Current affairs Blog
Too many unanswered questions in Draft Education Policy
- June 25, 2019
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Indian Polity ,Governance & Issues
It took a long time coming, but now there are two sets of drafts of education policy available with the government. When the NDA had earlier come to power in 2014, a committee, headed by late TSR Subramanian, had been constituted to work on a policy. It submitted its report within a couple of years, but thereafter yet another group, headed by Dr K Kasturirangan, was constituted to prepare another draft of the new education policy. This group has submitted a draft that has been placed for comments in public domain. Only time will tell whether and when will we finally have a new education policy.
Considering the diversity of the country, the moot point is whether there is a need for another education policy? Shouldn’t the country attempt to develop action plans for each state clearly outlining what needs to be done, how will it be done, who will do it, and by when will it be done to provide quality education to every child in the country? However, now that a draft has been put in public domain, let us look at the salient aspects and their relevance in the context of improving the quality of education.
The draft policy touches upon almost all the aspects of school education, but the moot point is whether the draft diagnoses the problems that afflict the sector appropriately, whether there are prescriptions that were not already available, and whether the suggested prescriptions can be delivered on the ground?
The initial years of a child are critical for her overall development. The draft recommends inclusion of preschool education, and this is welcome. But this is nothing new. Such provisions have already been incorporated in Samagra Shiksha that was launched a year and a half ago. The new scheme sought to amalgamate the ongoing Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), apart from extending eligibility under the scheme to preschool education and classes 11 and 12 that were hitherto not available for these segments.
The focus of the draft is on the teacher. The teacher, undoubtedly, lies at the pivot of school education. Issues relating to pre-service training, selection of teachers and in-service training for upgrading of skills have been highlighted in the report. However, all these aspects are well known. The report should have gone into the reasons for issues like prevalence of poor pre-service training facilities in the country. There are a large number of virtually non-existent B.Ed (Bachelor of Education) and D.El.Ed (Diploma in Elementary Education) colleges that are imparting training to teachers. The draft does not suggest anything new to resolve this issue. Then there is wishful thinking in the draft about recruitment of teachers—which is beset with scams. The draft doesn’t suggest any foolproof mechanism to select teachers. In the absence of appropriately trained teachers before they get down to teaching, and unless there is a transparent recruitment of teachers in government schools, not much is likely to improve in delivering quality education. Some states have done wonderful work in this regard. The draft report should have examined and mentioned such examples that could be replicated in other states.
The draft recognises the role that DIKSHA (a portal already in place for teachers) plays in imparting in-service training. DIKSHA has many more features relating to teachers. These should have been discussed in the report, as this portal has the potential to resolve a large number of issues relating to teachers.
A revision of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) has been talked about for a while. The draft suggests changes in the framework and rightly lays emphasis on bringing in ethical content in the curriculum. However, the last time the curriculum framework was revised (in 2005), it did not require a new education policy. Should we wait for the policy to do it now?
The draft recommends large-scale changes in the conduct of examinations by boards, as also introduction of examinations at various levels. However, no mention is made about the practical problems and the cost of conducting such exams. A separate regulatory authority for school education has also been suggested. However, whether such changes would help in qualitative improvements in learning outcomes is debatable. There are other ambitious recommendations, including those relating to ‘school complexes’. Apart from the issues relating to the utility and efficacy of such institutions, the million-dollar question is how and from where will the money come from? Similarly, the need for having counsellors in schools cannot be denied, but how are funds going to become available? For any idea to fructify, it has to be politically-acceptable, socially-desirable, technologically-feasible, financially-viable, administratively-doable and judicially-tenable. When the states are struggling to pay regular salaries of teachers, how will they be able to implement these recommendations?
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are doing phenomenal work in the field to improve the quality of education. There is just a passing reference about the role of NGOs in the draft. The need for scaling up public-private partnership is missing in the report. Such initiatives do not require major infusion of funds from the government and can be very effective.
A large number of students are migrating to private schools. The draft does not delve into the details of why is this happening, and should it happen? Instead of pushing private schools not to use the term ‘public’, efforts should have been made to get to the bottom of the problem. Is the growth of private schools necessarily a problem? Private schools are playing an important role in imparting school education, and will continue to do so. There are, indeed, a few unresolved issues relating to private schools. These issues need to be addressed. However, to do so, we have to get over the ‘bias’ that we have against them. There could/should have been an out-of-the-box thinking in this regard.
The contentious Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act provides for mandatory schooling of children belonging to weaker sections of the society. This has been termed as ‘well-intentioned’. There is an admission of the fact of its inappropriate implementation. The draft, however, does not suggest any remedy except a ‘review’. This exercise should have been done by the group and not leave it to another group.
A lot of faith has been reposed in the draft on the RTE Act. There is a recommendation to extend it to all the remaining classes in the school. This legislation seems to have done more damage to school education. Assessments have revealed that the learning outcomes since the enactment of the law have actually shown a negative trend.
The ‘language’ issue has already created a huge controversy. Why was this issue considered at all in the first place in the draft? Can a ‘formula’ be imposed on the states? Should such a ‘formula’ be imposed? These aspects should have been looked into before making a recommendation.
The draft does not provide for a definitive and time-bound action plan. It accepts the fact that “the challenge is the ability to implement the policy,” but does precious little to address this part. There is, indeed, no dearth of diagnosis and prescription. The problem is of application. The draft neither analyses why such initiatives have failed in the past, nor does it come up with specific recommendations on how to make it happen on the ground. The issues that beset education require to be addressed forthwith without waiting for a policy that may take a long time coming. Plans have already been prepared for Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. What is required is to prepare such action plans for each state separately, as each state has a different set of issues, and set up a mechanism to ensure implementation of these plans.
Sharing is caring!
Sharing is caring!