The pandemic struck India was recently introduced to the new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) and the policy became cynosure within hours. However the draft of the NEP 2020 that has become a topic of discussion is itself debatable as the sources of the circulating draft do not fully own the circulating draft in clarity. So this piece of mine can only be treated as a guide for evaluating the actual National Educational Policy when it comes out for debate in the houses of parliament and for public review. In the mean time It’s really strange for a country like India which has a rich and extraordinary educational heritage that after a long period of lull, for the first time recently education occupies the concerns of the common in its structural and functional aspect. Before presenting my take on the currently presented Educational policy I would like to present few pictures of educational setups in India based on my current research and experiences in this field. To begin with let us move to rural India for the understanding of the primary educational fabric. Please keep in mind that pre pandemic and post pandemic scenarios have to be understood by you as a reader throughout this piece of mine.

Schools have poor attendance, attendance whatsoever is at its peak during lunch times specifically for the Mid-Day Meals.

Proper infrastructure like blackboards, playgrounds, sports equipment, separate classrooms, libraries and separate toilets for both genders are mostly unavailable.

Teachers lack proper qualification and training for their jobs and in most of the cases in states like Madhya Pradesh(with 17874 schools) , Uttar Pradesh(with 17602 schools) and Rajasthan(with 13575 schools) schools have scarcity of teachers in general. At times a single teacher is simultaneously managing and teaching in multiple schools of the locality. Even some schools only have a single teacher.

Then there is a struggle for preventing dropouts and especially in cases of female students presenting the struggle for livelihood and absence of awareness in the rural setup of the presently assumed modern India.

To further worsen the situation the budgetary allocation till date for the rural educational setup in the country is far less than the required. On an average it mounts up to less than ₹3/- per student per day.

Moving on to the higher education set up of largely urban India, higher education is synonymous to Brain Drain. Statistically speaking approximately nine crores students appeared in the Senior Secondary Examination last year out of which only 3.5 crores passed and less than 25% went for higher studies. In the name of the higher studies these are the brain drain figures:

The implications are therefore clear that higher education only depicts a privileged picture as far as India is concerned. Hence, depriving the large bulk of students who end up competing for scarce career options with each other. Here also the budgetary provisions include salaries of employees, infrastructural expenses, accreditation expenses, research provisions etc ultimately pumping a very little amount of money for actual educational development of the participants i.e. students. Again one must also look into the condition of the educational institutes in India providing higher education for further clarity .A recent report of AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) on the closures of technical education institutions year wise reveals this data:

Also approximately 762 colleges have reduces their seats collectively adding upto a reduction of 69000 seats pan India.

In the light of the above pictures one feels equipped enough to analyse the popular draft of National Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020).The new draft merely is a duplication of Kothari commission Report of the year 1966-67.Formulation of a National Policy on Education was one of the important recommendations of the commission and in 1968, the fourth Lok Sabha elected to office in 1967 under the leadership of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, passed the bill. Out of the many major recommendations of the Kothari Commission one recommendation of spending 6% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been a key note in the new draft. The important point here is that prior to 2014 Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Government was spending 0.7% of the GDP on education and after 2014 to till date the expenditure percentage is of 0.5% of the GDP on education. So NEP2020 becomes a plan far from reality as proposed by the current government to gradually increase from 0.5% to 6% of GDP expenditure on education bearing in mind the economic condition of the country post pandemic. The circulating draft of NEP 2020 at many points seems to ignore points like Inflation, increase in population and variable chronological constraints. This ignorance is blatant once we see a target of including 3.5 crores additional students to be enrolled for higher education by the year 2035 without increasing the budgetary allocations.

But this daft which is in consideration doesn’t only have negative points, at certain point of planning this draft has some positives also. Flexibility in choice of subjects at a regular intervals and allowing professional courses to merge with skill development and employability are the two high points of this draft. Also increasing possibilities of private players in the imparting aspect of education can have an evolving effect on the current educational status of India. But privatisation in general will again fetch other complications like hike in fees, employment uncertainties etc. So this angle continues to remain a point of concern.

To sum it all till the finalised draft of National Education Policy 2020 comes for public review I can only say that:

Education should be viewed as a tool for national development and the policies must remain holistic as well as inclusive in its approach but the moment one tries to use education for political development the entire purpose of education is diluted to its core. As is quoted by Plato : “education is the means to achieve justice, both individual justice and social justice”

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Dossier Times and The Dossier Times does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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