Point of view Education

Draft National Education Policy: points to ponder

AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN

AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN   | Photo Credit: RAVEENDRAN

The Draft National Education Policy has certain sore points that need to be relooked at for the benefit of teachers and students alike

Here are my thoughts on some aspects of the Draft National Education Policy 2019:

Languages

In its simplest interpretation, language serves humans as an important tool that helps to live life fully. As such, the tool should not usurp the purpose it is supposed to serve. As with every living species, man in his optimality search must also expend only the least possible time and effort in conquering and harnessing this tool, for effectively living his life.

Why then should we be burdened with three languages, while two are just sufficient?

The primary one is the mother tongue which the child learns and imbibes. But to understand more things and to converse with more people, the child needs another popular language, namely, English. Many conservative countries around the world, such as Russia, Japan and China have come out of their language shackles and started using English because of its global utility and appeal. We Indians are good in it, too. Thus, from a utilitarian point of view, we must have the global language English, in addition to the local language, the mother tongue.

Our leaders on the one hand are trying to lessen the burden on the child by reducing the number of subjects taught in schools, of exams, of books to be carried in backpacks and so on. Let them also keep the number of languages to be learnt to two and not more.

Teachers

India’s roots lie in its villages and therefore, every reformation must start from there. However, most of us are very liberal in offering oral solatium to our rural counterparts, but comfortably forget to support them with basic facilities such as education and employment. Village schools are powerhouses of the nation and cannot be viewed as trading places providing immediate monetary gain. Schools lacking in student strength cannot be closed down, but must be strengthened with better facilities, in terms of infrastructure, teaching faculty and the like, unmindful of expenses involved. Education is one of the best investments we can make, perhaps next only to defence, for as global leader Nelson Mandela put it, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

A teacher deserves double the respect of a subject specialist, since the former must be good both in the subject and in the art of teaching. Indeed many countries including South Korea, China, Greece and Turkey hold their teachers in high esteem; and countries like England, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Spain and Denmark pay the teachers very well, according to a Global Teacher Status Index study. India, of course, is not in either, but should resolve not to downgrade teachers, since they shape the future citizens of the country. Their workload should be limited to academic and research pursuits only.

Teachers’ quality must be developed, particularly in rural areas which are prone to be neglected. In the healthcare sector, we have the commendable system of deputing doctors to serve in rural areas with incentives. Similarly, in the education sector, some senior and competent teachers can be deputed to serve in nascent village schools on tenure basis. Their contribution will go a long way in making the schools self-sustaining and beneficial to society.

Exams

They have become an everyday affair. Everybody is subjected to examinations of some kind on the other. The practice of promoting students up to class IX without exams has done more harm than good to a large section of the student community, particularly in rural areas. There are many drop-outs after class IX because these students were kept unaware of their low level of attainment for a dreadfully long period and suddenly penalised. Is this not an injustice on the poorer segment of society?

Again, why should a board exam be dreaded and treated differently to a regular exam? Does this not imply that a regular exam is not to be taken as seriously? Then it does not serve its purpose. Let all exams be taken seriously, but we must also train candidates who are not scared of facing these exams and have a positive attitude towards them.

The writer is former professor and Head (Entrance Examinations and Admission), Anna University, Chennai.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 7:32:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/think-about-this/article28805417.ece

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