New education policy free from any bias, says PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday emphasised the importance of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction until Class 5, and said the new National Education Policy (NEP) that the Union Cabinet cleared on July 29 -- it has a recommendation in this regard -- is free from any “bias or inclination”.
The first such policy in at least 28 years recommends primary education in local languages, but does not make it mandatory. It also seeks to increase public spending on education to nearly 6% of GDP from around 4% now, change the structure of board exams, and shift the pedagogical structure from a 10+2 system to 5+3+3+4, as part of a series of reforms to make the education system more contemporary and skill oriented.
“There is no debate that children when taught in school in the same language that is spoken at home; their pace of learning becomes faster. This is a major reason, wherever possible, permission has been granted to teach students till Class 5 in their mother tongue,” Modi said in his address to educationists at a conclave on reforms in higher education.
The medium of instruction has been a contentious issue, and the Centre has tried to avoid controversies by repeatedly emphasising that no language would be imposed on any state or region. The Centre in June 2019 dropped a controversial clause in the draft NEP that mandated the compulsory teaching of Hindi in schools across the country after protests by southern states over the alleged imposition of the language.
Modi said there has been no allegation from any region or segment of the society that NEP has any kind of bias or inclination. He called it an indicator that people have seen the changes they wanted for years in the education system. Modi added the route to good, quality education falls somewhere between autonomy and government control.
However, Kerala education Minister Prof C Raveendranath said the new education policy will destroy the federal structure of education system and snatch the power granted to states to design their syllabus. “We have reservations over several proposals. We have suggested many recommendations but they were overlooked,” he said. Telangana Congress leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said the Prime Minister’s talk on the new education policy was more of an emotional appeal, rather than logical thinking. “While Modi talks of the NEP laying foundation for new India of 21st century, in reality, it appears he is taking India into medieval periods,” Vikramarka said.
Modi on Friday said the policy could even lead to changing the way the society thinks, rather than just effecting changes to the teaching and learning system. He added that he is totally committed to NEP and has the political will to see it through.
Modi said every country aligns its education policy with its values and carries out reforms keeping in mind the national goals, and NEP will lay foundation of the 21st century India.“The aim is to ensure the education system can make coming generations future-ready... For a long time, there were no major changes in our education system. Rather than promoting curiosity and imagination, the emphasis was on a rat race whether it was to become doctor, engineer.”
The PM said that a new world order is evolving, and India has to make its students global citizens who stay connected to their roots. “In the new policy, the focus is on how to think,” he said.
“We are also moving towards an era where a person may not stick to a profession throughout life and re-skilling and up-skilling are important aspects,” he added.
Welcoming the policy, Dr Inder Mohan Kapahy, a former University Grants Commission member said “It [NEP] aims at rebooting the entire education system from pre-primary to advance research stages. Emphasis upon teaching in the mother tongue or the local language, is one of the most potent step in this direction.”