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Independence Day 2019: Educational reforms in post-independent India

August 15, 2019

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

Since independence, India’s literacy rate has indisputably improved and equality and inclusivity in education have been achieved to someone extent. The number of educational institutions has tripled and infrastructure and teaching quality have both seen a marked improvement. But there is still room for improvement. 

According to a report published by the UNESCO in 2015, the adult literacy rate in the country is 72.1 percent while it is 86.1 percent for the youth (aged 14-24 years). As we celebrate Independence Day 2019 on August 15, let’s look back at all the major changes witnessed by India’s education sector in the post-independence era.

National Education Commission (1964-1966): Popularly known as Kothari Commission, the National Education Commission focused on creating a general pattern of education and advised guidelines and policies for the development of education. Incepted on July 24, 1964 under the chairmanship of Daulat Singh Kothari, the then chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), it helped formulate the general principles for the development of education from primary to the higher education. It laid special emphasis on teaching and research in the field of agriculture and allied sciences.

Indira Gandhi

National Policy on Education (1968): Based on the report of the Kothari Commission (1964–1966), the then prime minister Indira Gandhi announced the first National Policy on Education in 1968. The policy aimed at restructuring and equalising educational opportunities in order to achieve greater economic development. It called for fulfilling compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14. Emphasis was also put on the learning of regional languages.

National Policy on Education (1986): Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi introduced the National Policy on Education in May 1986 which placed special emphasis on equal educational opportunities especially for women and reserved communities. From expanding scholarships to recruiting more teachers from the reserved categories and incentives for poor families to send their children to school regularly, the 1986 NPE helped improve primary education nationwide. It also extended the open university system with the inauguration of Indira Gandhi National Open University in 1985.

National Policy on Education (1992): P.V. Narasimha Rao modified the NPE in 1992 with special emphasis being placed on higher education. A proposal for 20 new universities was set forward while modernisation of curriculums and research allowance for M.Phil and Ph.D. students got a fillip. 

Programme of Action (2005): Former prime minister Manmohan Singh adopted a new policy, Programme of Action (PoA) in 2005, which envisaged the conduct of a common entrance examination across India, which would act as the basis for admission to professional and technical programmes across the country.

National Curriculum Framework (2005): The National Curriculum Framework published in 2005 by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India recommended major changes in the syllabus and teaching practices within the school education programmes in India. It also focused on  making learning joyful and less stressful for children.

Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: The historic Act seeks to make education a fundamental right for every child between the ages of 6 and 14 years. It requires all private schools to reserve 25 percent seats for the reserved category children. It further makes provision for no capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent at the time of admission.

Smriti Irani

New Education Policy 2016: Released by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, this policy sought to change India’s education landscape to a great extent. The 43-page document focused on addressing gender discrimination, creating a common curriculum for science, mathematics, and English, revision of no-detention policy for classes 5 to 8 and mandatory yoga classes in CISCE affiliated schools. It also allows students to pursue two regular degrees and promotes Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

RTE (Second Amendment) Bill (2018): The Lok Sabha passed the RTE (Second Amendment) Bill seeking to abolish the no-detention policy in schools put forth by the Right to Education Act, 2009. According to the RTE Act 2009, no student can be detained up to class 8. As per the amendment, it would be left to the states to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy.

Recommended: National Policy on Education 2016 hopes

Kasturirangan Committee

Draft National Education Policy 2019: The NEP draft was submitted by the nine-member committee chaired by eminent space scientist K. Kasturirangan, former chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). Submitted on December 15 last year, it was released for public debate on May 30. It recommended greater autonomy for higher education institutions, and an increase in the national annual outlay for education to 6 percent of GDP “without further delay”. 

You can know more about the policy here: Draft National Education Policy 2019: More Government More governance

The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019: Introduced in the Lok Sabha by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, minister of  Human Resource Development on June 27, 2019, the Bill replaces a law that was promulgated on March 7, 2019. It provides for reservation of teaching positions in central educational institutions for persons belonging to SC/ST, OBC and EWS.

Recommended: Education Agenda for New Government 2019

The Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019: Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ introduced the Bill in Lok Sabha on July 8 this year. The Bill seeks to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, which establishes universities for teaching and research in various states. The amendment seeks to establish a central university and a tribal university in Andhra Pradesh.

Sukanya Nandy

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