about a positive change in the education system.

However, it’s important to note that the successful implementation of the NEP relies heavily on the collaboration of various stakeholders, including governments, educational institutions, teachers, parents, and students. It is a long-term process that requires sustained effort and commitment from all involved parties.

Overall, the National Education Policy 2020 is indeed a progressive and ambitious policy that has the potential to reshape the educational landscape of India and empower its youth to face the challenges of the future with confidence and competence.

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