On May 31, 2019, 1 9-member Committee led by former ISRO scientist Dr Kasturirangan assigned by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India to submit a report on “Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019.” The draft aims to make India the knowledge superpower by equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge. It also focuses on eliminating shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry. The draft policy is built on the guiding goals of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability.
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The last date of submission of any inputs or suggestions by the public has been extended till 31 July 2019 which the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in the Rajya Sabha has announced. The draft consists of four broad categories or parts including School Education, Higher Education, Additional Key Focus Areas and Transforming Education.
Each category further divided into sub categories. School Education consists of early childhood care and education, foundational literacy and numeracy, reintegrating dropouts, ensuring universal access to education, and teachers etc. Higher Education deals with quality universities and colleges, liberal education, research foundation, professional education, teacher education, environmental learning, etc.
Additional Key Focus Areas include technology in education, vocational education, Adult education and promotion of Indian languages. Transforming Education deals with Rashtrya Shiksha Aayog.
The Article 21-A of the Constitution of India vows for free and compulsory education of all children from the age group of 6 to 14 years. The draft Policy suggests extending the bounds of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education. This would cover to all children between the ages of 3 to 18 years.
The current school structure of education is 10+2. The Draft proposed to restructure it to be 5+3+3+4. First five years of foundational stage, three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two, three years of preparatory stage classes 3 to 5, three years of middle stage classes 6 to 8, and four years of secondary stage classes 9 to 12.
The committee observed that higher educational institutions are losing their autonomy due to multiple regulators. They recommended to form National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) which would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education. It has also added the process on how to restructure higher education institutions and establish a National Research Foundation.
India’s expenditure on research and innovation has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014. Below is comparison on research and innovation investments by some countries
|Country||Spending on research and innovation (% GDP)||Researchers (per lakh population)|
In 2017-18, public expenditure on education in India was 2.7% of GDP. The Draft Policy reaffirmed its commitment to spend 6% of GDP in education whereas Brazil, UK and USA spend 6%, 5.5% and 5% of GDP respectively.
There was an uproar in South India when the draft made Hindi compulsory. However, the Ministry changed its position and immediately proposed three-language formula. Now, in Hindi speaking states, students should learn Hindi, English along with a modern Indian language (Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu etc.) and in non Hindi speaking states student should learn their regional language, English along with Hindi.
In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, they were protesting against the policy due to imposing Hindi on them. “The solution is not to abandon the three languages formula but to implement it in a better manner,” Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor said to ANI.
Tharoor said that the three-language formula dates back to mid-1960s but it was never properly implemented. “Most of us in South India learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam and Tamil,” he said.
Asif Karim who is a student of BSc in Medical Microbiology, Dehradun, writes the article. He aspires to be civil servent and contribute in national building.