We should not confuse learning languages with the medium of instruction: Kasturirangan

Garima Singh New Delhi | Updated on July 31, 2020

The National Education Policy is supportive of private institutions, stressed the panel chief

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, unveiled on Wednesday has already created a stir, especially over the move to make teaching up to Class 5 in mother tongue. Private schools have also expressed their confusion at the policy’s directional change. The head of the panel for NEP 2020, K Kasturirangan, clarified in an exclusive interaction with BusinessLine that the policy continues to emphasise the advantages of knowing the English language. Excerpts:

The NEP talks of imparting early education in regional languages. Does that mean there will now be no concept of ‘medium schools’?

We must not confuse learning languages with the medium of instruction. In many cases, children come to school and are taught in a language that is alien to them. In India, the regional language which is the medium of instruction in many government schools is a foreign language for many students! So, if it turns out that children are unable to learn, it is unclear whether this is because of their difficulties with understanding the language or because of their difficulties with the material being taught, a fact that was not well understood before.

The policy is clear that, as a country, we must not deny children the advantages of understanding English. Therefore, English must be taught extremely well to all children in all schools, and especially so in those schools where the medium of instruction until Grade 8 is in the mother tongue/ local language/ regional language. Schools can continue to advertise their medium of instruction for the benefit of parents.

Will the reforms in NEP, 2020 lead to more affordable school education? Will the over-charging of fees in schools stop?

The policy is supportive of private institutions. Affordable schools in a neighbourhood will have access to the resources available with the school cluster such as labs, libraries, playgrounds etc. Private institutions will also have access to research funding from the National Research Foundation.

State governments will continue to have a say over the fees that can be charged by private institutions, but the limits will be based on realistic data disclosed by the schools in specified formats. A recent report on private schools by the Central Square Foundation indicates that over-charging by schools may be a perception. A bulk of the schools charge relatively low fees.

What will be the relevance of board exams now as the National Education Policy 2020 suggests that they will be re-looked at?

The policy has tried to move the discourse away from summative assessments towards more formative assessment. The focus is on using assessments to help guide the development of the child. Relaxing the high stakes and stress associated with the present board exams is part of this thinking.

Board exams and certifications will continue to be used for everything they are currently being used for. However, autonomous higher education institutions (those that qualify for autonomy and are granted autonomy as part of the implementation of NEP 2020), will have the freedom to use additional criterion for admitting students – such as personal interviews, for instance.

Will teachers already in the system be required to give more exams to fit into the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education?

The policy does not require existing teachers to undergo more exams. Instead, it envisages that they will be given the training they need so that they can lead the transformation being envisaged in the policy. The details will be worked out as part of the implementation plan.

Published on July 31, 2020

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