NEP 2020 treats education as ‘charity’, not right: Academics

NEP 2020 treats education as ‘charity’, not right: Academics NEP 2020 treats education as ‘charity’, not right: Academics (Pic Source: Shutterstock)
Atul Krishna | Aug 7, 2020 - 4:57 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Educationists and former bureaucrats have criticised the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 for not providing the “legal underpinning” required to implement it. The educationists said that the NEP 2020 is “vague” on the” budgetary provisions” and “schematic of resources” required to implement the policy. They were speaking at a webinar organised by the Right to Education Forum, an alliance of non-profit organisations, activists and academics.

The group also argued that the policy has shifted the responsibility of educating children from the government to the students themselves and that the policy treats “education as a charity” and not as a Fundamental Right.

Muchkund Dubey, former foreign secretary and president of Council for Social Development, said: “When it comes to implementation there is no plan in any of the proposals let alone on changing the system. No plan in achieving the goal. Not even a schematic of resources that would be required let alone making budgetary provision.”

Dubey points out that education has remained grossly underfunded in India “ever since the planned economic development in the early 50’s”. He said that any policy should have some “specific measures” rather than use “vague terms” on “budgetary provisions” .

Privatization in NEP 2020

“It seems that the main purpose of the policy is how not to spend on education. There is a shift of emphasis from input to output. The government responsibility for providing input [through budgeting and resources] is given lesser importance. Then, the output is paid for by the students, They will have to pay MNCs who design educational programmes,” Dubey said.

Academics have also criticised NEP for moving away from the already “very weak regulation” of occasional inspection in schools to allowing schools to “display facts about themselves” on a notice board. Educationists said that private schools would be emboldened to “run schools however they want”.

They also argued that the policy provides “backdoor entry” to private players to undermine public schools.

R Govinda, former Vice Chancellor of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA),said: “The policy states that state governments can prepare special plans and use all viable mediums. This would create separate parallel substreams for private entities. Then, what happens to schools? What will primary schools do?”

NEP and the RTE Act

Educationists also argued that the NEP helps “dilute” the Right of Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.They argued that the policy’s main agenda should have been carrying over the “burning issues'' from RTE and “extending it to cover pre-primary”.

“The policy is silent on RTE Act thus brings closure to the government's earlier attempt to dilute RTE,” said Poonam Batra, professor at the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University.

The RTE Act was undermined by the policy of school mergers that saw thousands of schools with low enrolment shut, ostensibly to make governance and use of resources more efficient. This was tried by states and then implemented as a project called SAATH-E by the central government’s think-tank, NITI Aayog.

Batra said: “The dilution of RTE Act, as done in the SAATHE scheme in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa will affect the access to education. This will in turn affect girls and the disadvantaged groups most severely. Several states that have already tried to access education will be pushed back.”

The RTE Act was also amended in 2018 to allow states to make children repeat years in Class 5 and 8.

Centralization in NEP 2020

Educationists have also criticized the “legitimacy” of NEP as the Central Government did not table it in the Parliament unlike the policies of 1968 and 1986. They criticized the government for the “centralization” of powers in the secretariat and ministry.

Batra, said: “The policy is pushing for a centralised regulatory structure. Education, although a concurrent subject, is largely a state subject. By centralising, a lot of state autonomy will be taken away and put into, largely, hands of politicians. This goes against the federal structure of the constitution.”

Academics also argued that the multiple exit options mentioned in the policy is to “push out students” rather than provide them with choice. They said that the policy looks at vocationalization “as if it is for students who cannot manage academics” which they argued is the wrong way to look at it .

Also read:

NEP 2020 and Schools: Parallel systems, foundational learning, tests

NEP 2020: Undergraduate education reform, multidisciplinary approach

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