Independent India saw a series of reforms to improve the quality and accessibility of education. The first-ever education policy in India was the National Policy of Education, formulated in the year 1968. It was promulgated by the Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. And was based mainly on the recommendations of the Education Commission (Kothari Commission).
The Need and Goals of NPE 1968
NPE 1968 was framed to equalize educational opportunities across the country. It aimed at creating an education system that can provide unrestricted access to education. This policy focused on the development of values for national integration. Because it acknowledged the power of education for the country’s economic and cultural development.
Here’s a look at the key highlights of the National Policy of Education, 1968:
Fulfillment of the Directive Principle Under Article 45
According to Article 45 of the Indian constitution, there should be a provision for free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years. NPE 1968 aimed a fulfilling this directive principle. It also focused on the successful completion of the prescribed course for all enrolled students. In this way, it aimed at eliminating the barriers to quality education across all parts of the nation.
The policy had the vision to create equal opportunities for citizens across the nation. Besides, it also highlighted the need to improve educational facilities for handicapped children. NPE 1968 also focused on students from rural, backward, or tribal areas. And gave special emphasis to the education of the girl child.
Through this policy, the ‘three-language formula’ was implemented as per Article 351 of the constitution. And this encouraged the development of ‘Hindi’ across the country.
Improved Facilities for Secondary and University Level Education
The policy acknowledged the need to increase the facilities for secondary education, especially in the areas that were denied of these. It also focused on developing vocational education in order to improve employment opportunities.
Under this policy, there was a special emphasis to improve the facilities in the fields like agriculture, trade, medicine, arts, crafts, commerce, home management, secretarial training, etc. Besides, it also took care in establishing new universities.
For higher-education at the university stage, correspondence and part-time courses were to be developed, similar to the online learning courses/programs that cater to students who cannot attend regular classes.
To accelerate the pace of adult literacy, the policy aimed at promoting functional literacy within the masses. It targeted imparting education to the employees in the industries through literacy campaigns. And emphasized the training of the youth for improved self-employment opportunities. This policy also covered the educational interests of minorities.
Teacher Training and Professional Competence
In independent India, the condition of the teachers also needed attention. The education policy in India highlighted the need to uplift the condition of teachers. And promoted their academic freedom. For their professional competence, their emoluments and service conditions were given more importance. Other than this, the policy also focused on their training and education.
How did the NPE 1968 help in restructuring the Indian education system?
Basis the recommendations of the Education Commission, a new structure of the educational system was designed. This was the time when the country got a uniform schooling pattern in the form of 10+2+3.
The visionary idea of retaining students within the mainstream education system did help in restructuring our system. Besides, it also helped in improving the overall infrastructure and educational opportunities across the nation.
What Went Wrong?
Despite the futuristic aims of the NPE 1968, it did lack in materializing the goals of universal education for all. NPE 1968, was certainly successful in creating a structure for the nation’s educational system. However, it did not succeed in bringing about the change that it was expected to.
Later in the year 1986 again the next National Policy of Education was introduced in the system. And this one was better in terms of creating a network of institutions to serve the purpose of universalization of education. NPE 1968 also suffered because of a shortage of funds. As it struggled to reach the level of expenditure which was 6% of the national income.
Final Thoughts on this Education Policy:
NPE 1968 gave a new direction to standardize education within the country. It was instrumental in creating a structure of 10+2+3 and promoted the use of the mother tongue as well.
The next big step in the history of the Indian education system came in the year 1986 with the next education policy in India. Read the next article in this series for the details of this next big step in our education system, the National Education Policy 1986.