National Education Policy 2020 and Role of NGO’s/CSO’s – Amod Kanth


India’s new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, after a gap of 34 years, following
prolonged consultations at all levels promise revolutionary changes and integration of
the broadly-defined education with the national ethos and development. The Policy
envisages broad-based, multidisciplinary, and holistic pre-school and school education
with a clear focus on character and nation-building, while, at the same time to prepare
them for futuristic gainful employment, being both visionary and ambitious.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modiji in his address to the nation on 74th
Independence Day told that to attain the goal of self-reliance (Aatma Nirbhar Bharat)
there is a strong need for integration rather than working in silos. He also expressed
his faith that NEP-2020 is aimed to build a strong foundation for the knowledge-based
contemporary India to match up with the new emerging world and global standards.
The changes in the prevailing educational structure of 10+2+3+2, replacing it with the
5+3+3+4 and multiple entries and exit options, skill mapping, vocational education,
access, equity, quality, multi-disciplinary education, a blending of local with global,
inclusive and interactive learning, developing critical thinking, reduced curriculum,
emphasis on discovery, discussion, focus on research and innovation, graded
autonomy to colleges, single regulating agency, and use of the mother tongue in the
foundational areas are all very innovative moves. The need was strongly felt to
achieve universal access to quality education, scientific advancement, social justice
and equality, national integration and cultural preservation and also to match the
agenda reflected in the Goal-4 of SDGs of 2030, “ensure inclusive and equitable
quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, to create
a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of the 21st century.
The Draft National Education Policy of 2019 estimated nearly 6.2 crore children of
school-age (6-18 years) being out of school in 2015. Many of these children happen to
be 10.1 million child workers and 35 million Children in Need of Care and Protection
(CNCP), as defined under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act
2015. The same children, presumably, are defined under NEP-2020 as the
children is defined as the children in ‘Socio-Economic Disadvantaged Group (SEDG)’. Similar types of children are reported to be constituting 13 percent of the
workforce in India, as quoted by UNICEF on June 12, 2019 (World Day Against Child
Labour). The Government has a huge responsibility towards such a large number of the
children in accessing their right to education (6-14 years) as their fundamental right,
inserted by Article 21-A, under the RTE Act, 2009.
In India, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children were facing extreme
poverty and social injustice. Children in India’s informal urban spaces, particularly
those on streets are exposed to hazardous environmental conditions of dilapidated
housing, poor sanitation, vector, and water-borne disease. The children of the sex
workers, tribal children living in the remotest part of the country, severely disabled
children, children living in refugee camps experiencing displacement, exploitation,
abuse and trafficking, children living in the conflict-affected areas forced to spend their
childhood in crisis, are all outside the purview of our education radar.
The NEP refers to the 75th round household survey NSSO of (2017-18), estimating,
3.22 crore children in the age group of 6-17 years being out of school. The situation of
these children and millions of others further exacerbates with lockdown, due to
the unprecedented crisis created by the pandemic COVID-19. The exodus of migrant
workers from metropolises have severally affected the well being of their children who
took arduous road trips, suffered extreme exhaustion and scarcity of food, water and
medical aid, together with increased exposure to virus reaching their homes in villages
and remote places are out of school today.
From the first Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in 2005 to the ASER Report
2019, data provides estimates that overall school enrollment levels have improved, as
nearly 90 percent of children in the 4-8 age groups are enrolled in some type of
educational institution. However, the biggest challenge before us is to ensure that such
efforts made by the government along with a large number of the voluntary
organizations must not be eroded due to economic hardships in the family created
during COVID-19. These children can be access to a school with the help of voluntary
organizations (estimated 31 lakh) through alternative, innovative, and Bride Education programs in order to achieve a 100 percent gross enrolment ratio in pre-school to
secondary level by 2030.
The policy has given utmost thrust on implementation of Vocational Education along
with the foundational education as an integral part, starting from class sixth
standards itself aimed to provide exposure to at least 50 percent of students. This aspect
is going to bridge the huge skill gaps in various sectors of the economy where less than 6
per cent of the workforce is reported to be skilled.
This is in alignment with the SDG’s Goal 4.4 (Proportion of youth and adults with
information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill).
As compared to other developed and developing countries, India has a unique window
of opportunity for another 20-25 years called the ‘demographic advantage’ (361
million young people). If India is able to skill its people with the requisite life skills, job
skills or entrepreneurial skills in the years to come to the demographic advantage can be
converted into the dividend wherein those entering the labour market or already there,
may contribute productively to economic growth, both within and outside the country.
To realize the vision, at least 50 percent of learners through the school and higher
education system shall have exposure to vocational education, for which a clear action
plan with targets and timelines has to be developed. The Skill Development Planners
have to realize how the vulnerabilities that one is born into manifest in school
enrollment; learning and youth labour market outcomes can be addressed coupled
with the current trends in labour market demand and youth aspiration. The efforts
should be made in identifying the gaps in the existing paradigm that must be
addressed to build economic trajectories for youth, especially for those who are the
most vulnerable.
To address the gaps in the community participation and dearth of vocational education
in schools within the skilling ecosystem of the country, especially the vocational
training meant for the marginalized and vulnerable youth, the services of the NGO’s like, Jan Shikshan Sansthan, functioning under the Ministry of Skill Development and
Entrepreneurship, (MSDE), GoI should be taken. The Jan Shikshan Sansthan, (JSS)
in existence since 1967, as ‘Shramik Vidyapeeth’, as polyvalent or multi-faceted
the adult education program in India is acting as a catalyst to strengthen the socially
disadvantaged groups, namely, neo-literates, semi-literates, and illiterates, migrant
workers, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, slum dwellers, etc. Today, 247
JSSs in total, including 43 JSSs established across 42 Aspirational Districts are
playing a significant role in bridging the existing gaps and fulfilling the aspirations of
the marginalized youth. The role of CSOs in strengthening vocational education
program over the years should be integrated into the existing skilling eco-system on
the identification and mapping of the local opportunities and the types of training
needed to provide requisite skilled manpower.
The NGO’s role in the implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), now
‘Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan’, a comprehensive and integrated flagship program of
The government of India is aimed to universalize elementary education obviously
including the out of school children. It needs to be done by filling the gaps through the
bridge and educational programs provided by the voluntary organizations and by
improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling
and equitable learning outcomes for all the children, including the children with
special needs.
To match the overarching goal of universal participation of NEP-2020, the services of
the credible NGO’s /CSO’s should be aligned with the line departments to ensure the
tracking of the students coupled with their learning levels, in order to create suitable
opportunities to re-enter school, in case they have fallen behind or dropped out. It may
be done by providing equitable and quality education from the foundation stage to
Grade 12 to all the children up to the age of 18years, by facilitating the suitable system
associating the voluntary organization in place.
The NGO’s/CSO’s can be roped in tribal-dominated and other unreached areas and
also to develop alternative schooling in a phased manner. In the longer term, State Governments along with the NGOs/CSO’s shall prepare cadres of professionally
qualified educators for early childhood care and education, through stage-specific
professional training, mentoring mechanisms, and career mapping. Trained and
Qualified Social Workers from the Civil Society Organizations/Departments of Social
Justice and Empowerment and also along with the other government departments
dealing with the empowerment of Persons with Disabilities at the State/District level,
could be connected to schools through various innovative mechanisms adopted by the
NGO’s are working in the spectrum of education through various strategies, such as,
enrolment drives, community sensitization to identify out of school children with
special emphasis on the children with disabilities, (CWSN) and advocating the
imperatives of educating these children. The need is, therefore, felt to associate
NGOs/CSOs associated with the education including the inclusive education in
planning and implementation, to achieve the desired targets.
More concerted efforts should be designed by involving the government as well as the
non-governmental organizations to encourage local variations on account of culture,
geography and demographics. The participation of the NGO’s/CSO’s could be able to
enhanced learning of the children enrolled at the centers through one to one tutoring,
the teaching of literacy and holding of extra help sessions, teaching support and
guidance for educators, career guidance, and mentoring of the students.
The National Literacy Mission, established in 1988 was largely based on the voluntary
organizations and support of the people during the period of 1991-2011. For Adult
Education to be effectively implemented, the space for genuine long-term partnerships
between government and civil society organizations, based on the appreciation of their
respective strengths and mutual respect, must be evolved. The strong and innovative
government initiatives for adult education-in particular, to facilitate community
involvement along with the smooth and beneficial integration of technology, to achieve
the 100 percent literacy. Critical to ensuring this would be to legitimize and institutionalize the different roles of
NGOs within the institutional and other mechanisms. The adult education system
envisages the flexibility in the implementation of programs by NGOs. Civil society
organizations and NGO’s can also be associated in capacity building of Gram
Panchayats, with funds from the adult education department or the Panchayats. The
institutional framework and mechanism may be developed along with credible
NGO’s/CSO’s at State, District, Block and Gram Panchayat/Village levels and it must
be envisioned and ensured as part of the mandate upon the Central Government.
The NITI Aayog has constituted sub-groups within the ‘NITI CSO’s Standing
Committee’ on different thematic areas, aimed to identify a framework and best practices
from across the sectors/countries to regulate the voluntary sector in a sector-led
manner. It has integrated the various departments, namely, the Ministry of Human
Resource & Development, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Social
Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Tribal Affairs,
NCERT, CBSE, UGC, AICTE, NAAC, CSIR by casting the responsibilities of
coordinating with the service delivery organizations in the space of the education to
Azim Premji Foundation and to Prayas JAC Society on Child Rights and Child
Protection along with the International Organizations like UNESCO and UNICEF.
Prayas JAC Society, a national level, non-profit, humanitarian organization working
since 1988 into the lives of the marginalized, vulnerable, destitute, deprived, trafficked,
run-away, street children, missing and lost & found children, aimed towards their
transformation through education and social & economic empowerment programs was
one of the staunch implementation partner of the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’. Prayas’
efforts in reaching out to the unreachable children living in the most difficult
circumstances and enabling them to get enrolled into formal schooling coupled with
vocational training, aimed in strengthening their arms towards social and economic
empowerment. Hundreds of thousands of such marginalized and vulnerable children
have undergone the process of change, as adopted under the Juvenile Justice (Care &
Protection of Children) Act, 1986/2000/2006 and 2015 along with the mandate of
SSA, aimed towards education for all, as their fundamental right. Prayas JAC Society with its strong presence in 10 States/UT’s, namely, Delhi, Bihar,
Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan,
Jharkhand and Jammu &Kashmir with more than 700 professionals, has successfully
implemented various educations programs, aimed to achieve the objectives of the
universal elementary education and through convergence. It has partnered with the
various state governments by setting up various Literacy and Vocational Centers and
through its own ‘Jan Shikshan Sansthan’ functioning at Samastipur (Bihar) and
Jahangirpuri (Delhi) has trained and empowered more than 2 lakh marginalized
youth by imparting education and skills aimed towards socio-economic
To address the unprecedented crisis and also to achieve the vision of the ‘National
Education Policy-2020’, the services of 96,000 NGO’s registered on DARPAN Portal of
NITI Aayog should be immediately taken from the stages of intensive inclusion of the
‘Out of School Children’ through mapping exercise of such children along with their
families, particularly, those into the vortex of migration/reverse migration. Further,
NGO’s/CSO’s can be engaged in enhancing the capacity building of ‘Aanganwadi
Workers could be also engaged through the Volunteers and Field level functionaries.
The NGO’s/CSO’s build mechanism for adoption of the good practices along with its
sustainability to achieve the aim of 100 percent of GER by 2030 and 50 percent youth
to undergo the process of vocational training in the country by 2025.

Amod Kanth
Joint Coordinator-Standing Committee of NITI Aayog and CSOs