We must get few things straight before we go into this discussion
• A state is a territory with its own institutions and populations.
• A sovereign state is a state with its own institutions and populations that has a permanent population, territory, and government. It must also have the right and capacity to make treaties and other agreements with other states.
• A nation is a large group of people who inhabit a specific territory and are connected by history, culture, or another commonality.
• A nation-state is a cultural group (a nation) that is also a state (and may, in addition, be a sovereign state). Source
India is not a single nation. It is a collection of nations. Each nation has its own culture, history, language. We are akin to EU in Europe. Each European member state has its own culture, language, ethnicity. Every citizen must understand this first.
The second thing to understand our constitution states India is a Union of States. What United States call the Federal Government, Indians call as Central Government, which should in fact be Union Government. State governments’ responsibilities are in state list, the union government responsibilities are in union lists & there are some responsibilities which are in concurrent list. Ass the name suggests, both union government and state governments must concur when it comes to changes/amendments to items in the concurrent list. It is also possible, under certain conditions, for a State Legislature to get a law passed regarding a matter in the concurrent list and get President’s assent for it to prevail over Union Government’s law.
Now let’s into the newly announced education policy 2020
Education is in concurrent list. Why would anyone design a National Education Policy, when your country is in fact not a single nation. Every state, in fact every region within a state, has its own culture. So designing an education policy for the entire nation is unwise, as each state has achieved different milestones over the last 70 years.
The document keeps referring to Indian Culture. What is an Indian Culture? Indian culture is not a monolith. Though the document speaks of diversity and local cultures, those are mere lip services.
Fundamental Principles mentioned
Promoting multilingualism and the power of language in teaching and learning;
Why iterate multilingualism distinctively when in fact that has been the case in many states already. Most of the states teach minimum 2 languages : English and the regional language. Aren’t these 2 languages multilingual enough?
A rooted-ness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions;
What’s rooted-ness & pride in India? Pride should be something reserved for one’s own achievement & not for an accident. To be born in India was not a choice it was merely a chance. Then what’s to be proud of? That we are born in the part of world, which reeks discrimination, corruption (for those moral crusaders out there) & all the crimes against women, minorities and the powerless.
substantial investment in a strong, vibrant public education system as well as the encouragement and facilitation of true philanthropic private and community participation.
When Education is a Public good, why should true philanthropic private participation be mentioned? There are posts mentioning the financial benefits of setting up an educational institution as Non-profit organization.
Let’s now focus on vision statements
An Education system rooted in Indian ethos to transform India (Bharat) –
What’s Indian Ethos? What’s Bharat? Why not Baratham, as we say in Tamizh. Even in the first few pages one can understand that all the talks of Diversity are merely a facade.
To develop deep sense of respect towards Fundamental Duties & Constitutional Values
What about the Fundamental Rights? Shouldn’t students be made aware of their Fundamental rights guaranteed by Indian Constitution?
The vision of the Policy is to instill among the learners a deep-rooted pride in being Indian
Again what’s to be proud of being an Indian? As Carlin used to say about Irish pride, “Being Irish isn’t a skill, it’s a genetic accident”. Too much pride is a problem. Pride Goth before fall
The Foundation of Learning
The below claim is made in the document without providing any source to backup the claim.
“Over 85% of a child’s cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in the early years in order to ensure healthy brain development and growth”
Early childhood care & Education (ECCE) : is the idea of starting education for children from age 3. Children now a days start schooling at almost 3 years old. They start going to Pre kindergarten & kindergarten (3 years already). Some children go to anganwadis. When this is the case, why should this ECCE be mentioned as something new?
The section 1.2 talks about children developing social, ethical, moral capacities from age 3. There are studies, which show children are born with some levels of inherent moral compass. If it were true, then what is that ECCE trying to achieve? There are other studies finding that babies don’t possess inherent moral compass, if it were this case then how could something as complex as morals be taught to the children at the very young age
Foundational literacy & Numeracy section
Most of the abbreviations used in this document is in Hindi/Sanskirt. Why not have it in English or spread the acronyms fairly among the different regional languages?
Furthermore the document talks about national level repositories. Why not start the repository on a state level and let Union Government collate them? If this is the idea, then why not state it explicitly? As some claim, when the Federal structure of constitution is being under threat, wouldn’t it serve the government to clear any unwarranted doubts?
Section 2.7 talks about using trained volunteers for education. When there are many vacancies for teachers, why not fill those positions rather than using the volunteers for teaching children. In the first place, what are the criteria for identifying and appointing the volunteers? Who would be doing this? Secondly will the volunteers be held to account for children’s growth? No clarity about any of these.
Section 2.8 talks about National Book Promotion Policy. Why everything is on a national level? Why not the union government provide guidance & ask the individual state to formulate its own policy? Federalism anybody?
Section 2.9 talks about providing breakfast along with mid day meals to the children. For a State such as Tamil Nadu, which pioneered the Mid day meals scheme as early as 1920s, initiated the break fast providing scheme in Feb 2019, one year before the union government made it as a policy. But the announcement that an NGO will help government provide breakfast drew criticism since this NGO is notorious for promoting vegetarian style of meals. The section also mentions that the children will be provided health card. Would this health card also be centralized? How would children privacy be guaranteed? What details would be maintained in this health card? No clear answers to any of these.
This is Part I of the series on NEP. Subsequent parts would be published soon. NEP document is attached along with this
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