VIJAYAWADA: The Centre’s National Education Policy (NEP) has included several recommendations of the Andhra Pradesh government, Education Minister Audimulapu Suresh said on Thursday, citing Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s views on education being made accessible, affordable, and having equity, quality and accountability.
A day after the new vision document for guiding the country’s education sector was released, Suresh clarified that the state government’s decision to make English the medium of instruction in government schools was not violative of the Centre’s policy.
Suresh cited rule number 4.9 of the NEP, which states: "Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5 but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond will be preferably in home language, mother tongue, local language." "This ('wherever possible') clearly says it is not mandatory for states to impart education in the mother tongue," he told TNIE.
Referring to rule number 4.1 - which says research shows children aged 2-8 years pick up languages extremely fast and multi-lingualism has great benefits - he said, "A language need not be the medium of instruction for it to be learnt,” and added that the government has made it clear that Telugu would be a compulsory subject.
"Even before the new policy was announced, we decided there would be at least one Telugu-medium school in each mandal. Wherever there is a demand, we have established and encouraged the establishment of schools where the medium of instruction is the vernacular, such as Urdu, Tamil, Kannada or Odiya. We are not violating any rules of the new policy," Suresh said.
The minister added that the state had taken a scientific approach and received parents’ opinions. "Ninety-five per cent of parents were in favour of the government’s decision, which was made after careful consideration and consultations with NCERT," he said.
Suresh said that since the issue of introducing English-medium education in government schools is pending in the Supreme Court, the NEP rules won’t be applicable. "The Supreme Court will have the final say. Also, we cannot deny that education is in the purview of the Concurrent List, which means states have an equal right as the Centre to take policy decisions," Suresh said, adding that Telugu and English-medium textbooks have already been printed for Classes 1 to 6.
Meanwhile, government sources said the recommendations in the NEP would be implemented taking into consideration the possibilities in Andhra Pradesh and the state government’s policy.
They also pointed out that a Division Bench of the High Court quashed a petition filed with respect to introducing Telugu as the medium of instruction in private schools, and made it clear that the court cannot come in the way of the rights of the managements of private schools.
"This proves the NEP recommendations can be implemented based on the possibilities," the sources said.Earlier, Suresh said the government had been saying poverty should not be a barrier to higher education, and the policy too says no one should be deprived of education.
He added that the NEP also made a mention of cash transfer (to students’ mothers) as an incentive to send children to school. “Our government’s Amma Vodi scheme is nothing but incentivising mothers to send children to school. Our government brought in a legislation to monitor and regulate the education in corporate institutions, and the NEP clearly states that education is not a commercial activity,” he said.
On the other initiatives of the state government, he said that Jagan was the first to say degree courses should be four years long, and announced pre-primary 1 and pre-primary 2 in government schools, which was echoed in the new policy.
"We discussed the NEP 2020 and will apprise the Chief Minister," he said, adding that a review meeting on improving the quality of education would be held. Digitisation of education was also a feature of our policy which found a place in the new policy, he said.Meanwhile, educationalist KS Lakshman Rao opined that the new education policy gives more rights to the Centre than the state governments.
“Education is a part of the Concurrent List. But as per the new policy, a majority of the power to decide is in the hands of the Centre. Also, for the last 60 years we have been following the UGC pattern. But this policy scraps such institutions and leads to privatisation of higher education. It is incorrect to make English the medium of instruction as it is easier to learn in one’s mother tongue. The new national policy emphasises teaching primary-level students in their mother tongue, which is apt. On the other hand, the decision to include pre-primary education as a part of elementary education is worth appreciating,” he said.
‘Education in mother tongue not mandatory’
The NEP says: “Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5... will be preferably in home language, mother tongue, local language.” This shows it is not mandatory to impart education in the mother tongue, according to Education Minister Audimulapu Suresh