The 14 suggestions of 'Live Discourse' for Draft NEP 2019

These 14 suggestions are the final output of Live Discourse on ‘SDG 4 for India: National Education Policy 2019’ – about two months long marathon intellectual discourse on the Draft National Education Policy launched by the on 7th June 2019. Initially planned to conclude on 30th June, the intellectual discourse was allowed to continue till 31st July as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India extended the deadline to submit the suggestions and comments on the Draft NEP. Though the MHRD has further extended the deadline till 15th August 2019 the final suggestions were compiled, analysed and submitted in a presentable form to the MHRD on Wednesday, 31st July 2019.

Siddheshwar  ShuklaSiddheshwar Shukla | Updated: 01-08-2019 13:16 IST | Created: 31-07-2019 18:42 IST
The 14 suggestions of 'Live Discourse' for Draft NEP 2019
Live Discourse Image Credit: Flickr

In pursuance of its social responsibility as an international media platform, the (Discourse on Development) conducted a Live Discourse on 'SDG 4 for India: National Education Policy 2019' from 7th June 2019 to 31st July 2019 with a view to aware various stakeholders on its recommendations and engage them in fruitful intellectual discourse. The academicians, VCs, parents, teachers and common audiences also participated in this Live Discourse with their write-ups, interviews and comments. Besides, we also received some valuable responses on our social media handles which could provide valuable insights in preparing the final NEP 2019.

Based on around two months of Live Discourse we have drawn some precise and implementable suggestions. Here, we present the pointwise suggestions for you, we had submitted to the MHRD on 31st July 2019.

  1. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): Emphasis on ECCE, particularly in government-run schools, and including pre-primary education under formal education are welcome steps. However, in reference to the recommendation P4.1.1. of the Draft NEP 2019, it is suggested that pre-primary classes should NOT be made mandatory for the whole country in one go but implemented in stages. Due to lack of adequate infrastructure in government (Central and States) run primary schools, this provision will open a huge opportunity for profit-oriented businesses to diversify in the education sector. This provision has an inherent feature to increase profiteering in education by leaps and bounds. The government machinery which is still struggling to provide infrastructure, teachers, cooks in primary schools will find almost impossible to depute the adequate number of assistant staff/ maids to take care of the children between 3-6 years. The profit-minded private investors shall use this opportunity and force the parents to cough up huge fees for their kids throughout the country. The parents residing in the villages, tribal areas, and slums will be the most suffers of this provision. Presently, the Play Schools and Pre-Primary Schools, constitute the domain of proposed 'Foundation Stage' which are almost 100% in private hands. The provision will ensure deeper penetration of 'School Shops' in the form of play schools and pre-primary schools or Foundation Stage in rural and tribal areas of the country
  2. Private Boards of Assessment: During the Live Discourse, we came to know that the provision of private assessment boards in the Draft Education policy is nothing but a copy-paste from United Kingdom's (UK) 'multiple-board assessment system'. In reference to recommendation P8.1.18 of the Draft NEP 2019, it is recommended to dele the provision of Private Boards of Assessment and University Boards. The huge majority of the participants in Live Discourse are of the view that the provision of private boards of assessment/ universities boards will create a 'fish market' like situation in the already complex education system. The parents are already in a dilemma even if there are limited boards - CBSE, ICSE, IB, and State Boards. The Draft NEP 2019 proposes an unlimited number of examination boards in India. This is horrible. Besides, these private boards in nexus and connivance with schools will fleece parents. If implemented, the parents will receive the calls of examination boards offering comparative solutions to the parents as is being presently done by the real estate sector and private banks offering various kinds of loans. It is also suggested that before taking any decision in this regard, the experiences of the UK must be included in the deliberation of this provision. Besides, the issue of minimum and maximum age for admission also needs to be addressed in the policy.
  3. Elimination of the yearly Board Examination at 10+2 level: The participants unanimously welcomed the transformation of school examination from annual to a rigorous semester system.
  4. Census Assessment (National Assessment Surveys and State Assessment Surveys): In reference to the recommendation P8.5.1, it is suggested to delete the 'Grade 3' from the line 'Grade 3, 5, and 8'. The children studying in Grade 3 are too young and should not be subjected to the pressure of census assessment/ boards examination. If implemented, we fear that it will bring down the 'Board Phobia' from Secondary Stage to Foundation Stage.
  5. Include awareness on Junk Food/Fast Food in Curriculum: Junk food and fast food have been a major health hazard for growing children in the schools. There have been court judgement directing the private schools to ensure junk food/ fast food should not be allowed within the campus and around 100 meters in the periphery. The court has also directed the NCERT to prepare a curriculum on Junk Food/Fast Food. However, a little has been done on in this direction. No mention of junk food menace in the Draft NEP is shocking for all of us. This could be included in the final draft with emphasis added.
  6. Abolish Hypocrisy of Philanthropy: In reference to various provisions related to recommendations under A1.2.6. and A1.3.3. on philanthropic schools/educational institutions/universities, the classification between philanthropic and private is blurred. This is due to this complete lack of clarity, the private educational institutions are registered as philanthropic in the form of educational society or trust but later on fully engage in profiteering and business. It suggested to clearly define the 'Philanthropic Educational Institution' under recommendation A1.2.6. and remove the word 'private' from all the provisions related to philanthropic institutions. Merely speaking about philanthropic educational institutes is not sufficient, it's also essential to make a suitable system to regulate profit-oriented educational institutions. There should be provision for permission to open profit-oriented/commercial/corporate/private educational institutions and it should be truthfully presented in the society. There should be no scope for hypocrisy. Therefore, the parents could take an informed decision on whether they want to get their wards admitted in philanthropic institutes or corporate institutes.
  7. Regulation of Private Schools, Corporate Style Schools and Corporate Style Universities/HEIs: This is not a hidden fact that almost all the private schools in India are profit-oriented. Some of them are running on the pattern of corporate houses and have chains of hundreds and thousands of schools in the country across the states while some also have international branches. The head-offices and regional offices of these schools are no less than the corporate offices of Multi-National Companies (MNCs). In light of the above observations, it is suggested that the recommendation P8.3.9. should be strengthened to regulate corporate style schools with the same philosophy corporate sector is regulated. These corporate style schools must not be allowed to earn profits like the corporate sector and hide behind veils of philanthropy when it comes to responsibility. Similarly, adequate provisions should be made to regulate corporate style HEIs and universities. Those who want to earn profits from education should be allowed to go their way but pay taxes and face 'corporate style' regulations as well.
  8. Liberal Arts/Liberal Education: The participants of the Live Discourse fully support the provisions related to Liberal Education/ Liberal Arts. As the intellectual discourse on Liberal Education proceeded, we noticed some articles in various media platforms wherein even senior academicians, educators and intellectuals seem confused between Liberal Education and Liberalism. Therefore, we conducted three expert interviews on this issue – Prof. Uma Narain, Founder Dean, Jyoti Dalal School of Liberal Arts, NMIMS University, Mumbai, Dr. Sanjay Modi, Executive Dean, Lovely Professional University, Punjab and Dr. S. Jolad, FLAME University, Mumbai. The experts and also the participants of the Live Discourse, strongly supported the idea and various provisions of Liberal Education. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that Liberal Education should be uniformly implemented across the Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in India.
  9. The word 'Secularism' is not mandatory for NEP: As there were some misleading articles about the absence of the term secularism in the Draft NEP. In response to the questions raised against the Draft NEP 2019, Prof. Kapil Kumar of IGNOU, New Delhi submitted a scholastic rejoinder. The participants of LIVE DISCOURSE, do not find merit in the idea of unnecessarily including the word 'secularism' in the final National Education Policy (NEP). This is better placed in the preamble of the Constitution of India. There is no need to buckle under the pressure of any lobby on the issue of the word secularism.
  10. Teacher: We welcome various provisions of the Draft NEP on teacher's education, training, incentives for deputation in tribal areas and professional development from primary to HEIs and providing opportunities in administration. In this regard an article by Prof. Y. S. Siddegowda, Vice-Chancellor, Tumkur University, Karnataka, represents the views of the participants of Live Discourse on the role of a teacher in education.
  11. Removal of Teachers and Academic Leaders: Participating in the Live Discourse, Prof. Ranjana Sehgal, Indore School of Social Work, Indore raised some serious issues related to the appointment of inefficient candidates as teachers and disciplinary action. She argued that in the present system after the appointment of an inefficient/ sub-standard candidate as a teacher in higher education, the removal is almost impossible. In this regards, it is suggested that there should be a well-defined, transparent and effective procedure for the removal and termination of teachers and academic leaders in HEIs. There must be a special recommendation on 'Removal of Teachers and Academic Leaders'. It should also be incorporated in appointment-related provisions in Part – II of the Draft NEP 2019, wherever required.
  12. Equal opportunity for the corporate sector in research projects under the National Research Foundation (NRF): As the corporate sector performs various kinds of research activities and have potential to deliver good quality academic researches as well. This potential of the corporate sector should also be synergized in improving academic research in the country. This could be done by providing equal opportunities to researchers of the corporate sector to avail funds from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for their research proposals comprising greater public/national/global interest. In reference to the recommendation P10.10, it is suggested to add the word 'corporate sector and industry' in the last line of this provision. The changed provision will be read as 'The private HEIs and researches from the corporate sector and industry will have equal access to NRF funding for research support as public institutions".
  13. Languages: The participants of the Live Discourse strongly support the provisions of Languages in the Draft NEP.
  14. Funding: The participants of the Live Discourse support the provisions of funding for the education devised in the Draft NEP 2019.

(For news, views, interviews and opinions on the Draft NEP 2019, please visit LIVE DISCOURSE)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are based on the opinions of the participants' in Live Discourse on 'SDG 4 for India: National Education Policy 2019'. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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