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National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Languages, Culture and Values (3 August 2020)

National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 Languages, Culture and Values (3 August 2020)

Why in News:

The Union Cabinet recently approved the new National Education Policy 2020 to bring “large-scale transformational reforms” in both school and higher education.


The new education policy for the country comes after almost 34 years. It stipulates for a complete overhaul of the existing education system. Among the key highlights of NEP 2020 is the decision to make home language, mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction up to class 5. Experts believe this may create a long-term impact in nation-building. Imparting school education in mother tongue or regional language may bring a drastic changes in the ongoing process of human resource development. Analysts believe regional languages help inculcate human values and emotions and learning mother tongue will also help future generations forge a relation with their own social and cultural fabric.


  • Part IV of the Indian Constitution, Article 45 and Article 39 (f) of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), has a provision for state-funded as well as equitable and accessible education.
  • The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976 moved education from the State to the Concurrent List.
  • The education policy by the Central government provides a broad direction and state governments are expected to follow it. But it is not mandatory, for instance, Tamil Nadu does not follow the three-language formula prescribed by the first education policy in 1968.
  • The 86th Amendment in 2002 made education an enforceable right under Article 21-A.
  • Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009 aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years and enforces education as a Fundamental Right.
  • It also mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups.
  • The NEP cleared by the Cabinet is only the third major revamp of the framework of education in India since independence.
  • The two earlier education policies were brought in 1968 and 1986.

Summary of the Debate

Importance of Vernacular languages in primary education:

  • It highly focused on teaching the mother tongue.
  • The native language is associated with the subjective assessment of the individual with respect to the language he knows.
  • Proficiency in the language is important for further learning, as it is believed that the mother tongue is the basis of thought.
  • Comprehensive skills in the native language often impair learning of second language.

          pib] Highlights of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 ...

          pib] Highlights of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 ...


  • Total investment on research& innovation in India declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.6% in 2018.
  • There are currently only 15 researchers in India per 100,000 of the population, compared with 111 in China.
  • It is only a policy, not a law; implementation of its proposals depends on further regulations by both States and the Centre as education is a concurrent subject.
  • This policy has not been discussed in parliament.
  • The problem which country faced earlier was that who defines what this mother tongue is, the absence of quality textbooks and reading material. 

Way Forward:

  • Empowerment of the teachers, the right curriculum, mixing it together to produce the next generation of children, who are in turn, is going to empower the subsequent generations.
  • State governments would have to be brought on board for the actual implementation of this decision.
  • We should learn two native Indian languages so that third could be English and any two other native Indian languages rather than taking a foreign language.
  • Unless and until you integrate the modern science with ancient wisdom you will really not be getting a good perspective of what is really required for the child, what indeed is the capacity of the child and what you need to inculcate into the child at that point of time.

Three-language formula

  • The three-language formula for language learning was formulated in 1968 by the Ministry of Education of the Government of India in consultation with the states.
  • The formula as enunciated in the 1968 National Policy Resolution which provided for the study of "Hindi, English and modern Indian language (preferably one of the southern languages) in the Hindi speaking states and Hindi, English and the regional language in the non-Hindi speaking States".
  • The formula was formulated in response to demands from non-Hindi speaking states of the South, such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and mainly Tamil Nadu.
  • Currently, the three language system is not followed in Tamil Nadu due to efforts of former Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai.

Important points made by the Guests

Dr. Shakila Shamsu, Former OSD, National Education Policy 

  • Multilingualism and using the power of language for integration and for strengthening understanding of Indian culture and values is the running foundation of this policy.
  • The language policy has been outlined to the best extent by the Kothari commission report which got reflected in the 1968 policy, the 1986 policy which merely endorsed those recommendations.
  • The three-language formula has never been implemented in this country, it has only been there.
  • The critical recommendation of both the 1968 and 1986 policy which has only been implemented by a part of this country and a large part of this country has not implemented a three-language formula.

Shivakumar Belavadi, Founder, Omnio Future Academy

  • Children are indeed capable of learning multiple languages. There is indeed a built-in capacity with children to pick up more and more languages.
  • Much of the learning capacity is built up only in the early period.
  • The World Bank, WHO, UNICEF all of them talking about the nurturing care framework and early childhood care which is up to the age of 8.
  • The public document of WHO very clearly emphasizes that if you tap into the potential and build potential at this time, this is the one which is going to give a holistic capability to an individual across all spectrums i.e. the physical the emotional, intellectual the sensorial all perspectives in which education is required and all those capacities are developed in a child through the course of early learning, early potential building exercises if undertaken.
  • One of the notable scientist and Nobel laureate ‘James Heckman’ producing a number said that “if you invest one dollar in the pre-school age that is before the age of 4-5, you get a return of up to 13 dollars, if you invest in the school-going age that is up to the age of 15-16, you get a return of one to four dollar and if you invest above 18 you get a return of less than one dollar”.
  • So, where the state policy should really be funding, the earlier you invest the greater is the potential building greater is the capacity building.
  • The focus of trying to build capacity is in the NEP-2020 by trying to aware the parents what they need to teach the child before going to school or at the pre-school stage, trying to build a centralized framework wherein teachers would also get what kind of education they need to be giving children is going to happen.

Vikram Sampath, Historian & Author

  • In the people’s survey of linguistic Indians done in 2017 showed that almost 10 percent of the world’s 4000 languages which face an extinction threat in the next 50 years are being spoken in India and the 780 languages that were surveyed across 27 states of which 400 were most likely to go extinct.
  • There was also some positive news of that survey which said that several languages which are quite unknown like Gondi in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Mizo in Mizoram, Garo and Khasi in Meghalaya, all these languages dialects actually showing an upward trend in terms of the growth in last few years and the main reason for this was that educated people in these languages were starting to write plays, poems, novels and stories in those languages.
  • Our education has always stressed on only one of the 3 pillars, which is the IQ (Intellectual quotient), the EQ (Emotional quotient) and SQ (spiritual quotient) especially in a country like ours which has been the cradle for a spirituality of the world, these are very important but absent components of our education system.


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