Education Policy 2020: A Ready Reckoner With All You Need To Know

Friday, 22 January 2021


Education Policy 2020: A Ready Reckoner With All You Need To Know

Barasha Das | August 01, 2020 21:37 hrs

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development approved the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on 29th July, the day it was renamed as the Ministry of Education.

This is the first education policy of the 21st century and replaces the thirty-four-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. Built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability, this policy is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower. 

Major highlights of the policy for the school and higher education: 


1. Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education

-Emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre-school to secondary.

-About 2 crores out of school children will be brought back into the mainstream under NEP 2020.

2. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) 

-The present education structure of 10+2 has been changed to a more pedagogical and curricular structure of 5+3+3+4. 

5 years Foundational stage:  First 3 years in anganwadi / balvatika (age 3-6 yrs), second 2 years in class 1 to 2 (age 6-8 yrs). Scope - multilevel, play/activity-based learning.

3 years Preparatory stage: Class 3 to 5 (age 8-11 yrs). Scope- play, discovery, and activity-based and interactive classroom learning.

3 years Middle stage: Class 6 to 8 (age 11-14 yrs). Scope - experimental learning in the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.

4 years Secondary stage: Class 9 to 12 (age 14-18 yrs). Scope - multidisciplinary study, greater critical thinking, flexibility, and students' choice of subjects.

3. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy 

-Recognizing Foundational Literacy and Numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning like reading, writing, speaking, counting, arithmetic, mathematical thinking.

-This is to be achieved for all learners by Grade 3 by 2025.

-Setting up of a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD.

-A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

-Nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed.

4. Curtailing Dropout Rates 

-It aims for Universalization of Education from pre-school to secondary level with 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in school education by 2030.

-Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Programmes offered by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will be expanded.

-Alternative models of education, such as gurukulas, pathshaalas, madarassas, and homeschooling to be allowed.

5. Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy

-Students will have an option of exiting at Class 10 and re-entering in the next phase.

-Students will be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in the secondary school including subjects in physical education, the arts, and vocational crafts.

-There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams. 

6. Multilingualism and the power of language

-The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.

-Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula.

-Other classical languages and literature of India also to be available as options. However, no language will be imposed on any student. 

-Students to participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8.

-Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level.

-Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.

7. Integration of essential subjects and skills

-Introduction of contemporary subjects, such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, Holistic Health, Organic Living, etc.

-Important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metalwork, gardening, pottery making, etc. from class 6-8.

-Basic training in health, including preventive health, mental health, etc.

8. Textbooks with local content 

-States will prepare their own curricula (based on NCERT curricula), however incorporating State flavour and material as needed.

-Aims to significantly reduce the weight of school bags.

9. Assessment Reforms

-NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity.

-To track students’ progress throughout their school experience all students will take State School examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8.

-Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim.

-A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), will be set up as a standard-setting body.

-The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct common university entrance exams. Students will be able to choose the subjects that they are interested in having tested, and universities will admit students based on individual subject portfolio.

10. Special training based on talent

-Topic-centered and Project-based Clubs and Circles will be encouraged like Science Circles, Music Performance Circles, Chess Circles, Poetry Circles, etc.

-Olympiads and competitions in various subjects will be strengthened across the country.

-Universities to use results from Olympiads, and results from work in topic-based programmes as part of admissions criteria.

11. Equitable and Inclusive Education

-Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities, and disabilities. 

-Setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.

-Support from educators with cross-disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools, and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs.

12. Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path

-Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes.

-Promotions will be merit-based.

-A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022.

13. School Governance

-Schools can be organized into complexes or clusters to ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries, and a strong professional teacher community.

14. Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education

-States/UTs will set up an independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA).

-The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF)  


1. Institutional Restructuring 

-The policy will be transforming higher education institutions into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and higher education institutions (HEI) clusters, each of which will aim to have 3,000 or more students.

-All HEIs will evolve into research-intensive universities (RUs), teaching universities (TUs), and autonomous degree-granting colleges (ACs).

-By 2040, all HEIs shall become multidisciplinary institutions.

-Affiliation System of colleges to be phased out in 15 years with graded autonomy to colleges.

-Over a period of time, every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College or a constituent college of a university.

2. Increase GER to 50 % by 2035

-NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035.

-3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

3. Holistic Multidisciplinary Education

-The policy envisages broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate education with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education.

-UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple entries and exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example, a Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.

-All Open Distance Learning (ODL) programmes will be of standards and quality equivalent to the highest quality programmes run by the HEIs on their campuses.

-An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

-Undertaking a Ph.D. shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. 

-The M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued.

-Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

-The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

4. Internationalisation:

-High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, select universities will be permitted to operate in India.

5. Regulations:

-Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.

-HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalize HEIs not conforming to norms and standards.

6. Teacher Education:

-A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE.

-By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed.

-Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs). 

7. Mentoring Mission:

-A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.

8. Financial support for students:

-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.

9. Online Education and Digital Education:

-A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education 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. 

10. Technology in education:

-An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology.

-Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management.

11. Promotion of Indian languages: NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI programmes.

12. Professional Education: All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system.

13. Adult Education: The Policy aims to achieve 100% of youth and adult literacy.

14. Financing Education: Increase in public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

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