NEP 2020 is envisioned towards creating an inclusive education to all by bridging the abiding spaces in the society. Yet, it seems to just be a façade of progression. The policy is ought to introduce the much needed practicality into the mainstream education but what is the correct way to go about it? Is it going to be an actual consideration of voices of all the stakeholders or will it be a theoretical approach to a ‘practical solution’?

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has a vision towards transforming the Indian education system into a global knowledge superpower. It lays down the veracious purpose of the education system, to develop virtuous human beings having rational and critical ability, empathy and solicitude, creativity and the power to go beyond but what is the cost to implement this? Will this be uniform for each child living under the same sky or a question of ‘subjectivity’ would arise?

NEP address to the practical knowledge and skills like carpentry etc but see now the things is that our government schools do not even have quality teachers how can you equip them all in such a small time frame, so first government should be focusing on ground development rather than looking on to the entire nations prosperity.

-Malvika Choudhary, Delhi School of Journalism

The irony of this policy is such that it is a step towards changing the theoretical approach into practicality but the policy itself sounds too theoretical than pragmatic. While observing the NEP 2021, inclusivity is a major factor of the entire policy. Yet, there are provisions that might look like encompassing all the sections of the society. However, in the actuality of this realm, it is only pushing the way towards widening the gaps of disparity. It is as if a kid falls down, gets hurt on the knee and starts wailing; rather than using a bandage to heal the wound, they are being given licorice in pursuit of ceasing the tears. The question is not about if these provisions are good or bad but about the “tomorrow” that the nation is trying to build.

The problem in NEP is that it scarcely mentions of affirmative action in the form of reservation for the socially oppressed anywhere in the document moreover it also talks about financial autonomy for the government which will lead to rise in fees and so more exclusion of the students.

-Aman, Ramjas College, member of Students’ Federation of India (SFI)

The NEP emphasizes on the sitch of inclusivity and universal education. However, granting the status of autonomy is only going to widen the gaps. Autonomous colleges and universities can introduce independent rules and regulations and curtail the transparent admission processes which guarantee the seats to the marginalised sections. Further, they can enjoy the liberty of introducing expensive self-financed courses. This step does not speak inclusion, instead, is screaming omission.

The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 is a policy aimed at commercialization, privatization, centralisation and saffronisation of the education system in the country. In the garb of granting ‘autonomy’ to educational institutions, the NEP gives unbridled power to the institutions to implement fee hikes as per their will. It turns education from a responsibility of the state and a social service, into a profit making enterprise. This will further lead to education being inaccessible and a debt trap for the coming generations and the present.

-Prabudh Singh, graduate from Zakir Hussain Evening College, member of SFI

Adding to this, the policy emphasizes on the need to set up a ‘Gender-Inclusion fund’. On the surface it seems to be bringing an end to the unjust practices against the girls and transgender but as a matter of fact what is in it for them? Will it bring solace to the wronged genders or will it welcome even more adversities than it is already present?

This fund will be set- up to provide equitable quality education to the transgender students and girls, especially belonging to the socio-economically disadvantaged groups. However, this step would require the transgender students to come out and identify themselves in the public eye. We are living in a progressive country but not progressive enough to even provide security to this section through penal laws. From a classroom to the roadside tea stall, slurs are normalized against trans people then how are we supposed to believe that a fund is going to solve these deep-rooted problems? Are we supposed to turn a blind eye towards the underlying issues and focus on the surface?

A trans student dressed up as a boy for every single day until he finished his final school examination and secured a seat in a foreign land. It was then that he recognized himself as she/her. It took her nearly twelve to fourteen years to come out in the public eye since she has the sense of security of leaving the country so how are we supposed to accept the fact that by introducing a fund, by providing bicycles, provisions of sanitation and quality education, the long-lived stigma will come to an end? Is this enough to turn the thorns into roses when the country finds it normal to laugh them out?

Certain aspects of the NEP might have long term detrimental effects, after lapsing the short-lived happiness. It is a good decision but not a thoughtful one. The gender inclusivity fund is a good start per say, but at some point these students will be exposed to the vulnerability that our society hides. A system has to be incorporated that would not throw these students under the bus and would provide them from basic needs to quality education.

-Sanya Gupta, a student of Kamala Nehru College

Furthermore, the policy talks about introducing similar inclusion funds for other marginalised sections. These funds are in the talks for their holistic wellbeing in addition to equitable and quality education. These steps look good on paper but are they a promise to a long-term happiness or just a fantasy of seventh heaven? Not to mention, how are we supposed to address the issue of ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ on the pile of discriminatory laughter and societal stigma. On top of all these, the perplexing situation arises about the source of the funds, given that we live in a country with quite a number of marginalised groups. Even if they are introduced, how is the question of transparency in terms of usage of the funds is going to be answered? These funds seem to be a wolf in a sheep’s skin. From exposing to a greater vulnerability to a possibility of widening the societal gap, this policy needs to be rethought from the perspective of the wronged ones.

The NEP-2020 is set to be implemented completely by 2030. Given that India has the second largest population in the entire world, not only is it a strenuous task but also mapping the various tangibles for over 250 million students, next ten years seem to be quite a less number.

NEP 2020 is very promising in theory, but its implementation is way difficult, especially in a country like India which ranks second in population. Surely, there’s a long way ahead for the Indian education system to grow and develop under the NEP, 2020. There is a need to shift from mugging up facts and figures to encourage creativity and practical experiences.

-A Professor of University of Delhi in conversation with DU Beat

Besides a problematic implementation, it needs to account for all the tangibles that come along with it. The most quintessential stakeholders of this policy, the students, believe that the demerits of the policy might overpower the actual vision which in turn could lead to a massive failure if not addressed. Nevertheless, this policy might be the much needed change to one the largest education systems of the world but which lines are we ready to blur in order to achieve the top rank?

Featured Image Credits: itstimetomeditate.org 

Ankita Baidya

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The centralisation of ECA trials at Delhi University this year has become a cause of concern for college cultural societies and a few applicants as well. Students have responded to the change in the process by starting petitions and Facebook pages against it. Several college cultural society student headshave already spoken out against the new rules and contacted us with their grievances too. We take a close look at the matter:

The procedure: What changed?

Before this year, there were no central forms for ECA applicants. The applicants had to apply to colleges they chose individually. This was followed by a shortlisting process, in which colleges and the cultural societies took into account the applicants’ marks as well as their certificates and past achievements. The shortlisted applicants then underwent trials, with the cultural society student and teacher members as the judging panel, on the basis of which final selections were done.

According to the administration, this led to a multiplicity of trials and wasn’t fair to the applicants, hence the decision to have just one round of centralised trials this year. The ECA applicants had to fill the same common form as the other merit-based applicants. According to the very recently issued schedule by the university, there are going to be preliminary trials at identified colleges post which a list of shortlisted candidates will be released on the Delhi University website. This will be followed by final trials and counseling of the selected students.

While the University may have good intentions behind the move, with what reducing the multiplicity of trials and wanting to reduce any personal bias as the judging panel will consist of people the applicants are likely to have had no contacts with, this move has not gone down well with the current DU cultural societies’ members.

Grievances of the Cultural Society heads

One of the major issues that the society heads have brought up is the ambiguity of the entire process. Until two days ago, there was no official notice from the University about the entire process or specification of any dates. Many feel that such a short notice for ECA trials makes it difficult for the outstation applicants to participate in them. The official university notification also came two days after the release of the first cutoff list, keeping ECA applicants anxiously waiting. The notification still says nothing about the dates for specific activities.

Till last year, student post-holders and teacher conveners for various activities were the ones judging the trials but will have no role to play in the process this year, which, according to them, is unfair to the applicant as well as the society. Since it is the student members who are at the heart of all the activities that take place in the DU cultural circuit, they have insights into the kind of specific attributes the applicants need to be judged on. The ‘expert’ judged appointed by the university for the task will lack this insight into the inner workings of a cultural society and the nuances of the circuit. The cultural society members also don’t understand how the university plans to take into account their specific needs when it comes to members they want in the society.

Chandni Jain, President of the Debating Society of Miranda House and a 2014 ECA applicant herself, explained that each college and each cultural society is different and will have different requirements and environments according to which they want to select members. Making a particular criterion applicable pan-DU is equivalent of taking away the ability of the societies to maintain their distinct personalities. Moreover, it also reduces the chances of an applicant to get through. “Certain activities like music are very subjective. I know people who are all excellent musicians but got rejected from some colleges and were accepted in others,” she says.

Sankalp Luthra, a member of the Debating Society of Kirori Mal College, was also in agreement about the harmful impact of the lack of independent college criteria and feels that a pan-University criterion will not just harm the societies but also the applicants as it reduces the variety of applicants that could possibly get admissions.

The multiplicity of trials in the previous years might have been rigorous but it also allowed the applicants to have multiple chances of getting into Delhi University. Many applicants tweaked and improved their performances over the number of trials they gave and eventually clinched admissions in good colleges. With the changed system of two levels of trials – preliminary and finals – the applicants will have just one chance to make it through the first level to the next, which is a definite cause of concern.

The fact that the current student members of the cultural societies, as well as the teachers, have been kept in the dark about the entire process and know nothing about the dates for their activities, the judgment criteria and other details is problematic as well, given that they are the ones who will eventually work with and help integrate the incoming members into the society and the DU cultural circuit.

With the ECA admission process set to begin in a few days, one can’t help but think about the possible repercussions of what could turn out to be an ill-thought move by the University, and the repercussions, as is clear from the grievances of the people at the very heart of DU’s cultural scene, could be manifold and would be as unfortunate as they could have been avoidable.

With inputs from Chandni Jain and Sankalp Luthra

Shubham Kaushik

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