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New education policy 'reduces' children, teachers to consumers in a market system

By Our Representative
Participating in the civil society-sponsored online Janta Parliament, begun on August 16, Prof Shanta Sinha, former chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body, has regretted that the Government of India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 focuses less on strengthening the Right to Education Act (RTE) Act and instead seeks to reduce students, teachers and citizens to “mere consumers making them subject to the market forces”.
Representatives of NGOs RTE Forum and Nine is Mine, along with several people’s networks like Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development (ARECD), held the Janta Parliament session on education, discussing issued that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic. They passed nine resolutions in order to implement the RTE Act.
Grassroots activists and movements along with youth leaders and children presented testimonies regarding deepening of inequalities in education during the Covid-19 crisis, even as seeking accountability of the state, at the Janta Parliament, which will end on August 19.
Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, underlined the need for common school system, regretting, NEP 2020 “doesn’t mention it at all while it has remained a dream for the large common masses of the country since decades with the popular slogan ‘Nirdhan ho ya ho dhanwan, Sabki shiksha ek saman’.”
Farida Bano of the Indian Youth Federation said, despite youth constituting 34 per cent of the population, they are hardly consulted in policy making. Rashmi Maruvada, a disability rights activist of the Indian Youth Federation and West Bengal RTE Forum, said, problems of disabled children and youths go “mostly unheard.”
The Janta Parliament passed resolutions seeking to ensure right to education, health and nutrition of children from migrant families affected because of Covid-19 pandemic; tabling of NEP in Parliament; and extension of the RTE Act, 2009 to children aged 3 to 18 years with provision of the universal school education.
Other resolutions included the need to allocate at least 6% of GDP for education; stopping exclusion of the maginalised communities through online Instruction; explore alternative means amidst the Covid-19 crisis; steps to stop commercialization; and regulation of non-state Actors in education.

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