The New Education Policy, being crafted by the Narendra Modi government under the supervision of HRD minister Smriti Irani, was always expected to be a reflection of the right-wing ideology of Hindutva.
But a draft made public on Wednesday does more than that, introducing deep structural changes. The raft of measures listed under the title “Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy-2016” that was released on the citizen engagement platform MyGov has tried to address significant defects in the Indian education system accumulated over decades, while announcing its inspiration from solely indigenous sources, ancient and modern.
The suggestions in the document are based on the simple instrumental principle cause-and-effect: India needs to teach its students what is needed in the world; if a certain thing is taught, the students must be able to reproduce and apply it; where there is autonomy, there must be accountability; learning must lead to employability.
The ideology is evident when it refers to the ancient Indian education system as the “Vedic system” and invokes luminaries such as Charaka, Sushruta, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and Vatsayana. It mentions a few in the modern times too: Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Ram Mohan Roy, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Mahatma Gandhi.
It also eulogises the Gurukul system that fostered a bond between guru and shishya. The document on page 21 underlines “a need to shift from the information-based education system to a value-based education system imparting life skills which can contribute to man-making and nation-building”, quoting Swami Vivekananda.
The paper has tried to explain the need for a new policy as its predecessors failed to realise fully the goals enshrine. “Though India has made significant progress in terms of enhancing access to and participation in all levels of education, the overall picture of education development in the country is mixed and there are many persisting concerns and challenges relating to access to and participation in education, quality of the education imparted, equity in education, system efficiency, governance and management, research and development, and financial commitment to education development,” it says.
The New Education Policy (NEP) “envisions a credible and high-performing education system capable of ensuring inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all and producing students/graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are required to lead a productive life, participate in the country’s development process, respond to the requirements of the fastchanging, ever-globalising, knowledge-based economy and society,” it adds.
Painted with a broad brush, the document is all about an expanded education system that has loads of regulations and answerability and adjustment to the changed social, economic and political conditions of India and the world.