NEP 2020 misses the fundamentals of human development: Congress

Congress has lashed out at the government pointing out the details of the policy in primary, school and higher education

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Congress has lashed out at the government pointing out the details of the policy in primary, school and higher education. Congress has also questioned the timing of the policy amid the pandemic without any discussions at the institutional and Parliamentary level.

Congress has lashed out at the BJP government over the The National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP 2020). According to Congress, the NEP which aimed to pave the way for transformational reforms in “school and higher education” is high on catchwords, gloss, appearance and verbosity yet lacks (i) a coherent implementational roadmap and strategy, (ii) clearly defined milestones and (iii) the critical finances necessary to execute this grand vision.

The timing of the NEP 2020 in the middle of the Corona Pandemic when all educational institutions are closed is, in and of itself, questionable.  More so when almost the entire academia has complained of no consultation, no discussion and no deliberations, except with BJP-RSS affiliates. On a policy that impacts and affects our present and future generations, even Parliamentary oversight has been circumvented. Contrast this with the rigorous parliamentary and widespread consultation that preceded the Right to Education Act.

The transformation of school and higher education, multiplicity of ideas and the professed multi-disciplinary approach requires Finances. NEP 2020 recommends spending 6% of GDP on education. However, spending on education as a percentage of the budget, has fallen from 4.14% in 2014-15 to 3.2% in 2020-21 under the BJP Government.

Even this budgeted amount will see a cut of 40% owing to the Corona pandemic in the current year taking the education spending to (close to) 2% of the total budget. There is thus a huge mismatch between promise and delivery with no clarity on whether NEP 2020 proposes financing of 6% of GDP to come from public funds or private investment.

NEP 2020 lays principal focus on “online education” and distance learning to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (“GER”) from 26% to 50%. In absence of Digital Infrastructure and lack of access to computers/internet, this will lead to increased segregation of the poor and disadvantaged by creating a “Digital Divide”. More than 70% children of marginalised sections may be completely excluded as seen during access to online classes in the Covid-19 period.This will also make the rural versus urban divide even stronger on account of absent or diminished internet connectivity/access to computers in the rural areas. Even as per UDISE+ (‘Unified District Information on School Education’, Department of School Education, Government of India) data, only 9.85% of Government schools have a functional computer and 4.09% have an internet connection. This itself puts a question mark on the overwhelming reliance on online education in NEP 2020.

NEP 2020 makes no mention of reservations for SC, ST, OBC’s in academic institutions- be it for students or teachers or other employees. In fact, NEP 2020 completely omits to mention the policy of affirmative action in favour of socially and economically disadvantaged classes. Considering that NEP 2020 visualises increased reliance on private education and a shrinking of the public institutions, it provides no alternative or way forward vis-à-vis denial of educational opportunities for SC, ST and OBCs consequent to shrinkage of public institutions.

NEP 2020’s professed objective of “critical thinking, creative independence and spirit of enquiry” remains empty rhetoric as the BJP regime has systematically attacked Universities, obliterated Institutional autonomy and stifled freedom of expression among teachers and students alike.

Congress has also pointed out on the discrepancies of NEP in School and higher education.All in all, the NEP 2020 misses the fundamental goal of human development and expansion of knowledge.

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