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Long on Rhetoric and Short on Substance

National Education Policy, 2020

The National Education Policy, approved by the union cabinet on 29 July 2020, is the third education policy document of the country, coming after a gap of 34 years since the last one. This article is a brief commentary on some of the relevant concerns around the question of provisioning for good quality universal education, equitable access to education, and the increasing push to wards privatisation.

Given the universally acknowledged importance of good quality, universal education in the overall well-being of an economy and society, it is a truism that governments need to be committed and proactive in ensuring relevant, robust policy frameworks and their adequate provisioning. India has now got its new National Education Policy (NEP) after a gap of 34 years. This article engages with some crucial aspects of the NEP 2020, which merit urgent attention. In particular, our focus is around issues of universal and equitable access, public provisioning for education and the challenges of privatisation. The policy is finally in place after a lot of prevarication in the recent years; two previous drafts were submitted by two committees, namely the Subramanian Committee (May 2016) and the Kastu­rirangan Committee (May 2019). In an earlier article in this journal, we had highlighted some of the salient features of both these drafts (Jha and Parvati 2019).

At best, the NEP 2020 is a collection of some clearly stated measures, several feel-good intents, and a few broad-brush strokes of ideas underlying potential policies, along with selective sprinkling of a few logistical details. For instance, there are 22 fundamental principles outlined in the document (National Education Policy 2020: 5), which seem to traverse a dissonant canvas of ambitious wishes and fuzzy action plans. The absence of operational details is most glaring in the last section of the NEP, titled “Making it Happen,” that deals with important “how to” questions of strengthening Central Advisory Board of Education, financing mechanisms and implementation plan. Before we engage with some of these concerns, we mention some of the welcome proposals in the NEP.

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Updated On : 25th Aug, 2020


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