Extracts from the NITI Aayog’s Draft Three Year Action Agenda

“Work on the Vision & Strategy document and Action Agenda document has progressed in parallel. The latter, thus, forms an integral part of the former. However, the Action Agenda has been fast tracked recognizing its immediate policy relevance.”


“Unfortunately, this success in getting more children into schools with more teachers has not translated into more education.”

“These are not the only results, which suggest that a focus on inputs does not help improve education. The most rigorous and credible evidence available to-date shows that the lower pupil-teacher ratios, higher teacher salaries and more teacher training — by themselves have not been effective in improving student learning outcomes. The most critical missing pieces that evidence has shown to be effective are – pedagogy that focuses on teaching at the right level, outcome linked incentives, and governance that enables the system to operate smoothly.”

Orient the system towards outcomes

“Introduce an independent, state of the art sample based outcome measurement system. …. It also makes it impossible to introduce performance-linked incentives, which have been shown to be highly effective in improving learning outcomes.”

“Track and support state level improvement through a School Education Quality Index (SEQI).”

“Modify RTE requirements on inputs. The Right To Education (RTE) Act stresses on inputs, causing resources to be focused on things like building schools, hiring teachers, having playgrounds and libraries ….

Gujarat has already shown the way with its rules and regulations for the RTE Act. These rules assign the bulk of the weight to student performance when considering continued recognition of a school. But most states have followed the central government’s template and relied on input norms. To remedy this situation, all the requirements on inputs such as school buildings, playgrounds and pupil teacher ratios should be removed or relaxed to take the form of guidelines, and the focus should shift to outcomes instead. States should be encouraged to deploy resources as efficiently as possible to achieve outcomes. In particular, pedagogically unviable schools with very few students will then be more easily consolidated into larger schools.”

Provide tools to teachers and students for effective learning

“Focus on foundational learning. …. Mobilizing the services of local contract tutors who may not possess the qualifications of regular teachers but are nevertheless qualified to impart foundational skills is one possible way of bridging this gap.”

Improve existing governance mechanisms and experiment with new ones

“The hollowing of public schools makes it abundantly clear that the public school system has not achieved the desired outcomes in the country.”

“Outcomes are worse in government schools than in private schools, and those who can leave are voting with their feet.”

“In terms of regulation, states should regulate only based on outcomes and transparency requirements, not through regulating inputs like library, fees and playground. Both private and government schools should be regulated in the same way. “

“Explore the role for private players. A working group should be set up with states’ participation to explore and pilot other bolder experiments by interested states. These could include education vouchers and local government led purchasing of schooling services. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models could also be explored where the private sector adopts government schools while being publicly funded on a per child basis.”


In higher education, we face a similar challenge to school education.  …  We have made significant progress in increasing enrolment..”

“When we look to successful higher education systems across the world, we find that less regulation and more focus on autonomous governance, transparency and outcomes are critical components of a vibrant and successful higher education sector, and these should be the basis of our strategy.”


“The major actions to be completed over the next three years are:

  1. Designation of World Class Universities
  2. Autonomy for top colleges and universities
  3. Reform of the regulatory system — A tiered system of universities
  4. Establish system of project/ researcher specific research grants
  5. Increased focus on vocational and profession led education”

“Identify 20 universities (10 public and 10 private) that can be immediately moved out from the regulatory system. …”

Autonomy for top colleges. This will allow the colleges to develop their brand name and compete more effectively for good students and teachers.”

Reform of the regulatory system – A tiered system of universities. The UGC’s position as an overarching regulator of every aspect of higher education from student fees to curriculum to teaching and course hours keeps India’s higher education system from responding to the changes and challenges that it faces in a fast evolving world.”

But even within the existing legal framework, it is possible to make progress. We should introduce a tiered system whereby the top research-focused universities, which promise to compete globally, are given full autonomy and promised additional resources based on significant improvements over time. … As mentioned in the Science and Technology chapter as well, the universities must also be given autonomy to attract research staff from abroad or local research bodies to create a critical mass of research faculty in specific areas. They must also be encouraged to compete for research projects from industry.”

“A second tier of universities with employment-focused education can be subject to light regulation. These universities would be expected to use the flexibility given to them to adjust admission policies, curriculum and courses to respond to shifts in job composition in the marketplace. They will also be evaluated according to their success in job placements of their students.”

“The last tier of the universities, whose primary function would be to ensure that higher education is available to all who want it would be the most regulated one. This tier will consist of the universities that are currently performing poorly and not likely to perform well on either research or employment dimension.

Colleges and universities in the third tier that repeatedly do poorly in quality assessments should be considered for closure.

“Establish a system of project- and scholar-specific research grants.”

“Increased focus on vocational and Profession led education. … We should also include vocational subjects in mainstream universities to allow for greater acceptance and utility for vocational learning.”

Table 20-3: Key Action Points with Timelines for Higher Education



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