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Constitution of India – Basis for New Education Policy

Shiksha Samvad 3 at Bangalore
A discussion on the new national educational policy
Place : BIFT Seminar Hall Time & Date : 7:00pm 30 May 2015

The format of the discussion was that two eminent speakers, Prof Nirajanaradhya and Prof Haragopal, expressed their opinions on the national educational policy, followed by an open discussion. This report records the proceedings of the discussions and includes at the end a summaryof the important points of the discussion.
Prof Niranjanaradhya
Background:
It is a norm that every new Government has initiated new changes in educational policy.The first educational policy was framed in 1964-66 by the Kothari Commission; then again in 1986 we had a new educational policy. Now the current Govt. has initiated a discussion on a new “national educational policy”. It’s important in such situation to discuss about the content and framework of the new policy in the light of the previous policies – their implementation, their lacunae and new challenges of today.
Basis of the policy:
Educational policy should have a constitutional basis, as Sec 39 of the Education Act says that educational policy should aim to imbibe the constitutional values.The aim should be to achieve the below constitutional values by the educational policy.
– To ensure the sovereignty of the country.
– To ensure justice social and economical to all. To address the inequality in the society where certain communities are lagging behind the rest, as shown in Sachar committee report on educational status of Muslims.
– To achieve national integration and social inclusiveness. This needs education secular and scientific education, cultivating scientific temper is also a constitutional value.
– To achieve non-discrimination and equal opportunity for every child we need a sound educational policy.Education is the basis for any development. Therefore education needs to create a level playing field.
Kothari commission 1966:
The commission brought out a landmark report on educational policy directions, most which are also relevant today. It said “the destiny of our nation is being shaped in our classrooms”. It made some far reaching recommendations like –
– It recognized the fundamental problem that state failed to provide equal opportunity at all levels. So the first priority should be to provide equitable education to every child.
– All schools public and private should form a cohesive network to build national system of education. Unlike the private vs Govt. schools competition today, resulting in deliberate attempt to demean Govt. schools as low quality.
– Basic characteristic of education policy is to imbibe constitutional values through equality, quality and neighborhood school system.
– To ensure equal opportunity to every child.
– To bring social harmony and national integration, in the light of enormous diversity of the nation, it recommended all measures to improve quality in general schools.
– To bring these changes it was recommended to allocate resources of about 6% of GDP. But currently barely 3% of GDP is put for education. For example KendriyaVidyalaya, which are state funded are doing extremely well, but doesn’t want to extend the similar level of funding to all other schools.
Current Govt. policy documentsput in the public domain focuses more on the process – the how and who involved in forming the policy rather than specifying the thematic or framework of discussion. Neither an analysis of the earlier policies is done nor is the reason of going for new policy articulated by the Govt. The policy direction and political intents are till now not very transparent. More of these discussions are needed to come up for the benefit of getting clarity on framework of new educational policy.

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Prof Haragopal
Constitution as basis:
Constitution is a product of people’s struggles; it reflects the aspirations of the people. It is not just a legal document but a philosophy which holds a direction as to what type of society India should be. Therefore the Constitution of India should be the basis of the new policy.
– Preamble of the constitution says that we will have a society that is a democratic, republic, secular, socialist, these form the fundamental principles of Constitution of India. No educational policy can be formulated without reflecting these values.
– Article 28 says we will build India where we will reduce inequalities in income, status, opportunities and facilities.
– Article 29 says wealth of the nation shouldn’t be allowed to concentrate; it has to subvert the common good and not be detrimental to common good.
The question arises is how much have we moved in the direction as mandated by the people through the constitution, or have wedrifted away,then by how much?

Analysis of previous educational policies:
1. Till 1964, no framework was put, only continued the colonial system, but atleast the education was free. In fact never in history was education ever sold.
2. 1964 Kothari commission is an important document in the evolution of education in India.
a. Education is defined as “conscience of a nation”. It is acritical assessor of way of life of a society.
b. Education has to respond to the social needs, not its wants or market demands. The masses may not be able to articulate these needs, the educated have the obligation of speaking for them, till they are able to do so by themselves.
c. Purpose of education is to produce men and women who look at life critically. To question if this is how Indian society should be? If not what is wrong with this society? Is it a humane and democratic society?
3. 1985-86 policy was in response to the 1983 World Bank agreements, the bank not only came with loans but also with policies.
a. It talked about duality, separate quality schools whereas every school in India should have been a quality school.
b. Mother tongue had been demeaned at the for the sake of English. The whole of mythology that English and English alone can liberate us is nonsense. Every language has the capacity of carrying the modern ideas.
c. Every child requires a teacher, a class teacher, subject teacher, drawing master, drill master etc. By bringing one teacher for 2-3 classes we have completely destroyed primary education. Once you destroy the primary education that nation can never prosper.
4. 1990’s policies brought the burden of neo-liberal policies of privatization and commercialization of education.
a. It brought different kinds of public, private, international, concept schools, though education needs of every child is same.
b. Commercialization ruptures the relation between educated man and society; it makes people self-centric.Say in commercialized medical education, what comes out is a businessman not a doctor as he has invested heavily for the degree. On the contrary, if society educates it will produce people who owe an obligation to the society.
c. Education should let human inside us be alive. Education should not just give the ability to lead comfortable life but a meaningful life.
5. Current policy is to open up education sector to global market. The changes such as FYUP in Delhi University were being brought to match the international needs rather than the social needs of Indians.
Educational policy should imbibe constitutional values, humane values, responding to social needs not global with an aim to make produce humans who critically reflects on the society and is socially responsible to make it a good society.
Open Session
Question: In India there are many people who due to acute poverty, only aspire for earning livelihood and don’t think of education. Should there be discussion on economic policy along with this.
Response: the concept of common school education is specifically meant for addressing this inequality. During early days of independent India beggar’s son and landlord’s son could go to same school (case of Prof. Hargopal’sschool), today that’s unimaginable.
Suggestion: To bring about social responsibility, affinity to societal needs should be included in the national educational policy.
Response: In US even medicine graduates are needed to take courses of sociology, political courses, to make them aware of society. We need to emulate that here too.
Question: The current Govt. shows scant respect for the constitution and academic bodies like ICHR, IITs, in such bleak scenario what can we do?
Response: We need to cautious here. Govt. has not come up with any framework, not even an analysis of educational scenario – critiquing the present policy. On the other hand it’s mentioning about PPP model without reflecting on the current needs. Current discourse is to destroy everything and move on, without articulating where to go. No transparency there but only a vacuum.
We need to ask for non-negotiable fundamental points. Constitution is an aspiration of people; it represents our collective conscience, which must be non-negotiable.
Question: We talk of so many changes have happened and education has degraded, is going back possible?
Response: No, it’s not about going back but going forward. First we need to do critical evaluation of current policy and its shortcomings. Then looking forward about where do we want to go? What we want to become. Education needs to make people not just to perpetuate the current system, then it would be able correct it.
Question: Problem is with the dilemma that society needs people who know right and wrong and individual would go for secure future and career in the commerce. Shouldn’t we completely undo the structure and rebuild it rather than fixing the specifics.
Response: Individual has two sets of needs, one for livelihood he needs skills that could get him job and second is his spiritual or social needs which also needs nourishment from education. What we have now is singular focus on skills; we need education that gives vision of a society along with satisfying the needs of commerce. Education needs to give a character to individual;character is the concern for others, which leads to a humane society.
Summary
 As a first step we need to justify the need for a new education policy, there should be a critical evaluation of existing or earlier policy, its extent of implementation and shortcomings.
 No concrete framework for policy discussion has been articulated by the Govt. This discussion cannot take place in a vacuum, so we need to go base it on the fundamental values of the Constitution of India.
 Educational policy should aim to imbibe the constitutional values, particularly the four core principles of constitution – democracy, sovereign, secularism and socialism.
 The policy should aim to provide equitable quality education to all children without any stratification and discrimination.
 To achieve social inclusiveness and national integration curriculum should be secular. It should cultivate scientific temper.
 Education policy has to respond to the social needs, not to the market demands.
 Purpose of education is to produce men and women who look at life critically and are socially responsible to pursue an alternate vision for a better society.
 The objective of education should be to build a humane democratic society as envisaged in the Constitution of India.
 The commercialization of education and surrendering to global market forces must be vehemently opposed.

 

 

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