A Critique to India’s new National Education Policy 2020

Oinam Ghanashyam (Thoujal) Khumancha and Oinam Teresa Khumancha

This is only the fourth time in India’s history to formulate new education policy. The last National Policy on Education was in 1992 under the Congress government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao and this policy was very much similar with the previous policy of 1986 under Rajiv Gandhi. For Almost 28 years the Indian Educational Policy remain unchanged with many of its drawbacks. Reformation was due for a long time to meet the requirement of changing trend. As part of re-national building program of India under BJP, the new “National Education Policy 2020” is formulated. As most of news media and social media are going to discuss the new education policy on its bright side. This paper will discuss on hidden or under line problem that will arise from this new education policy.

The first major issue with this policy is the financial dependence of the educational institutions to the private philanthropy and community participation (Chapter 26 of Part IV, National Education Policy 2020). This in simple plan word means the educational institutions are going to force to depend on the Philanthropic groups for their survivals. Normally, there are only three ways for educational institutions to generate funds other than aid or funds from Government. The three ways are increase the fees collected from the students and another is to provide services to big business or at mercy of private philanthropy. The problem of increasing fees from the students is that, it will alienated poor student from the education system. Poor students will not get access to educational institutions regardless of its reputation and quality. (Youtube, Whatsapps, Zoom, skype, google meet, skillshare etc. will not be equivalent to education learn from educational institutions). The problem of generating funds by offering services to big business or seeking aids from Philanthropist is the lost integrity of the educational institutions. There is also English saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. If fund are derives from the big business, than institutions will produce questionable research works which will be bias and somewhat supported the agenda of those Philanthropic party or Big Business. And these agenda may or may not harmful to the people but surely benefit the philanthropic party or Big Business. The tradition of academic neutrality will be history and only propaganda loaded research and research finding will be the norm of days, just looming dark days of academia. This event remind of the German Nazi Aryans book burning episode but in quite manner. Here, one may point out the policy says of spending 6% of national GDP in education. Still, the draft does not highlight how and who will provide the 6% GDP to the education. And, the fact is that GDP fund are Gross Domestic Product not the total income of the Government. Looking at current economic trends, the Government of India have no resources to provide the 6% GDP to education. And no interest in saving public non-profit making units as this government is right now selling many Public Sectors Units like Railways, Petroleum industries, Banks etc.

Second major issue with this policy is one standardise syllabus for whole India (Part 1, Chapter 4 and chapter 8 of the policy). Union of India is geographically very diverse, that’s why some even term it as sub-continent, so all things associated with it from agriculture to type of forest to vegetation to habitats to food habits. Culturally also India is unity in diversity. One single magical solution for agriculture will not work as in the Rajasthan is arid region its agriculture is unique and different from the Indo-Gangatic plan of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Even for agriculture also different approach need to be adopt to answer the need of this diversity. The new policy of single standardise education is simply looks like the controversial 1918 Soviet Union’s Uniform Labour School Regulation. The only thing of that was it does not work in huge diverse country as it will only create more problems for the union in long run. What India need is tailor education system which are differ from one region to another to answer the needs and requirements of the region. As India does not buy standardise Rafale fighter plane but a tailor Rafale fighter plane to answer the need of India not only that India have to buy different role of fighter plane like Light Combat Aircraft, Air Superiority fighter, multirole combat aircraft, bomber plane and ground attack aircraft etc. Even the American F35 fighter planes have three main versions and these three main versions also have many sub-versions, the Japanese F35s is different from American ones. The new education policy like people’s car concept all have to drive one model of car regardless of its requirement. A farmer needs to drive a mini truck or tractors and a school teacher need to drive a small car may be a hunchback car and an individual living in hilly region need to drive a 2×2 vehicle but authority advice and force all to drive Tata Harrier as this is “Make in India” car with very high quality with many safety feature.  This is the new education policy.

Third major issue with this policy is the common entrance test for higher education (chapter 4.42). This is too fancy to be true and seem more of copy paste from the People’s Republic of China’s “Gaokao” (National College Entrance Examination) without element of academic segregation. The Chinese Gaokao highlights the problem of regional disparity and discrimination. The advance cities and regions like Beijing, Shandong, Henan and Shanghai have clear advantages in getting admission to renowned institutions. With this new policy students of backward region like of Manipur, Jharkhand, Orissa, Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana will have a hard time to get admission in renowned institutions. Another issue is that when the students are educated up with its mother tongue or regional language; while the common entrance will be primary done with Hindi or in lesser extend with English, the students from backward regions again will have lesser changes to get admit in a renowned institution. 

Forth major issue with this policy is the removal of classification of streams (academic segregation) in higher secondary (part 1, chapter 4.9, 4.10 and Part 11). Academic segregation or classification of streams like Arts, Science and Commerce etc. has its own demerit but stopping this and introducing United States of America model which also has no academic segregation is just another level of stupidity specially in higher secondary level. United States of America is a country where more resources are spending in jail and prison than education. India does not need to copy United States of America education policy or structure. Theoretically the removal of classification of stream (academic segregation) is profound and majestic. The only problem is in the execution in real life. India is country which is crazy after Medical courses and engineering, suppose if a student took Hindi, English, Sanskrit, German, painting and History in class 12, will that student be allowed to go for Medical courses or engineering if they want in their bachelor course. The Standard Operating Procedure of the education system will be chaotic. Currently 18% of American Medical Physicians are of Indian origin with training from India. 

Fifth major issue with this policy is the Introduce of holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report of the students (Part 1, Chapter 4.35). Under this new policy the student report cart will be have an assessment of self, peers and teacher. To understand this lets took a fictional character from the web series Mirzapur, Munna Tripathi A.K.A. Phoolchand Tripathi. This Character goes to random class-room beat any student he wishes and the teachers and principal are also afraid of him as his father is “Bahubali” (Mob boss or King-pin) of the city. Just imagine what kind of report card assessment he will get under this policy when all are afraid of him. But the problem is that there are lot of Mob boss in every locality, city, and region of India. At the other side, there are students who are bullied by their classmate; there are also students who are look down by peers in the class due to its caste, religion, looks, region etc. What kind of peer assessment on their report card they will get is the question. This holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report of student will nightmare for many students and at same time turbocharger/ nitro booster for many undeserving students.

Sixth major issue with policy is the clustering of educational institutions (chapter 7). With this new policy many small villages will not have to educational institutions in the village itself for their young ones in near future. The small children will be force to walk for distance to get education.

Seventh major issue is over reliance on online and virtual educations. In India 10 % percent own the 90% wealth; many villages are still not connected with the electricity. Without electricity the notion of online and virtual education learning is (simply) not possible. For virtual and online studies a device is required, which is just still out of reach for many in India. Still the concept is good but not applicable to the present reality. Eighth major issue of this new education policy is the vanishing federal structure of India; in simple words this education policy is just reducing the rights and responsibility of the states. This will have huge implication on India as a country in future.

For weak, small, poverty ridden indigenous community like, Meitei will suffer more from this new education policy. As Meitei is backward indigenous community but mistakenly categorised as normal community without any need of aids from the Government. The recognised indigenous communities (Scheduled Tribes) will also have some relief from this policy. But backward poor indigenous community like Meitei will suffer more as cost of education is going expensive (according RBI Meitei is poor community in India), common syllabus and exam will ensure to show closed gate to Meitei students (after introduction of common MBBS Medical entrance test Meitei student are drastically reduce from Medical colleges across India).

The new National Education Policy 2020 may be developed with many good intentions but it has loopholes which will act like the Demonetisation and GST to Indian Economy. Many Navaratanas and Maharatanas of the India Economy were transformed to Non Performing Assets (NPAs).

The writers are Ph. D Scholars at Central University of Gujarat

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