Everything About National Education Policy in India

The Cabinet approved the National Education Policy (NEP), which was adopted in July 2020. It aims to reform education in India and improve the education system. After a gap of almost 34 years, this is the first major national education policy.

It provides guidelines to India for achieving near total literacy by 2030. The National Education Policy also supports various rights and provisions enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Some of the benefits of previous educational policies will still be in effect, even though the National Education Policy-2019 is ratified by the Cabinet in July 2019. This comes as India fights the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Indian Constitutional Basis for Education Policies

All education policies adopted by the Central and State governments, as well as the Union Territory administrations, are based upon laws found in the Constitution of India.

To understand the new policy on education and the other policies that are in place, it is necessary to know the constitution.

Free and compulsory education

Article 45 of the Directive Principle for State Policy requires that the Indian government and its branches enforce compulsory education for all citizens until they turn 14 years old.

It was established in 1960. However, it has been delayed by several obstacles at different levels.

This directive requires that the Central and State governments, as well as Union Territory administrations, make appropriate provisions to allow students as young as 14 years old to receive free education.

This directive and its enabling legislation make it mandatory for parents and wards under the age of 14 to send their children to these schools.

Education for Minorities

The Constitution of India’s Preamble guarantees equal rights to all citizens of India, regardless of their caste, creed or religion.

Article 30 of the Indian constitution guarantees the right to cultural freedom in educational institutions. This section allows minority communities to create educational institutions that are in line with their culture, tradition, and religious teachings.

Article 30 also prohibits discrimination in funding, grants, and other facilities for educational institutions that are established by minorities.

They will be eligible for the same funding, grants, and status as other secular, religious, or non-communal educational establishments in the country, regardless any other parameters.

Preservation of Native Language

Article 29(1) of the Indian constitution requires preservation of indigenous languages, regardless of their script, ethnicity, and locale of usage.

Article 350 (B), states must appoint local Linguistic officers to preserve the languages spoken in any minority communities.

Education of economically, socially, and educationally backward classes

Articles 15, 17 and 46 of the Constitution of India safeguard the educational rights of socially and educationally backward citizens, scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes.

Article 15 says, “Nothing herein or in clause (2) Article 29 shall prohibit the state from making any special provisions for the advancement of any socio-educally backward classes or for the scheduled castes or the scheduled tribes.”

Article 46 states that the Central government is responsible to the economic and educational development for Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

It states that “The state shall promote the educational and economic needs of the weaker sections and in particular of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them against social injustices and any forms of exploitation.”

Secular Education

Students from all communities can attend schools and colleges under the Constitution of India without having to follow a particular religious practice.

Article 25 (1) of India’s Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the right to practice, profess, and propagate religion.

Article 28 (1) states: “No religious instruction may be provided in any educational establishment if it is wholly supported out of state funds.”

This means that the central, state governments, and Union Territory administrations won’t provide sufficient funds to fully fund an educational institution founded on religious lines.

It can also provide grants and partial funding. This means that all religions are given equal importance by the state.

Article 28 (3) allows students to practice their religion at institutions that receive funding from the government. No educational institution can force students to follow any religious instruction.

Article 28 (1) states: “No one attending an educational institution of the state or receiving aid from state funds shall be required to participate in any religious instruction or attend any religious worship that might be conducted in such institutions or any premises attached thereto, except such person, or if such person is a minor, his guardian, has consented thereto.”

Article 30 of the Indian constitution prohibits the Central and State governments and UT administrations from fully financing any religious education institute. They also cannot deny partial funding or grants on the lines of caste creed and religion, among others.

Guarantee of Equal Opportunities

Article 29(1) provides equal admission and entry opportunities for all educational institutions that are fully or partially funded by the government.

This means that a state-run college, university, or school cannot refuse admissions based on caste, creed and ethnicity to any student.

However, the law does not remove the right of schools, colleges, or universities to admit students on merit, provided they are approved by the government and meet all Indian constitution requirements.

These educational institutions can however provide limited numbers of seats for students through Reservations Quota to socially, economically, and educationally underprivileged groups of society and minority communities, where applicable.

The Reservations Quota must comply with the Constitution of India’s related clauses that guarantee equal rights for all citizens, and those that provide for the upliftment of the underprivileged.

Medium of Instruction (MOI).

Article 26 (1) states: “Any section, living in the territory or part thereof, having an distinct language, script, or culture, shall be able to converse the exact same.”

Article 350 A states: “Every state and every local authority shall endeavor to provide adequate facilities to instruct in the mother tongue at the primary level of education to children from linguistic minorities groups.”

These clauses require state and regional governments, wherever possible, to ensure that education facilities are made available in the native language (mother tongue) of students.

Educational institutions also have the option to choose their Medium Of Instruction (MOI), depending on demographics and the demand.

Therefore, both the state and central governments can partially or fully fund educational institutions that use any MOI.

Hindi Education

The Constitution of India, Article 351 requires that Hindi be promoted as the national language. However, it does not specifically state that this must be done through government-funded educational institutions.

However, Hindi should be included in the curriculum of government-funded schools due to its widespread use since it was adopted as the National Language of India.

Institutes of National Importance

Indian constitution places emphasis on research and developement and asks the government to give special status to education institutions that excel in this area. There are now several Institutes of National Importance (INI) in India.

All Institutes of National Importance are covered by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education.

Mid-2020 saw 95 Institutes of National Importance in the country. This category can be designated by a variety of criteria.

Plans are underway to include under this category educational institutions run by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Education for women

Two clauses of India’s Constitution explicitly emphasize education of women in India.

Article 15(1) prohibits discrimination based on sex. The Indian government has taken steps in recent years to integrate transgender people into the mainstream education.

Article 15 (3) states: “Nothing in the article shall prevent State from making any special provisions for women or children.”

The educational policies are also defined by other laws, and the applicable clauses in the Indian constitution to empower women in India.

These clauses also allow for the funding of educational institutions specifically designed and funded to cater to women students by the Central and State governments.

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