Smriti Irani’s intolerance kept new education policy draft off public domain?

NEW DELHI,ROHINEE SINGH : The secret is finally out! The New Education Policy (NEP) drafted by a committee headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian is not finding favours with the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.

Reason: Subramanian’s draft says ‘no’ to three-language formula, and objected to HRD ministry under Smriti Irani for using the word ‘tolerance’ towards Indian diversity. Also, the NEP suggested no detention policy till fifth standard.

“How can anyone say that we should tolerate Indian diversity? It should rather be that we ‘accept’ the Indian diversity,” Subramanian pointed out in his final draft to the HRD ministry. The original suggestions submitted by the ministry had elaborated on teaching the Indian diversity at length and had suggested the word ‘tolerant’ over ‘acceptance’. But the committee overruled the ministry’s preference for tolerance.

dna finds out the divergences and intentions of the ministry on several key issues. The draft NEP also contradicts ministry’s stand on Right to Education (RTE) Act and University Grant Commission (UGC). These issues in the past two years have invoked controversies.

Soon after taking charge, even in the middle of the session, Irani had amended the three-language formula. Her orders forced students to give up learning German and French and instead choose Sanskrit. Subramanian’s report, however, favours teaching a foreign language in schools. But leaves the option for the states and schools, whether they desire to learn any foreign language as third language.

“Three language formula exists. But choices will be made keeping in view the aspirations of parents, teachers, schools and the state. If the state wants to teach a foreign language as third language it should not be considered a violation of the three-language formula,” Subramanian told dna.

Highlighting that the three-language formula in the existing formula has been a failure so far, Subramanian favours to relook the policy.

The formula was introduced in the education policy of 1956, was reiterated in the 1986 and 2005 draft. “The question is, have we been successful in implementing it? No. Which means there is a problem and we need to address it in a more realistic manner,” he said.

Subramanian also added that it would be unfair for those sitting in Delhi to decide what languages the students sitting in the states should study.

The NEP draft recommends that mother tongue should be the medium of instruction till class 5. However, choice of teaching English along with regional language should be left to the states. It has asked for introducing English from class 6 and the third language from the secondary level. “This third language can be any of the scheduled languages or a foreign language like French, German, Arabic, Russian or any other foreign language,” the draft reads.

Against government’s aspirations to accord Sanskrit a prominent language status, the committee has held that it be treated like any other Indian language. Moreover, the focus should be to teach communicative Sanskrit rather than its grammar, to make it more accessible and easy to people.

The ministry had also suggested teaching students to be tolerant towards Indian diversity. But, the committee instead has asked for teaching students to have acceptance towards Indian diversity and take pride in the pluralistic Indian heritage and culture.

Subramanian’s draft also endorses the former UPA government’s view to set up a single point National Higher Education Authority, to subsume all the bodies like UGC, All India Council for Technical Education and other regulatory body bodies. It has also proposed a New Higher Education Act, putting aside all the existing and archaic laws related to education.

The NEP draft committee also does not endorses ministry’s view on the no detention policy.

Irani has been lobbying for complete scrapping the no detention policy, Subramanian however recommends capping no detention till class 5. The draft recommends providing enough support to the student to cope up with the curriculum rather than detaining or no detaining the student in the first place.

Posted by on June 16, 2016. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.