National Research Foundation Bill

National Research Foundation Bill

Why in News 
  • Union Cabinet had approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023 in June this year to “strengthen the research eco-system in the country”.
  • The Bill, after approval in the Parliament, will establish NRF, as an apex body to provide “high-level strategic direction” to scientific research in the country.
  • This is done as per recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP).
  • Financial Outlay proposed under the bill is Rs. 50,000 crore during five years (2023-28).
Other Key Highlights
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be the administrative Department of NRF.
  • It will be governed by a Governing Board consisting of eminent researchers and professionals across disciplines.
  • The Prime Minister will be the ex-officio President of the Board.
  • The Union Minister of Science & Technology & Union Minister of Education will be the ex-officio Vice-Presidents.
  • NRF’s functioning will be governed by an Executive Council chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
  • NRF will focus on creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D.
  • Note: The bill will also repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) established by an act of Parliament in 2008 and subsume it into NRF which has an expanded mandate and covers activities over and above the activities of SERB.

About SERB

  • Science and Engineering Research Board is a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
  • It was established by an Act of the Parliament of India in 2009.
  • Supporting basic research in emerging areas of Science & Engineering are the primary and distinctive mandate of the Board.
  • The Board is chaired by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Science and Technology.


  • Serve as a premier agency for planning, promoting and funding of internationally competitive research in emerging areas.
  • Identify major inter-disciplinary research areas, and individuals, groups or institutions and funding them for undertaking research.
  • Assist in setting up infrastructure and environment for scientific pursuit.
Draft National Education Policy 2019- Kasturirangan Committee Report
  • The Committee for Draft National Education Policy was chaired Dr. K. Kasturirangan and it submitted its report on May 31, 2019.
  • The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017.
  • The draft Policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education.
  • It seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, reform the current exam system, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework.
  • It also seeks to set up a National Education Commission.

Key observations and recommendations of the draft Policy include:

– Early Childhood Care and Education: The Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the existing early childhood learning programmes. These include:

  • curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children,
  • lack of qualified and trained teachers, and
  • substandard pedagogy.

– The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act):

  • Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.
  • The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education.

– This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of three to 18 years

– Curriculum framework: The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the development needs of students. This would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design comprising the following:

  • five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two)
  • three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five)
  • three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and
  • four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).

School exam reforms: To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, the draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight.

– Further, it recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities.

– School infrastructure: The Committee noted that establishing primary schools in every habitation across the country has helped increase access to education.

  • However, it has led to the development of very small schools.
  • The small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers and critical physical resources.
  • Therefore, the draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex.

Teacher management: The Committee noted that there has been a steep rise in teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.

  • For teacher training, the existing B.Ed. programme will be replaced by a four-year integrated B.Ed. programme.

– Higher Education: The committee noted that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India was 25.8% in 2017-18.

– Regulatory structure and accreditation: The Committee noted that the current higher education system has multiple regulators with overlapping mandates.

  • Therefore, it proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).
  • This independent authority would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education.
  • This implies that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice.
  • The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be limited to providing grants to higher educational institutions.

– Establishing a National Research Foundation:

  • The Committee observed that the total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.
  • The draft Policy recommends establishing a National Research Foundation.

– The committee also recommends creation of a National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog.

  • It Aayog will be an apex body for education, to be headed by the Prime Minister.

– The Ministry of Human Resources and Development must be renamed as the Ministry of Education in order to bring focus back on education.

– Financing Education:

  • The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education.
  • Note that the first National Education Policy (NEP) 1968 had recommended public expenditure in education must be 6% of GDP, which was reiterated by the second NEP in 1986.
  • The draft Policy seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years.

Vocational Education: The Committee observed that less than 5% of the workforce in the age-group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India.

  • This is in contrast to 52% in the USA, 75% in Germany and 96% in South Korea.
  • It recommends integrating vocational educational programmes in all educational institutions in a phased manner over a period of 10 years.

Adult Education: As per Census 2011, India still had over 3.26 crore youth non-literates (15-24 years of age) and a total of 26.5 crore adult non-literates (15 years and above).

  • The committee recommends establishing an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT.
  • It will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education.

– Education and Indian Languages: The Committee observed that a large number of students are falling behind since classes in schools are being conducted in a language that they do not understand.

  • Therefore, it recommended that the medium of instruction must either be the mother tongue till grade five, and preferable till grade eight, wherever possible.
  • The draft Policy recommended the three language formula and asked for flexibility in the implementation of the formula.

– Note: The three-language formula was initially introduced by the first National Education Policy in 1968. The three-language formula stated that state governments should adopt and implement study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states.

National Education Policy 2020
  • Based on the recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee Report, a new National Education Policy was introduced in 2020. Details of the salient features of NEP 2020 are as follows:
  • Ensuring Universal Access at All Levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12.
  • Ensuring quality early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years.
  • New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure (5+3+3+4)
  • Establishing National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
  • The medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the mother tongue /regional language.
  • Assessment reforms – Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired.
  • Setting up of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development)
  • A separate Gender Inclusion fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
  • Increasing GER in higher education to 50%.
  • Setting up of National Research Foundation (NRF)
  • Single overarching umbrella body for promotion of higher education sector- the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
  • Expansion of open and distance learning to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER).
  • Teacher Education – 4-year integrated stage-specific, subject- specific Bachelor of Education.
  • Creation of an autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology.
  • Achieving 100% youth and adult literacy.
  • The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.