Saturday, January 02, 2016

Govt of India seeking to "over-centralize" higher education in the name of promoting public-private partnership

An AISEC rally in Delhi against New Education Policy
By Our Representative
The All-India Save Education Committee (AISEC), a civil society organization of left-wing educationists, has accused the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD), Government of India, of seeking to take the country towards centralization of higher education under the garb of having quality education.
Commenting on the proposed New Education Policy (NEP) of the MHRD, in an exhausting AISEC in its 31-page scrutiny quotes from the Government of India document, which says that, to improve the quality of education, there is a need for “a robust regulatory mechanism” to fight the challenge posed by its “unprecedented, yet unplanned expansion”.
Says AISEC, NEP believes this expansion is because of “private institutions”, who have been instrumental in poor quality of higher education, with many of them lacking “proper infrastructure and faculty strength” and “poor academic standards”, even as taking “exorbitant fees from students.”
In an effort to control this unplanned expansion, AISEC says, the effort is to promote public private partnership (PPP) in order to meet “wide resource gaps” needing to improve “service delivery and promotion of excellence.” It underlines, “This trend of centralizing everything is aimed really at attempts to concentrate power to curb opposition.”
The effort to promote PPP is being pursued, even though the NEP document that it has been a failure, says AISEC. AISEC quotes the document as saying, “While PPP in higher education has been pursued as a strategy, not many have shown successful results.”
Comments AISEC, “Clearly, on the plea of private institutions working below the mark, the policymakers are after firm control. Their words themselves are confusing because expansion does not challenge quality; unplanned may.”
Wondering if there is a “hidden agenda”, AISEC says, the MHRD document proposes that a “single regulatory body be set up for equity, expansion and excellence.” Even as talking of autonomy, AISEC states, the document talks of “uniformity in terms of syllabi and curricula through a framework”, and “possibility of a single national test in place of multiplicity of entrance and eligibility examinations.”
“In short, with contradictory and verbose pronouncements NEP talks of looking for curb of academic autonomy, for bringing everything under single control. Neither is the idea new, nor straightforward”, says AISEC, insisting, NEP’s stress on uniformity of syllabi and single national test are “detrimental to education in this vast country with thousand and one variations destroy a wholesome education.”
Even as seeking to control education sector, AISEC says, the NEP document talks of “permitting foreign education providers… for proper regulation and internationalization”, underlining, “It is not understood how permitting foreign education providers can help proper regulation.”
AISEC further says that the NEP document talks of “norm-based funding of higher education” without pointing towards what precisely norms are and who sets them. “This is a clever manipulation on the background of corruption existing around inspection”, comments AISEC.
“The document leaves an option of the ability of institutions to charge appropriate fees from students who can afford to pay, and at the same time having a means blind system (what is that?) for the needy students ", AISEC says.
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Click HERE to download AISEC report on New Education Policy

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