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Daily-current-affairs / 09 Oct 2023

Empowering Futures: Integrating Education and Sustainable Development : Daily News Analysis


Date : 10/10/2023

Relevance – GS Paper 2 – Government Policies and interventions

Keywords – SDGs, NEP, MDGs, LDCs


Educational institutions need to reconsider their strategies to align with the National Education Policy (NEP). This alignment is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations publication titled "Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" outlines a set of 17 goals and 169 targets. These goals are a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in 2000, which were aimed to be achieved by 2015. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a collective framework for fostering peace and prosperity for both people and the planet, both now and in the future. They emphasize the interconnectedness of efforts to eliminate poverty and enhance health and education, reduce inequality, promote economic growth, combat climate change, and safeguard our oceans and forests.

Challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Despite being eight years since the initiation of these objectives, the 2023 SDGs Report has highlighted sluggish advancement and a bleak outlook. This deceleration is attributed to the enduring repercussions of COVID-19, the impacts of the climate emergency, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and a fragile global economy. The lack of headway toward these objectives is a widespread issue, with the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) experiencing it more acutely. India, despite effectively handling global economic crises and relatively overcoming pandemic challenges, has faced setbacks in pursuing these goals.

About the National Education Policy 2020

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is based on five fundamental principles: Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability. Regarding school education, it emphasizes the development of cognitive skills, including foundational literacy and numeracy, as well as advanced skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of social and emotional skills, often referred to as 'soft skills,' encompassing cultural awareness, empathy, perseverance, grit, teamwork, leadership, and communication.

The policy advocates numerous reforms across all school levels to ensure school quality and transform the curriculum for the age group of 3 to 18 years. It replaces the existing "10 + 2" structure with the new "5+3+3+4" model. Furthermore, it aims to increase public investment in education, enhance the use of technology, and place a greater emphasis on vocational and adult education, among other initiatives.

NEP 2020 and SDGs

SDG4 focuses on ensuring access to quality education, serving as a foundational requirement for achieving other sustainable development goals. India, with its extensive history of providing fair and inclusive education, has intensified its efforts to fulfill SDGs through various reforms. Notably, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 deserves significant recognition in this endeavor. Aligned with most SDGs, NEP 2020 advocates comprehensive changes across educational levels. Emphasizing higher education, it facilitates social mobility, nurtures creativity and critical thinking, and equips individuals with valuable employment skills.

Role of Higher Education in Sustainable development

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicates that individuals with higher education degrees have greater employability, earning an average of 54% more than those with only senior secondary education. In the context of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inclusive education at universities plays a crucial role:

  • Poverty Alleviation (SDG1): University education provides protection against poverty.
  • Zero Hunger (SDG2): It prevents hunger by enhancing opportunities and skills.
  • Good Health and Well-being (SDG3): Higher education supports overall health and well-being.
  • Gender Equality (SDG5): It promotes gender equality by empowering women through education.
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8): University education leads to decent work, driving economic growth.
  • Reduced Inequalities (SDG10): It reduces societal inequalities by offering equal opportunities.

Additionally, a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach in education cultivates versatile individuals capable of conducting research and developing innovative solutions to global challenges. This approach contributes to addressing goals like Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG7), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11), and Climate Change and Global Warming (SDG13), including their impact on the economy and the environment.


Embracing an integrated approach is essential to hasten progress towards achieving the 2030 agenda. India's 56,205 higher educational institutions and universities must collaborate closely. These institutions should adopt a multidisciplinary outlook, actively engaging in education, innovation, culture, and community life. Encouraging community health, energy conservation, efficient resource use, waste reduction, local skill development, and collaborative sharing of services and facilities with other universities and partners should become a norm.

To enhance the educational experience, universities should strengthen the link between research and teaching. This approach ensures students directly benefit from the knowledge derived from ongoing research efforts. Furthermore, universities need to embrace sustainability as a guiding principle. Integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into institutional strategies, encompassing daily administration, teaching, and research, is imperative.

Recognizing that higher education cannot exist in isolation, universities should directly integrate with socio-economic development. Every activity and transaction within universities should have meaningful and multiple impacts on SDGs. It's crucial for every citizen to perceive universities as direct contributors to their well-being and the overall progress of the nation.

Way ahead

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is of utmost importance and requires urgent action from all countries, regardless of their development status. Efforts to eradicate poverty and address socio-economic and environmental issues should focus on enhancing living standards and education, reducing inequality, and promoting economic growth.

To realize the goals related to "Life on Land" (SDG 15), it is essential to foster collaboration between innovative solutions, start-ups (SDG 9), and private companies. Additionally, the implementation of Value-Based Education (VBE) is crucial. VBE instills a sense of responsibility in citizens towards themselves, society, and the planet, thereby aiding the nation in achieving the objective of sustainable living on land.

Probable Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Examine the interconnection between the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the role of higher education institutions in India. Discuss the challenges faced and the strategies that can be employed to align educational initiatives with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. (10 marks, 150 words)
  2. Critically analyze the significance of multidisciplinary education and its impact on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations. How can India harness the potential of its higher education institutions to foster innovation, address socio-economic challenges, and contribute substantially to the country's progress in the context of the SDGs? (15 marks, 250 words)

Source – The Hindu