Education is a continuous process which aims to prepare a person to play his role as an enlightened member of the society. In other words, it means all round development of personality of a person. The system of education introduced by the British Government in India was not suitable to needs of free, independent and developing India. Since our independence, India is trying to restructure its education policy to suit the needs of technological and industrial developments. Several Commissions under the chairmanship of well known educationists have been setup in the past. The last commission on Education was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. D.S. Kothari in 1964. On the basis of its recommendation National Policy on Education was last declared in 1968. Since the adoption of 1968 policy, there has been considerable expansion of education in the country at all levels. Many of the formulation of 1968 policy, however, could not be implemented mainly due to lack of financial and administrative support. The political and socio-economic changes since then and growth of population made the government to think and announce a new education policy. In January 1985, immediately after the new government of Rajiv Gandhi came to power, it was announced that the Government would publish a document on education which would form the base for new education policy for the country. Accordingly “Challenge of Education—a policy perspective” was published by the Ministry of Education in August, 1985. After studying the views and suggestions received form various quarters, a new education policy was formulated in 1986 and it is known as ‘National Policy on Education’.
The concept of a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level all students, irrespective of caste, creed, sex have access to education of a comparable quality. The common educational structure of 10+2+3 has been accepted. The system will be based on a national circular framework, which contains a common core along with other component that are flexible. Common core shall be designed to promote democracy, socialism, equality of sexes, protection of environment, removal of social barriers, observance for small fairly norms and international co-operation and peaceful coexistence. Minimum levels of learning will be laid down for each stage of education. In the case of higher and technical education steps will be taken to facilitate interregional mobility by providing equal access to every Indian of requisite merit regardless of his place of birth.
The new policy will lay special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize educational opportunity by attending to the specific needs, of those who have been denied equality so far. In order to neutralize the accumulated distortion of the past, there will be a well-conceived edge in favor of women education which will be used as an agent of basic change in their status. Special measures are contemplated for education of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and the handicapped. Voluntary efforts for the education of the disabled will be encouraged. A vast programme of adult and continuing education is proposed to be implemented.
The new thrust in elementary education will emphasize two aspects : (i) universal enrollment and universal retention of children upto 14 years of age and (ii) a substantial improvement in the quality of education, provision will be made for essential facilities in primary schools. A large and systematic programme of non-formal education will be launched for school drop-outs, for children from villages and localities without schools, working boys and girls who cannot attend whole-day schools.
Secondary education begins to expose students to the differentiated role of science, humanities and social sciences. Conscious raising and a bent of healthy mind and imbibing human and cultural values will be brought about through appropriately formulated curricula. The children with special talent or aptitude will be provided opportunities to proceed at a faster pace. Pace-setting schools (called Navodya Vidhyalayas distinct from the Kandriya Vidhyalayas) will be established in various parts of the country on a given pattern with full scope for innovation and experimentation. These school are to become ‘catalysts of a nationwide programme of school improvement.
Vocational education will be a distinct stream. It would prepare students for identified occupations covering several areas of activity. These courses would normally be provided after the secondary stage, but keeping the scheme flexible, they may be made available after class VII also. It is proposed that vocational courses cover 10% of higher secondary students by 1990 and 25% by 1995.
In regard to higher education, stress has been laid on improvement of existing universities and institutions. According to Policy paper the main emphasis will be on the consolidation and expansion of facilities in these institutions. The courses and programmes are proposed to be redesigned to meet the demands of specialization. Open university system will be further extended. Degrees are to be de-linked from jobs in selected areas.
Under the new policy system of planning and management of education is proposed to be overhauled on a high priority basis. For these purpose long term planning and management perspective of education is to be evolved. Educational institutions to be given autonomy and non-governmental agencies and voluntary effort is to be associated. Principle of accountability in relation to given objectives and norms shall be established. At the national level Cultural Advisory Board of Education will play a pivotal role in reviewing educational development. It is also proposed to establish an All India Education Service.
The implementation of New Education Policy will require huge sums of money. It is proposed that resources will be raised through donations, asking the beneficiary communities to maintain school building, supplies of some consumables, raising fees at the higher level of education and effecting some savings by the efficient use of facilities. Actual requirements will be worked out from time-to-time by close monitoring and review.
The proposed education policy and its implementation is to be reviewed every five years. Appraisals at short intervals are also required to be made to ascertain the progress of implementation and the trends emerging from time-to-time. The main task is to strengthen the base of the pyramid, which might touch a bill ion people at the turn of the century. Equally, it is important to ensure that those at the top of the pyramid are among the best in the world. The present policy is intended to intensify the nation wide effort in Human Resource Development.