States given full flexibility to impart education in languages they choose: Kasturirangan

Garima Singh New Delhi | Updated on June 07, 2019 Published on June 07, 2019

K. Kasturirangan, Chairman of the Committee that drafted the policy

The draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 created an uproar when it recommended making Hindi mandatory in the non-Hindi speaking States, and before it could take an aggravated political turn, the government put out a revised version. BusinessLine spoke to K. Kasturirangan, Chairman of the Committee that drafted the policy, on the various proposals and how he sees the future of education. On the controversial proposal, which was subsequently amended, he said “it was misunderstood, but now we should move on.” Excerpts:

How would you respond to the language row — the protests over imposition of Hindi?

There is no language imposition and the States are given full flexibility to impart education in the languages that they choose. As far as the three-language formula is concerned, we assumed that every line in this paragraph would be read with respect to flexibility. Unfortunately, it was perceived in a different manner by people and States and they thought that Hindi is being imposed on them. Now there is a revised version and the important thing is that we should not get stuck up in the policy. You make the required changes and move on.

The draft also suggests that private schools should not be allowed to use the word public. What was the reason behind this?

Public schools are used in the context of government-funded institutions. If every private school starts using the word public then not only will there be variants in the actual fact, but it is also misleading. Therefore, the word public should not be used for private-funded schools. English has enough words which can be used to give it a realistic meaning.

Why is so much emphasis being given on teaching multiple languages early in schools?

A lot of research has been done in the area of cognitive science which shows that the age between three and eight years is when most brain development happens.

It is around the same time that students can learn languages easily so the three-language concept is not a big deal.

Teaching languages early is not only for the sake of learning, but is also an investment. If a student wants to learn more languages later then he/she would be able to do it easily as that part of the brain was developed better from the learning point of view.

The draft suggests that Ministry of Human Resource Development should be re-designated as Ministry of Education...

There is difference between the two. This is because policy is about education and not human resource development. Education is more comprehensive, over-arching than just a human resource development.

Why do you think a single regulator in the higher education would be helpful?

The idea is to integrate all segments of education and that is why we have recommended setting up National Higher Education Regulatory Authority.

This way not only quick decisions can be taken but they will also be devoid of ambiguity.

Published on June 07, 2019

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