- From the time the Narasimha Rao led Congress government formally launched the neoliberal policies of Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization (LPG) in 1991 and signed the conditions to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 with its provisions on ‘intellectual property rights’, attempts to transform the 1986 education policy according to the requirements of these polices had started. Now, in the name of fulfilling its election promises, while the country is facing a grave crisis situation due to Covid19 pandemic, when neither public discussion nor parliament session is possible, when there should be a general moratorium on even issuing basic shift in policy statements, issuing the NEP 2020 after adoption by the central cabinet is a totally dictatorial move. The NEP 2020 is based on the blueprint provided by the corporate think-tank NITI Aayog and supplemented by the 'CII Education Summit' totally disregarding many relevant proposals submitted by concerned and committed educational experts.
- The NEP 2020 is a violation of the modalities and basic requirements such as availability of qualified teachers to provide free and compulsory education for all children between 6 and 14 as laid down in the Right to Education Act enacted by the Indian parliament on August 4, 2009. For, as per NEP 2020, alternative models of education such as 'gurukulas', 'paathshaalas' and home schooling may replace formal teachers, leading to informalisation of school education for vast majority and a strengthening of already entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Volunteers, peer tutors, and instructional aides propped up by NGOs and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) groups can perform the role of teachers resulting in de-professionalisation of education for the children of deprived and oppressed who will be confined to minimalist skill programs.
- The NEP envisages the setting up of a dedicated centre with the Ministry of Education (MHRD to be renamed thus) for developing digital content and capacity building. Developing E-courses and virtual labs led by a National Educational Technology Forum aims at digitisation of education. This will lead to a denial of education to the poor and the deprived who have no accessibility to digital tools resulting in their dis-enfranchisement. This needs to be read along with opening the floodgates of foreign capital to enter in education sector, specifically oriented to the upper elite.
- Under the guise of uniform approach to 'public-funded' and 'corporate-funded education', what is intended is a camouflaged rollback of the State from education. The proposal for a National Higher Education Regulatory Council (or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog--RSA led by PM?) as the apex body coordinating the entire education system, goes against the Constitutionally mandatory principle of Concurrent List, ensuring active involvement of the state governments in the education sector. It will lead to unprecedented centralisation of education, including its entire policymaking vested with the corporate-saffron regime at the Centre.
- The three-language formula, despite the rhetoric on mother-tongue, imposed from the formative stage onward with Sanskrit as an option, is linked with Hindutva agenda. Implicit negation of English as a link language, especially in view of the relative absence of science/social science books in local languages, is another major issue. Phrases like 'deep-rooted pride in India', 'Indian tradition', etc, incorporated in this, smacks of chauvinism and obscurantist brahmanical values along with total silence on secularism and negligence of the significance of science education (of course with their implicit Hindutva undertones)
- From the time the first draft of this policy was put forward for discussion in 2016 we had denounced it as a calculated move to fully commercialize and saffronize the education system to serve the corporate-saffron Modi rule. When its final form is now published without consulting the state government where non-BJP parties are in power and without the approval of the parliament, the important policy declarations made in it goes against the directive principles of the Constitution.
- At the same time, regarding taking education to the rural and urban poor, fulfilling the Constitutional guarantee for universal, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14, and providing education from the age of 3 to all children, though the usual assurances are repeated in RSS vocabulary, neither there is any mention about allotting 6% of the revenue income for education, nor emphasis is given for universalization of education for all children. While the importance of government public schools and colleges shall decline, full emphasis is on privatization and catering to elite sections. Also no emphasis is given for achieving gender equality in this sector. At the same time, the saffronization of education is given much emphasis at all levels. In short, it is a neoliberal/Manuvadi mix to cater for the corporate fascist rule. It calls for a detailed study and comprehensive rejection which we shall take up soon. Meanwhile, it should be opposed and the struggle for universal, compulsory free, democratic and scientific education should be intensified.
CPI(ML) Red Star
31st July, 2020