Skip to main content

Education policy: Few takers for 'utopian' talk about Sanskrit, traditional knowledge

By Sandeep Pandey, Praveen Srivastava*
The Bhartiya Janata Party government did what it is best at in announcing the New Education Policy (NEP) -- high on publicity, low in content, with the country's Environment Minister taking the centre stage and Human Resources Minister, now rechristened as Education Minister, playing second fiddle.
NEP has set universalisation of primary education as its objective. But how will it do it without a Common School System in unclear. The global experience indicates that existence of private schools will hinder the accomplishment of this objective. How will the children who can be found begging at every major intersection in most metropolitan cities of India or others in child labour category reach the schools?
The education policy makers have resigned to the fact that they will never be able to reach out to all the children. The political will is clearly lacking. Hence lip service to universalisation is considered enough. The governments are not even able to enforce the minimum 25% seats allocation to children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in private schools.
Spending 6% of Gross Domestic Product on education has been a recommendation of the 1968 Kothari Commission and which most governments around the world follow but none of the Indian governments came around to doing that.
Now by making three years of pre-school (anganwadi) part of education programme, the budget of Integrated Child Development Service of the Women and Child Welfare Department gets added to the Education Department increasing it from the claimed 4.3% to 6%. This is similar to the sophistry government resorted to when it promised 1.5 times revenue of the cost of investment to farmers.
Much hype is being created about delivering education in mother tongue. But that is an established principle among educationists. Question is how will it translate on ground? Most private schools will continue will use English as medium of instruction giving two hoots to the policy. Moreover, even the Yogi Adityanath government found it expedient to convert 5,000 of its primary schools English medium after he assumed power in Uttar Pradesh.
It is one thing to talk about Sanskrit and traditional knowledge but another to find takers for it. The fact is if anybody wants to appear for civil services examination, enroll in engineering, medicine or management courses or wants to join judicial services, knowledge of English is compulsory. Without changing this reality it is utopia to consider giving importance to Indian languages.
Three language formula has been a policy since long. Tamil Nadu doesn't follow it. But the other states, especially the Hindi belt states are not honest about implementing it. Which child in north India learns an Indian language other than Hindi in school, except for the ones in Navodaya Vidyalayas?
Sanskrit is used as the third language by some schools but with the scanty knowledge learner is not in a position to make any practical use of it. There are no reasons to believe that there will be any change in this scenario.
In a caste society where manual work is looked down upon, neither the teachers nor the students take any work by hand seriously
Introducing vocational training at secondary stage is also not a new idea. In Mahatma Gandhi's conception it was part of Nai Taleem. However, the school which ran on this idea at his Wardha ashram had to be ultimately closed. Socially Useful Productive Work was part of curriculum in NCERT syllabus, but in a caste hierarchical society where manual work is looked down upon, neither the teachers nor the students take any work by hand seriously. It then reduces to merely a fomality to be completed.
NEP repeatedly emphasizes the ancient (not medieval) culture and pride for civilization while scientific temper is referred to only once or twice in the entire document. It shows the imprint of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh agenda that is known for promoting myths as historical facts, is less objective and more fantasy.
Opening up for top foreign universities is not consistent with the much trumpeted atmanirbhar Bharat idea. This will directly impact the quality of domestic institutions as most talented students and faculty will be poached by the private universities.
However, like the much awaited foreign direct investment it is not clear how many of the top universities would like to set up shop here? Instead of doing the hard work of institution building the government wants to rely on competition from foreign universities to improve quality of its domestic institutions.
The process is likely to backfire hurting our institution rather than benefitting them. In the United States there remains just one public university among top ranking institutions -- University of California at Berkeley. Does the government want a similar situation here?
NEP recommends various regulatory bodies. India already has a bitter experience of these regulatory bodies. These are just centers of corruption and tools for punishment in hands of government. These are white elephants studded with political appointments.
It also suggests use of school premises as Samajik Chetna Kendra, providing a window for interference of socially-politically powerful people or government supported organisations to misuse the school buildings. Already government schools and their teachers bear significant amount of non-academic load, this will be a further distraction from teaching-learning activity.
The crux of the matter is teacher motivation. All the idealistic talk about making education enjoyable for children has no meaning if for the teachers teaching activity is not a priority. The government has no idea how to motivate its teachers who have been practicing the culture of 'work from home' since even before the arrival of coronavirus crisis in a state like Uttar Pradesh, which implies they've been drawing their salaries without teaching.
The only option then for students remains to cheat to clear their examinations, an activity in which teachers fully cooperate. Such ground realities are always overlooked by the policy makers.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social activist, Sandeep Pandey is with Socialist Party (India); Praveen Srivastava is physics teacher at Queen's College, Lucknow

Comments

TRENDING

Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

'Massive concern for people': Modi seeking to turn India into global manufacturing hub

By Shankar Sharma*  The news item quoting Narendra Modi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, "Want to turn India into a manufacturing hub: PM Modi at SCO Summit" should be of massive concern to our people. One can only continue to be shocked by such policies, which can be termed as ill-conceived to say the least. Without objectively considering the environmental and social impacts on our communities in the medium to long term, such policies will also result in massive economic impacts because a lack of environmental and social perspective cannot be economically attractive either. In order to become the global manufacturing hub, India will have to meet an enormous demand for energy of various kinds, and in order to meet this much energy demand the economy has to manufacture enormous number of appliances/ gadgets/ machineries (to generate and distribute commercial forms of energy such as coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, and renewable energy (RE) sources such as so

Denying dissent democratic space in Gujarat: 'sad narrative of eroding ethical values'

By Sandeep Pandey*  A padyatra (foot march) was to be taken out between 26 September and 4 October, 2022 from Randhikpur village in Dahod district of Gujarat to Ahmedabad to apologise to Bilkis Bano. Randhikpur is Bilkis Bano’s village. In 2002 Gujarat communal violence she was gang raped, her 3 years old daughter, another child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 people were convicted and sentenced for life in 2008. However, on 15 August, 2022 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech from Red Fort appealing to people to change their attitude towards women and treat them with respect, a district level committee of Panchmahal decided to release the 11 rapists and murderers. A Bhartiya Janata Party leader described four of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins. Before the padyatra could begin from Randhikpur, on 25 September night, 7 activists were picked up from Godhra corporator Hanif Kalandar’s house where they had gone for d

Pesticide companies' lobbying 'seriously impairing' basics of governance, regulation

Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi*  The Indian agricultural sector is grappling with low incomes, shortage of natural resources, increasing pest incidence and low public investments in research and extension. Pest attacks are increasing. Previously unknown pests are attacking crops. Farmers, indebted as they are due to various market mechanisms, are finding it hard to protect their crop investments. Thus, farmers are pushed into the conundrum of pesticide usage by pesticide markets and companies. Pesticide usage in India is increasingly becoming a regulatory problem. Regulation has not been effective in the face of such challenges. Scientific expertise on pesticides is often subsumed in the policy tradeoffs that, in the ultimate scenario, encourage production and marketing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). Expert Committee reports, which are recommending withdrawal of certain HHPs, are not being acted upon. Lobbying by pesticide companies has seriously impaired the basics of governance an

Kerala health bill public hearing? Here the minister 'ensured' cameras were turned off

By Our Representative  On Friday, September 30, 2022, about 100 members of the general public gathered at the conference room of the collectorate at Ernakulam, Kerala, to express their apprehensions about the Kerala Public Health Bill, 2021, which the state assembly referred to a 15-member select committee chaired by state health and family welfare minister, Veena George. Minister Veena George asserted at the outset that this was a sitting of the select committee, and all cameras would need to be turned off. Advocate PA Pouran, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Kerala, stood up in protest, arguing that the meeting was a public hearing and should ideally be televised to reach vast numbers of people. Other members of the audience protested too, but the minister insisted that the gathering was part of a sitting of the select committee.  “Why then did you invite all of us?” protested George Mathew, who had arrived from Aluva and earlier served as a member of t

How Gandhian values have become 'casualty' in India under majoritarian BJP rule

By Sandeep Pandey*  A Muslim youth was beaten recently when he tried to witness the famous garba performance during the Hindu religious nine days festival of Navratri in Gujarat. There was a time when Muslims could easily participate in Garbha events in an atmosphere of cordiality. Bilkis Bano was gang raped in 2002 Gujarat communal violence, her 3 years old daughter, the child in womb and a total of 14 family members were killed. 11 accused were awarded life term. However, recently a District level committee has decided to release all the culprits. A ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader has described some of these criminals as virtuous Brahmins, the highest among the Hindu hierarchical caste system. In a communally polarized Gujarat today most Muslims feel offended by the decision of the government and BJP supporters either justify the release of rapists and murderers or just ignore the ignominious decision. Mahatma Gandhi came from the Guj

GoI 'feeling threatened' by forces which can potentially fight 'Brahmanical fascism'

Counterview Desk  A network of civil rights and people’s organisations , Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, has characterised the recently-imposed ban on Popular Front of India (PFI), National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and other organisations as “Brahmanical Hindutva fascist” move of the Government of India (GoI), calling it “onslaught on democratic dissent”. In a statement, CASR said, the move is aimed at terrorizing and vilifying the Muslim community, adding, at the same time, the GoI is curbing any protest and demonstration against the “fascist diktat of ban”, with peoplebeing “detained and arrested.” It added, “This kind of attack on right to oppose or criticize any step of government should be conceived as an attack on the very democratic values of the people.” Text : On 28 September 2022, Central Government led by BJP-RSS banned the Popular Front of India, National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, Campus Front of India, National Wom

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”