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  • Priyank Sharma

How is a policy made? Example of National Education Policy 2020

How are policies made?

Are they top down? Bottom up?

Most of you would have read or at least know about the 60 pages National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. We have been citing NEP 2020 in various forums. But what exactly went behind in coming up with 60 pages of policy for the entire country? In this post, we will specifically discuss about NEP 2020.

If you have read NEP 2020, you would find that it discusses major changes in the education system. NEP is often critiqued that it's an elite top down policy and while the vision may be great on paper, it doesn't reflect the ground realities. And at the implementation level, it will be a chaos. Let's go in depth of this!

A committee was constituted in Oct 2015 called TSR committee to come up with recommendations for NEP. The committee took inputs from stakeholders across the country - the committee did expansive field work and discussions in order to understand what should be part of the upcoming policy.

(This committee was hosted at NIEPA - as NIEPA is the only education policy and planning focused institution in the country directly funded by Ministry of Education)

Now, the committee submitted its report to the ministry in May 2016. If you really want to understand the backdrop of NEP, I suggest you read this report.

Next, Kasturirangan committee was formed and it came up with the Draft National Education Policy in 2019. The draft was placed in public forum for review. There were multiple debates and deliberations and inputs from various stakeholders across the country.

Finally, we had the National Education Policy in July 2020.

3 major points here:

1. As pointed earlier, there has been a lot of debate on how top down "elite" policies like NEP aren't aware of the ground realities. However, policies don't come out of thin air. NEP formation was more of a bottom-top-down, where they first took inputs from the ground and then built on the policy.

2. A policy document is required to know where we head and what transformations we need to make in order to provide accessible, affordable and quality education for all. Having said that, the question still remains. One may argue, why NEP is big on words and discuss huge transformational ideas when it came from the bottom?

3. As a critical policy person, that's precisely would be your job. Why would a policy that began with ground reality, wouldn't reflect it? You will get your answer if you keep all the three documents: TSR Committee report 2016, Draft NEP 2019 and NEP 2020 side by side. Figure out, how a policy changes shape from the first report to the point it's actually established!

More questions to ponder:

Is policy a legal document? No? Education is in concurrent list, right? That means, the states can choose to ignore a National policy. Then, why should we have a NEP? And moreover, why would a state adhere to a national policy?

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