Former Prime Minister of India, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi introduced one of the most important education policies in India, the National Education Policy 1986. Similar to the NPE 1968, this one too aimed to promote education amongst the Indians. Read further to know more about this education policy.
The Need and Goals of NPE 1986
This policy was formulated to improve and equalize educational opportunities within the nation. Besides, it also aimed at addressing the unique needs of the learners (including the special and marginalized students). It envisioned an educational structure that could support the all-round development of the country. And focused on the quality of education imparted within the institutions.
Through a common school curriculum, the government aimed to popularize the use of educational technology. And it emphasized more on the teaching of Mathematics, Sports, Science, Physical Education and education for international understanding.
Here’s a look at the key features of the National Policy of Education, 1986:
Quality Improvement and Student Retention
The first and foremost step under this education policy was to get all children under 14 years of age into schools. For this, it aimed at improving the school environment, student handling, and teaching methodologies (online teaching and offline teaching). It intended a no-failure policy at the elementary school level. And also introduced arrangements for non-formal education for out-of-school students.
The government opened Navodaya Vidyalayas and primary schools in remote areas. In addition, it also made arrangements for motor handicapped children either in normal schools or at district headquarters.
Structure of Education
As suggested by the Kothari Commission, the uniform pattern of 10+2+3 was the proposed structure for nationwide schools. This structure included 5 years of the primary stage to be followed by 3 years of the upper primary.
NPE 1986 aimed to achieve the aims of free and compulsory education for all by the year 1995. And it focused on extending the schooling facility within a distance of one kilometer.
Removal of Disparities and Special Measures
Another important aspect of this policy was the accessibility of good quality elementary education for all. It aimed at promoting the holistic development of students through better quality schools. The policy focused on creating opportunities for non-formal education (part-time), till the time full-fledged schools were set up.
Focus on Retention in the Mainstream System
Most of the education policies in India considered the task of retaining students within the mainstream system. NPE 1986 too came up with an idea to shift the focus from enrollment to retention. For this, it suggested surveys (house to house) to check the regularity of attendance and relevance of schooling.
It suggested creating non-formal centers (similar to the educational alternatives like online schooling) for students who are not able to attend full-day school. For regulating attendance, teachers and the members of the village education commission were expected to follow up with the families of the absentees who miss school for 2 to 3 days at a stretch.
Provisions for the Girl Child
Support services for girls included incentives to encourage the education of the girl child and those of the weaker sections (such as the SC’s, ST’s, minorities, etc.)
Especially for the girl child, two sets of free uniforms, free textbooks, attendance initiatives and stationery, etc. were to be given free of cost. Apart from this, students attending elementary school were also given free transportation facilities in the state roadways buses.
To ensure minimum essential facilities in primary schools the operation blackboard was launched with clear goals. It proposed the below-mentioned assistance for the schools under the operation.
Two large rooms, necessary toys and games material, charts, maps, blackboards, and learning material to be provided. The resources required for the construction of buildings etc. were to be supplemented with other schemes. All in all, the policy aimed at making optimum use of the available material.
Delinking Degrees from Jobs
This legendary step of manpower planning created a new trend of reducing the importance of degrees from jobs. It focused on re-designing job-specific courses to help the right candidate with the required skillsets to take up a suitable job. The policy opposed undue preference to graduate candidates. Instead, it promoted the vocationalisation of education.
How did the NPE 1986 help in restructuring the Indian education system?
NPE 1986 was amongst the most visionary education policies in India. It helped in the reorganization of education across various levels. And largely helped in streamlining a common educational structure to an extent.
What Went Wrong?
Examination reforms under the NPE were not very convincing. It did talk about creating a scientific evaluation system. However, there was no concrete input to reform the general examination pattern. Despite its vision to focus on continuous evaluation, it lacked the direction to make this change within the system.
In other words, we can say that it did not succeed in giving a concrete shape to some of its recommendations. And like other education policies in India, this one too suffered in implementing its recommendations because of the ongoing resource crunch.
Final Thoughts on this Education Policy:
NPE 1986 did aim at eliminating the disparities from the education system. However, it did not materialize its aims of standard education opportunities across various groups of the society.
This policy contributed to the chain of educational reforms in India. And it was again scrutinized again in the year 1992.
We will take up the details of this ‘Plan of Action’ in the year 1992 in our next article. Read the next piece of information to understand how this POA helped in addressing the voids of this educational policy.