New Education Policy 2020: Highlights

The Union Cabinet on 29th July 2020 approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) and renamed the HRD Ministry as Education Ministry.

Making the announcement, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said there would be a single regulator for all higher education institutions and MPhil would be discontinued.

History of Education Policy:

An NEP is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. 

A new NEP usually comes along every few decades. India has had three to date. The first came in 1968 and the second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively; the NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. The third is the NEP released on 29th July 2020 under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.

New Education Policy 2020: Some of the important highlights

Schooling starts at the age of 3 years now

The New Education Policy expands age group 6-14 years of mandatory schooling to 3-18 years of schooling. The NEP introduces hitherto uncovered three years of pre-schooling, age group of 3-6 years under the school curriculum. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.

With an emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the 10+2 structure of school curriculum is to be replaced a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.

Board exam

The class 10 and 12 exams — referred to as board exams — are likely to be held in two difficulty levels and students will be given a second chance at boards to improve their score. They will be free to take up courses regardless of the stream division of arts, commerce and science. “Student choice and best-of-two-attempts, assessments that primarily test core capacities must be the immediate key reforms to all board exams,” the NEP stated. A system of annual or semester or modular board exams could be developed to test far less material, and taken immediately after the corresponding course is taught in school so the pressure from exams is better distributed and less intense.

Mother tongue as medium of instruction

The NEP puts focus on students’ mother tongue as the medium of instruction even as it sticks to the ‘three language formula’ but also mandates that no language would be imposed on anyone. The NEP only recommends the mother tongue as medium of instruction, and not make it compulsory.

The policy document states that children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more quickly in their home language.

“Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language, mother tongue, local language or the regional language. Thereafter, the home or local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed both public and private schools,” the policy states.


Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

Govt will phase out the affiliation of colleges in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.

Science, arts, commerce gets blurred

Under NEP 2020, there will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams. Students can select subjects of their liking across the streams. Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.

FYUP Programme Returns & No More Dropouts

Under the NEP, undergraduate degree will be of either 3 or 4-year duration with multiple exit options within this period. College will be mandated to give certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field including vocational and professional areas, a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme.

Common entrance exam for admissions

From school to colleges, it is advised that there should be a single gateway. The National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct a common entrance examination (CEE) for admissions to universities across the country. A common aptitude test, as well as specialised common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, will be held at least twice every year. It will allow “most universities to use these common entrance exams – rather than having hundreds of universities each devising their own entrance exams, there drastically reducing the burden on students, universities and colleges,” the NEP read. It will not be mandatory and will be left to individual universities and colleges to use NTA assessments for their admissions.

Foreign colleges

High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, selected universities, those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India. A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.

Educational technology

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 to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration and so on, both for school and higher education. One of the permanent tasks of the NETF will be to categorise emergent technologies based on their potential and estimated timeframe for disruption, and to periodically present this analysis to MHRD. Based on these inputs, MHRD will formally identify those technologies whose emergence demands responses from the education system. Content will be available in regional languages also.

Credit bank

An Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognised HEIs so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned. Departments in languages, literature, music, philosophy, Indology, art, dance, theatre, education, mathematics, statistics, pure and applied sciences, etc. Credits will be given in all Bachelor’s Degree programmes for these subjects if they are done from such departments or through the ODL mode when they are not offered in-class at the HEI.

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