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Congress alleges National Education Policy offers no ‘affirmative action’ on reservation, democracy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 02, 2020 Published on August 02, 2020

The party said the NEP gives no relief in case of denial of educational opportunities for SC, ST and OBCs consequent to shrinkage of public institutions

 

The Congress said on Sunday that the New Education Policy, 2020 (NEP) misses the fundamental goal of human development and expansion of knowledge.

Addressing reporters through video conferencing, former HRD Minister and senior Congress leader Pallam Raju along with Congress spokespersons Randeep Singh Surjewala and Rajeev Gowda said that the NEP, approved by the Union Cabinet last week, is high on catchwords, gloss, appearance and verbosity but lacks a coherent implementational roadmap and strategy, clearly defined milestones and the critical finances necessary to execute this grand vision.

The party alleged that the timing of the NEP in the middle of the Covid-19 when all educational institutions are closed is, in and of itself, questionable. “More so when almost the entire academia has complained of no consultation, no discussion and no deliberations, except with BJP-RSS affiliates. On a policy that impacts and affects our present and future generations, even Parliamentary oversight has been circumvented. Contrast this with the rigorous parliamentary and widespread consultation that preceded the Right to Education Act,” Raju said.

 

The Congress leaders said transformation of school and higher education, multiplicity of ideas and the professed multi-disciplinary approach requires finances. “NEP 2020 recommends spending six per cent of GDP on education. However, spending on education as a percentage of the budget, has fallen from 4.14 per cent in 2014-15 to 3.2 per cent in 2020-21 under the BJP government. Even this budgeted amount will see a cut of 40 per cent owing to the pandemic in the current year taking the education spending to (close to) two per cent of the total budget. There is thus a huge mismatch between promise and delivery with no clarity on whether NEP 2020 proposes financing of six per cent of GDP to come from public funds or private investment,” the Congress leaders aded.

Digital divide

They criticised the principal focus on “online education” and distance learning. “In absence of a digital infrastructure and lack of access to computers/Internet, this will lead to increased segregation of the poor and disadvantaged by creating a dgital divide. More than 70 per cent children of marginalised sections may be completely excluded as seen during access to online classes in the Covid-19 period. This will also make the rural versus urban divide even stronger on account of absent or diminished internet connectivity/access to computers in the rural areas,” the former HRD Minister said.

 

NEP makes no mention of reservations for SC, ST, OBC’s in academic institutions- be it for students or teachers or other employees, the Congress said. “In fact, NEP 2020 completely omits to mention the policy of affirmative action in favour of socially and economically disadvantaged classes,” they said.

“Considering that NEP 2020 visualises increased reliance on private education and a shrinking of the public institutions, it provides no alternative or way forward vis-à-vis denial of educational opportunities for SC, ST and OBCs consequent to shrinkage of public institutions,” they argued.

The NEP 2020 misses the point that several Universities and Higher Educational Institutions have evolved and established well defined democratic mechanisms including elected Senates, Syndicates and elected academic and executive councils, the Congress argued. “Throwing down these well-established democratic structures for a top-down administration as envisaged by NEP will end up stifling creativity and critical thinking altogether,” they said.

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Published on August 02, 2020
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