Schooling is important for accomplishing entire human ability, developing an impartial and just society, and stimulating national development. Giving universal entry to quality schooling 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. 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.

The aim must be for India to have an education system by 2040 that is second to none, with equitable access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background. 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. This Policy proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the apparitional goals of 21st-century education, including SDG4, while building upon India’s traditions and value systems. The National Education Policy 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.

The implementation of previous policies on education has focused largely on issues of access and equity. The unfinished agenda of the National Policy on Education 1986, modified in 1992 (NPE 1986/92), is appropriately dealt with in this Policy. A major development since the last Policy of 1986/92 has been the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 which laid down legal underpinnings for achieving universal elementary education.

The fundamental principles that will guide both the education system at large, as well as the individual institutions within it are:

  1. recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student, by sensitizing teachers as well as parents to promote each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres;
  2. according to the highest priority to achieving Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by all students by Grade 3
  3. flexibility, so that learners can choose their learning trajectories and programs, and thereby choose their paths in life according to their talents and interests;
  4. no hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. to eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between different areas of learning;
  5. multidisciplinary and a holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports for a multidisciplinary world to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge;
  6. emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than rote learning and learning-for-exams;
  7. creativity and critical thinking to encourage logical decision-making and innovation;
  8. ethics and human & Constitutional values like empathy, respect for others, cleanliness, courtesy, democratic spirit, the spirit of service, respect for public property, scientific temper, liberty, responsibility, pluralism, equality, and justice;
  9. promoting multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning;
  10. life skills such as communication, cooperation, teamwork, and resilience;
  11. focus on regular formative assessment for learning rather than the summative assessment that encourages today’s ‘coaching culture ’;
  12. extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access for handicap students, and educational planning and management;
  13. respect for diversity and respect for the local context in all curriculum, pedagogy, and policy, always keeping in mind that education is a concurrent subject;
  14. full equity and inclusion as the cornerstone of all educational decisions to ensure that all students can thrive in the education system;
  15. synergy in curriculum across all levels of education from early childhood care and education to school education to higher education;
  16. teachers and faculty as the heart of the learning process – their recruitment, continuous professional development, positive working environments and service conditions;
  17. a ‘light but tight’ regulatory framework to ensure integrity, transparency, and resource efficiency of the educational system through audit and public disclosure while encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box ideas through autonomy, good governance, and empowerment;
  18. outstanding research as a requisite for outstanding education and development;
  19. continuous review of progress based on sustained research and regular assessment by educational experts;
  20. a rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions;
  21. education is a public service; access to quality education must be considered a basic right of every child;
  22. substantial investment in a strong, vibrant public education system as well as the encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation


This policy envisages that the extant 10+2 structure in school education will be modified with a new pedagogical and curricular restructuring of 5+3+3+4 covering ages 3-18. Currently, children in the age group of 3-6 are not covered in the 10+2 structure as Class 1 begins at age 6. In the new 5+3+3+4 structure, a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from age 3 is also included, which is aimed at promoting better overall learning, development, and well-being.


Major problems currently faced by the higher education system in cognitive:

  1. a severely fragmented higher educational ecosystem;
  2. less emphasis on the development of cognitive skills and learning outcomes;
  3. a rigid separation of disciplines, with early specialization streaming of students into narrow areas of study;
  4. limited access particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, with few HEIs that teach in local languages
  5. limited teacher and institutional autonomy;
  6. inadequate mechanisms for merit-based career management and progression of faculty and institutional leaders;
  7. lesser emphasis on research at most universities and colleges, and lack of competitive peer-reviewed research funding across disciplines;
  8. suboptimal governance and leadership of HEIs;
  9. an ineffective regulatory system; and
  10. large affiliating universities resulting in low standards of undergraduate education.

Changes that can occur due to new policy includes

  1. moving towards a higher educational system consisting of large, multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near every district, and with more higher education institutions (HEIs) across India that offer ma medium of instruction or programs in local/Indian languages;
  2. moving towards a more multidisciplinary undergraduate education;
  3. moving towards faculty and institutional autonomy;
  4. revamping curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and student support for enhanced student experiences;
  5. reaffirming the integrity of faculty and institutional leadership positions through merit appointments and career progression based on teaching, research, and service;
  6. establishment of a National Research Foundation to fund outstanding peer-reviewed research and to actively seed research in universities and colleges;
  7. governance of HEIs by high qualified independent boards having academic and administrative autonomy;
  8. “light but tight” regulation by a single regulator for higher education;
  9. increased access, equity, and inclusion through a range of measures, including greater opportunities for outstanding public education; scholarships by private/philanthropic universities for disadvantaged and underprivileged students; online education, and Open Distance Learning (ODL); and all infrastructure and learning materials accessible and available to learners with disabilities.

All higher education institutions (HEIs) shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions and shall aim to have larger student enrolments preferably in the thousands, for optimal use of infrastructure and resources, and the creation of vibrant multidisciplinary communities. Since this process will take time, all HEIs will firstly plan to become multidisciplinary by 2030, and then gradually increase student strength to the desired levels.

Just to complete goals government will increase public expenditure on education in India has not come close to the recommended level of 6% of GDP, as envisaged by the 1968 Policy, reiterated in the Policy of 1986, and which was further reaffirmed in the 1992 review of the Policy. The current public (Government – Centre, and States) expenditure on education in India has been around 4.43% of GDP.

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