Teachers say that the NEP makes a mockery of the so-called process of ‘consultation’ and public discussion as the concerns raised by a broad array of education experts and teachers and student organisations have been simply brushed aside
Mohd Aasif | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — Students, teachers and academicians have opposed the New Education Policy-2020 adopted by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday with members of the academic community describing the entire policy as a disastrous design meant for the all-out privatisation, commercialisation, centralisation, vocationalisation and communalisation of education.
The Ministry, as per the media reports, had invited suggestions for the Draft of New Education Policy (NEP) last year. However, it is claimed that no suggestions were taken into consideration.
“This adoption makes a mockery of the so-called process of ‘consultation’ and public discussion as the concerns raised by a broad array of education experts and teachers and student organisations have been simply brushed aside”, said Rajib Ray, President of Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations.
The adoption, say the teachers, has taken place while the country is facing the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and educational institutions have remained closed and this, they say, calls into question the Government’s motives.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) terms the time chosen by the Union Cabinet for the adoption of the policy as “cynical” and blames it for pushing the agenda of online education in a country with a vast section that seeks education for betterment of lives.
“The pandemic has exposed the disastrous inadequacies of the health and education sectors in India that have witnessed prolonged governmental neglect and increasing privatisation of ownership along with commercialisation of operation”, said DUTA secretary, Rajinder Singh.
The Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) of India believes that the policy opens the gates for the “saffronisation of education” by alluding exclusively to ‘study of Sanskrit and knowledge of its extensive literature’, while deliberately ignoring the glorious multicultural and plural tapestry that makes up India, its people and their history.
“It is truly abominable the way the draft policy has flouted and replaced the constitutional values of liberty, equality and pluralism by ignoring the contributions of minority scholars, their knowledge production and culture. Over-emphasis or imposition of any one language is against the constitution and the federal spirit of the Indian union,” said Labeed Shafi, National President of SIO .
Commenting on the long-term impact of the policy, All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) General Secretary, Sourav Ghosh said, “The NEP has also called for self-styled Indianisation of education, which lists the promotion of obsolete ideas and customs as its objective and which is in reality, a comprehensive design for the communalisation of education and also will foster jingoism”.
The NEP speaks, as claimed by the organisations, enthusiastically about Sanskrit language but talks about ‘fluency’ and ‘functionality’ of English instead of an in-depth study of the language. It is believed that the design will only serve to develop the bare minimum of communication skills required to engage in the market.
On the conversion of the three-year undergraduate degree courses to four-year undergraduate degree courses with multiple entry and exit systems, Ghosh said that it was a step towards the commodification of the Indian higher education in the global education market. “The so-called ‘holistic multidisciplinary education’ will also be detrimental to the inculcation of comprehensive knowledge”, added Ghosh.
Education is in the concurrent list in the Indian Constitution. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) finds the adoption as a gross violation, bypassing all the objections and opposition recorded by various state governments.
“A new policy of such a nature needs to be discussed in the Parliament. This was assured by the government earlier. The draft is, as per norm, placed on the table of the Houses with a statutory time limit within which Members of Parliament can move amendments/give opinions. The Parliament has been completely bypassed”, said the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Student organisations have also argued that the creation of centralised bodies under the policy such as Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA), National Testing Agency (NTA) and National Research Foundation (NRF) under one command is against the federal structure of the Indian Union and the Constitution, as education is both a State and Union subject. The over-empowered centralised bodies will inevitably fall prey to the political expediency of ruling parties, said Shafi.
The policy also introduces the vocationalisation of education at the school level. Sourav Ghosh told Clarion India that when jobs are being curtailed drastically by the government, the vocationalisation of education, as prescribed by the NEP is to sell the “dream of employment” and is nothing but a ‘hoax’. “Moreover, implementing this policy from class VI will destroy formal schooling and the very essence of education”, he added.