[op-ed snap] Too good to be true’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Prospects and concerns with draft national education policy

CONTEXT

Draft National Education Policy – From the perspective of higher education, its main strength is that it has got its basics right — it appears to have a reasonable understanding of existing problems, and offers a plausible picture of possible solutions that may take us towards a better future. Indeed, the DNEP comes as a refreshing shock to academics long accustomed to policy documents that are rooted in a stubborn denial of basic ground realities.

Proposals

1.Liberal and holistic – The most overarching is the acknowledgement that all education is, and ought to be envisioned as, “liberal” and holistic.

2. Public education – There is a strong re-affirmation of the state’s commitment to public education, much needed at a time when privatisation has seemed to be the overriding objective of governments.

3. Autonomy – Also welcome is the explicit assurance that institutional autonomy is not just a polite term for financial abandonment.

4. Ad- hoc and contractual appointments –  Finally, the recognition that rampant resort to ad hoc and contractual appointments has crippled higher education and must be stopped immediately will surely bring relief to teachers’ organisations agitating tirelessly on this very issue.

5.Core Vision –  The core vision based on a tripartite division of higher education into teaching universities, research universities, and optimally-sized multi-disciplinary undergraduate colleges is sound. T

6.National Research Foundation – The diagnoses and prescriptions for the key areas of governance and regulation are workable as initial starting points, as is the plan to create a National Research Foundation separate from regulatory bodies.

Concerns with draft policy

  1. Discrimination  and Exclusion – 
  • It is deeply disappointing that the DNEP has evaded this issue, with the question of Under-Represented Groups (URGs) making no appearance outside school education.
  • Caste discrimination has long been an important issue in higher education, and has received intense public attention in recent times, from Rohith Vemula to Payal Tadavi.
  • Moreover, national statistics unambiguously establish that Persons with Disability and Muslims are by far the leading URGs in higher education.

2. Protecting public higher educational institutions from undue governmental interference

  •  The proposed institutional framework for higher education — with the National Education Commission chaired by the prime minister at its apex — clearly implies even more governmental control with significantly higher levels of centralisation than what is already the case.
  • The DNEP should have included — but does not — a forthright proposal for dealing with this unavoidable problem.

 

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