THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 26 September 2020 Old Education Policy (Indian Express)

Old Education Policy (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Education 
Prelims level: National Education Policy
Mains level: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education


  • The new National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP) has sharply divided people into camps of supporters and critics.
  • It’s been charged with furthering inequalities through provisions such as choice, flexibility, vocational education, multiple exits, excessive glorification of ancient Indian culture, promoting privatization, undermining the Right to Education Act and most importantly, replacing constitutional values with banal ideas such as seva, ahimsa, swacchta, sacrifice and courtesy.
  • Added to this is the desperate hurry to implement the policy without meaningfully engaging with the concerns raised.

No major changes:

  • While much of the criticism is valid, it would be naïve to link all educational problems to NEP and claim that it marks a sharp break from the past/present.
  • For years, India has had a layered education system, both public and private, in sync with our stratified social fabric.
  • The Kothari Commission (1964-1966) talked of a common school system, which was hugely celebrated as an idea but never implemented.
  • The National Policy of Education, 1986, introduced non-formal education for the disadvantaged child and was accused of promoting child labour.
  • The creation of Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, and Pratibha Bal Vikas Vidyalayas further layered the already fraughteducation system.
  • Low-cost schools for the poor and international schools for the rich were established.
  • Persistent testing became the norm, achieving learning outcomes the goal, micro-managing disempowered teachers and managerial discourse became the new jargon — these deeply contentious issues predate NEP 2020.
  • The child labourer, the girl child who takes care of her siblings, the Dalit child living on the village periphery, the Muslim child who is a target of communal barbs and the tribal child often taunted with jokes did get periodic attention in policy documents but nothing radical was either suggested or done to enable them to break the vicious cycle of disadvantage.

Flaws in ideas shaping educational discourse:

  • First, most programmes, including this policy, mistake “fun in learning” for “fun of learning”, thereby reducing the meaning of learning processes to song and dance and banal activities.“Enjoyment” is prioritised at the cost of meaningful learning.
  • Second, reducing the “load of studies” on children is mistaken for a mechanical reduction of syllabus/textbook content .
  • Third, the idea of an “integrated curriculum”, challenges textbook developers/teachers who, in the absence of any deep knowledge of “what” needs to be integrated, resort to random addition/deletion of content.
  • Fourth, meaningful assessment is not only about formative assessment (FA).
  • Fifth, confusing the notion of critical thinking with de-contextualised logical thinking whereby textbooks have no mention of conflicts/contradictions which children experience in their daily lives.


  • It is important that NEP’s fundamental flaws are acknowledged and addressed with immediacy.
  • The underlying focus of any educational policy should be on bringing every child, particularly the marginalised, to the forefront of our concern by ensuring an enabling and dignified environment, respectful of their worlds, knowledge and experiences.
  • Our aim should not be limited to imparting children with foundational skills of literacy, numeracy and competencies but removing structural disadvantages.
  • We should enable them to live a meaningful life, simultaneously strengthening our society as a secular, democratic space.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Prior restraint (censorship), consider the following statements:
1. Prior restraint is prohibiting the exercise of free speech before it can take place.
2. Imposition of pre-censorship or prior restraint on speech is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1)What are the major provisions included in the New Education Policy 2020? What are the reasons behind induction of the old education policy?