BENGALURU: Experts are concerned about the National Education Policy’s (NEP) departure from ‘education’ being a tool to develop democratic principles in young citizens. The document remains job/market-oriented, they say, while the purpose of education is to create a wholesome individual.
“If the foreign universities do come, it is naturally for profit. And we are providing the space for them. ‘Grading’ of universities/ institutes will never see the social relevance of that institute. For instance, an institute may play an important role in developing Kannada literature and language, which is a social aspect of education, but it would not be on par with plush private institutes, and would lose out on ranking.
This ranking determines who gets autonomy to frame their own curriculum,” said Subhankar Chakraborty, general secretary, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi, Karnataka. The policy will only widen the gap between the haves who can afford private education which will be expensive in nature with the foreign universities coming in, and the have-nots, said Niranjanaradhya V P, educationist.
“The main aim of education is to have constitutional values at its core. But when the policy becomes job- and market-centric, it fails to bring in social value for a level playing field,” he said. The policy’s failure to incorporate substantial suggestions by the citizens and educationists is a matter of concern, the experts said. Niranjanaradhya saw this as a departure from the ‘democratic evolution’ of a policy.
One of the major omissions in the draft is Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog, which would have been an oversight body to ensure that education is aligned with constitutional values, said Rishikesh B S, associate professor, Azim Premji University. About the policy’s claims to be ‘multidisciplinary and holistic’, Rishikesh said it’s unclear whether the policy ‘mandates’ earning credits from multiple baskets of subjects or whether students will be given a ‘choice’ to select their subjects for these credits.
In the former, we would be able to break from the rigidity of focussing on one discipline, a problem seen in pre-university education level today. But in the latter, we see only a loophole for the existing (mono-disciplinary) culture to continue, he said. Another confusion is ‘the percentage of GDP’ being allocated for education, instead of ‘percentage of government expenditure’ , Rishikesh said. The latter, which was used in the draft, would have been a much easier way to identify how much money would be finally spent on education instead of ‘percentage of GDP’ which is in the final policy, he said.
This is because GDP is a combination of multiple components, of which government expenditure is just one. Chakraborty said the suggested allocation of 6 per cent of GDP (State and Centre combined) is miniscule.Experts unanimously expressed concern over the neglect of Right To Education in the final policy.
The current extension of free and compulsory education to children of ages 3 to 6 years and 15 to 18 years looks vague, said Niranjanaradhya. “It only seems to be added because of India’s international obligation towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For such a decision to be truly implemented, a commitment to amend Article 21 A is required, and it’s missing in the policy document,” he said.
‘K’taka can emerge as global edu destination’
M R Doreswamy, advisor to the State Government on education reforms, on Saturday as hailed the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, as a historic development. “It is now the responsibility of the government to translate the innovations in NEP 2020 to affirmative action to prime the education system so the full potential of the new policy could be harnessed,” he said.
His recommendations to establish centres for international languages, technology-enabled pedagogy and emphasis on blended learning, among others, having found space in the NEP, Doreswamy said it is time to work out modules on implementing them on ground. He dubbed it as a historic opportunity for the state to ensure that all benefits of the NEP are harnessed to position Karnataka as a premier education destination in the national and global education ecosystems.