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Here's how India is overhauling its education sector

Source: Getty Images/triloks

The Narendra Modi government has approved a plan to overhaul India’s education sector - right from pre-school to higher education.

India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 promises to transform the current rigid, marks-based system into making, both school and college education more ‘holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary’.


  • India launched a new National Education Policy on July 29, 2020
  • School structure to change from 10+2 to 5+3+3+4 system
  • Special emphasis on teaching Indian languages

This means there will not be any rigid separation between Arts and Science, instead, students will be able to choose from a range of multidisciplinary subjects in school and university.

The current 10+2 structure of the school system will change to a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure. 

The 12-year schooling period will be split into four parts with ages 3-8 forming the foundational stage, ages 8-11 forming pre-primary, ages 11-14 forming a preparatory stage and ages 14-18 forming the secondary stage.

The Indian government said wherever possible the medium of instruction till Class 5 will be in regional languages and vocational education like coding, learning local crafts and skills with internships will be introduced for students from Class 6.

The highly-competitive board exams will transform into low stakes exams with several kinds of assessments through the years. The report card will have a 360-degree holistic progress report of the child instead of just an academic report. 

“Board examination will be low stakes, based on knowledge application,” the Department of Education officials said in a virtual press meet while announcing the new policy.

“Medium of instruction till at least Grade 5, and preferably till Grade 8 and beyond will be in mother tongue or regional language,” they added.

Under the NEP 2020, Sanskrit will be offered at all levels and foreign languages will be offered at the secondary school level for school students. 

Chemistry class laboratory in Rajas College who is a college of the University of Delhi located in North Campus of the university in New Delhi, India.
Chemistry class laboratory in Rajas College who is a college of the University of Delhi located in North Campus of the university in New Delhi, India.
Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

For University students, the Indian educational system will now offer multiple entry and exit options in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs with appropriate certification. 

“A multi-disciplinary bachelor's degree will be awarded after completing four years of study. Students exiting after two years will get a diploma and those leaving after 12 months will have studied a vocational/professional course. MPhil (Master of Philosophy) courses are to be discontinued,” Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare told reporters.

It will also allow more flexible learning with students being able to pursue multidisciplinary education.

There will be no rigid separation between the Arts & Sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, under the NEP 2020.

India will also introduce Credit Transfer and Academic Bank of Credits for those pursuing Higher Education.

“An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different HEIs [higher educational institutes] so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned,” said Mr Khare.

One of the major decisions under these reforms is the Modi government has renamed the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) as the Ministry of Education.

The Indian Prime Minister on Wednesday said the new policy was aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“I wholeheartedly welcome the approval of the National Education Policy 2020! This was a long due and much-awaited reform in the education sector, which will transform millions of lives in the times to come!” Mr Modi tweeted.

India to allow top-ranked world universities to set up a campus

Under the new NEP 2020, India has set itself an ambitious target of 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in the pre-school to secondary level by 2030 and 50% GER in Higher Education by 2035.

To achieve this, India has approved a plan to allow foreign universities to open campuses in the country.

According to Reuters, the government will allow “entry of top world-ranked universities to open campuses in our country”, a government statement said after a cabinet meeting chaired by Modi.

The decision offers a ‘timely opportunity for Australian universities’ according to Shaun Star, Director at the Centre for India Australia Studies at O.P. Jindal Global University, in India.

“It is clear that in order to educate millions of young Indians, the Indian Government is looking at leading foreign universities to supplement and improve the education infrastructure throughout the country.

“While many Australian universities already have existing partnerships in India, the NEP promotes stronger institutional collaborations, including student and faculty mobility.

“These ambitious education targets present a timely opportunity for Australian universities to build stronger collaborations with Indian institutions to help bridge this gap between supply and demand in the education sector,” Mr Star told SBS Hindi.

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