Terming the Centre’s draft ‘National Education Policy 2016’ as an obvious attempt to subvert equity and secularism of India’s pluralistic society, the Samaththuva Kalvikkaana Koottamaippu (Confederation for Egalitarian Education) has appealed to the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) to redesign its proposals by including outstanding educationists from various sections of society in the exercise.
As a mark of registering their protest against the draft, the Confederation, comprising social groups, Muslim organisations, Roman Catholic Church, Church of South India and Salvation Army, has planned to organise a hunger strike at Jawahar Grounds in Palayamkottai on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters here on Thursday, representatives of the Confederation said the Vedic and gurukul systems of education, which were being projected as the “model” for the National Education Policy, would only lead to ‘varnasrama dharma’ and discrimination of students from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class and even women students.
The segregation of students as ‘meritorious’ and ‘less meritorious’ of the elementary education and relegate the ‘less meritorious’ to vocational stream and channelising the ‘meritorious’ alone to higher forums of education could not be accepted. “It will be another form of perpetuating hereditary labour followed in ‘kula kalvi’ and varnasrama dharma,” said Most Rev. Fr. A. Jude Paulraj, Bishop of Palayamkottai.
“Some of the inputs of MHRD for draft National Education Policy are against the constitutional values of equality, secularism and pluralism. The ethos and content of this policy is reflective of the communal agenda of the BJP-led government,” the Bishop said.
The document was silent on the historical contribution by Christians and Muslims to the cause of education and healthcare. “It’s distortion of history… We condemn the indifference of the Union government to citizenry of religious minorities,” he noted.
The Confederation opposed the proposals to include in curriculum yoga as a compulsory subject and Sanskrit as ‘third language,’ though they were not against the practice of yoga as one of the optional physical and mental disciplines.
“At a time when there was a need for socially relevant restructuring in education, the Centre has tabled its controversial draft. The intention of this policy is unconstitutional and it seeks to encroach upon the constitutionally protected rights of minority educational institutions,” said Rev. Bro. Victor Das, Rector, Brothers of Sacred Heart and Prof. Ashraf Ali of Muslim Orphanage Committee.
“We call upon the Tamil Nadu Government to reject the National Education Policy in its present form as it will destroy federal governance in the field of education by usurping the powers of the State,” said M.A. Britto, Director, ‘Vaan Muhil’, a Palayamkottai-based NGO.