New Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development has received over 1 lakh suggestions from states and other stakeholders as it gets set to finalise the draft New Education Policy (NEP). The inclusion of Islamic value of charity (zakat) and the Christian value of compassion to explain ethical and moral reasoning in the school curriculum is among them, sources told ThePrint.
The introduction of Arabic as one of the languages in the three-language formula and inclusion of Urdu among India’s classical languages are some of the other suggestions received by the HRD ministry, said the sources in the ministry, who didn’t wish to be named.
Tamil Nadu maintained its opposition to the implementation of the three-language formula, stressing its desire to continue teaching two languages in schools, Tamil and English.
Speaking to ThePrint, one of the ministry officials said, “There are some concerns raised by states and union territories about starting the three-language formula at an early age. This has been highlighted by Sikkim, Kerala, Manipur, Chandigarh. At the same time, Madhya Pradesh has suggested that the choice of third language be left to the states.”
Other states have also raised questions over some provisions in the draft policy, including the recommendation for the prime minister to lead the National Education Commission, a proposed body meant to oversee education-related matters.
Kerala has expressed concern over the deliberate non-inclusion of words like “secularism” and “socialism” in the document.
The aforementioned official said the ministry had collated these suggestions and concerns and will now take a call on what to keep in the final list.
The Modi government had sought comments on the draft NEP after it was made public on 31 May. At the time, it had faced severe criticism on several counts.
With several stakeholders across the education spectrum, the HRD ministry has received suggestions on a host of subjects, ranging from issues about fees in private schools to changes in the PhD programme, said the sources.
One of the proposals seeks greater clarity in the policy on fees to be charged by private institutions to ensure that the “burden” of scholarships is not borne by “relatively well-off students” through a sharp hike, said a second official.
Another suggestion calls for more schools in the country on the lines of Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas.
Students opting for a PhD programme directly after a four-year bachelor programme should be allowed the possibility of exit after one year of course work with a master’s degree, another proposal states.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has submitted that it would like to retain the regulation of medical education, which is governed by the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
“Reducing the preponderance of tuition, particularly by school teachers, and coaching institutes, is an issue that has to be addressed. Also, it has been pointed out that there is a need to ensure data security/confidentiality, particularly for underrepresented groups. Another suggestion is for instituting Indian Education Service,” said the official.
Concerns over education commission
In their submissions to the HRD ministry, a number of states have opposed the idea of the prime minister heading the National Education Commission — proposed under the draft New Education Policy — citing concerns about centralisation and political interference.
The committee that drafted the policy had suggested constituting a new apex body, designated the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or National Education Commission.
The aim behind the proposal was “developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis”. The draft said the commission would create and oversee the institutional frameworks that will help achieve this vision.
“Some states have raised concerns about centralisation through Rashtriya Siksha Aayog and the proposed changes in governance and regulation. Some of these states and Union Territories include Kerala, Nagaland, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir,” said the first official.
“However, they have been assured that it is merely a draft and a final decision will be taken now,” added the official.
Some have also sought more clarity on the participation of states and Union Territories in the PM-led commission. However, a third government source told ThePrint that the ministry is likely to drop the controversial provision.
It’s not just brickbats or more proposals that have come the HRD ministry’s way. A number of suggestions made in the New Education Policy draft have also been appreciated by the states and ministries.
“There is general agreement with the three-language formula. The recognition of regional languages and mother tongue as medium of instruction has been much appreciated. The flexibility in choice of languages has also been applauded,” the second official said.
Recommendations related to lateral entry in medical education have also been appreciated by nursing and other paramedical students and practitioners, added the official.