Modi Government continues to use Pandemic to push anti people policies: Now Education is under attack.

The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved National Education Policy 2020 (NEP). This was done as intended earlier by the PM and has been practice of this government- without even pretence of discussion in parliament. Falsely claiming that it will enable better access and equity, and will improve quality of education, it will on the other hand will exclude a large population from meaningful education and will ensure that this socially and economically weaker section of society will further their backwardness.

Though smaller and have different names of suggested bodies etc., it is a conceptual replica of Kasturirangan Commitee’s report made public last year. The NEP is strongly pushing privatization, commercialization and saffronization, tight central control, on education imparted to the child from the age of 3 years to Research level. We attempted a very quick review of the policy as immediate reaction and detailed one to follow later.

This policy is called Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE). It proposes a different school structure, and talks of increasing enrollment ratio. But means suggested are Open learning, is alerting NIOS to be prepared, and merger of reduction of schools by proposing School complexes. Quality of education to be improved by non formal teaching, social workers etc.! it emphasizes more on literacy, students will be encouraged to attain skills, distinction between arts and science shall be blurred and vocational courses will be encouraged from class VI onwards – much in tune of World Bank.

Though it talks of education in mother tongue, it only suggests ‘as far as possible’, giving scope for it not being followed.

Similarly Higher education is attacked. Plan to increase Gross Enrollment Ratio(GER) is the same as in schools i.e. fulfilling the suggestion of WTO`- open Distance learning. MOOCs will be encouraged and in the name of using technology, online courses are being sought to replace the setting up of infrastructure for regular courses.

The three types of universities proposed by Kasturirangan Committee are now named as Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges. Plan is to make all colleges autonomous (means financially independent of the Government). Accreditation rating will decode financial autonomy of a college, means colleges with greater accreditation ratings can increase greater fees.

There will be no distinction between private and state colleges. Means open brazen privatization and no restriction by government. Government grants can be siphoned by private sharks. In the name of quality education foreign universities are being invited. Both again in accordance with WTO. so called Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country. It will actually pave way for second grade foreign universities to enter, and will open the doors of Indian institutions to foreign students and teachers, further reducing the reach for Indian citizens.

There is provision of multiple entry and exit points and a proposal of a four year undergraduate programme. Both are similar to FYUP, which was opposed by even ABVP. This will ensure that people from poorer backgrounds may settle for diplomas only.

There is also a provision of credit banks which claims to provide portability to students. But again, it will only help students with better school and financial backgrounds.

Instead of inspection, self declaration of the institution will be accepted. Institution will decide if it has all right infrastructure, teaching facilities, teachers etc. And with no distinction between private and government colleges, outcome is not difficult to guess.

HECI is back in the new avtar, now replacing the proposed RSA in Kasturiranjan Report, called Higher Education regulatory Authority. It will replace UGC as well as AICTE. This body will decide finances, curriculum, and administrative functions. It will highly centralized control over education and will destroy autonomy, different visions.

Fact that ABVP and RSS has appreciated and said that 80% of their suggestions were accepted by the government, indicates the direction of the policy. There were many other inputs given including by PDSU, but were ignored.

It is obvious that while claiming it to promote Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, Accountability, it is just the opposite. Access to only moneyed people- substandard education for rest, Equity among privileged ones and perpetuation of gap for the rest, affordability again for second grade education, pay for the good one, and accountability only to a central authority and arbitrariness for private players.

PDSU strongly rejects this draft and condemns the government’s attempt to use pandemic to push its anti-people agenda. We demand that this draft be immediately withdrawn and call upon students, teachers and all other patriotic, pro-people sections of the people to come forward to oppose this policy which can be termed as National Exclusion Policy.

Rajeeve                                                           Jaydeep

For Progressove Democratic Students’ Union (PDSU) Delhi