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Implications of Draft National Education Policy 2019

Vidyarthi Vikas

National Education Policy (draft) 2019 is ready to implement in the country and will have a long-sight impact. As I feel, facts and concepts of the proposed NEP 2019 should be disseminated among people of the nation.  The Policy begins with a message, undated signed by the then Minister, Ministry of Human Resource Department (MHRD) India (p. 5). We can assume that it was signed after submission of K. Kasturirangan Committee on 15 December 2018 and it was ready for the nation after six month or after election. The report was not ready for the nation just after submission of Kasturirangan Committee report due to unannounced reason. In the ‘Message’ to this document containing the 'Draft New Education Policy 2019' for the country of India, Minister says that ‘under the stewardship of our able Prime Minister National Education Policy will be implemented to meet the challenges of accessibility, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability in a broader sense. 
 
The NEP 2019 can be recognised as “by the bureaucracy and for the bureaucracy”. In my opinion, education system will be controlled by the bureaucracy to a large extent (p. 392). The draft policy (English version) is written in 484 pages. It is not meant to be a final statement of policy, but aims to provide the basis for a nation-wide debate. Unfortunately, the document proceeds to perform this task almost too well: it puts forward various slogans, and platitudes, so much so that the resulting confusion prevents the posing of clearcut issues. Our task, then, in trying to understand and evaluate the draft policy, is to pose the issues, scrabble out the proposals for action and examine their wider implications. A methodological question may here be raised: "How are we to distinguish workable proposals from mere wishes, hopes or dreams?" The answer lies in discovering relationships between the policy proposals and the society, past and present. Each of these challenges above mentioned has to be examined in the context of the quality of education. 
 
After almost four years, the draft National Education Policy, 2019 is invited for suggestions to the nation, till 30 June and later by 31 July. Draft NEP 2019 as prepared by K. Kasturirangan Committee (24 June 2017– 15 December 2018) which was based on a report of education policy formulated by TSR Subramanian Committee (31 October 2015 - May 2016) and ‘Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy, 2016’ prepared by MHRD that is comprehensive, visionary and grassroots in real terms. The policy is based on the idea that education must result in the ‘full development of the human personality’ as mentioned in the Treasure Within (International Commission Report on Education 1996. The Report argued that education throughout life is based on four pillars: (i) Learning to know (ii) Learning to do (iii) Learning to live and (iv) Learning to be.
 
Our task, then, in trying to understand and evaluate the policy, is to pose the issues, ferret out the proposals for action and examine their wider implications. A methodological question may here be raised: "How are we to distinguish workable proposals from mere wishes, hopes or dreams?" The answer lies in discovering relationships between the policy proposals and the education society, past and present and its capacity. Just as we can predict a lot about the behaviour of a workaholic, in social matters also the past and the present help us to predict the future. A big change can be expected only if other aspects of the system also change; otherwise what is most likely is the continuation of existing trends. The proposals that match these trends are the ones that are likely to be put into effect; others may serve for decoration or day-dreaming. The major issues that emerge from the document may be said to the equity vs elitism, private vs public and autonomy vs control. Each of these has to be examined in the context of the quality of education. We shall take them up one by one. 
 
The tradition of the Indian education system is of a very high standard. In ancient times, from the exchange of education by oral, the writing on leaves and copper and now the exchange of education through electronic means. Earlier the subject of education was according to the culture, society, economy and politics of the time. But it should be noted here that if education is for the purpose of education, it will always be expedient. A strong foundation of Indian education has been founded by series of education policies in India and it kept the standard of education internationally too.
 
Vision of the NEP 2019 is the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century education, while remaining consistent with India’s traditions and value systems (p. 24). Overall, it dealt with ethics, pride of Indian education, culture, Indian folk, Indian heritage, skill education and liberal education to a greater extent. If we remember Plato on Education, he said that proper education would enable a person for rational understanding and condemn the contemptible things. According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan - "An important objective of university education is to create new ideas and creative minds". According to the Kothari Committee report, there should be a 'uniform education policy' in the country, which was reiterated in the National Education Policy 1986. In this policy it was clearly stated that the development of backward classes is necessary for 'integration of the nation'. National Education Policy 1986 lays emphasis on computer-based education and skill development-based education.
 
The approach of this policy is based on 'Liberal Education', 'Skill Development' and 'Computer' but some concerns will also be required. According to Leo Strauss 1959, Liberal education gives rise to an 'elite' within a democratic society. In this education policy, technology has been seen as a magic that will revolutionize education and 'skill development education' will solve the unemployment issues. 
 
Some of the worrying aspects of the new education policy 2019 are ignoring aspects of 'constitutional provisions'. The entire report (English version) is 484 pages and only once has the word "Reservation" come out saying that the reservation will not apply in 'private' institutions whereas it is not stated anywhere that it will be applicable in public institutions. Opportunity of Equality may be questioned. If the word 'Autonomy' is seen, it has been used 110 times throughout the report, but in the name of autonomy, it is either a matter of promoting privatization or bureaucracy. Now Private schools may be free to set their fees (p. 190). The Draft Policy says that the current regulatory regime also has not been able to curb the rampant commercialisation and economic exploitation of parents by many for profit private schools (p. 178). According to this policy, now a new institution "Central Educational Statistics Division (CESD)" will collect data related to education but this data will be shared with some precautions. Now the 'Right to Education Act 2009' will be reviewed and its section 12 (1) (c) will not be applicable to private institutions under which the children of weaker sections are being studied.
 
On the other hand, there is talk of extending the RTE Act 2009, under which free and compulsory education has been talked about for children between 3-6 years and 15-18 years, is a welcome step. But what will be happened with already set up ‘anganwadi’ (pre-primary school). This policy also envisaged school-scale-dividend that 'school complex' will ensure the success of educational programs (p. 53). According to the 'school complex' hypothesis - a 10 + 2 / high school will be the nodal of some schools in a periphery. This school complex will make efficient use of available resources. The headmaster of nodal school under the school complex will be accountable for efficient use of available resources among school complex’s unit. It can be predicted what the effects will be. This type of experiment needs research in details. This policy talks about creating a 'School Complex Management Committee' but its structure is not defined. It is worth noting that the concept of School Management Committee is already in the state of Bihar needs a study.  However, this 'policy' considered that teachers of private schools are more knowledgeable than teachers in government schools and mentioned that - teachers of private schools will go to government schools for 'skill enhancement' of teachers of government schools (p. 192) may be re-examined.
 
This policy talks about the supply of basic resources which seems to be highly ambitious, such as electricity in all schools by 2022, computer with internet by 2025, etc. If Bihar is taken for example, at present 22.28% schools have electricity facility and 2.37% schools have computer facility.
 
Language – (p. 385 to 387), is based on 'promotion and preservation of Indian languages'. A national level institute will be opened for the development of Pali, Prakrit and Persian languages. Hindi and Sanskrit language will be promoted at national level is a commendable step but at the same time 'Arabic' is also an 'ancient international language which is 2000 years old. Somehow the policy has not covered ‘the Arabic’ language in any ways. Arabic word is not mentioned in policy raises concerns while the 'Arabic language' is taught in about 70 universities and 20000 schools in the country and according to a research the 'Arabic language' is spoken by one crore 39 lakh people in India. Arabic is being spoken and official language in around 25 countries may have an impact on ‘employment’. The importance of this language is strategic, political-economic, social, employable and cultural, which also needs attention.
 
Education and bureaucracy - There will be a Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog (RSA)/ National Education Commission (NEC) to administer higher education in the country and its Chairman will be the Prime Minister and its members will be the Education Minister, the selected Chief Minister, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Chairman of the NITI Aayog, the Cabinet Secretary and at least 50% of the members will be academics, researchers and representatives of other important fields (page 393). This will promote politics and bureaucracy in education. Education should be freed from politics and bureaucracy. Similarly, the Prime Minister will also be the chairman of the National Research Foundation. There will be a National Research Foundation at the center level for funding research work, which will also take care of research justification such as research - why, what, how, and where. It may be apprehended that this will hurt subject retrenchment and academic freedom.  Ambitious target- The attempt to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education from the present level of 24-25% to 50% by 2035 is a commendable step (p. 204). But for this, the number of colleges and universities will have to increase, which is not the aim of this national education policy. The National Education Policy 2019 seeks to develop higher education in accordance with the 'skill-based and industry expectations', keeping in mind the future 4th Industrial Revolution. Putting the curriculum around all colleges and universities around 'skill education' can make the intellectual approach socially-politically culturally insensitive. 
 
Promotion and increase in tenure of faculty of higher educational institutions will be done after reviewing their qualifications and work and it will be decided by the Board of Control or Institutional leadership 'a matter of mind', that is, now 'permanent job' in higher educational institutions. Permanent Job will not be existed after the implementation of this policy in a limited manner, raises concerns (page 209). In the name of ‘autonomy’ of educational institutions how a ‘check and balance’ approach will be in system. According to a data presented in Rajyasabha, in 40 central universities, 95% professors come from certain social category. How this policy is ready to be encountered while education institutions will have autonomy to set the provisions and procedures for appointment of faculty can further increase social inequality? It has been said in the policy that by 2024 the country will have five world-class universities on the lines of the Nalanda and Takshshila missions, after assessing the current situation, it looks very ambitious.
 
Finance Management- The issue of spending 6% of GDP on education for quality education has been reiterated as it was also described in the earlier National Education Policy 1968 and 1986/92. To implement the National Education Policy, Finance Management is the conditional (page 406) in the case of increasing Tax-GDP Ratio, Philanthropic Support (page 409), Social Responsibility of Corporations (CSR) (page 412) does not appear to be a serious step in this direction. The term 'philanthropic' has been overemphasized which will be used as a ‘magic stick’ and private agencies will come forward for this. The term 'philanthropic' has been mentioned forty-nine (42) times. There is a lack of strong will power at the level of 'finance management' to implement this policy.
 
Finally, to meet the challenges of accessibility, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability will be a myth. There is need for a deeper discussion on the Draft National Education Policy (Draft) 2019.

Dr. Vidyarthi Vikas ([email protected]) is an Assistant Professor, Division of Economics, A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna.

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Aug 30, 2019


Dr. Vidyarthi Vikas [email protected]

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