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New Education Policy: CPI-M, DUTA oppose even as government calls it 'momentous'

nand Mishra
Last Updated : 29 July 2020, 18:57 IST
Last Updated : 29 July 2020, 18:57 IST
Last Updated : 29 July 2020, 18:57 IST
Last Updated : 29 July 2020, 18:57 IST

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A political slugfest kicked in as soon as the government announced the New Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, a reform that came after a gap of 34 long years.

"Watershed moment", "momentous", and "transformative restructuring" were some of the words used by the government to describe NEP, the first major change in education policy after 34 years but the Opposition CPI-M saw red in the move calling it a “unilateral” drive that will “destroy” Indian education.

There was also some criticism on social media regarding alleged “Sanskrit imposition”.

Delhi University Teachers Association, slammed the move, calling upon the government to ‘desist from bulldozing the NEP and harm education’.

Raising red flags, its President Rajib Ray and Secretary Rajinder Singh said the DUTA took serious exception to the government adopting the New Education Policy amidst a pandemic.

“’The DUTA's opposition to the draft NEP rested, among other things, on its proposal to dismember universities and handover every higher educational institution to a Board of Governors, which is to enjoy all powers hitherto vested in the governing authorities of colleges and universities as well as the UGC and other regulating bodies,” it said.

Each BoG is to enjoy unfettered powers on matters of setting educational goals, starting and closing academic programmes, determining number of students to be admitted and number of teachers to be appointed, students' fees, teachers' qualifications, mode of recruitment, salary structure, promotions and continuation / termination, the DUTA said adding that the changes being brought through NEP, will have “grave consequences for our country” and advised the government to discuss with the academia.

Education has always been a contentious subject in the country and had raised eyebrows in the past many times – when Murali Manohar Joshi was HRD government in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998, as well as when the Congress veteran Arjun Singh held the portfolio in 2004 in UPA I.

While Joshi had faced huge resistance from states many of which were Congress-ruled when his ministry had attempted to Hindutva ideas in curriculum, Singh had stirred a hornet’s nest trying to play OBC quota politics in public educational institutions

Incidentally HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank” had also consulted Joshi as well as his predecessor Smriti Irani on NEP.

Ruing that Parliament has been completely bypassed in the process of forming the policy, the CPI-M denounced the NEP as well as the Union Cabinet’s decision to rename the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Flagging the federal aspect related to the subject of education which is in the Concurrent List in the Constitution, it called NEP as a “gross violation” and accused the Centre of unilaterally bypassing all the objections and opposition recorded by various state governments. The CPI-M alleged that NEP seeks greater centralisation, communalisation and commercialisation of Indian education.

Notwithstanding the criticism, the Modi government was in an overdrive on NEP and vied with each other in sharing details of the NEP, the Prime Minister said framing of NEP 2020 will be remembered as a “shining example of participative governance”.

While Modi said the new policy based on pillars of access equity, equality, affordability and accountability will transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub, BJP chief J P Nadda hailed it as “momentous”. Home Minister Amit Shah said NEP ensures that quality education will reach students of every section of the society, while former HRD minister Smriti Irani called it a “transformative restructuring of Education” encompassing every stage of learning from early education to higher education with greater emphasis on technology and digitisation. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said “India gets the much-needed education reforms after a gap of 34 years”.

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Published 29 July 2020, 18:57 IST

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