National Education Policy(2016)

Government of India had put out a draft of National Education Policy here. Please read the complete document before continuing. I should confess that I don’t have very high opinion of our education system past and present and no hope for the future.

The first 3 sections provide introduction to the need of a new policy, problems with the current system and the goals, objects to be met with this policy. To me, the most important is the 4th section Policy Framework. I will talk about them here. Para in green is quoted from the draft.

The present provisions of no-detention policy will be amended, as it has seriously affected the academic performance of students. The no detention policy will be limited up to class V and the system of detention will be restored at the upper primary stage. Academically weak students will be identified, based on CCE conducted by schools, for providing remedial instructions.

This no-detention policy never made any sense to me. I came to know about this some 2 years back. This policy was introduced in the Right to Education Act - 2009 section 16. This policy prohibits schools from detaining or expelling students from Classes up to 8th standard i.e.) A student who finds it difficult to understand the maths concept at 5th standard level will nevertheless be promoted to the next level and it will be up to the student to handle the pressure of this level. I cannot believe this policy was thought as a good one and actually got passed in the parliament.

This policy will make sense in an Education system which encourages students to imagine, question and be curious of what is being taught. In our current system, Education sooner becomes a punishment1 that the children have to endure and a stick is needed to force the students to learn. I don’t agree with my comment about stick but that is what is needed for the current system. When you take the stick away, children have no incentive to learn anything.

This policy will now be limited up to class 5 as per the current draft. I vehemently disagree with this part. We should do away with this policy. We are treating the symptom and not the cause. Let us consider a first standard student in which the syllabus expectation is that he can write and read alphabets of his mother tongue at the end of the year. Now even if this student failed the objective at the end of the year, he will be promoted nevertheless. Now the problem is either with the student or the teaching methodology or the teacher or the locality. no-detention prevents the system from identifying the problem and worse this policy puts further pressure on the student to master yet another level with incomplete knowledge. I don’t see any good to come out of this.

My question why are we introducing such an intrusive policy with out any trial and error. Introduce it in one school, observe, gather data continuously and compare it with a school without this policy, identify and fix the problems, implement it incrementally. Of course this will not be done because this is what is called Common Sense. Finally, when you endeavor to do good without thinking, all you end up doing is destroying what is there. I don’t think we will ever learn from our past mistakes.

Open schooling facilities will be expanded to enable dropouts and working children to pursue education without attending full time formal schools.

Are we legalizing child labor? The wording here is very troublesome.

Helplines will be set up and professional counselors will be engaged in schools to overcome this limitation and also identify children with special learning needs, assist slow learners and underachievers, help in right choice of courses including vocational skill-based programs, and guide secondary and higher secondary students about relevant employment opportunities

I am reminded of a Red Forman quote If a frog has wings, it wouldn't bump its ass when it hops. Before we start dreaming of involving psychologists and psychiatrists, first let us improve the infrastructure of the schools and fix the existing problems and then let us actually regulate the psychiatry Industry in India.

To address regional imbalances, differentiated policies for different terrains, such as, hill areas, tribal areas, desert areas, coastal areas, is possible. The criteria for determining educational backwardness at block and district levels will be revisited and new norms will be evolved. To identify educational and skill gaps and to facilitate special interventions for educationally backward regions as also for socially, economically and educationally backward sections, district-wise mapping will be undertaken.

Why not let the state government handle this section? Central government undertaking this different policy for different areas will only lead to a bureaucratic nightmare.

A full section(4.10) has been devoted to Teacher Development and Management. The main problem in today’s education is Tuition. Government teachers especially do not conduct classes in school but rather direct the children to come to their tuition centers for learning. How are we going to abolish this scheme? Nothing about this is mentioned in the policy.

Keeping in view special importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages and its unique contribution to the cultural unity of the country, facilities for teaching Sanskrit at the school and university stages will be offered on a more liberal scale.

Tamil and other Dravidian languages have no ancestry with Sanskrit. Bengali does not have its roots in Sanskrit. Let’s not forget about the 100s of languages in the North-East. This is nothing but the current government’s agenda to ram down Sanskrit on our children’s throats.

Overall, this policy talks about the various problems afflicting the current education system and conveniently forgets about the sad state of public schools2, the draconian school fees of private institutions, effective law and order to actually enforce the various policies described here.

Also the money will come from private sector for most of the infrastructure and we know what that means. If you have read till here, please go and read about WTO-GATS. This entire policy talks about subsidies, scholarships which cannot be followed if GATS is enforced. As I re-read this draft, I cannot shake this nagging feeling that if this policy is enforced, it is going be a huge bureaucratic nightmare, leading to corruption at every level and there is this huge gorilla WTO-GATS which further colonizes our education system. Seriously read the above link for an overview of WTO-GATS.

Our education system is a remnant of the British Colonial system. Here is a picture which explains what is wrong with our education system.

A hilarious take on our education system

To get an idea of the education system that India had before British Colonial Rule, please go and read The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century authored by Gandhian Dharampal.

This is my take on any policy relating to Indian Education System.

Someone has destroyed your native house and has built another house for you somewhere else over a very soft soil. Now after you have inherited the house, you identify major issues in it and realise with horror that this house fails at its basic function i.e.) to provide shelter. It is wobbling and there is always a danger that it may collapse and kill everyone underneath. Now instead of abandoning the house, identifying the issues, learning the history of the earlier native house and then proceeding to build a stable house over hard rock surface, what you are doing is installing beams around the house and connecting the house to the beams through high pressure wires and hoping that this suspended house will be able to do the job. Good Luck with that

People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots

Marcus Garvey

  1. physical abuse from teachers and carrying all those books in bag, psychological abuse where students are compared to other students and embarrassed in front of the entire class and much much more. 

  2. intentionally these public school infrastructure is let to rot so that people have no choice but to flock to private institutions.