ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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National Education Policy 2020


The Right to Education (RTE) Forum has welcomed the reiteration of increasing public investment in education to 6% of the gross domestic product in the recently approved National Education Policy (NEP). The RTE Forum has also acknowledged the recommendation on the universalisation of school education for three to 18 years. However, the organisation has expressed its apprehension on how universalisation will be achieved, as the policy is silent on the extension of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act).

The draft NEP 2019, submitted by the Kasturirangan Committee to the human resource development minister and subsequently released to the public for suggestions, had promised downward and upward extension of the RTE Act to include pre-primary and secondary education within the ambit of the act. All sections of the civil society welcomed this as it would have been a big step towards the universalisation of school education. But with disappointment, it is noted that the final draft fails to make pre-primary and secondary education a legal right.

The final policy talks about the universalisation of school education from three to 18 years, without making it a legal right. Hence, there is no mandatory mechanism for the union and state governments to make it a reality. Without the RTE Act, universalisation will be very difficult. There are significant numbers of dropouts after elementary levels,
especially among girls. The RTE Act is the highest stage reached in the evolution of education policy in India and it confers a legal right, while a policy document does not confer such rights.

The RTE Forum, meanwhile, has appreciated the creation of the Gender Inclusion Fund to promote and strengthen girl’s participation and completion of school education. Another laudable aspect of the policy is that it rightly states that there will be emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than on rote learning; creativity and critical thinking will be encouraged.

The policy mentions that vocational training of students will begin from Class 6. This can have an adverse impact as it will push children into the labour market, and their education will be discontinued.

There is a lot of emphasis on digital education, which the RTE Forum fears will promote further segregation of children. India currently does not have adequate infrastructure to support this, and more than 70% children from marginalised backgrounds could be excluded, as evident from the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein many children are missing online classes due to the digital divide in the country.

The policy, in the name of philanthropic schools and public–private partnership mode, is laying the road map for the entry of private players in education, which will further commercialise education, and the existing inequalities will be exacerbated.

The RTE Forum has observed that this policy is silent on the Common School System (CSS), which was first recommended by the Kothari Commission (1964–66) and reaffirmed in the National Education Policies in 1968 and 1986, as amended in 1992. The RTE Forum believes that the only way to remove discrimination in the school education system is to introduce a CSS in the country, which will ensure uniform quality of education to all the children and that the NEP 2020 needs a robust road map for affirmative action.

Right to Education Forum

New Delhi


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