In this information age, education is undoubtedly the backbone of advancing economies. It accelerates their rate of development. And allows them to reap greater benefits from the latest innovations.
Two years ago, the most futuristic National Education Policy, NEP 2020 was launched with a promising set of initiatives. And on 29th July’22, the policymakers celebrated its 2nd anniversary.

NEP 2020 completes a two-year mark and this is the best time to review its promises in the light of facts.

What Makes This Policy Historic?

In the year 2020, the Indian Vice President, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu addressed the 13th convocation of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala.

He called the recent education policy a huge step towards making India a global knowledge superpower.

For the first time ever, there was a lot of focus on creativity, researching skills, and the utility of knowledge was directly linked with building successful careers.

This vision created a zeal to transform our education system into a 21st-century learning space that would help in making India a knowledge-driven society.

Other than the vision, this policy also revamped the structure of school education, by incorporating early childhood education within the new structure (5+3+3+4).

Since the implementation of NEP 2020 much has been said about its features and promises.

Let’s understand more about its ground-level impact.

The Big Wins of NEP 2020

1. Gender Inclusion, Enrollment, and drop-out rates

According to statistics, there has been an improvement in the total school enrolment rates.   

Total School Enrollment (in Crore)
Data2018-20192019-20202020-2021
Primary (1 to 5)1212.212.2
Upper Primary (6 to 8)6.46.56.6
Secondary (9 to 10)3.83.83.9
Higher Secondary (11 to 12)2.62.62.7

Statistics also reveal some improvement in the enrollment rates of girls, especially in the secondary and upper primary stages.

Coming to the drop-out rates, the impact is striking:

Total Drop-out Rates (in %)
Data2018-20192020-2021
Primary (1 to 5)4.50.8
Upper Primary (6 to 8)4.71.9
Secondary (9 to 10)17.914.6

The flexibility and student-centricity of the recent education policy seems effective at the ground level. But again, there’s still a long way to go to fulfill the defined goals.

Sources:
Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), Report 2018-19 & 2020-21

2. Skill building to meet the needs of employers

The recent education policy is believed to be a visionary step towards building employability skills in students. Especially when the country was expected to have a skill deficit of 29 million by the year 2030.  It is not easy to gauge the exact impact on the talents skills gap in two years. However, the trends do indicate some positive signs.

The India Skills Report 2022 shows an improvement in employability (from 45.97% to 46.2%). The report also highlights an interesting fact, wherein 51.44% of women were highly employable in comparison with 45.97% of men in 2022 (please refer to the chart below).

In the year 2022, women outperformed men in terms of employability.

Notably, the changes within our education system seem to show a slow yet steady progress rate. And the recent education policy certainly has a role to play with its clearly defined focus areas.  

3. Liberal education that promotes research

The idea of liberal education highlighted in the policy aims at eliminating the boundaries of disciplines. This has helped in improving the student retention and gross enrolment ratios in higher education. Because students have an option to switch courses instead of dropping out of the mainstream system.

Besides, it also encourages 21st-century relevant researching skills. Under the NEP 2020, students can earn a degree with research under the 4-year programs (Mentioned under the header, ‘Towards a More Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education’ – part 11.9 of the Document)

This level of flexibility has a set of advantages for students.

4. Collaboration and Internationalization

The National Policy of Education 2020 believes in facilitating research and teaching collaborations with high-quality foreign institutions (Mentioned under the header ‘Internationalization’ – part 12.8 of the Document). This has improved the communication ties between educational institutions, thereby improving the mobility of Indian and international students. 

The policy also extends opportunities for online education through accredited online institutions (Mentioned under the header ‘Institutional Restructuring and Consolidation’ – part 10.10 of the Document). India has a large network for online education with an estimated revenue of US$4.71 billion in 2022.

The trend of online schools is also a widely accepted change amongst the stakeholders.

The Misses

1. Gap between planning and execution

Most striking features of NEP 2020 call for a major change in the structure and a huge allocation of budget. The aim of a higher enrollment ratio and getting students back into the system can be fulfilled if many more schools and universities are opened. Considering the challenges of the post-pandemic world, healthcare and recovery of the economy are on the top of the priority list.

Hence, the action required to implement NEP 2020 does not seem 100% feasible.

2. Lack of skilled teachers

The promises of NEP 2020 need solid support from trained teachers. In India, several teachers still face issues like time management with administrative functions and a lack of digital intelligence. We need to upskill our teachers to make them more resourceful. This will help them to use their time and energy more productively in implementing the recent policy well.

As of now, the state of teachers is not very impressive. In reality, many teachers are overburdened, lacks the access to essential resources, demotivated, and even lack the basic capacity to teach.

To implement the new policy perfectly, we need to resolve these challenges first.

The Future Ahead

On the two-year anniversary of the recent education policy, India’s Union Home and Cooperation Minister, Mr. Amit Shah announced some more initiatives.

Some of these include improvements in the ongoing digital projects, setting up of virtual labs and skill development initiatives, etc. While the government is keen to improve the educational offerings through the power of digitalization, some other NGOs and private institutions are already supporting this vision.

Post the pandemic, India now has a good network of online learning platforms that have brought down the cost of quality education considerably.

Thanks to these learning platforms, online education is becoming a popular alternative among the Indian masses. And the acceptance of online learning continues to grow stupendously.

NEP 2020 is certainly a great start to a promising journey of reforming the Indian education system. It has all the components that can bring the much-needed change.

However, the real impact is subject to the improvement in its implementation part.

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