National Education Policy 2020 | Why bypass Parliament, asks Tharoor

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. File   | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Congress Lok Sabha member and former Minister of State of Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor on Thursday “welcomed” the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 but questioned the government for not bringing it before Parliament first for discussion.

In a long Twitter thread, Mr. Tharoor said the challenge of revising the 1986 policy was to ensure “aspiration is matched by implementation”.

For example, the goal of six per cent of the GDP to be spent on education that was part of the NEP 2020 was first articulated in 1948. In the six years the education budget had reduced. How will it reach six percent, he asked.

Equally, he pointed out that the goal of 50 percent gross enrolment ratio in higher education and 100 per cent in secretary schools while “laudable” could be tough since it was currently 25.8% in high education & 68% in Class 9.

“The NEP should have offered more tangible and realisable targets for research. Total investment on research and innovation in India declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.6% in 2018. There are currently only 15 researchers in India per 100,000 of population,compared with 111 in China,” Mr. Tharoor said.

The NEP 2020 had also left many unanswered questions on the upgrade of school infrastructure and shortage of qualified and trained teachers. Placing the burden of pre-primary education on the overstretched, under-funded and under-equipped anganwadis was disastrous, he said.

“Overall, my worry is the NEP showcases a strong tendency towards centralisation, high aspiration with low feasibility and an unspoken assumption that much of the challenge will be met by the private sector, which will drive up costs and make many opportunities unaffordable for the poor,” he noted.

Education markets

General Secretary of the Communist Party of India D. Raja said in a statement that the policy brought with it a fundamental change in the system towards creating education markets and away from ensuring universalisation of education through government schools and rejecting quality education to the poor and socially disadvantaged sections of society. “In the absence of public-funded education, this will take away the social justice whatever little it is there today,” he stated.

He slammed the government for bypassing Parliament. “The NEP is an attempt to lead to total privatisation, commercialisation and over centralisation. The result will be higher fees, attacks on autonomy of universities and no permanent jobs in teaching,” he said.

The only redeeming feature of the policy was extension of Right to Education, which currently was only till 14 years of age to 18 years and universalising pre-primary education. The success of this was extremely doubtful, considering the characteristic changes that were brought in the system, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 5:03:13 PM |

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