The National Education Policy lays down a roadmap for the next two decades. But, as Kumkum Roy, professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, argues in her opinion piece in The Indian Express, there are many reasons why this policy needs a close scrutiny, a full debate, for what it says and what it doesn’t.
She points out that this policy is an ambitious and complex document and it has been adopted during a pandemic and a lockdown, which renders discussion and debate difficult.
For instance, what are its implications for the majority of those covered under the acronym SEDGs (Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups) in the text?
“Absent in the document, as far as I could see, is any mention of the term ‘caste’, apart from a fleeting reference to Scheduled Castes. Also absent is any mention of reservation in academic institutions, whether for students, teachers, or other employees,” she writes.
“Reservation, necessary but not sufficient, is the bare minimum required in terms of affirmative action in the highly differentiated socio-economic milieu in which we exist. The silence of the document on this issue is troubling, to say the least,” she argues.
Equally disturbing, in her view, is the passing reference to educational institutions in tribal areas, designated as ashramshalas and envisaged as part of the Early Childhood Children Education programme.
“What, one wonders, will be transacted in these institutions. While there are sections of the document that describe ways in which SEDGs are supposed to gain access to higher education institutions, there is no time-frame that is specified,” she writes.
This is particularly crucial as the document visualises increased “benign” privatisation of education, attempting to distinguish this from commercialisation. In a situation of growing privatisation and the near collapse of public institutions of higher education, how these policies will be implemented is a matter of concern, she states.
In the piece, Roy shares several other examples of provisions that need greater clarity.
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