Incorporating Indian knowledge systems in the curriculum, constituting a National Education Commission and curbing arbitrary fees hikes by private schools are among the recommendations made by an expert panel to the HRD ministry for the new National Education Policy (NEP).
The draft of the new NEP, formulated by a committee led by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, was handed over to Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who took charge as the Union Human Resource Development Minister on Friday.
The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. A new education policy was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election. Apart from Kasturirangan, the committee had eight members, including mathematician Manjul Bhargava.
The 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 being headed by Smriti Irani.
“Indian contribution to knowledge and the historical context that led to them will be incorporated wherever relevant, into the existing school curriculum and textbooks,” the policy draft read. “The topics will include Indian contribution to mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, psychology, yoga, architecture, medicine, as well as governance, polity, society, and conservation course on Indian knowledge systems,” it added.
A new apex body, designated as the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or the NEC, shall be constituted for “developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis”, the draft said. To bring the focus back on education and learning, the MHRD should be renamed as the Ministry of Education, the panel stressed.
The policy draft also suggests that private schools may be free to set their fees structure but shall not increase the amount (taken under any head) arbitrarily.
“A reasonable increase, which can stand public scrutiny, such as inflation-related, can be made. Any substantial increase in the fees that cannot be anticipated or justified shall not be made, including under any ‘fees head’ such as ‘school development’ or an ‘infrastructure fund’,” the draft said.
“The percentage fee increase, permissible based on inflation and other factors, will be decided by a new regulatory authority for schools, the State School Regulatory Authority (SSRA), for every three-year period,” the draft added.
The policy further stresses on liberal education as it points out that among the eminent graduates and scholars of the ancient universities of Takshila and Nalanda were the philosopher and economist Chanakya; the Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician, and discoverer of generative grammar, Panini; the leader and statesman Chandragupta Maurya; and the mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata.
The NEP draft suggests that students be allowed to take a board examination in a given subject in whichever semester they take the corresponding class in school — that is whenever they feel most ready. It also called for a policy to allow students to repeat subjects in the board examination if they feel they can study and do better.