Education policy draft finds no takers in academic circles
COIMBATORE: The draft National Education Policy (NEP) brought out recently by the Ministry of Human Resource Development has received many brickbats in the academic circles. The new NEP comes after a gap of 30 years. The last one, announced in 1986, was later revised in 1992. The aim of the new policy is to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research. But academics think there are some missing links in the draft NEP.
According to former Vice Chancellor of University of Madras S P Thyagarajan, several policy committees and commissions have been appointed in higher education over the last decades. But non-implementation of the recommendations made is the main problem, due to which policies seldom get translated into programmes. The key issue is the lack of good governance.
He says the confrontation between bureaucrats and academicians has paralysed the governance in the university system. “We should find a remedy to the bureaucratic control over higher education system, if we want to better the quality of higher education. Quality check in terms of academics and accountability of universities also is the need of the hour. The NEP should address these issues and must put in place a strong user-friendly good governance system,” Thyagarajan adds.
The NEP should suggest ways to bring about a university Act. At least a basic model, which need not infringe upon states, can be developed. Based on that framework, every state can bring an Act and adopt it uniformly in all the universities in their respective states. When Acts can be common, statutes can be discipline-specific and then the governance system will become more competent and comprehensive, Thyagarajan says.
“Every exercise of such a large magnitude can never be perfect. Stakeholders must identify positive change agents and harness them while sorting out differences based on the collective understanding,” says S Vaidhyasubramaniam, Dean, Planning and Development, Sastra University.
“The NEP, through a modular approach, has envisioned vocationalisation at the bottom level through skill development, rationalisation at entry level through common test, digitisation through Massive Open Online Courses at the middle level and professionalisation through governance reforms at the top level. On school education front, the approach to improve teacher education will give a much needed impetus to school output,” he adds.
According to State Platform for Common School System general secretary P B Prince Gajendra Babu, the NEP draft report does not offer equitable access for even children less than 10 years of age. The policy proposes alternative schools for very deprived sections, migrant families and people in difficult circumstances. But under that system, same type of education is denied to all children.
“It also proposes alternative education where students can opt for level B in Mathematics and Science subjects, which will have psychological effect on children. The NEP proposes National Level Talent Exam after Class X. But for those who studied in alternative schools between classes I and V, alternative education of level B between classes VI and VIII will prove to be a disadvantage in the talent exam and the policy is pushing them out of main stream education,” Babu claims. “The socially and educationally backward representation mandated by the Constitution is being removed, which is the denial of principal of natural and social justice,” he says.
“The draft is a fraud document, as there is no clarity as to where the money for expenditure will come,” according to noted academic Venkatesh Athreya, who spoke at a seminar at Loyola College on Saturday. “First education policy in 1968 had recommended allocating six per cent GDP for education. But allocation as a whole has not exceeded four per cent,” he says, adding that nothing much has done about teacher recruitment, training and quality.
CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan says citing privatisation of school and higher education, saffronisation of education and infringement of the rights of the State government. “The NEP wants to allow entry of foreign universities without any condition. Educational experts were not involved in framing the policy and it was drafted by bureaucrats,” he adds.
Association of University Teachers general secretary N Pasupathy says the NEP gave importance to commercialisation. According to K S Kanagaraj, former SFI national vice president, the NEP is totally against the welfare of student community.