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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sisodia red flags new education policy: ‘Highly regulated and poorly funded’

He said the biggest flaw of NEP was that it “ran away from the responsibility” of providing quality education in government schools while encouraging private school education.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | July 31, 2020 3:13:35 am
Sisodia and Atishi at the press conference Thursday. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Thursday said the New Education Policy (NEP) provided for a “highly regulated and poorly funded” education model. He said the biggest flaw of NEP was that it “ran away from the responsibility” of providing quality education in government schools while encouraging private school education.

Addressing a press conference, Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister, read out an excerpt from the NEP, which said “private philanthropic efforts for quality education will be encouraged”. “In all progressive countries, the education system is largely dependent on a strong government school system. But here, they are encouraging private education. This is the biggest flaw of NEP,” he said.

On the higher education front, Sisodia said the focus on MDHEI (multi-disciplinary higher educational institutions) was problematic: “According to NEP, all universities will be mandatorily made multi-disciplinary in 15-20 years… There is a need for MDHEIs but don’t destroy specific universities. You’re saying you’ll teach acting in IITs, produce engineers from FTII. How will this happen? World over, there is the importance of sector-specific universities… We cannot destroy such institutes in our romanticism of multi-disciplinarism.”

Sisodia said that while the policy states there should be free and compulsory education from nursery to class XII like under RTE, it also said how this will be achieved would be examined later. “You’ve brought NEP after 34 years, took six years to frame the policy, and even now you’re saying it will be examined later. Then what was the leadership of BJP doing for the last six years?” he said.

Sisodia also hit out at the NEP for its stand on board exams. “It says board exams will be made easier… The point was to focus on cognitive capabilities rather than rote learning abilities. The entire education system, including the board, is geared towards the latter… On this account, the policy has failed. There is no importance of board exams anymore; the entire world has moved towards continuous evaluation, but we are still stuck in our old ways,” he said.

While lauding the NEP for promoting vocational courses, he said there was no work done to increase their value in higher education: “In DU admissions, vocational subjects don’t count for anything. Then why will students take these subjects?” Sisodia also lamented the absence of sports in the policy.

He, however, appreciated certain aspects like the decision to change the name of HRD Ministry to Education Ministry, including breakfast as part of mid-day meal and decision to use mother tongue as the medium for education in the early years.

He also said that the NEP was “progressive and forward-looking in that it accepts the challenges and flaws in the current education system and talks about what should be done to address it”. However, he said it had two problems.

“Firstly, it is unable to break away from the burden of the traditional educational system. Secondly, the policy is silent or confused about how it will achieve solutions to the current problems,” he said.

The Deputy CM also said the “policy provides for a highly regulated and poorly funded education model”.

Explaining highly regulated, Sisodia said NEP talks of a separate education department, Directorate of Education, regulatory authority, and education commission which he said would “keep clashing with each other”.

On why it was poorly funded, he said, “NEP says that 6% of GDP should be spent on education. This has been said from the time of Kothari Commission of 1966 and repeated in NEP. But it is silent on how this will be achieved. It also says budget spending on education will be taken from 10% to 20% but doesn’t say how. There will have to be a law that government and state governments have to spend 6% of GDP on education.”

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