NEP – The new national education policy

Good intentions versus good trouble

Only 32% urban & 65% non-metro consumers getting newspapers at home
School children in Murshidabad share a newspaper.

The Union Cabinet approved a new National Education Policy on 29 July 2020, after a 34-year gap, the first education policy of the country in this century. Originally to be announced in December 2019, it was delayed and then scheduled for release in March 2021. Nevertheless, the National Education Policy, 2020, is meant to provide a vision and comprehensive framework for school and higher education.

The NEP, although approved by the cabinet, has not been presented in parliament. The first to be formulated by a Bharatiya Janata Party government, it’s a policy and not a law, with implementation depending on both the states and the center, as education is a concurrent subject.

The rechristened Education Ministry says that an increase in government funding of education to 6% of GDP will enable the NEP’s execution. However, with funding levels of 2.5% and 3% in the past, this level of funding for education has not been achieved in India. Not even when prime minister Manmohan Singh proposed the doubling of the education budget to 4.5% of GDP. The ambition of the current government to achieve this level is admirable since, without investment in education, there will be no ‘demographic dividend.’

There are many points in the NEP that are already being fiercely debated, not least, the proposal to make the mother tongue the medium of instruction till Class 5. The education minister would not even confirm that centrally-run schools will implement this policy. All central and state politicians know that voters want English medium education for their children more than anything. Strengthening the Indian languages will require much more serious investment in culture and the development of recognized and peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific publishing in those languages.

Some of the proposals

The NEP proposes to change the school structure from the current 10+2 (Class 1-10 of general education followed by two years of higher secondary school with specialized subjects) with a 5+3+3+4 structure. It will bring children from ages 3 to 5 years within the formal education system for the first time, and ensure curricula continuity in the last four years. Free breakfasts are to be added to free lunches in government schools. Foundational literacy and numeracy are mentioned, as is vocational education and internships from Class 6, as is the redesign of examinations.

A new umbrella regulator is proposed for higher education with separate verticals for regulation, standard-setting, accreditation, and funding. The fee standard must be fixed in such a way that it is affordable for the poor since they have a lot of funding issues regarding clearing and take me out of a pre-settlement loan to make their children go to school. It will replace several regulatory bodies and include arts and science, technical and teacher education. The introduction of 4-year undergraduate degrees, with options for lateral entry and exit and a credit transfer system, is proposed in higher education. ‘Top’ foreign universities will be allowed to set up campuses in India.

Good intentions versus good troubles

The timeline for NEP implementation is educational transformation by 2040. The Ministry of Human Resource Development will immediately metamorphose into the Ministry of Education. According to the education secretary for Higher Education, Amit Khare, with over 100 action points in the policy, implementation will come in phases. He stated, “For instance, 4-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry-exit options will be introduced in the 20 IoEs from the 2020-21 academic year, while others continue with the existing three-year degree courses.”

Suffice to say that a healthy discussion has started. While there are legal and financial hurdles to implementation, one looks forward to a meaningful debate in parliament and state legislatures as well as civil society. So far, the discussion has mainly centered on the policy suggestion to make the mother tongue the medium of instruction till class 5, but there are several other issues.

Most important is how and where 6% of GDP expenditure on education will be spent. Not where will it come from, because it has to be found – since education is one of the main aspirational goals of the nation’s population. Education and edutech are huge industries, and the government cannot retreat from its constitutional ‘fundamental right to education’ obligations. As an investment, the building of government schools, universities, and modern educational and research infrastructure to a high standard can play its share in reviving the economy. And the unfettered creation and discussion of ideas, culture, and modern skills its spirit.

This story is published by 2 August,2020 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


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