Hyderabad: Highlighting her concerns of the recently launched National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, educationist Anita Rampal questioned its breakaway from India’s 70 year long take on education.
Speaking at Hyderabad based public discourse platform, Manthan, the former Dean and professor at Delhi University’s Department of Education elaborated on her concerns about the policy.
Echoing the Radhakrishnan Education Commission Report of 1949, she stressed that education needs to be looked at as transformative, and one that boosts the morality of the mind.
“Post-independence, there was an effort to link education with democracy. Much like a universal suffrage, our leaders were keen on formulating an education policy that would include and be available for every citizen. Our constitution was a transformational project, and parts of it even attempted to look at education as transformative,” she said, further questioning the narrow lens with which NEP looks at education.
“What education could achieve, was based on the pillars of the constitution- liberty, fraternity, equality,” she added.
The professor also said that education policies today talk only about adjusting citizens to a global society. “Freedom of individual development is the centre of democracy, and to sustain it, we must resist government control over education,” she added.
She further reflected on how freedom of teachers was also being put into danger, with several such as Hany Babu, PK Vijayan recently being summoned under the Elgar Parishad case.
She further said the NEP fails to look at the history of education in the country and breaks away from the ethos being duly followed for decades. “It was after years of battle that India embedded into its constitution the Right To Education. This fundamental right was made to ensure that education is free from fear, discrimination, and offers equal opportunities,” she said.
The NEP 2020 has received flak for allegedly commercialising the system of education by focusing more on skill-based and vocation courses. Professor Anita said that the policies take on “philanthropic public partnership” puts pressure on the learning outcome of students. “Increased standardised testing goes against all essence of education. All of a sudden, when you standardise excellence, you compromise on the quality of large groups of children who have been disadvantaged for years,” she added.
She stressed that NEP 2020 further increases managerial tendencies in the education system, where student outcomes and teaching mechanisms are surveilled. Additionally, dividing children early on, unlike the usual middle school, increases tendencies of discriminatory segregation.
NEP offers to transform the system of school-level education by segregating classes from class 5th onwards.
The professor concluded by saying that education policies should focus on providing equitable and good quality education to students. Learning, she said, should be social and not outcome-based.
“To say that the first five years of school would focus on numerical and literacy foundation trivialises the expectations we have from children because they can do much more than that at the age of eight. The push towards technologies, especially a digital education today, pushes thousands out of the folds of education and denies them their fundamental right,” she added.