The Government of India after a gap of one and a half decades has brought out a document on educational reforms through the National Education Policy 2019. The draft of which is expected to be tabled in the parliament for enactment.
Number of suggestions to revamp and reconstruct the entire system from pre-primary to higher education to eventually precipitate into wholesome educational reforms for professional and vocational system reflect the determination to make Indian youth future ready. However, there are number of issues where the NEP either has ignored them or not paid the due weightage it deserves for the overall educational reforms in the country.
We have already lost opportunities for the educational reforms over the last 73 years and our education system, particularly our quality education, has been the victim of utter negligence. We have not been able to shed the bureaucratic approach to the outdated policies and approaches.
68% of the population lives in rural areas under dire conditions, unable to make both ends meet. The disparity in living standards and accordingly educational standards is so wide that without appropriate policies the reforms proposed will be meaningless. There is an absolute prerequisite of good schools, effective infrastructure and trained, competent teachers instead of pigeonholing ‘Numeracy’ & ‘Literacy’.
The Policy has also ignored the extensive role of NGOs in providing basic educational facilities in the rural sector. ‘Ekal Vidyalaya Movement’ and the contributions of other similar voluntary organizations has been overlooked; the government sector needs to cautiously hand-holding educative inputs all across to make the Policy redeem timely effect.
What is wrong in using the word ‘Public’?
When we refer to Section 8.3 of Chapter 8 – ‘Regulation and Accreditation of School Education’ of National Education Policy Draft, it is mentioned that private schools will not use the word ‘Public’ in their names. This is absolutely not acceptable; the use of the word ‘Public’ has a long history. In fact, Public Education System, first started in England, is centuries old. The Public Institutions are totally independent, autonomous and least interfered by the government in the matters of management. Public Education System in India is also centuries old. We feel that such recommendation is absolutely unwanted and needs to be removed from the Report.
Education, as per the Constitution of India is a ‘State Subject’. Despite Education being a fundamental right, we have failed to achieve even the basic standards; to achieve this to achieve this our Policy needs to be more realistic.
In India, the Investment in Education is hardly 3.7 % per annum against desirable 11% of GDP. This is a huge gap; we need to find ways and means of funding the Education Sector, or, invite participation of the Private Sector and be given more important role in mapping the Elementary Education.
Regulation and control cannot bring in any reform; Government policy should focus on providing more autonomy to private schools. According to Dr S Radhkrishnan, “Universities have to be autonomous Spaces. They are diverse in their design and organization reflecting the unique, historical and socio-cultural settings in which they have grown…”.
Thus, ‘Autonomy’ is the key for the continuity in the growth of Education. Autonomy should be granted to management of schools, designing fee structure and planning curriculum development. It is the freedom to think, implement and regulate that will bring the reform in the required manner.
It is also noted with great concern
that the Policy statement, in regard to the elementary education, hardly any acknowledgment of private sector’s initiatives in elementary education. We all know that state’s investment on education is insignificant. Our expenditure on education is only 3.7% of the GDP.
Government is only focussing on control and regulation and has failed to appreciate the reforms contributed holistically by the private sector. In this case, private sector not just plays a significant role but also paves way for more fruitful development of education which would have been otherwise unattainable. Govt. must chalk out a policy regarding the role of a private sector in education reforms and if necessary, a separate document can be prepared delineating the role of private sector that has catered to national interest over the ages.
The Policy has also ignored the extensive role of NGOs in providing basic educational facilities in the rural sector. ‘Ekal Vidyalaya Movement’ and the contributions of other similar voluntary organizations has been overlooked