UPSC MAINS 2019: National Education Policy

National Education Policy

Topic: National Education Policy

Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 1: Indian Society – Education

National Education Policy


Why in news:

  • Government has begun to rethink of higher education policies through the draft NEP (National Education Policy) and EQUIP (Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme). 
  • Before this draft education policy and EQUIP, there are many reports aimed at improving higher education in independent India such as Radhakrishnan Commission of 1949, the National Education Policies of 1968 and 1986, the Yashpal Committee of 2009, the National Knowledge Commission in 2007, etc.
  • Recommendations of most of these reports are similar. Therefore, the time, energy and resources that EQUIP will require can be better spent on implementing rather than further research.


Challenges before Current Higher Education System:


Inadequate allocation of funds

  • Higher education in India has been chronically underfunded — it spends less than most other BRICS countries on higher education. Inadequate funding is evident at all levels.
  • The last Budget allocated only ₹37,461 crore for the higher education sector. 
  • Other related ministries and departments such as Space, Scientific and Industrial Research, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology, Health Research and Agricultural Research have been allocated only modest support. 
  • Funding for basic research, which is largely a Central government responsibility, lags behind peer countries.


Low Enrolment and Non completion

  • At present, India’s gross enrolment ratio is 25.8%, significantly behind China’s 51% or much of Europe and North America, where 80% or more young people enroll in higher education. India’s challenge is even greater because half of the population is under 25 years of age.
  • It is interesting to note that while the draft NEP aims at increasing the gross enrolment ratio to at least 50% by 2035, EQUIP targets doubling the gross enrolment ratio to 52% by 2024.
  • The challenge is not only to enrol students, but to ensure that they can graduate. Non-completion is a serious problem in the sector.


Standard of quality of education

  • It is universally recognised that much of Indian higher education is of relatively poor quality. Employers often complain that they cannot hire graduates without additional training. 


Poor quality and commercial interests of private sector

  • The private sector is a key part of the equation. India has the largest number of students in private higher education in the world. But much of private higher education is of poor quality and commercially oriented.


Structure and governance of higher education system

  • There is too much bureaucracy at all levels, and in some places, political and other pressures are immense. Professors have little authority and the hand of government and managements is too heavy. At the same time, accountability for performance is generally lacking.


Way forward:

India needs;

  • Dramatically increased funding from diverse sources, and the NEP’s recommendation for a new National Research Foundation is a welcome step in this direction.
  • Significantly increased access to post-secondary education, but with careful attention to both quality and affordability, and with better rates of degree completion.
  • Longitudinal studies on student outcomes.
  • To develop “world class” research-intensive universities, so that it can compete for the best brains, produce top research, and be fully engaged in the global knowledge economy.
  • To ensure that the private higher education sector works for the public good.
  • To develop a differentiated and integrated higher education system, with institutions serving manifold societal and academic needs.
  • Reforms in the governance of college and universities to permit autonomy and innovation at the institutional level.
  • Better coordination between the University Grants Commission and ministries and departments involved in higher education, skill development, and research.


Sample Question:

What are the challenges before current higher education system of India? Critically analyse in context of draft national education policy 2019.

National Education Policy - Info graphic