Make education policy report public

The committee headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, which was appointed to give proposals on framing a new national education policy, has submitted its report. While the Human Resource Development Ministry has not made it official, some highlights of the report have come into the public realm. The committee’s brief was to help in preparing a new education policy as such. The existing policy is about three decades old and it has to be updated in view of the inadequacies that came to the fore during its implementation, the changes which have taken place in society and the new challenges and tools of education that have emerged. The crucial role of the education policy in shaping the future of the country is well-known. A sound education policy lays the foundation for the social, economic and scientific development of the country and is important in moulding the personalities of future citizens.

Considering the importance of the committee’s task, it is surprising that its composition was narrow and lacked authority and expertise in the area of education. Apart from TSR Subramanian, other members were former chief secretaries of Delhi and Gujarat and a former home secretary of Delhi. The only member who had some association with education is a former NCERT director J C Rajput who had become controversial during the time of the last NDA government when he faced charges of trying to saffronise education. There are many eminent educationists and experts in the country whose services the government could have utilised. It passes understanding why an important committee on education should be dominated by former bureaucrats. The very composition of the committee is bound to attract resistance to its proposals.

Subramanian has said that the members of the committee have held extensive discussions with all stake-holders all over the country before formulating its proposals. But that may not be enough to make the proposals widely acceptable.

The committee is thought to have recommended the holding of a national test for recruitment of teachers. It is not known how this is different from the existing National Eligibility Test (NET). There are also proposals on improving the quality of education at both school and college levels, the roles of private sector and foreign universities, changes in the examination system, skill development and vocational education and the restructuring of bodies like UGC and AICTE. There is the need for a wide and informed public debate on the proposals before they form the basis for the new policy. The government should make them public at the earliest.

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