Our Recommendations on New Education Policy

08 11
As a responsible students organization, we have submitted the following to the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Preface

Education is said to be the ‘great
equalizer’. Only a comprehensive education which is accessible to all can
equalize the society. Purpose of an education policy is to give direction to
the education system of a country. It is meant to shape the ‘way forward’ for
its education. The draft education policy, published by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development on their website, claimed to be formulated after wide
spread consultations with stakeholders of education across the country.
Interestingly, when one calculates the total number of consultations actually
held (from data provided on their website), it does not tally up to even half
the number of consultations promised by the Ministry. Earlier this year
academicians from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Tata Institute
of Social Sciences and other Universities wrote to the HRD Ministry asking why
they have been excluded from the consultation process. Student community was
completely ignored by the Government. Students didn’t even know anything about
the New Education Policy. A Government which is known for its extensive
marketing strategies could’ve ensured that every person in this country gets to
know about the fact that the Ministry has invited recommendations to the draft
New Education Policy, much like each citizen knows about ‘Swatch Bharat’ or
‘Make in India’ today. We are convinced that the Government has not been
publicizing this ‘open platform’ sufficiently deliberately so that an Education
policy based on their whims and fancies can be passed in the guise of a
‘democratically compiled policy.’

The Ministry of HRD held a 6 hour
long meeting with the RSS’ students’ wing, ABVP to discuss the New Education Policy,
however, despite multiple requests for a meeting, NSUI was constantly denied a
meeting with the HRD Minister.

National Students’ Union of India
believes in not only critical but also constructive participation. Since the
Government failed to fulfill their promise, NSUI took it upon ourselves to
reach as many colleges and Universities across the country as possible and held
wide spread consultations – both online and offline - on the draft New Education Policy. The entire
process has been a very enriching experience for us and we have received in-depth
inputs from students across the country, which have been compiled in this
document.

Introduction

A country’s National Education Policy
is meant to serve as a comprehensive framework to provide a road map for the
development of its education system. An Education policy gets released every
few decades each with a novelty of its own. The publication of an education
policy every few years serves as a milestone in the education sector.

In India, we have had two Education
Policies prior to the current attempt. The first one was during the Indira
Gandhi Government in 1968 and the second one was in Rajiv Gandhi’s Government
in 1986. Each policy bought with it something very progressive yet unique for
its time to better the system of Education. The policy of 1968 called for a
‘radical restructuring and to equalize educational opportunities in order to
achieve national integration and greater cultural and economic development. The
policy also called for fulfilling compulsory education for all children up to
the age of 14, as stipulated by the Constitution of India, and the better
training and qualification of teachers.’ The standard education structure
(10+2+3) was envisioned in 1968’s Education policy and is accepted by all
states and followed till date.

The 1986 policy reflected innovation,
something Rajiv Gandhi was known for. It focused on the role of Information
Technology in education and laid emphasis on reformation of teacher education,
early childhood care, women’s empowerment and adult literacy. The new policy
called for “special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalize
educational opportunity,” especially for Indian women, Scheduled Tribes
(ST) and the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities. Under this policy, autonomy of
Universities and Colleges was turned into reality.

Post the National Policy of
Education, 1986 no new Education Policy has been released. However, some
substantial changes were made to the 1986 policy in 1992 by the P. V. Narsimha
Rao Government. Also, in 2005, Dr. Manmohan Singh adopted some new policies
based on the Common minimum program of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

In 2015, the current Government announced
that they would be holding consultations with stakeholders from across the
country over the year. The purpose of these consultations was to discuss,
deliberate and debate on various aspects of what should and what shouldn’t
comprise the New Education Policy 2016. Although a very democratic idea in principle,
the execution of

this process was marred majorly with
controversies. For starters, the Ministry, through its committee, was unable to
meet even half the total number of consultations as promised by them. Early
this year various academicians wrote to the Ministry seeking explanation on
their exclusion from the consultation process. The release of the document upon
compilation too was highly contentious. The TSR Subramaniam Committee that
drafted the policy got into a tiff with the Ministry when they learned that the
Ministry was refusing to release the draft. He wrote to the then Education
Minister saying that it was important to release it in public interest as the
contents were not classified, and that after “soul searching” he felt that he
ought to release it himself if she would not. He was not the only person to
place this pressure on the MHRD. Civil society organizations also made a
request for complete content disclosure in order to facilitate informed public
discussion on the first revamped NEP in three decades. The draft never got published
but a 43 page document was released as “Some Inputs for Draft National
Education Policy - 2016”. The Ministry has asked for recommendations on
the same.

After going through the 43 paged
document and discussing it with students from across the country, we have come
across various short comings in it. We have therefore compiled our analyses of the
“Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy - 2016” published by
the Ministry of Human Resource Development and also some recommendations based
on it through this document.

Analyses of
the draft National Education Policy

The draft of inputs to National
Education Policy was published on the MHRD website in June 2016. The draft has
borrowed heavily from the TSR Subramanian committee report. However, it has no
mention of the committee and process of formulating the document.

Ambiguous
document

One would expect the Ministry to
publish a rather comprehensive document while opening it for public discussions
and recommendations, but they have failed to do so. The entire manuscript is quite
ambiguous as a whole. This draft rightly acknowledges the met and unmet targets
of previous education policies and also puts light on the various problems
being faced by our education system. The document however, has failed to
provide tangible solutions to these problems.

Against
Indian values

In its first few lines, the draft has
rightly spoken of the influence of Vedic education in molding our system of
education as we know it. Our country has seen the rich influence of multiple
dynasties, cultures, traditions, values and religions. The confluence of them
all has brought us to where we are today. Over the years, we have picked the
values of some of these influencing factors, and dropped the regressive
believes of some. It is important to either acknowledge all of these cultures
that have contributed to our education system, or to mention none at all. By
citing only one of them we are being unfair to the other contributors and
directly contradicting the values of secularism.

In its mission statement the document
states that the learning outcome of student includes knowledge, skill, attitude
and values. It talks about values ‘learned from India’s rich heritage, glorious
past, great traditions and heterogeneous culture which are important for
citizenship, peace, tolerance, secularism, National integration, social
cohesion and mutual respect for all religions.’ However, there is no specific
policy proposal for acquisition of these values by its learners. Humanities and
social science subjects are important in developing such values by giving rise
to empathy towards one another and encouraging critical thinking among
students.

But the policy draft has neglected
both these areas. Besides this, the method of curriculum planning is also
problematic as it intends to control it and to provide a common syllabus for
all states. Controlling curriculum and content of course is clearly an attempt
by them to dominate the teaching-learning process and to ignore the
multiplicity of reality.

Towards the end of its preamble, the
document claims that the draft policy is inspired by the following thoughts of
Mahatma Gandhi, “The real difficulty is
that people have no idea of what education truly is. We assess the values of
education in the same manner as we assess the values of land or of shares in
the stock exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would
enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement
of the character of the educated.”

In reality, however, the document
goes completely against Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of education. He believed that
education should not merely be a tool to please the market but should encourage
critical thinking among students. Contrary to this, the draft NEP stresses on
the importance of market oriented education in its vision itself. Throughout
the document emphasis has been laid on the need for an education focused on the
needs of market. The draft policy seems determined to produce robots for the
market that follow orders and are incapable of any social change by questioning
the status quo.

Diluting
Right to Education Act

The draft also makes an attempt to
dilute provisions of Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009. Many proposals in the
draft indicate fundamental changes in the RTE. This act was a milestone in the
development of education in our country. Many students are of the opinion that
diluting the RTE is a terrible idea. The infrastructure clause of the RTE is a
crucial part of the Act. It is meant to provide students with quality essential
educational facilities. Lobbies of the private sector have been advocating to
exempt them from this clauses so that they don’t have to spend much on educational
infrastructure. Both RTE and the NEP draft have described these schools as
sub-standard infrastructure wise and this clause seeks to address this issue.
Relaxing this clause would drastically affect the vision of the RTE Act.

It is very convenient to assume that
the no Detention Policy (NDP) is responsible for the low standard of education.
Research from across the globe proves that detention hardly solves anything.
Examinations and grades serve as a threat to children and can have damaging
effect on social and cognitive development across the elementary years.

Besides, the no detention policy has
controlled the drop-out rates among students particularly girls and those
belonging to lower income backgrounds considerably. Education must be enjoyable
to a student in their primary years. It should be imparted in such a way that it
attracts the student to gain understanding of the world and shouldn’t be looked
at as a burden. No detention must continue till Class 8.

Class 10th
board Examinations

Two kinds of Class 10 board
examinations is a poor idea which easily becomes a source of inequity. Basic
common academic standards up to Class 10 are necessary for all children.

Privatization
of Education

The draft NEP has rightly
acknowledged the rise of private institutions in our country without meeting
the infrastructural norms and with poor learning environment. The
uncontrollable rise in private education has further contributed to dropping of
the integrity of our education system. While recognizing this issue, the draft
fails to address it at all. On the contrary, the policy gives way for further
commercialization of Education.

Regulating
regulation

Moving ahead, the draft has
underlined how regulatory authorities are responsible for the poor standard of
education in our country. But the draft has not put forth any concrete solution
to this problem. On the contrary, it proposes the formation of more regulatory
authorities, with no mechanism in place to ensure that they would combat the
‘poor education’ issue as pointed out earlier; a very vague input in the draft.
As pointed out by former MoS HRD, Dr. Shashi Tharoor in one of the NSUI
consultations, “Education in our country is over regulated and under Governed.”

Curriculum

The draft NEP places focus on
producing skilled labor for corporations and industries. The draft completely
ignores the objectives of the widely consulted and prepared National Curriculum
Framework, 2005 (NCF). The NCF has prescribes that learners should be provided
with the opportunity to question, inquire, debate, reflect, explore, learn by
doing as well as problem solving and critical thinking. These objectives result
into scientific temper and independence of mind and hence are exceedingly
important in an education system. According to a study by NCERT, not even 50%
of states follow the NCF which has led to sub-standard learning material being
used in schools. For instance, some state prescribed textbooks have had sexist
jokes which found the way into the books due to non-compliance with the NCF.
The NEP draft should have incorporated a mechanism to ensure the implementation
of NCF across the country. Reversing the objective of NCF, like it does in the
draft, would result in states further using sub-standard learning material.

Public
funding

The current Central Government has
been decreasing the budgetary allocation to education in each year’s budget
session ever since they have come to power. The draft NEP, much like their pre
2014 election rhetoric, speaks of raising the investment in education to 6% of
the GDP. The current spending on education has been brought down to 0.48% of
the GDP by the Government. If this point in the draft NEP is fulfilled in
reality, it will be a huge progress. But looking at the trend that they have
followed, we are convinced that this point is mere rhetoric with no reality.

Reservation

Reservation in India follows the
concept of Equal Opportunity as enshrined in our Constitution. The basis of
reservation is the existence of some form of historical or contemporary social
and educational disadvantage. It is the
process of facilitating a person in education. Deprived sections of our society
are given some advantage by means of reservation owing to their disproportionate
social representation. Reservation forms an integral part of our education
system. An Education policy can never be complete without the mention of
Reservation. The draft NEP does not speak at all about reservation which is
highly appalling.

Our
Recommendations

Indian higher education is at
critical stage of its development. Less than one-fifth of the estimated 120
million potential students are enrolled in higher education institutions in
India, far below the world average of about 26%. Our current education system
is unable to reap the benefits of the huge demographic dividends of India.

The Indian Government, at this stage,
should be introducing progressive policies and legislations on education. While
the expenditure on education should increase with every passing year, we are
moving in the opposite direction. Autonomy of institutions is being taken away
and the dissemination of myth disguised as history in educational institutions
is on the rise.

6% of GDP
to be spent on education

A Nation filled with educated youth,
up to date with what the 21st century offers, has the potential to cross any
hurdles that come in the way of the transformation from a ‘Developing Nation’
to a ‘Developed Nation’. In order to accomplish this goal, it is essential that
the Government spend more on the Education sector. Although the draft NEP
mentions about this, we are convinced that it is propagated as mere rhetoric.

This indifference towards the needs
of the student community is highly appalling. The MHRD must ensure the fulfillment
of this recommendation strictly.

National
Research and Development Fund

We propose that the NEP should speak
about setting up of a ‘National Research & Development Fund’ to encourage
Research & Development in all streams of education.

Special
Youth Development Package

We propose a special youth
development package to be dedicated to areas affected by Left wing extremism
with special emphasis on youth belonging to SC/ST communities and women.

Hassle
free and Interest free student loan

The process of applying for a student
loan is troublesome and very tedious. Students who take loans for education are
subject to heavy interest, which further reduces their will to take up the
‘more expensive’ course which would ideally be their first preference. A
student shouldn’t be deprived of his choice of education merely due to
financial constraints. Education is the great equalizer, the only mechanism to
bridge the rich-poor divide in the society. Equal access to all is essential,
not only in primary but also secondary and higher education.

A Government which has the financial
capacity of approving a loan to Gautam Adani of Adani enterprises of 6,200
crore, in spite of having a debt of over 70,000 crore should have absolutely no
problem in providing the future of the country, its students, with an interest
free education loan.

We, therefore, propose that Education
loans at all levels and for all courses be made interest free and hassle free.

National
Commission for Students

It is important to have an
independent body, dedicated entirely to students which will protect and promote
the interests of students. This Commission will review Constitutional and legal
safeguards for students, recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate
redressal of grievances and advise the government on all policy matters
concerning students.

National
Accreditation Regulatory Authority bill

Presently higher education is
regulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and 14 professional
councils such as the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and the
Medical Council of India (MCI). Although these Authorities regulate the
functioning of the institutions under them, they are unable to maintain quality
of education or institutions. In fact, the rate at which fake institutions are
being established is on a constant rise and validating their authenticity is
not an easy task for a student.

The Congress led UPA government had
introduced the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Education
Institutions Bill, 2010 which seeks to set up a mechanism to accredit all
higher educational institutions. This would ensure that students have access to
information about the quality of an educational institution and each course
offered by them.

Factors such as affiliation,
accreditation, and student – teacher ratio should be taken into account.

The passing of this bill would solve
most problems regarding regulation of Educational Institutions, and thus we
propose that this bill be passed on a priority basis.

Framing
of Curriculum

We have observed a very frightening
trend of ideologies being propagated and taught to students masked as facts.
History is being replaced by myth and no one seems to be regulating the
curricula. The Government is busy in influencing young impressionable minds and
using something as sacred as education to further their communal agenda.
Education system has lost sync with the demands of the industry and absolutely
nothing is being done to rectify this issue.

We propose that under the NEP an
independent protective authority should be set up that keeps a check on the
quality of education being disseminated and ensure that standards of quality
and performance are certified, defined and met. This body should encourage
competition in curricula between educational institutions to cater to the
growing local and national skill needs. It should be determined by demand of
industries instead of being set by bureaucrats. We will also support regional
and context specific curricula as well focus on developing life skills
including leadership building. This body should also consist of representatives
from Industries who can conceptualize the skill set requirement in the
curricula. There should also be a regional & context specific curricula as
well as focus on developing life skills including leadership building and
courses that impart moral sciences and sensitization towards women.

We propose that should be designed
with the sole agenda of imparting up-to date quality education and making
students industry ready.

Regulation
of Private Education

We propose the passing of a
legislation which sets an upper limit to the donation that can be demanded by a
private institution in the name of ‘management quota’. We have witnessed
various incidents where students belonging to lower income backgrounds aren’t
able to get admission in courses of their choice because they can’t pay the
high donations being demanded. Right to Education of one’s choice is the right
of every citizen of our country and should not depend on their economic status.
Education is a right and not a commodity.

Autonomy

There have been regular cases in the
recent past that go to show the threat being faced to institutional autonomy.
It is very important to keep the institutions free from political interference
in order to be able to impart quality education. Resignation by VCs due to
Government interference, constant involvement by the HRD Ministry in the
academic process is exceedingly objectionable. Governance structures should
preserve autonomy and ensure accountability of universities while developing
expertise in educational management and separating it from academic
administration. Vice Chancellors should be appointed through a search process
and peer judgment alone. Selection of Vice Chancellors should not be done on
the basis to their affiliation to a certain organization or by the company they
keep. Qualification and merits must overpower any other factor.

We propose that under the NEP,
Government should not be allowed to interfere with the Autonomy of Educational
institutions.

Freedom
to dissent in campuses

Ever since the current Government has
come to power, the student community has seen a systematic attack on the right
to dissent. Students have been targeted for having ideologies different from
that of the ruling Government. Students have also been besieged by slapping of
sedition charges, threats to fail in exams, suspensions, etc for using their
freedom of speech to dissent. There have been multiple episodes where students
have been defamed by being called ‘anti-National’ for not agreeing with the
Government. Universities and Colleges should be open spaces where ideas are
discussed, deliberated and debated. One should not be shunned for holding an
opinion. We propose that mechanisms be put in place so that the freedom of
speech and right to dissent of students be protected and encouraged in
educational institutions.

Revamping
the Examination System

Our current examination system has
been criticized by students time and again. The system encourages rote learning
and is not a sufficient yardstick to measure one’s understanding of the
subject. Each student holds a different potential and aptitude from the other
and a single methodology to evaluate each one yield improper results. Intelligence
of a student can’t be confined to merely a text book and is beyond that. There
are major issues that occur in our current examination system. The same system
has been followed for years and has not been reformed since ages now. The
biggest problem with this system is that there is way too much question of
chance involved. The purpose of education is the holistic development of an
individual. Examination today is viewed more as a burden and punishment than an
evaluation system. It stresses the students curbing their ability to critical
thinking thereby defeating the very purpose of education. Keeping all of this
in mind the NEP should reform the entire system of evaluation. Open book tests
could be taken into consideration. We must understand the purpose of evaluation
in education and revamp the system to fulfill the same.

Teacher
Evaluation

The NEP must incorporate effective
methods of teacher evaluation. Anonymous student review could be one such
mechanism besides other things.

Networks
of Knowledge

In today’s world having an education
system that is on par with the latest technology while gaining from the
benefits it has to offer, is important. Accessibility and being up to date with
what the 21st century offers is highly essential in the development of a
student. Taking advantage of ICT technology, physical classrooms should
continue to be supplemented by virtual classrooms. There has to be an increased
focus on IT for education using internet and mobile technology at scale such as
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Educational institutions must become neural
networks of thinking and learning, interconnected via a horizontal network of
knowledge and also interconnected vertically to industry, government and
community.

Setting up of Network of Knowledge
will keep students connected to various other institutions across the country,
keeping a check on the curricula and quality of education being departed. This
technical advancement will also keep students in sync with the demands of the
industry, government and society.

We propose the setting up of Networks
of Knowledge.

Student
Empowerment

Student voice must get the platform
it deserves. However, authorities in many institutions are suppressing their
voice by depriving their right of democratic representation.

Student Union Elections: Existing guidelines
under the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations on student union elections are
vague which are open to interpretation and hence, misused by authorities as per
their whims. We propose a new parliamentary legislation that will frame
standard guidelines for the compulsory conduction of student union elections in
all private as well as Government institutions across India.

Vidyarthi Panchayat: Guidelines should be set
to make every institution conduct Vidyarthi Panchayat, a democratic platform
where students and authorities can interact with each other to redress
grievances, represent in decision making and setting accountability.

Budget of
Educational Institutions to be published

Right to Information makes it
mandatory for Government bodies to publish all their budget and proposed
expenditure on a public platform. In order to bring in transparency and check
corruption pertaining to budget of different universities in India, we propose
that every educational institution in India should compulsorily publish their
budget publicly.

Addressing
Campus Discrimination

The last two years have also seen an
increasing attack on Social justice and Gender equality. Discrimination against
students belonging to deprived sections of the society is on the rise. Women
are being treated as un-equals by means of moral policing and differential
hostel timings among other things. We believe that the NEP should comprise of
substantial mechanism to deal with such prejudices.

J&K
and NE students

Under the NEP, systematic steps
should be taken to address issues relating to discrimination against students
from the North East and Jammu and Kashmir. A special syllabus should be
introduced regarding these regions for all the schools of the country
compulsorily for a period of two continuous years starting from the primary
level in order to make everyone aware about the region, history, people and
culture.

Equal
Opportunities cell for SC/ST, OBC & Differently-Abled students

The NEP must incorporate proposed
reforms and implementation mechanism of the UGC guidelines to compulsorily set
up an equal opportunity cell in every Educational Institution.

Sex-Education

Sexuality is broader than sexual
activity. It encompasses all the things that make us who we are. It is shaped
by culture, history, values, education and experience. From a young age
children are exposed to sexual imagery and language in their own environment
and their bodies are experiences and developing constant changes. Their curiosity
is inevitable and the answers they get should clarify and not confuse the
issues further. Sex-Education is therefore a highly important subject to ensure
sexual wellbeing and gender sensitization among the growing students. The draft
NEP makes no mention of Sex Education. We propose that policies are laid down
that make Sex-Ed a compulsory course in school education.

Health
Care

When a student falls ill or is
injured during the course of his education, it is the responsibility of his/her
educational institution to provide the student with heath care. Currently in
implementation, most institutions don’t even provide first-aid to its students
which is shameful.

Medical Centre – We propose that the
government make it compulsory for all educational institutes to either have an
‘In-Campus Medical Centre’ or tie up with a local dispensary/hospital that must
conduct quarterly health check-up of the students.

Student Health & Accident
Insurance
– Every educational institution should provide ‘Health & Accident
Insurance’ to all its students.

Counseling Cells - To curb the alarming
suicide rates and the stigma associated with mental health consultation,
counseling cells will have to be set up at every institution. The NEP should speak about the setting up of
‘Counseling Cells’ in every secondary, higher secondary and college- both
private and Government. Such cell must have at least one trained psychologist
as a member.

Without the fulfillment of these, we
propose that licenses of institutions be revoked, or not provided in case of
institutions being newly established.

National
Sports Education University

We propose the setting up of
‘National Sports Education Universities’ to educate students of exceptional
talent in the field of sports. There should be a team of experts who would be
continuously scouting for talent in every sport across the country in the
age-group of 8-15 years. It should have world class coaches and facilities.
These Universities should be on par with the IITs and NITs and should be a host
to world class sports technology.

Differently
abled students

We propose that the Government take
special care of differently abled students by conducting research on modes of
teaching available for them and giving them the best of education such that they
can be molded to the best of their potential.

Gifted children with extra ordinary
talents should be given distinct education based on their gift. These children,
when exposed to a normal public school tend to lose their special abilities
over time. They should, in fact be shaped such that they turn into an asset to
the society contributing to the maximum.

Institutions whose infrastructure in
not friendly to the physically-challenged should be denied license.

Foreign
Education

We propose that the Government set up
a Central student exchange program under its Foreign Affairs Ministry wherein
monthly batches of students from India are sent abroad for better exposure,
understanding and experience.

We propose the setting up of
government run employment exchange/ facilitation centres for youth seeking
foreign employment opportunities. These will help curtail middlemen/fraudulent
recruiting agencies. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should be the
nodal agency.

Increase
in total seats

If we are able to achieve a 30% Gross
Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 2020, there will be 100 Million qualified students,
with no space in our Universities. The NEP has to find a way to address this
issue.

Central
Educational Information Centre

It is crucial that all the
information required by students be made available in a common place. We demand
the establishment of a Central Educational Information Centre that shall have a
centralized database of information on institutions, courses, fees, fellowships,
scholarships, schemes etc.

Industrial
Training Institutes (ITI)

We propose the establishment of new
Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and updating the already existing ones to
boost skill development.

Conclusion

The draft National Education Policy
has both positive and negative aspects to it. But the overall tune of the draft
NEP hold a very clear agenda. Every aspect in the draft policy has been
explained in the context of market based economy. The policy completely ignores
the holistic development of an individual by encouraging critical thinking and
scientific temper through education. The policy is obsessed with using
education as a tool for fulfilling the market demands. The policy also paves
way for commercialization of education. The draft has been compiled considering
only the benefits of a few which is highly dangerous. We urge the Ministry to
rethink its objectives of drafting this policy and to ensure affordable,
accessible, quality education to all while safeguarding the Idea of India and
values of our Constitution when the final draft is released.