NEP: The Making of A Global Education Model
| Anita Tripathi - VP - Head, Spl. Projects, Collaborations, IOP - 06 Aug 2020


India’s rural school systems lack basic infrastructural facilities such as buildings, electricity, water, and internet, and over a 100 million children in India do not attend school, further disappointing statistics show a huge gender gap in obtaining high school diplomas. Rural schools also struggle with issues related to frequent absenteeism of teachers and students as well as high number of dropouts. So, it is imperative to analyze how new policy has been strategized to fill this wide gender gap?

  • Entry of foreign institutions may escalate the cost of education
  • NEP aims to promote India as a global destination at affordable cost
  • Gender budgeting in NEP is the need of the hour
  • Women’s soft skills should be used to harness their talents in fields of STEM


Chandigarh, August 06, 2020: The announcement of new National Education Policy (NEP) is an imperative addition to the cascading series of restructurings taking form in the reign of the Modi government.

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to prevail throughout and the natural disposition to fight against pandemic is at Achilles heel, the NEP has radiated a new wave of optimism amid students, teachers, parents and all the stakeholders of education system in India.

As per the government, this aspirational policy shares the idea to revamp education, teaching and assessment in schools, colleges as well as teachers’ professional trainings.

The Minister of State, Mr. Sanjay Dhotre waxed lyrical about the distinctiveness of policy which aims to promote critical thinking, experimental and application-based learning, flexibility in learning and focus on life skills, multidisciplinary approach and continuous review of teaching and learning process.

Simultaneously, another significant stride of the government is renaming of Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to the Ministry of Education in order to ‘more clearly define its work and focus on education and learning process’ as the government reflects its plan.

Now the question arises that whether the contemporary education system which has been pedestal for decades is not substantially aligned and competent for current global demands?

Undoubtedly, the globally ongoing structural transformations and technological advancements are creating a shift in demands for skilled and erudite workforce to thrive in dynamic global economy. Hereafter, the education system needs to embrace transformative and state-of-the-art approach diagonally across all pedals of education system.

In order to prepare new NEP, the government has adopted the smart approach of consultation from wide array of platforms ranging from gram panchayat to MPs, state government to central ministries and academia to corporate leaders across the country.  Moreover the voice of common people has been heard through various digital platforms by offering suggestions from government side. Henceforth devising of NEP could be considered as a policy that followed the democratic process.

Although in political arena it is being said that RSS was the significant voice at the head on the table of NEP because RSS affiliate organisations were involved in whole process of drafting. But as the key demand of RSS regarding imposition of Hindi in all states was not met, it is evident from the incident that RSS wasn’t the only significant body in drafting and guiding the present NEP. 

On the other hand, to accommodate the long awaited demand of RSS for renaming the HRD Ministry to Education Ministry has been prized since the times of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to this date. Therefore the political approach of the government seems to be an inclusive one when it comes to aligning the party’s ideology in restructuring process of development.

The New NEP should be critically evaluated in order to cross-examine the entire value chain of education system-whether it is compactable with the vision of reengineering or not and if no, then how could it be made so?

This also offers an opportunity to discuss and debate its imperfections and inadequacies that can jeopardize its full potential to harness the projected results.

For school system the new NEP adopted the pattern of 5+3+3+4 corresponding to the age groups of foundational, preparatory, middle and secondary level.

In the case of school education, the policy focuses on overhauling the curriculum, making Board examinations less pressurizing and simpler, reducing the syllabus to retain essentials and thrust on experiential learning and critical thinking.

Whereas Co-curricular activities and vocational subjects like sports, arts, and commerce will be weighed on the same scale. The policy embarks on overall development of students that will augment critical and analytical thinking in students with conceptual clarity.

Technologies like artificial intelligence could be developed and used by students to track their holistic growth throughout their school years.

The core objective of Board examination will be testing of conceptual learning and its application. Students will be allowed to take board examination on up to two occasions’- one main exam and another one for improvement in any time period of the year.

The most appreciable part of NEP is restricting the scope of ‘Coaching Classes’ by reducing the focus on Board exams and reforming the entrance examination system as it has been few decades since coaching institutes in India have tear down pocket friendly education.

Though the drastic changes proposed in New Education Policy are compatible with urban school systems, on the other hand rural school systems that lack basic infrastructural facilities (buildings, electricity, water, and internet etc) are bound to find it challenging to accommodate the new model.

In such an unsupportive scenario, how will this policy meet high benchmarks of technology inclusion and holistic development across the length and breadth of teaching and learning process?

Over a 100 million children in India do not attend school, further disappointing statistics show huge gender gap in obtaining high school diploma. So, it imperative to analyze that how new policy has been strategized to fill this wide gender gap?          

Alongside poor infrastructures, rural schools also struggle with issues related to frequent absenteeism of teachers and students as well as high number of dropouts. 

According to ASER 2018, more than 50% 0f the students in 5th standard attending rural schools are not capable of reading a second standard book and are not able to solve basic mathematical questions. Then how can the attributes of critical and design thinking be instilled in such substandard situations in rural India, that shelters a major portion of Indian population?

Are the provisions made in NEP sufficient to amalgamate technology in rural schools in order to promote digital literacy and also adequate to overcome the possible challenges in its successful implementation? 

This puts the fulfillment of our ambition to become ‘Vishwa Guru’ in question, since through similar trends, the energy of millions of young people will remain unexploited.

Then how can NEP break the chain of poverty, unemployment, migration, disproportionate urbanization and crime by providing elementary education in rural India?

The success of our PM’s most talked about program ‘skilled India’ essentially depends on elementary education in rural India, which could be a way to transform the picture. At the same time it is also vital to discover how New Education Policy is going to address the Rural- Urban gap in education system.

Now, as we shift our concern to higher education, it is necessary to question the significant changes made in NEP (in higher education sector).

To secure admission in universities and colleges in order to attain higher education, NEP has made the provision of common entrance test to be conducted by NTA (though it will be optional in nature). The test will be somehow similar to standardized aptitude tests such as SAT (USA).

Under graduate degrees will have a duration of three to four years with multiple exit options which may accordingly handover Certificates for programs, diplomas or Bachelor’s degree.

A four year program pursued by a student with a rigorous research project in his/her major field of study will be equivalent to a bachelor's degree plus one year of Research.

Vocational degree BVoc will continue to exist and LokVidya(developed in India as ancient knowledge) will be made accessible through integrated programs in various vocational education courses.

However, the application and economic sustainability (employment) of LokVidya in contemporary environment is debatable. Upon analyzing, we realize that the core purpose of ancient Indian education was to instill a set of moral principals in students by integrating the study of mind and emotions in rational ways, alongside empowering pupils to rely on self-generate solutions.

The time-honored practices of developing calm, unshakeble mind (shamatha) and analytical discernments (vipashyana) have helped to develop methodical understanding of workings of mind and emotions. Is there any substantial difference between the branches of psychology and yoga?

Not really.

Therefore by combing ancient knowledge with modern technology and methodology, it’s possible for India to take lead in science of consciousness once again, as it has been envisioned in NEP.

Next, higher education institutions will have greater flexibility to offer diverse designs of Masters Programs. Students with a three years' Bachelor’s degree can pursue a two-year Master’s programs and students with a four–year Bachelor’s degree with Research can pursue one year's master’s degree.

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 when final degrees will be awarded.

Undoubtedly it is a much welcomed move in order to simplify the result declaration process and at the same time eliminate the errors in reporting. This also implies a paperless system and a greener environment.

To enroll in a PhD program, a Master’s degree or a four years' Bachelor’s degree with Research shall be required.

Discontinuation of M.Phil Programme, a middle research degree, is a noticeable change offered by NEP whereas experts have no concrete remarks about their degree relevance and the impacts of its discontinuation.

The dismantling of UGC and AICTE depicts that the policy intended to keep a single regulator (HECI) for higher education institutions across the country with multiple verticals to fulfil various roles. The critics have to say that this merely offers new wine into old bottles. 

The National Research Foundation (NRF) will be created as apex body for fostering research culture and building research capacity across higher education system. The proposed budget will be 1% of GDP per year initially, to be increased annually to commensurate with inflation.

The challenges that limit the research capacity of India are hesitant attitude towards international research collaborations, tight-fistedness on travel grant for dissemination of research work on international platforms, limited reach of quality journal, and absence of proper funding mechanism for experimental and theoretical science and finally, inconvenient disbursal of research grants.

One can hope that NRF would be able to address mentioned encounters in assuming its ambitious goal.

Further the government has proposed that Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, at par with IITs, IIMs to be set as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

A move of the government that allows entry of foreign universities, comes to the public as a surprise as this BJP government had opposed the Entry and Operation Bill 2010 (foreign Educational Institution) proposed by UPA-2 government.

As NEP projects the benefits of existence of foreign institutions enormously, it has been ten years since the BJP discarded the same decision of UPA government.

So, can the government justify why it held back the introduction of foreign education in India? Why did they cause the delay for 10 long years?

In a country like India, there are plenty of examples of political thoughtlessness, whose cost was paid by the country and its citizens.

The new policy has paved way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India while high ranked Indian institutions will also be encouraged to set up their campuses in other countries.

The new education policy also aims to promote India as global study destination by providing premium education at affordable costs.

Nevertheless, it shall also pose numerous challenges.

High cost education offering foreign institutions and low cost education offering Indian institutions will further be divided into elite-class institutions and affordable, commoners' institutions. This shall tend to disobey institutional values.

On the other hand, workforce poaching by foreign institutions from public institutions will be a common practice as the appointment of locals would be cost-effective.

On one hand the government's advisers are highlighting Ivy Leagues as the epitome of excellence, whereas on the other hand the government has always highlighted the ideal of self-sufficient India and utmost Indianization. Aren't the two policies contradictory in terms of the government's ideology?

The full coverage of NEP and debate on such a vivid policy matter in a single piece is challenging. But there are some concerns which need cross-examination very closely and responsibly.

How will India (being the world’s largest and most diverse democracy) thrive for constitutional and cultural values in wake of privatization / commercialization of education with such high levels of government autonomy?

Where the fundamental rights and duties will be placed to lead the future generation on such values? Moreover, what will happen to the democratic mechanism already infused in statue of public institution and in its DNA that compliments the roles of all stakeholders in cohesive manner?

The policy includes SEDGs (Socially, Economically Disadvantaged Groups), a mere buzz word but there is no clarity on the forms of privileges and perks that would be offered to them (such as reservations, scholarships, etc.).

And, if it has to be incorporated in education policy of institutes, then would it be followed by private and elite institutions as well?

There is a popular notion that raising the issues of gender disparity is either political or related to feminist movements. To break this stereotype, education is quintessential to change the mindsets of people.

Gender budgeting in NEP is need of the hour in order to combat disproportionate attainment of education in terms of gender. Thus, education policies must conduct researches related to gender studies. This will aid the identification of obstacle in the way of educational equality and the problems of women related issues to be tackled with across cultural, political, economic and social landscape.

Rural and tribal Women, being close to nature are considered as patrons of natural resources. Thus, promoting researches on ecological and natural disaster management by utilizing their indigenous knowledge can help preserve diversity at large. This shall promote multidisciplinary approach by integrating natural sciences and social sciences.

Women embody the soft skills effortlessly and naturally. Thus, provisions should be made in education policies to harness their talent in the fields of STEM, where women's presence is negligible.

Undeniably, the announcement of NEP amidst pandemic times has sparked optimism in the minds of all stakeholders of education but on the other hand it has blocked the key arteries of reflection for further debate and discussions.

Image courtesy - Twitter handle of HRD Ministry

ANITA TRIPATHI – VP & Head - Spl. Projects, Collaborations, IOP

MBA in Corporate Management; M. Phil in Biotech; MSc (Botany); Former Country Coordinator, Excel Book Publications, Tanzania; Former Research Associate, UN - PRME at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: She has diversified experience in life sciences, biotechnology & business management through education, teaching, research, community development, and strategic business expansion work; Former Mrs. India Beautiful Smile at Beauty Pageant; 

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