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The National Education Policy 2020: A Dark Side?

The implementation of the New Education Policy in higher education (i.e., colleges or universities) has some ifs and buts which are continuously being raised by student activists and teachers’ associations. Besides all the plus points, we’ll try to discuss those darker sides of NEP 2020 that need our attention.

Let’s go back to July 2020, when the thirty-four-year-old National Policy of Education (NPE) 1986 was replaced by National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 after the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved it. This first education policy of the 21st century got so much praise from educationalists and educational activists for its major reforms at the schooling level. The replacement of the 10+2 schooling structure with the 5+3+3+4 structure, inclusion of regional language in the syllabus, and removal of barriers in selecting streams are the few eye-catching reforms in NEP 2020 that are being considered as a saviour for students.

Is Implementing NEP That Easy?

Implementation and execution of any reform are the key challenges. Unfortunately, India got its new education policy amid a pandemic when our economy is struggling to come back on track. NEP talks about doubling the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education by 2035. The mission is to do something in 15 years, which India took 75 years to reach. This mission will require the opening of new universities and colleges in almost every district of India. Are we able to do so in the current economic scenario? 

Well, the NEP also calls for an increase in education spending from 4.6% to 6% of GDP, which is equivalent to around 2.5 lakh crore every year. So when India’s health sector is looking to get funds to combat the pandemic and also our manufacturing sector needs a boost on an urgent basis, are we able to increase education funding to that extent by ignoring the health and manufacturing sector?

The NEP will bring a completely new curriculum especially in the schools which will require a new set of teachers who are aware of the new syllabus and way of teaching. Also, it will require training all the teachers of our country with the new curriculum. So can the government afford to teach crores of teachers on an urgent basis to implement NEP at the national level?

Another thing under NEP is that by 2030, a four-year B.Ed. degree will be compulsory for one to join the teaching profession. It’s a good move to produce quality teachers for the country but at the same time, it also requires a practical action plan so that we can offer four-year B.Ed. program at more institutions so that there would be no scarcity of teachers then.

Protest in DU Against NEP & FYUP

The highest decision-making body of Delhi University met on August 31 and approved the implementation of NEP 2020 from the academic session 2022-23. The DU Registrar Vikas Gupta informed the decision taken by the Executive Council to PTI.

With this decision, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) started lashing out at the DU administration for implementing NEP. The DUTA has called NEP an ‘attack on publicly funded education’ and has also expressed its concern over the rights of ad-hoc/temporary teachers after the NEP comes into force. And not only DUTA, but the Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA) has also said that the NEP 2020 will lead to reduced roles of teachers and jobs cut.

Additionally, the student activists of the Student Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students’ Association (AISA) are also standing in solidarity with the teachers’ association against their fight against NEP 2020. The major opposition by students on NEP is on FYUP, SWAYAM, ABC and BL. Let’s understand these, one by one.

  • FYUP: The implementation of NEP will enable Four-year UG Programmes (FYUP) with multiple entry-exit options in Delhi University. In 2014, the DU administration introduced FYUP but the government scrapped the decision after getting massive opposition from the students and teachers’ community. This time also, the students and teachers are in front to oppose this move. However, the Secretary of Union Ministry of Education, Amit Khare claimed that the FYUP under NEP 2020 is not the same as that of 2013, reported TOI.
  • SWAYAM: The Study Website Active Learning for Young Emerging Minds (SWAYAM) is India’s open online course platform, which is again the result of NEP 2020. The NEP talks about technology in education that paves the way for the establishment of the National Education Technology Forum (NETF) which will promote technology-based education platforms, such as DIKSHA/SWAYAM.
  • ABC: Under NEP, an Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) shall be established which would digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognized HEIs so that the degrees from an HEI can be awarded taking into account credits earned.
  • BL: The Blended form of Learning (BL) is also included in the NEP 2020 which will promote online as well as offline education equally. It means that the students can not be forced to attend classroom lectures and they may opt for online classes.

Policies such as the SWAYAM Regulations 2021, Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) Regulations 2021 and Blended mode of Learning (BL) will reduce regular streams to semi-regular ones. If implemented, these will redefine the entire paradigm of Higher Education. These intend to reduce the role of teachers and universities by reducing association with students.

The FEDCUTA said in a statement.

National Education Policy 2020 was passed undemocratically in the parliament leveraging the pandemic. As a leading students’ organisation, SFI had sent its suggestions, expressing the many concerns to the UGC but it was passed without incorporating any of our suggestions. It was arbitrary and no stakeholders such as scholars, teachers, students etc were consulted. This is why I argue that it is not a national education policy rather a national exclusion policy. The BJP led central government is implementing its agenda of communalisation, centralisation, corporatisation, saffronisation & privatisation. In sum, I can say it’s not a policy but a fallacy.

Sumit Kataria, the President of the SFI Delhi State Committee, while in conversation with DU Beat.

Meanwhile, when a major section of teachers and students are expressing their concerns on specific pointers, it becomes necessary to put light on these pointers and also to discuss them in the public domain so that these concerns can be sorted out. Also, the government and college administration must rethink their decision on the implementation of NEP 2020.

Read Also: SFI joins DUTA’s Protest Against Implementation of NEP

Feature Image Credits: Economic Times

Chirag Jha

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