AIF-RTE CALL: EXPOSE NEW EDUCATION POLICY 2016 A SCHEME OF THOROUGH COMMERCIALISATION AND COMMUNALISATION OF EDUCATION
It should be noted that the MHRD did not officially release the T.S.R. Subramanian Committee Report on Draft New Education Policy (NEP 2016). Rather it brought out its own document ‘Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016’. The government document if becomes a policy will demolish not only every semblance of equality, social justice, scientific temperament, diversity and federalism in our education system that people of this country have struggled for, built and protected since the days of reformation movements but also the very possibility of realising the dreams of the founders of the constitution to establish a nation on the basis of the values. If this document is not exposed and the government designs are not thwarted, they could create a fertile ground for entrenchment of all out fascism.
PROMOTING RAMPANT COMMERCIALISATION OF EDUCATION
The document replicates the techno-corporate spirit of Ambani-Birla Report released during the NDA-I regime advocating rampant privatisation and commercialisation through Public-Private Partnership.
Multi-standard institutions, in terms of infrastructure and teaching faculty, would continue both in public and private sectors.
It seeks to centralize curricula, bureaucratize administration through the proposal to set up an Indian Educational Service (IES) cadre directly under the MHRD, corporatize accreditation and tribunalise justice to facilitate possible multi-lateral and ‘plurilateral’ agreements in education either under World Trade Organization or outside it thus intensifying neo-liberal globalization in education.
It seeks to promote PPP by instituting 10 lakh EWS and 10 lakh ‘open’ scholarships for reimbursement of costs of private institutions.
The document speaks in weak terms about allocating 6% GDP for education. However, it does not even hint at the cumulative gap of financial resources accumulated over the last decades. This huge gap can be bridged only by allocating at least 15% of GDP for education. Instead of this, the government only indicates of further cutting public resources by promoting commercialization.
The democratic rights of students especially in higher education institutions have been attacked in favour of corporatized model of management to curb any voice of protest in university campuses. It also opens door for intense privatisation, FDI and fee hike in public institutions.
ATTACK ON SOCIAL JUSTICE AGENDA OF THE CONSTITUTION
Though the government document talks of social justice, nowhere it talks about need of reservations, applying reservations to all institutions and at all levels and applying rule of reservation in private educational institutions.
There is no mention of hostels and other affirmative measures to bring the poor and socially disadvantaged to the schools, colleges and universities.
The heavy dropout of the children before they complete class X (All 47.4, SC 50.1 and ST 62.4) though is noted but not addressed. The Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education remains very low at 23.6 percent in 2014-15 for all sections while the GER for SCs is 18.5% and STs is 13.3% again is simply noted without measures to address the problem.
The government proceeds with its project of re-establishing Manu Dharma not only by denying education to the SCs, STs, and all disadvantaged sections and minorities – religious and linguistic but also confining the sections to skill training which would reproduce caste system. Dropouts will be encouraged by rigorous screening akin to brahminical practices and the children, mostly from disadvantaged sections, will be diverted for ‘skilling’.
Tests at upper primary and above with professional counsellors to direct students to vocational/ skilling courses will further ensure that disadvantaged will simply be unable to reach secondary and higher secondary therefore the claim that universalizing at this stage will mean only ‘completion’ by ‘enrolled students’.
CLOSING DOORS OF EDUCATION FOR THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE
Open schools, open colleges and open educational facilities on one hand and skilling on the other hand will be the main thrusts of the government and all disadvantaged will be pushed towards these thrust areas.
Increasing majority of the disadvantaged sections on all counts, caste, religion, region, gender and linguistic-cultural group will be denied formal, liberal and professional education and will be diverted to ‘skill education’ from class V itself permanently shutting doors of formal education for the vast majority. This is indicated clearly by intention to retain the ‘no-detention policy’ of Right to Education Act only till Class V after which children from targeted sections and areas will be sent for skill development.
Already the govt. has legitimized child labour by changing the law that will push children into caste-based, family based occupations at age 10 years - i.e. into a childhood of labour and ‘alternate schools’
In fact, the document seeks to completely subvert ‘education’ in favour of ‘skill’ which is in consonance with the agenda of making India a hub of cheap and skilled labour which is a favourite ‘vision’ of the current PM.
IMPOSITION OF BRAHMINICAL HINDUTVA AGENDA OF THE RSS
The very Preamble of the document ignores the plural philosophical traditions of the country and presents a false Sanskritized brahminical history deliberately ignoring the rich diversity and history of languages of the people. Marginalisation of the non-brahminical cultures, languages, regions and knowledge systems is the ‘hallmark’ of the Preamble of the government document.
The medieval period of Indian history (which RSS consider as Muslim period) is not even referred to in the document and it makes a clear indication of the government approach to mitigate the contributions of the period in development of the civilization of this land. The communal approach which this government pursues leads to neglect or playing down of contributions of all religious and linguistic minorities, tribes and suppressed castes and marginalized sections.
Similarly there is no reference to the diverse struggles of national liberation leading to India’s freedom and the ideas of republican citizenship, democracy, secularism, socialism and social justice that the struggle inspired.
Every child’s right to be taught in mother-tongue is finished. States will decide whether ‘regional’ language, English, or ‘multi-lingual’ (only for tribal children) schooling will be provided up to class V. There after the child has no option for mother tongue or regional language
Now, it is high time to expose the government document and intensify struggle for democratic, secular, egalitarian, scientific and enlightened education system rooted in socio-cultural, religious and linguistic plurality of India, in consonance with the values enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution, and affirmed in the Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties and especially for developing scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform to build a democratic and progressive society. We should fight for an egalitarian education system that is free and of equitable quality for all from KG to PG – an education that stands against all inequalities based on class, caste, religion, belief, language, culture, gender and normal body and consider diversity as the potentiality of the country.
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