‘Much to welcome in National Education Policy but...’: Shashi Tharoor highlights some challenges
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday passed India’s first new National Education Policy which aims to make the Indian education system more contemporary and skill-oriented.
Congress leader and former HRD minister Shashi Tharoor has welcomed the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, but questioned the government for not introducing it in Parliament first.
In a series of tweets, he also said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has chosen unrealistic targets in the education sector through the NEP.
“There is much to welcome in what we have seen of the #NewEducationPolicy2020 announced by @DrRPNishank. A number of suggestions made by some of us seem to have been taken into account. However, the question remains why this was not brought before Parliament first for discussion,” Tharoor said in his first tweet.
He then went on to highlight the features of the policy, which he said present tangible and realisable targets. He said that the government should ensure that aspiration is matched by implementation.
“I’ve advocated revision of the 1986 National Education Policy since my days in MHRD, to bring it into the 21st century. I am glad the Modi Govt has finally grasped the nettle, even if it took them six years to do so. Challenge is to ensure aspiration is matched by implementation,” Tharoor said.
“For instance, the goal of 6% of GDP to be spent on education was first articulated in 1948! Every Govt articulates this target& then comes up against its own Finance Ministry. In the last 6 years, ModiGovt expenditure in education has declined in real terms. How will it reach 6%?” he added.
Talking about the spend of the government in education sector, he said, “The goals of 50% Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education and 100% in secondary school are laudable, but when you realise it’s currently 25.8% in Higher Edn & 68% in Class 9, you wonder if such targets are any more realistic than the Govt’s solar-energy commitments at Paris.”
“The NEP should have offered more tangible&realisable targets for research. Total investment on research& innovation in India declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.6% in 2018. There are currently only 15 researchers in India per 100,000 of population, compared with 111 in China,” Tharoor said in his final tweet on the issue.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday passed India’s first new National Education Policy in at least 28 years, recommending primary education in local languages, facilitating the possible entry of foreign universities in India, creating a single higher-education regulator, and easier board examinations.
These wide-ranging reforms are aimed at making the Indian education system more contemporary and skill-oriented. The NEP also renamed the HRD (human resource development) ministry as the education ministry.