The State has struck a discordant note on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which apparently has failed to answer several concerns that it had raised in the draft document.
The provisions are being perceived as violation of federal principles and encourage centralisation of decision-making powers in the sector.
Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel said the State’s concerns had been conveyed to the Centre, but to no avail. The policy is bound to have major ramifications for the State’s education sector, he added.
While welcoming the target set to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 50% by 2035, Dr. Jaleel said that the policy makes no mention of the additional financial burden required for the achieving the goal.
Shift to autonomy
He feared that the move to shift from the affiliation system to autonomy within 15 years is bound to impact colleges in villages and backward areas. Besides, the policy has flawed by assessing both public and private institutions using the same yardstick. This could lead to an unchecked emergence of corporate entities in the field.
Echoing the view, Kerala State Higher Education Council member secretary Rajan Varughese said that the policy’s discontinuous engagement with evolving challenges in the field of education is marked by a disdain for democratic principles, federal governance and public trust.
“It ignores the balance of power in the Constitution and vests all decision-making powers the Executive, while leaving nothing for Parliament and State legislatures that have hitherto been actively involved in creating many institutions and resources for educational development,” he said.
Dr. Varughese added that while the policy ignores the crises precipitated by governmental policies in the past. Besides, the policy has flawed by assessing both public and private educational institutional using the same yardstick. Withdrawing support for public-funded institutions is bound to adversely affect equity, accessibility and social justice.
Yet another demand raised by the State government that has gone unanswered is the need for a regulatory mechanism to address the unchecked proliferation of self-financing colleges. The State had also weighed in the idea of setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) by maintaining that Universities should be strengthened without destroying their diversity by forcing them into a ‘straight-jacket standardised normative frame’.