Updated: August 11, 2021 5:49:10 pm
The Karnataka government is all set to become the first state in the country to begin the implementation of the National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 with Ashwathnarayan, the Higher Education Minister in the state, announcing the admission module to be followed from the current academic year (2021-22) will be launched soon.
The minister, after issuing an order earlier this week to implement NEP from this academic year, had announced admissions to private, aided, and government colleges in the state will be based on a module launched on August 23. “The admissions will be facilitated through the Unified University and College Management System (UUCMS),” he said.
However, several experts from the field of higher education felt the decision to do so was “hasty”. Niranjanaradhya V P, a development educationist based in Bengaluru told The Indian Express that NEP in itself was “vague”, accusing it of accelerating the process of privatisation and autonomy instead of addressing the core issue of strengthening public universities.
“Such a decision taken in haste to begin implementing NEP in Karnataka will certainly affect first-generation learners in an adverse manner. While small colleges are amalgamated to bigger colleges or universities, access to higher education for students from marginalised communities will be minimised as well,” he said.
The state government had stressed on the need for implementing multi-disciplinarity in engineering colleges by including the option to learn science-based subjects earlier, with the Higher Education Minister pointing out that the same will be done taking a leaf out of the national policy.
Responding to this, Niranjanaradhya pointed out that such a move was contrary to recommendations made earlier to underline specialisation in higher education. “While we had been deliberating on ensuring expertise to each student by providing options to specialise in their particular course, going back to multi-disciplinarity is nothing but taking a U-turn,” he said.
Meanwhile, a retired Vice-Chancellor of a state-run university in Karnataka said that NEP is trying to adopt an outdated concept followed in western countries. “NEP is nothing but old wine in a new bottle,” he said, suggesting the authorities should have ideally taken a cue from the broad framework to formulate a policy at the state level instead.
“This could have been done by taking into account the local parameters and after detailed discussion with stakeholders at the primary level, including college teachers and university professors. However, the government decided to pick only those who were favouring the proposals in the committees it constituted, failing to listen to the criticisms,” he alleged.
On the political front, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah termed the order by the state government to implement NEP “dictatorial” and called for its withdrawal. “The disastrous policy will leave the poor and middle class deprived of quality higher education. While education and syllabus formulation used to be the right of the states, the BJP government at the Centre is implementing this by quashing the rights of the states,” he stated.
Further opposing the decision to reduce the number of major subjects in graduation from three to one under the new policy, Siddaramaiah pointed out that it would leave several lecturers jobless.
Even as the former Chief Minister called for extensive consultations, Ashwthnarayan responded, “Consultations were done widely while preparing the policy. The Congress was also consulted then.”
The Higher Education Minister explained that the draft for the policy was prepared in Bengaluru by education experts after seven years of deliberations to reform the education system in the country. “A task force approved by the (previous) state cabinet had approved the implementation of the policy as well,” he said.
According to officials of the Higher Education Department, the revised curriculum, along the lines of NEP, will be ready in the first week of October.
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