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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

‘Promotes privatisation, hits state autonomy’: NEP in Karnataka fuels political debate

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah has urged Higher Education Minister CN Ashwathnarayan to withdraw the ‘hasty’ decision to implement NEP.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
September 3, 2021 8:07:29 pm
Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan (File Photo: Twitter/@drashwathcn)

The Karnataka government’s decision to begin implementation of the new National Education Policy (NEP), making it the first state to do so, has fuelled debates among the political circles as well.

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, who has been opposing the “hasty” decision of the government to do so, Friday urged Higher Education Minister C N Ashwathnarayan to withdraw the decision to implement NEP.

He noted that NEP would result in “violating the federal arrangements and infringe upon the autonomy of states with respect to education and operation of universities”. The former CM also added that the policy seems to promote privatisation leading to “inequality and social injustice”.

Siddaramaiah further alleged that the BJP-led government in the state failed to discuss and debate such issues before the implementation of NEP. “It is not correct to call for discussions now after inaugurating the implementation. Policy change in matters like education and health are not small,” he noted.

The senior Congress leader highlighted that NEP would decide on the future of many students shaping their next 70 to 80 years. “Education is a tool for social elevation for many marginalised sections. Has BJP implemented NEP to prevent this elevation of social status among marginalised sections?” he asked while seeking clarification from the Higher Education Minister.

Meanwhile, Ashwathnarayan Friday inaugurated the first multidisciplinary college for women in the state set up in Malleshwaram by Bengaluru Central University. After launching the upgraded website of the university on the lines of NEP, he said the policy would make education a “community engagement” by integrating educational institutions, industry, and research organizations into one platform.

He explained, “Educational institutions, faculty, and universities have to play a crucial role in the implementation of NEP-2020. Many policies will come and go, but what makes the difference is effective implementation.”

Earlier on Thursday, in a meeting with MLCs elected from teachers and graduates constituency held at Vidhana Soudha, Ashwathnarayan claimed that the government will not impose anything forcefully in the name of NEP. “The government has prepared the model framework as per NEP guidelines. The governing councils of the institutions will have the freedom to play a crucial role in its implementation,” he said.

Responding to criticism against the government over NEP, Ashwathnarayan stated: “A few are criticising NEP and terming this as saffronisation of education is meaningless. How can making future generations aware of our heritage and culture be called saffronisation?”

In the meeting, MLC K T Srikanthegowda suggested providing training to faculty with regard to NEP implementation. While he welcomed the government’s decision to make learning Kannada mandatory for two years at the degree level, he added English should also be given prominence.

Minister warns colleges not to hike fee to implement NEP

Responding to queries by reporters in Bengaluru that some colleges were citing the implementation of NEP to hike fees, Ashwathnarayan clarified that there is no connection between the policy implementation and fee hike. “The intention of the government is to provide quality education at an affordable cost. Running colleges by collecting heavy fees is not justifiable. Action will be taken against respective colleges if any complaints are received,” he said.

When asked about the critical remarks made by Siddaramaiah, the Minister replied, “His statements have been already answered through media and also on various platforms. Further, they will be answered on the floor of the house in the forthcoming legislative session.”

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