Updated: January 3, 2020 3:47:50 pm
The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry held several rounds of consultations in 2019 to give a final shape to the new National Education Policy (NEP), sanctioned 13 new central universities and 50 kendriya vidyalayas, and implemented 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker section of the general category.
Work on the BJP government’s ambitious project — the new education policy — started with a committee headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan submitting the policy draft to Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, who took charge as the new HRD Minister in the year gone by.
The draft was then put in public domain for feedback from stakeholders and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry. But the draft ran into controversy, prompting the ministry to drop the contentious provision of mandatory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi-speaking states and issue a revised one amid outrage over its earlier suggestion.
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The DMK and other parties in Tamil Nadu strongly opposed the three-language formula in the draft NEP and alleged it tantamount to thrusting Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states. Concerns over funding to implement NEP and a lack of a roadmap for the process were raised by stakeholders.
“Detailed consultations have been held over the draft and certain changes have been brought. The policy is in the final stages. The final draft will be placed before the Cabinet soon in the coming month,” a senior HRD Ministry official said. The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. A new education policy was part of the BJP’s manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election.
The drafting experts also took into account the report of a panel headed by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian and formed by the HRD Ministry when it was headed by Smriti Irani.
The ministry also saw a change of guards at bureaucratic level with both the School Education and Higher Education secretaries being transferred and got backlash over examination fee hike by CBSE and at IITs for MTech courses and Jawaharlal Nehru University for hostels.
While the IIT fee hike proposal is on hold, the JNU students took to streets over fee hike and have been boycotting exams. The ministry also formed a three-member panel to resolve the issues between JNU administration and students to restore normalcy on campus but the deadlock continues.
The Union Cabinet in January granted approval to an expenditure of over Rs 3,600 crore for setting up of 13 new central universities within the next 36 months.
The new central universities were established under the Central Universities Act, 2009 in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Fifty new Kendriya Vidyalayas were also sanctioned during the period.
While the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) introduced subjects like yoga and artificial intelligence, it also introduced two levels of examination in mathematics for Class 10 students in 2020 to cater to different kinds of learners.
The ministry also completed the process of identifying the 20 Institutions of Eminence — as part of a scheme announced last year to select IoEs — 10 public and 10 private — that will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy. On basis of recommendations of a UGC panel, IIT-Madras, IIT-Kharagpur, DU and University of Hyderabad were granted IoE status while Letters of Intent for granting the IoE status were issued to five private universities — Amrita Vidyapeetham and Vellore Institute of Technology in Tamil Nadu, Odisha’s Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Jamia Hamdard University in Delhi and Satya Bharti Foundation’s Bharti Institute in Mohali.
In 2018, the government had granted the IoE status to IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the public sector, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education and BITS Pilani in the private sector, while the Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation was given the tag in Greenfield category.
The ministry also increased around 25 per cent seats in higher educational institutions and universities across the country to implement 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker section of the general category. The Rajya Sabha on January 9, 2019 approved amending the Constitution to provide 10 per cent reservation to general category poor in jobs and education, with the government terming the landmark move as “slog over sixes”.
The quota is over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
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