National Education Policy 2020: Context And Perspectives

The NEP 2020 has given the destination to reach through its initiatives and educational reforms. It stresses accelerating a learning journey for students that shall help them engage in innovation.


Higher education is the fulcrum to build a sustainable nation. For nations in emerging markets like India, investments in Higher education is crucial to stay competitive and exploit business opportunities. It is India’s demographic dividend, workforce skill and intellectual capital that would benefit the nation taking leverage from the current global scenario. At the outset, the present global markets feature two idiosyncratic transitions. The first is the pandemic crisis and the response strategies. Pandemic steered business disruptions and posed new challenges to organizations. It resulted in urgent interventions by the Governments and Organizations to overcome the devastative economic, financial and emotional costs emerging from the business environment. It accelerated Industries in shifting of doing business in a contactless mode. Disruptive technologies became the aid to numerous responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in emerging markets. The second feature is survival in the Post-COVID era and facing the realities of Industry 4.0 by quickly adopting new technologies than ever before. Industry 4.0 features utilization of exponential technologies such as IoT, AI, Robotics, Business Analytics, Machine learning and so on. Organizations have experienced that the adoption of technologies helped their businesses keep going and thriving. These response strategies have triggered organizations to rethink and restructure their existing Business strategies for both short as well as long-term goals that shall be capable to create stability for organizations. The future of the market is going to be dependent on technology. Therefore, it becomes demanding to create and align the Nation’s talent entering the labour market with skills to match the needs and momentum of Industrialization with Education 4.0. At this juncture and context, National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) was introduced. The present article aims in providing a broad overview on NEP 2020 and builds perspectives for implementation as part of the future article series on Improving Access, Equity and Affordability for Inclusiveness in Higher Education, Designing Holistic and Multi-Disciplinary Higher Education, Effective Governance and Leadership for Higher Education Institutions and Digital Transformation in Higher Education and Research for Growth and Sustainability.

Historical antecedents

India with its Education System had always retorted to the societal needs. Tracing the timeline, education 1.0 featured the world’s leading ancient universities the Takshila and Nalanda in India, contributing to knowledge, values and education by the Indian scholars. The nation has witnessed a great ordeal of colonial system nevertheless the country’s education system moved on from its 100 thousand years of traditional rich knowledge system to education 2.0 competing in Industrialization era, learning from the west. But we never stopped to transform steadily to the Internet era with our response to implement education 3.0. Realizing the world trends and business opportunities, the Indian Government in 2016 launched its initiatives such as Start-up India, Make in India, Digital India to promote an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and culture. In just about three decades now, the Nation is all set to align its talent for Education 4.0 with its comprehensive educational reforms and NEP 2020.

The new initiative

The NEP 2020 policy document envisions two distinctive points towards Higher Education. One holds that education is a right for all. The Government and Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) have an obligation to ensure access to education insisting on Equity, Equality and Inclusiveness. It clearly mentions the prerequisites for increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education to build a pluralist society. This policy document attempts to move beyond the altruistic definitions of education by observing the major challenges in the existing education system. Some of them include fragmentation in the educational ecosystem, rigid separation of disciplines, limited teacher and institutional autonomy, economical-social-digital-regional language divide, lack of research funding, ineffective regulatory mechanisms, suboptimal governance and leadership. The other contends the importance of developing the skills and competencies of learners by designing and delivering a holistic multidisciplinary education and emphasis on promoting values-based education that shall enable learners to appreciate the Indian heritage of rich intellectual frameworks of Philosophy, Scientific Knowledge, Values, Traditions and cultural perspectives of education. It aims that HEIs must not only ensure to attract students but, the paramount focus shall be to motivate and aspire young learners for gaining knowledge, grow intellectually curious, become socially conscious, ethical, and skilled. NEP 2020 stresses accelerating a learning journey for students that shall help them engage in innovation. This helps the nation to become self-reliant to solve its own problems with robust solutions and for the individual to become economically independent.

The NEP 2020 has given the destination to reach through its initiatives and educational reforms. This policy document integrates all essential targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sets the direction for HEIs to restructure, reconfigure and transform themselves as vibrant multidisciplinary institutions that support and foster learning. It has provided new guided educational frameworks and monitoring mechanisms to improve the delivery of quality education with salient features and clear objectives. It is now for HEIs to deliver the expectations of the NEP 2020 by reinventing its structure, policies and implementation process.

The future

Eventually, this calls for educational innovation that aims for contemporary educational models addressing the key perspectives evolved in the NEP 2020. The foremost perspective is delivering a Holistic and Multi-Disciplinary Higher Education. It aims to develop all-round capacities of the learner through an integrated education; a student of arts and humanities shall aim to learn science, engage in vocational subjects, give in more efforts to develop personal and professional skills. The entire Indian Industry across sectors feels NEP 2020 as a very impressive forthcoming policy as it has brought Vocational Education to the mainstream of education. The country will benefit from exploiting the fruits of its demographic dividend. This shall converge in improving individual capacities in critical thinking, soft skills, problem-solving abilities, creativity etc. There is an emphasis for the wide implementation of the Choice Based Credit System which allows flexibility in education that system to benefit students. The idea of the Academic Bank of credits (ABCs) is all set to attract more life-long learners to skill and upskill. It helps a student to become all-round individual with holistic development and become more Industry ready. However, the need of the hour is to examine how HEIs can build their resources and create an optimal learning environment to promote a flexible and innovative curriculum. The effectiveness of high-quality learning is an outcome of the learner characteristics, self-directed learning, teacher, high-quality teaching pedagogy practices, assessment methods, availability of learning resources including digital resources and technology-enabled learning environment. The vital strategy for fruitful implementation would be investing aggressively in Teachers' capabilities and promoting a culture of academic research work in inter-discipline and multi-discipline. Hence, it is the responsibility of the HEI’s to set up seed funding to promote and pursue the best scientific research within the Nation while they shall benefit from National Research Foundation (NRF). The growing concern for high-quality education has made NEP 2020 also set up four independent verticals through the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to carry on the task of regulation, accreditation, managing funding and financing, and framing the expected learning outcomes for higher educational programmes.

With the effect of the pandemic crisis on the global economy, an indication has occurred that India will emerge as a cost-effective knowledge hub. The country shall attract an increased number of foreign students and researchers. India has responded to the Internationalization of Higher Education in its NEP 2020. The concept of educational hubs is enticing but the milieu of HEIs should intensively work to provide quality assurance and sustainability. There are some agendas that are yet to be addressed which include regulatory, policy and operational questions.

Another important aspect is the necessity for Good governance and leadership for improving the quality of Higher education. Without the governing bodies and the leaders, the vision of the NEP framework will become unattainable. NEP provides a strategic direction to governing board that makes it possible for efficient utilization of resources, fund management, self-disclosures, implementation of transparency & accountability and encourages participation of all stakeholders in decision making. The NEP aims to create more independent self-governing institutions ensuing innovation and excellence.

To conclude, HEIs must build a sustainable education strategy for implementation of the NEP that aims to ensure equity and inclusion in and through education by addressing all forms of exclusion and marginalization, disparity, vulnerability and inequality in education access, participation, retention and completion and in learning outcomes. HEIs must strike a balance between increasing the enrollment rates and pledging to deliver the best class holistic and multidisciplinary education to the learners for exploiting the opportunities in the flight of Industry 4.0, Pandemic times and beyond.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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