July 31, 2020 10:54:54 am
A DAY after the National Education Policy (NEP) was approved by the central government, the school education department initiated discussions on the policy with a view to form an action plan in the next few months. State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad held a review meeting with officials of the department on Thursday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gaikwad said, “A presentation on the policy was presented. We discussed aspects of the policy in comparison to the present situation. We also discussed questions raised in the past. I have sought a report from the department officers regarding challenges in implementing the policy and inter-departmental tasks that will need to be looked at.” Gaikwad said the state already offered vocational education after Class VIII, and had taken steps in the past to reduce the weight of school bags.
“Some aspects of the policy are already a part of the education system here. We will further work on other details,” she said.
Sources from the department said once the action plan was ready, some aspects will be easily implemented at the department level. “If some sections concern law, they will need to be deliberated on by the legislative assembly. More clarity will be achieved with time, since this is a broad framework. Other meetings will also be held to take this ahead,” said an official.
Stakeholders pointed out some challenges that the state will now face. Responding to the policy’s guideline on keeping home language, mother tongue, local language or regional language as medium of instruction until at least Class V, Aniket Sule, scientist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), said, “In the state, tribal languages are practised in different regions. To implement the policy, teachers will need to speak to students in their language instead of Marathi. Also, there are multiple linguistic groups in every city. So ideally, you should have schools with multiple languages. Issues of access to these schools is also going to be a challenge.”
Kendriya Vidyalaya, which offers a uniform system of education to children of government officials, will also not be able to administer the aspect of home language as a medium of instruction. “Given that officials are transferred from state to state, most children in these schools are non-native speakers. In Mumbai, less than 25 per cent students have Marathi as mother tongue,” Sule said.
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It will be a challenge for schools to make arrangements for offering multiple mediums of instruction, especially in cities like Mumbai, said Prachi Sathe, former officer on special duty to school education department.
“There are about 68,000 state schools. They may not have resources to give parents the freedom to choose the medium of instruction for their child. They may end up imposing selected languages,” she said.
While the policy, which has announced a curriculum for pre-primary students, is a welcome move, training anganwadi workers will be a hurdle. “So far, the role of anganwadi sevikas is to look after children, feed them, tell them stories, etc. Once the curriculum is formulated, they will need rigorous training. Their qualifications will also need to be considered,” Sathe added.
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