Editorial✍ Financial Express Prelims cum Mains

Why education policy needs a revisit

Importance of education:

  • Education is important for economic development as it leads to optimal utility of available labour and capital by the entrepreneurs.
  • Therefore, all types of education is important that skills the labour, encourages entrepreneurship, enhances productive efficiency, and ensures availability of healthy labour force.


Education goes back a long way:

  • The need for education and learning is as old as mankind.
  • In the western world, academic institutions trace origin to Plato, placing emphasis on curriculum and training at a fixed location.
  • The tradition of gurukulas dates back to a few thousand years in India.
  • Historically, Nalanda was the first university in the world, though Taxila dates earlier but is not considered a university by many.
  • The modern university education system in India dates back to 1857 with Bombay, Madras and Calcutta being the pioneers.

Policy on education:

  • In India, the tradition of having a policy on education has been pursued since Independence.
  • The National Policy on Education was announced in 1968, 1986 and 1992.
  • A number of commissions were set up, like the University Education Commission (1948), Kothari Commission (1964), National Knowledge Commission (2007) and Yashpal Committee (2009).


  • The All India Council for Technical Education was set up in 1945, followed by the University Grants Commission in 1956.
  • Since then, numerous councils of various subjects have been established.

Vast education infrastructure in India:

  • The number of universities has increased from 20 in 1947 to 753 in 2016, and colleges from 500 to 41,435 over the period.
  • There are 51 school boards operational in India—CBSE (1952), ICSE (1956), IB (1968) and 48 state Boards with nearly 15 lakh schools ranging from primary to senior secondary.
  • Thus, the educational infrastructure in the country is extensive, though many argue inadequate.


Issues in Indian education:

  • Quality: India has made tremendous progress in education through network of schools, colleges, professional institutes and universities, but, unfortunately, has not been able to globally penetrate top rankings.
  • Literacy levels: Even domestic literacy levels, measured liberally, are less than 80% in most states.
  • Innovation: India has neither distinguished itself in the number of patents, innovations or domestically-produced internationally-accepted products.

Highlights the policy failure:

  • Unemployable engineers, inadequate health workers and doctorate students applying for government jobs as peons does not reflect that India has pursued a well-crafted education policy so far.



Objective of education:

  • The objective of education is different for different stakeholders:
    • The government: The government pursues it for nation-building, and creating a knowledge society.
    • Private sector: In the private sector, the objective of providing schooling and university education is mainly profit-making.
    • Parents and Students: The students and their parents pursue education for employability and higher income.
    • Society: Education can lead to an equitable society and helps individuals evade social evils.
  • In a globalising economy, objectives of education have also to take into consideration global competitiveness of labour, skills and production technology.
    • In the current scenario, with extensive penetration of internet, the pattern of education needs to change further.


Commission to draft new education policy for India:

  • The central government has constituted Kasturirangan Commission (2017) to draft a new education policy for India.


What should government have in mind in making education policy:

  • The government has to decide what should be the key objectives of education.
    • The primary objective: The primary objective of education, broadly, could be preparing responsible citizens for a healthy society where individuals are able to achieve their goals.
    • The secondary objective: The secondary objective could be to create a knowledge society to position India among the top nations.
  • The identification and prioritisation of these objectives would determine the effective policy to be pursued by the government and converting available demography into a dividend, and not a disaster.

Case of Japan:

  • Early education to inculcate values and foundations:
    • In Japan, the first nine years of school education are compulsory and considered extremely important where the foundation is laid.
    • The emphasis during these nine years is on team-building, cultural values, music, fine arts, moral education, mathematics and languages, including a foreign language.
  • Academic rigour comes later:
    • The academic burden on the student is minimum.
    • It is only in college and specialised courses that a student is exposed to rigorous coursework.


Way forward – New education policy should account for real challenges:

  • Policy-makers need to think about the objectives and outcomes of education, because education is expensive for both individuals and the government, directly and indirectly.
  • Needs to account for diversity: The formulation of an effective education policy has to be granular, considering India is a diverse country with different cultures, languages and religions.
  • Take into account of various demands: In addition to the requirements of different strata of society—economic and social—an education policy has to balance the demands of domestic and international markets.
  • Create good citizens: Most importantly, education has to ensure culturally-tolerant, socially-responsible, environmentally-conscious, morally-astute and ethically-upright citizens for India.



GS Paper II: Social Issues

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