Thiruvananthapuram: The national education policy proposed by the union human resource development ministry has been opposed by the college teachers’ unions in the state affiliated to the Left parties saying that it was part of an agenda to saffronise the education sector in the country. Mr K. Ramakrishnan, president of the Association of Kerala Government College Teachers’ Association (AKGCT), told Deccan Chronicle that the draft of the report prepared by former cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramaniam was earlier submitted to the then HRD minister Smriti Irani. However, the proposals were dumped following the opposition from the Sangh Parivar. Instead, a set of proposals drafted by the Nagpur meet of the RSS was incorporated in the policy, he said.
The main agenda of the proposals was to introduce a common national curriculum which would enable the RSS to have control over the educational system in all states. They have also introduced 33 themes for the policy with 20 themes pertaining to the higher education sector and 13 relating to the general education sector. “Most of them are aimed at commercialisation of education,” he said. The themes included internationalisation of education. The plan was to allow the top 200 universities to offer courses of their own choice in the country without considering the local needs. Another proposal was the establishment of special educational zones on the lines of the special education zone, Mr Ramakrishnan said.
There was a move to give emphasis on Sanskrit as the basis of all knowledge and focus on traditional knowledge. It was against the very spirit of modern education, he said. Mr K.L. Vivekanandan, general secretary, All-Kerala Private College Teachers Association (AKPCTA), said that nobody was aware of the exact content of the committee report as the HRD ministry had kept it a secret. Some bits and pieces were leaked by Mr Subramaniam himself through websites, he said. Though the government has claimed to have conducted over 2.7 lakh consultations throughout the country, there was lack of clarity on such consultations.
It is planned to phase out regulatory bodies like UGC and replace them with private regulatory and accreditation agencies. The move to go for a national curriculum was also against the federal system in the country, he said. Some scientists have also raised serious concerns about the lack of scientific temperament in the education policy. Mr R.S. Praveen Raj, senior scientist, CSIR-National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), said that the policy in its present form would promote only low-quality research output.
“The policy does not lay emphasis on scientific temper. Science in the 21st century is encountering religious paradigms, which is a global phenomenon, though its ramifications are better visible in India,” he said.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the facts proved by science were welcomed. Society was willing to accept the scientific finding, though the process was slow, Mr Raj said. “However, there is a trend in the 21st century to stop the growth of science. The people are being made slaves of faith and put into a “paradigm” trap much early in life, before they acquire maturity. This is why science is being attacked. Scientific temper questions everything and everyone,” said Mr Raj. “While science’s encounter with religious paradigms is an accident, the paradigm traps are not accidental. This is the result of the agenda from religious organisations having unholy nexus with political power centres. Science is being targeted because scientific temper is opposed to religion,” he said.
Salient recommendations in national education policy
Establishment of an Indian Education Service (IES) with officers allocated to the state governments with the cadre controlling authority vesting with the human resource development ministry.
The outlay on education has to be fixed at least at 6 percent of GDP
The top 200 foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in the country and they should award the same degrees that are acceptable in their countries.
Establishment of a credible Academic Performance Index (API) for faculty and making it the criterion for career advancement.
Compulsory licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools, including a provision for renewal every 10 years based on an independent external testing.
The minimum eligibility condition for admissions to BEd courses should be 50 percent marks at graduate level. Teacher Entrance Tests (TET) should be made compulsory for recruitment of all teachers. The centre and states should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.
The UGC Act should be allowed to lapse after a separate law is promulgated for the management of higher education system. The role of University Grants Commission should be limited to the disbursal of scholarships and fellowships.
Over the next decade, at least 100 new centres for excellence in the field of higher education both in public and private sector.
A Council for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE) would be established to create policies to foster the establishment of centres of excellence.
The overall process of accreditation shall be governed by a National Accreditation Board (NAB) subsuming NAAC and NBA....