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In the name of religious scripts, the scheduled class and backward class of the society was denied of the opportunity to learn for over 2000 years. During British rule, in 1835, Macaulay education system introduced common education for all. It is from this point, the scheduled class and backward class received the right to education

The upper crest of the society never made right to education as a basic right in the constitution of India. In its preface, in the guidelines section to the government it mentioned, “The government should strive to achieve free education to all the kids below 14 years within the next 10 years”. Despite 70 years since the independence, it still remains unachieved.

Govt Elementary SchoolTo ensure education for all, Union government formed many committees. In 1968 and 1986, it announced National Education Policy. In 2002, through an amendment to the constitution, Right to Education was made a basic right. On this basis in 2009, Union government made it a law.

In 2014, BJP party formed a government without support from any alliance party, under leadership of Narendra Modi. It formed a committee under TSR Subramanian’s leadership in 2016 to formulate policy for National education. Since there was vehement opposition to its recommendation, it was pushed to the back burner. In June 2017, another committee was formed under the leadership of former Chairman of ISRO, Kasturi Rangan.  

After Modi got elected for the second term with thumping majority, the policy was submitted to the Union government on 31.5.2019. The 483 page report was published only in Hindi and English. But people speaking all languages were mandated to provide their feedback within 30.6.2019. Later the deadline was extended till 31.7.2019.

This policy pompously boasts that core of it is to enable the youth of the nation to face the challenges posed by 21st century. But ironically, in reality it poses a bigger threat to social justice, rights of linguistic ethnic groups and rights of federal states.

The contents that could easily be fit in 40 pages were elongated to 480 pages in a glib, trivial tiresome language, with contradictions all over. The committee, instead of trying to identify the flaws in current education system and advise ways to mend them, considers itself a saviour and drafted out its wish list.

This article considers the school education part of the National Education Policy and tries to illustrate how harmful it is.

The Kothari Education Committee in 1968 recommended 10 + 2 years of school education. Prior to that it was 11 years. Draft National Education Policy 2019 recommends 5+3+3+4 years for school education.

Primary - 5 years – 3 years of kindergarten and 1st and 2nd standards

Upper primary – 3 years - 3rd, 4th and 5th standard

Secondary – 3 years - 6th, 7th and 8th standard

Higher secondary – 4 years - 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th standard

In 2009, while the draft was under preparation, educationists demanded the age for right to education should be amended from 6-14 to 3-18. In the draft, it is recommended to introduce ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) for the children of age 3 to 6 years and should be included in the right to education act. This is certainly a good recommendation.

The committee says NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) will create the curriculum. It goes on to say the curriculum should imbibe the various aspects on ancient Indian culture, dating about 1000 years. Caste discrimination, women slavery are the core of ancient Indian culture. The Dharma of Indian culture glorifies killing of Shambuka by Rama, Dhrona’s claiming thumb of Ekalavya. It also states ‘adults of Indian families are not inculcating the ancient values of Indian legacy. The policy strives to ensure the families start doing it again’. The hidden agenda of the education policy is not only to inculcate Hindutva ideology in the minds of all the kids aged 3 to 6, but their parents as well.

Policy on medium of education

The policy says ‘Mother tongue can be the medium of education till 5th standard or at the most till 8th standard. From there on, it can be learnt as one of the language subjects, wherever possible’.

Even in this 21st century, in all the developed nations, medium of education is their mother tongue. The conspiracy behind bringing everything under English after 8th standard is, simply to create modern day coolies for local and multinational corporates. In India, more than 50% of schools adopt English medium instruction.

It goes without saying all the private schools choose English as medium of instruction. 80% of students in Government aided schools and 20% of students in Government schools are taught in English as medium of instruction. Therefore as of today about 65% of the students are taught in English, and in next ten years this expected to reach 90%

But National Education Policy states, ‘it is tragic to see, albeit presence of the abundant Indian languages and magnificent literature, the schools and society prefers English as medium of instruction’. It further goes ahead and asks, ‘when the technologically developed nations have their respective languages as medium of instruction in schools, why majority of Indians prefer English over their own language as medium of instruction’. Isn’t it scandalous that it’s the very same document that recommends mother tongue could remain the medium of instruction only till 5th standard?

The affluent section of the country that constitutes 15% of the population upholds English language. While this draft policy condemns the attitude and talks in length about the importance of mother tongue, it also recommends Government and Government aided schools should teach English in much more better standard and insist on fluent usage of the language. This double standard of the policy clearly lauds English language and aids deterioration of Indian languages.

Three languages policy

This draft policy states that as insisted in 1969 and 1986 versions of the Education policy, the three language policy should continue to exist without any amendment. According to this policy, in non-Hindi speaking states, from 6th standard onwards, the students apart from English and their mother tongue, should learn Hindi as third language, and in Hindi speaking states, apart from Hindi and English, they should learn any one of the Indian languages.

In 1968, Anna the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu passed the two language policy as law in the legislative assembly. As per this law, the Government and Government aided schools teach Tamil and English languages. Only CBSE schools teach Hindi as third language.

Since 1968, except Tamil Nadu, all the southern states teach Hindi under three language policy. However none of the Hindi speaking states care about this policy and teach other Indian languages. Hence logically one can construe that this new education policy is a conspiracy to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states and blunt their conscience to favour influence of northerners.

Education policy of 2019 tries to bring down the age of imposition of Hindi from 6th standard students to kids of 2 years old. It states ‘at the age of 2 to 8 kids learn fast. Learning more languages in this period would enhance their skills and brain power. Hence it is recommended that the students should start learning 3 languages from primary stage (3 – 8 years) itself’.

‘This education policy aims at ensuring kids at the third standard level should be able to understand the alphabets, speak and read simple sentences of three languages’ states the policy document. On the other hand, linguistic experts say that the children should learn only in their mother tongue till fifth standard and should be introduced to a second language only in sixth standard. It would be torturous to learn three languages by the kids at tender age of three. It would hamper the bliss of naturally learning their mother tongue in a joyous environment. The very purpose of primary education is to enable the learning skill of kids through games, rhymes and stories. But this new education policy destroys the very purpose.

At present in kindergarten level, children are taught the alphabets and rhymes of English to begin with. Exchange of ideas and conversation are taught only in English. Despite studying their mother tongue as a subject, many students are not able to fluently read or write in their mother tongue. It’s the same situation in English as well, they could not develop fluency in neither languages. It is the backward class, scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students that are getting most affected.

Imposition of Sanskrit

‘Sanskrit remains a cornucopia of Science, Mathematics, Law, Architecture, Medicine, Economics, Politics, Music, Drama etc., comprising of 64 disciplines’, a statement from this draft policy states. But none of these disciplines have evolved based on these Sanskrit scriptures, western scientific discoveries remains the basis of these developments. The likes of Modi’s infamous declaration ‘Lord Ganesha’s head replacement is the basis of plastic surgery’ would find its prominent place in the curriculum.

Considering the role played by Sanskrit in development of various languages, intellect and cultural unity, it should be made an optional subject in all schools and colleges, states the policy. This fortifies the hidden agenda of Hindutva forces.

The policy goes on to laud that Sanskrit has offered many works that are radical in churning out history. The policy proposes that along with three languages, students of 6th to 8th standard should learn a classical language as well. This policy tries to convert students to a ‘language learning machine’. The same group of people who refused the opportunity of learning Sanskrit to Ambedkar is now insisting everyone should learn the language. We need to consciously understand the conspiracy woven underneath.

School complex

In 2016-17 in 28% of primary schools and 14.8% of middle level schools, the number of enrolled students were less than 30. The policy broods over the pathetic situation. Two years earlier, the Union government wrote to the states recommending closure of schools with lower enrolment rate. This policy recommends ‘Special Education Zone’ as a solution, it is also called as School complex. This policy deceitfully camouflages the root cause of reduction of enrolment in these schools.

Since 1990, due to the liberalization, globalization and privatization in the economic policies of Union and states, the private schools mushroomed all over the country. Students avoided Government schools and opted for private schools. The trend accelerated year on year. Government’s inactivity in arresting the trend and encouraging the private schools is the reason behind this deterioration in enrolment.

‘Primary Schools present in 5 to 10 miles would be consolidated under a High school. Each classroom should have minimum 15 students. The schools with low enrolment could come out of the grey zone and start sharing the resources of the schools that comes under the High school. The headmaster of the High school will be the head of all these schools’, states the policy.

As per this plan, all the schools with less than 20 students would be closed and respective teachers and students will be transferred to other schools. Which means about one lakh schools across India are going to be closed. The Right to Education act of 2009 states the school should be within the distance of a KM of the student’s dwelling. But on contrary, this education policy recommends closure of schools. Only those schools which can operate individually are allowed to survive. This policy also devastates the ‘near-by schools’ methodology of Kothari Committee of 1968.

Rural students would give up education due to their inability to travel long distance. The policy makes an impractical recommendation of the education committee of Special Education Zone should make arrangements of commutation on their own.

Examination

2009 Right to Education bill states that students should not be detained up till 8th standard. In 2018, an amendment made to the effect of detaining students in 5th and 8th standards. Now the new education policy states that there should be state board examinations in 3rd, 5th and 8th standards. Though it states that the examination would try to evaluate the learning skills and not the memorising skill, conducting board exams at the tender stage of 3rd standard would not only destroy the kid’s natural learning ability, but will also result in massive withdrawal of students from schools.

‘9, 10, 11, 12 standards would be converted into 8 semesters. This will relieve students from the burden of memorising, students studying science can learn arts and students studying arts can learn science as optional subjects’, states the policy.

There are 24 mandatory subjects and 16 optional subjects. The policy on one hand states its objective is to reduce the burden on the students, and on the other hand, it increases number of subjects and board exams. This will result in mental pressure on students. This will ultimately lead to drop out rate among students from oppressed class. In spite of passing through all these examinations, there would be a national entrance examination to fetch seat in a college. This is a fatal assault on the state’s rights on the education affairs of the state.

Professional education

Life skills development courses are to be introduced to the kids of 3rd, 4th and 5th standards. Under this the students will learn Horticulture, Pottery, Carpentry etc., this will continue in 6th to 8th standard as well. From 9th standard onwards they need to additionally learn Agriculture, Electronics, Local commerce etc., as professional courses. There are vocational courses in high schools and higher secondary schools already, but there is no proper infrastructure or teachers. Insisting this again is simply to push the lagging students towards vocational courses and deprive them off the opportunity of higher education. Those students who are interested in these vocational courses are joining them in ITIs after the 10th standard now. But implementing those courses for all the students would lead way to age old treacherous Varnasrama model of education.

Volunteers

This policy states that all the students at and above 5th standard should attain basic alphabetical and numerical capability. At present among the primary education students most of the 5th standard (over 5 crores) students are not able to read or write from the lessons of 2nd standard syllabus. They are unable to carry out simple addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. This is a primary deficiency.

The secondary deficiency is the dropout rate. As per a study conducted in 2016-17 out of 100 students enrolled in 1st standards dwindles down to 95 in 5th standard, 90.7 in 8th standard, 79.3 in 10th standard and 51.3 in 12th standard. The drop down rate keeps increasing after 5th standard. About 6.2 crores of kids in the age group of 6 to 18 are not going to school. The draft policy expects the percentage would go up to 10 crores, if the deficiencies are not addressed.

The policy states the teachers alone can’t help to accomplish this mission. Volunteers who are interested in serving their country and society should also be included to accomplish it. Even in developed countries like England, only the teachers are made to give additional training and care to the students who are lagging behind, and no volunteers are deployed.

The hidden agenda behind this is to percolate in the RSS personnel in the guise of volunteers into the education system. This policy goes on to state that these ‘volunteers’ will give additional training to the ‘lagging behind’ students during or after school hours as per the guidance of the teachers. These ‘volunteers’ will also coerce the dropped out students and bring them back to schools. The policy lauds these ‘Volunteers’ would be the true local heroes.

This education policy encourages private schools at the cost of Government schools. It encourages the private schools to determine their own fees structure with few formal conditions. The new education policy which increases the burden on students exponentially; which seizes the state’s right on education; which imposes Hindi, Sanskrit and Hindutva; which is absolutely against democratic values and social justice; offers a more fatal malady as remedy. This should be absolutely discarded and fed to fire.

Written by K.Mugilan, published in 'Sinthanaiyalan' Tamil Monthly Magazine.

Translated by Ramu.Palaniappan


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