New Education Policy to Eliminate First Generation Learners

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Draft New Educational Policy 2019 being submitted to the Hon’ble Minister for HRD by the Drafting Committee.

If implemented, the NEP will prove a death knell for most of such students, who hail from marginalised sections, particularly Muslims and Scheduled Castes (SCs)

Abdul Qadir | Clarion India

The New Education Policy being aggressively marketed by the corporate driven media is just another, and perhaps most fatal attack, on the institutions that were originally designed to make India strong as a nation and a society. According to conservative estimates, the number of first generation learners is more than 121 million, almost all of them hailing from the marginalised sections, particularly Muslims and Scheduled Castes (SCs).

We all are witness to the systematic and well-calibrated assaults on institutions including the judiciary, media and the academia. But the single most alarming threat comes from the systematic degeneration of education system and its planned replacement by a highly elitist, discriminatory and money driven model using the hybrid wrapper.

On the alibi of promoting e-learning, the process of the dismantling of the classroom mode of teaching has already begun, and if remedial measures are not taken, it will, sooner rather than later, be replaced by technology driven learning models that besides being anti education in general, would virtually push out first generation learners, who, more than anybody else, need directly interactive teaching under the community umbrella.

Once the dismantling of the education system is effectively accomplished, there would be no need for separate assault on other institutions as they would automatically fall in line.
There can’t be a substitute for classroom teaching as, besides promoting collaborative learning, it distinctly enhances critical thinking and social skills, something vital for first generation learners who cannot fall back upon an educationally conducive home environment.

The classroom mode keeps the students better engaged, and on account of direct peer interaction, helps them develop an outlook that can make them better citizens. Career planning too becomes somewhat easier for the first generation learners and even others belonging to the marginalised sections.

To begin with, the hybrid education model presents a mix of classroom teaching and e learning but the arrangement is manifestly deceptive as it just aims at reducing the hiccups of direct jump to the e-model. By all indications, under the hybrid model, classroom teaching will be gradually, but definitely, discouraged. This somewhat robotic model leaves little scope for innovative thinking as transmission of concentrated information leaves little scope for critical evaluation.

The privileged sections have little to lose, as on the alibi of hybrid education, only the public-funded institutions would be targeted and the elites will continue to get their wards admitted to premier institutes within and outside the country. In any case, no less than one million Indian students are currently enrolled in institutions located in 85 different countries, most of them in Europe and the US.

Only a handful of Indian students enrolled in foreign universities are first generation learners who, somehow manage to get scholarships both on account of their personal merit and avenues opened by the approach that welcomes and promotes diversity in the best universities of the world. But their number is almost negligible and most of the Indians enrolled in foreign universities come from the privileged sections of the society.
The great digital divide that makes technology almost inaccessible and unaffordable for the most of ‘Bharat’ also makes the hybrid education heavily tilted in favour of the rich, resourceful and urbanites.

The hybrid model also deprives the students of vital personality development avenues offered by co-curricular and extra-curricular activities organised by the regular educational institutions.

There cannot be a ‘single size fit all model’ of education and only classroom teaching is equipped to address diversity and special requirements of first generation learners.
Moreover, it will render millions of trained men and women virtually unemployable as very few teachers are required under the e-model to cater to a very large number of students.
Single room hutments and open sky living conditions of the marginalised sections leaves little room for the conducive teaching-learning atmosphere at home.

According to the Sachar Committee report, the condition of Muslims in India was worse than that of the SCs and as such the new education policy with its distinctly elitist and agenda driven ingredients is bound to hit the Muslims more than the other marginalised groups. With noose tightening on the madrasas, the scope of classroom teaching for Muslims gets further diminished. The madrasas, in any case, on account of a less than flexible and accommodative character have failed the community.

According to reliable estimates, India hosts 60 percent of the world’s anaemic children and as such it would be too much to expect such children to become tech savvy overnight to benefit from the electronically transmitted information.

The lateral entry of faculty sans any prescribed qualification too is inherently problematic as biased and wrongly indoctrinated bigots may be pushed inside the system on the alibi of lateral entry.

As such the New Education Policy is distinctly biased against the underprivileged as a whole, especially the Muslims and Dalits, and corrective measured are urgently required to stop its roll out and conduct a thorough review addressing the very genuine concerns of the marginalised sections.

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