NEP 2020 And The Autonomy Question

NEP 2020 And The Autonomy Question

What is NEP 2020?

The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), which was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 29 July 2020, outlines the vision of India’s new education system. The new policy replaces the previous National Policy on Education, 1986. The policy is a comprehensive framework for elementary education to higher education as well as vocational training in both rural and urban India. The policy aims to transform India’s education system by 2021.

Shortly after the release of the policy, the government clarified that no one will be forced to study any particular language and that the medium of instruction will not be shifted from English to any regional language. The language policy in NEP is a broad guideline and advisory in nature; and it is up to the states, institutions, and schools to decide on the implementation. Education in India is a Concurrent List subject.

Content, Curriculum & Pedagogy of NEP 2020:

The 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi or pre-schooling.

To implement the changes at each level a thorough restructuring of the curriculum, pedagogy and the content needs to be done as per the NCF (National Curriculum Framework) and content rubrics needs to be revisited to modify the textbooks.

Blending of technology with the teaching and learning process:

National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) a regulatory body will be created to use technology for better learning outcomes. NEAT aims to use artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customized as per the learner’s requirement. It even proposes to create national alliance with EdTech companies for a better learning experience.

But a big challenge here is establishing a robust digital infrastructure that even caters to the remote areas.


The proposal to set up a national assessment centre, the PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) is to keep a regular check on the education system. Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project will include CERC (Contingency Emergency Response Component) will help the Government tackle the learning losses due to School closures or any such emergency that arise in the state.

NEP 2020 recognises now the need to evaluate “higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity,” and hence shifting the focus of assessments from marks based to competency based. The marking system should now be different, there will be a dire need to change the questions so as they have related answers, where based on the child’s aptitude he answers and based on the answers the scores could be calculated.

Teachers training and availability:

The NEP 2020 is about creating higher performance standards for teachers clearly stating out the role of the teacher at different levels of expertise/stage and competencies required for that stage. Teachers will also have to be digitally trained to blend into the digital learning processes.

NEP 2020 is more than just an academic reform:

The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) is a charter not only for pedagogical and academic reforms but for various legislative and administrative measures to give effect to those reforms, and a bunch of ideas, plans, and recommendations to guide the education sector in the next 20 to 30 years.

The main question:

The question is, has the NEP been preceded by any legal and constitutional vetting and audit, particularly with respect to the occupational, educational and cultural rights (FR) of people. The policy-makers should have before putting the policy on the anvil taken cognisance of the various legal and constitutional problems that have engaged the country in the past, consulted constitutional experts. On matters ruled on by the Supreme Court of India (SC), the policy-makers had an obligation either to be guided by the court’s decisions or to state boldly that they disagree with them and get them reviewed, either by legislative action or by the judiciary itself.

Implementation is the main challenge faced by NEP 2020:

The main challenge is to implement the highly comprehensive NEP 2020. Before we talk about the implementation lets understand why any policy fails?

There can be four major contributors to policy failure:

1.Overly optimistic expectations: Due to over optimism there is and under estimation of cost and time for a policy to be implemented.

2.Implementation in dispersed governance: When the policy is tailor made to fit all irrespective of their constraints.

3.Inadequate collaborative policymaking: Lack of collaboration with all the stakeholders

4.Vagaries of the political cycle: The policy makers concentrate on the short-term results as they don’t want to be tagged for the failure, and take credit of the legislation that is passed rather than its implementation.

Therefore, to implement the NEP 2020 we need to work upon a few major challenges.

The regulation of self-financing Private Unaided Institutions (PUIs) a challenge:

The NEP has paid very little or no attention to the most sacred constitutional values and binding decisions of the SC. Several NEP recommendations are likely to face serious challenges in courts of law, which may deter the smooth and effective implementation of the policy. For instance, the regulation of self-financing private unaided institutions (PUIs).

Declaration by TMA Pai (2002) on NEP 2020 and Autonomy:

In TMA Pai (2002), a special 11-judge bench of the apex court declared that PUIs stand on a totally different footing from government-aided institutions (GAIs) because PUIs have a fundamental right of “occupation” to autonomy under Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution. The “light but tight” regulation regime of NEP is completely at loggerheads with the principle of “maximum autonomy” and “no bureaucratic or government interference” propounded for PUIs in TMA Pai.

Nationalisation of education:

In TMA Pai, the court had overturned an earlier five-judge judgment in Unnikrishnan (1993), which had proposed a progressive socio-economic and egalitarian agenda with a government-operated scheme for PUIs in matters of admission and fixation of fees. The 11-judge Bench found that scheme to be amounting to “nationalisation” of education, a concept wholly antithetical to the fundamental right of PUIs.

Some of the principles enunciated in TMA Pai are:

a) “There, necessarily, has to be a difference in PUIs and GAIs. Whereas in the latter case, the government will have greater say in the administration, including admissions and fixing of fees, in the case of PUIs, maximum autonomy has to be with the PUIs. Bureaucratic or governmental interference in … such an institution will undermine its independence.

b) One cannot lose sight of the fact that providing good amenities to the students in the form of competent teaching faculty and other infrastructure costs money. We live in a competitive world today ,Economic forces have a role to play. The decision on the fee must necessarily be left to the PUIs.

c) In PUI’s autonomy and non-regulation will ensure that more such institutions are established.

d) Appropriate machinery can ensure that no capitation fee is charged and that there is no profiteering. All over the world those who seek professional education must pay for it.”

The socio-economic philosophy in TMA Pai:

The socio-economic philosophy in TMA Pai has been re-iterated by SC in several laterudgments. But the NEP finds that there is “asymmetry” between PUIs and GAIs, unabashedly obliterates the distinction and brings them on par under the same regulatory “light but tight” regime for both schools and the higher education institutions, hitting them hardest in the fixation of fees.

While the NEP proceeded on a suspicion against PUIs, the policy-makers had no representation from PUIs. The NEP provides for not just a bare regulator to weed out capitation fee and profiteering in PUIs, but under the euphemistic slogan “light but tight” regulation, unleashes a stifling regime. It enables all “stake-holders” to complain although the only person who has real stakes in a PUI is its founder-promoter. All others are bystanders and beneficiaries with nothing to lose. Invariably, they can serve as pawns in the hands of vested interests, including rival institutions, and the ruling and political class always willing to exploit and stoke the constituency of fee-paying parents under the guise of students’ welfare.

Conclusion regarding NEP and PUIs:

PUI to keep the promise of excellence only if allowed to breathe easily:

Ultimately, a PUI will be able to keep its promise of excellence only if it is permitted to breathe easy. But the NEP not only encourages but virtually instigates complaints by the so-called “stakeholders” for adjudication by a government-appointed regulator. It does not even ensure minimum safeguards in the form of an independent, legally trained and judicially qualified tribunal acting as the adjudicator. Such a policy is sure to sound the death-knell of autonomy in the internal and financial matters of PUIs.

PUIs can’t focus on improvement of standards under NEP:

As far as GAIs are concerned, they barely involve any friction between the government and citizens’ rights. But the PUIs will hardly be able to focus on the improvement of standards under the NEP. They will have to spend time, resources, manpower, and funds in making constant and unrelenting public disclosures and running all the time to the regulator-cum-adjudicator for defending themselves against reckless complaints.

The new “licence raj” will defeat citizens’ rights and result in high-handedness, harassment and corruption. The authors of NEP have almost deliberately ignored the contradiction between the two principles of autonomy and regulation.



About Simran Prithiani

BAF graduate with one feet in finance and another in journalism, I wish to explore the various possibilities of my career and capabilities. My curiosity in current affairs and ability to express loudly makes me passionate about writing for what I stand. In the long run I wish to excel as an artist of both my crafts embarking on a journey to become a finance and news journalist.

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