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The Union Cabinet endorsed the New Education Policy 2020 on 29 July 2020, making some dramatic amendments to its predecessor policy formulated more than 30 years ago. The Policy aims to ensure every child has access to good education while also revising the school and higher education system in India according to the current government.
The key proposals were to replace the educational model from 10+2 to 5+3+3+4, with sufficient emphasis given to children’s foundational year of government and private education; to allow the Board Examination twice to be attempted, and to offer multiple entries and exit options for a 3 or 4-year undergraduate degree by making provision for storing ‘transferable loans’ Offer Masters program options for a long year; discontinue M.Phil. As a course and, particularly, by eliminating the severe division of science, arts, curriculum, vocational, and academics, education is multidisciplinary.
Despite such audacious and necessary changes in the education system, which might seem progressive but enormously difficult to achieve, in a country like India that survives on a very divided education system, it is not difficult for you to observe and visualize some of the key faults addressed and debating at the moment in the New Education Policy 2020.
In the beginning, the Indian Constitution required education, which was later moved to the Competitive List in 1976, to be maintained as a state subject. Thus, while implementing education and learning policies, the nation has taken an increasingly federal approach. The new Policy aims, however, at creating a single board of governors (BOG) that is eligible to make decisions on major issues, such as tuition fees, academic curricula, and timetables, the number of students and teachers to be hired, wage structures, promotions, etc.
By replacing current bodies such as the UGC, AICTE, NCTE, the Board will serve as a single regulator. There are many opportunities for such one Board of governors to overcome the grievances of some institutions of education by promoting its capital interests in order to disseminate the ideological agenda of the governing party.
The three languages formula New Education Policy 2020 persists in schools but underlines two of these languages’ vernacularism. The fact that the Policy emphasizes Sanskrit in the current sense of saffronisation is also worth examining. It also recommends that the states use the mother tongue as their teaching medium before class five. This is perhaps the most heated point of contention because the proposal does not discuss the principles and feasibility of such a position.
With more regions with a wide range of local languages, imposing a single regional language causes considerable uncertainty as far as its application is concerned. The Education Policy does not explain how this will be applied to students with cross-cultural parents or others who may have moved to other towns. In addition, the cosmopolitan essence of Indian towns does not only cover a single local language.
One only consequence, which seems to illustrate these policy dimensions, is the high probability that English is taken away from its stature as a widely used instructional tool. And the consequences of this seem most harmful to the experience of marginalized people, who do not have the means, even from schools, to invest in the education of English from external sources. Such language barriers will, therefore, in the longer term, effectively constrain their interaction with the globalized world and ultimately forbid its social and employment mobility.
The Policy promises that the basic classes will be universalized within the framework of the current 5+3+3+4 model without tackling problems, including lack of infrastructure. While it was noted that teachers/Anganwadi staff are given early-childhood education (without mention of their appropriate compensation) and that all children are provided with the same training, this does not provide a financial or Policy route for achieving that.
The Policy also states that the scope of the Right to Education Act should be extended through the free and mandatory education of children from 3 to 18 years of age, but no clarification seems to be provided as to how it will happen in private schools which frequently complain that their RTE dues are not reimbursed in due course.
In addition, this extension will only be implemented entirely if a legislative amendment is proposed to edit the 2009 RTE Act, which, as is currently practiced, provides free and binding education for children aged 6-14 years. The Policy decides to keep quiet about this. Thirdly, 6% of GDP is being used to facilitate education, but with a meager 3% of GDP invested in 2018-19, such an optimistic leap is far-fetched.
The New Education Policy 2020 proposes, in this connection, the establishment of a fund to facilitate equal access for underprivileged women and transgender students. It also refers to the establishment of special education zones (SEZs), to which philanthropic partnerships will operate and which thus exclude the government from its duties.
An additional weakness is that digital learning courses in regional languages are over-emphasized by the Policy without providing any information on a suitable infrastructure for such a goal. It is important to note that provisions on digital learning from home often limit the right of girls to attend schools.
There are also no longer any long-term institutional compensation schemes for reducing cases of sexual assault or child abuse while having no structure to encourage gender and caste awareness on education campuses while also exploring the aspects of addressing identity-based violence.
In addition, a lower percentage of women, relative to men, are able to access the Internet and technical devices so that they are prevented from acquiring information. The New Education Policy 2020 also speaks of consolidating the schools in the surrounding areas; it also restricts them because girls are still not allowed to travel far for schooling today. The lack of control of menstrual hygiene at schools leads to a decline in girls at an early age. Not surprisingly, no mention is made of promoting access in the Policy to menstrual items such as sanitation or increasing the provision of women’s toilets.
The New Education Policy 2020 makes the use of ambivalent terminology such as Society-economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) extremely easy for all students from low backgrounds. It does not mention specifically arrangements of reservation or equal access to SC and ST societies for students. It allows private colleges to provide scholarships or ‘incentives’ without the government declaring responsibility for them to worthy students in marginalized communities.
With increased commercialization and lack of adequate funding, until autonomous institutions will depend on the option of increasing students’ fee structure. The policies would widen the gap between financially competent and incompetent students. They would then be obliged to drop out of these inaccessible institutions by such privatization of education and allowing international universities to open campuses in India that would charge a large fee.
It was received with due scrutiny and fair criticism from different outlets immediately after the draft policy was published in 2019 and adopted in July 2020, and it was also very moving that its rejection was requested. The current subject of education, as previously noted, comes under the Concurrent List, which is why the policy subject of the draft calls for room to be heard and to instill in State governments, eminent educators, and other stakeholder’s suggestions. The hasty way in which the New Education Policy 2020 was approved is, however, challenged because the Parliament has been circumvented in the process.
It will be only in the future, in full practice in the field, that the release of the new education Policy 2020 is a political impediment or a well-meaning effort aimed at changing the core values of the obsolete Indian Education system.
In a period of ‘selectively’ excluding sections such as laicism, democratic rights, and civility from the existing curriculum under a pandemic, it also is necessary to anticipate and challenge the Union’s government’s intentions concerning the plan for multidisciplinary learning. It is also essential to consider this purpose. You, therefore, have to be careful about how to plan future courses.
The current pandemic also confirms the selective exclusion of the digital divide in India from the caste and the low-income communities, particularly how the epidemic has affected the access of young girls and women to education. Those in power, therefore, ought to look for ways to integrate every child into the current education system instead of broadening the divide between rich and poor. Therefore the faults in the New Education Policy 2020 should be looked upon, and effective measures should be taken in order to smoothen the process of the Indian Education System.
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