Ever since 29 July, when the new National Education Policy (NEP) was announced, a lot of public intellectuals have been going hammer and tongs against the BJP-led NDA government. One such person, a teacher at Delhi University and president of a not-so eminent political party propagating socialism, has vehemently penned a contrived opinion, masquerading as a ‘deep rooted’ analysis, saying the “National Education Policy is for the elites”, which is nothing short of claptrap, either to play to the galleries or placate their cadre or the vote-bank, at the most.
He writes, “The NEP marks a leap towards neo-colonisation of Indian education via privatisation and corporatisation. This dimension of the NEP needs to be studied. Under the NEP, foreign universities and foreign direct investment (FDI) have been allowed entry in the realm of higher education. The country is already full of private schools, colleges, institutes and universities.” He tries to corroborate this invented claim by quoting a multilateral agency: “A joint document of the World Bank and UNESCO (The Task Force 2000) has warned that “there are prestigious universities from developed nations offering shabby courses in poor and developing countries using their renowned names, without assuring equivalent quality”.
Upon examination, the NEP discloses that India should be promoted as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs and restore its role as a ‘Viswa Guru’. High-performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries and, similarly, select universities (for instance, those from among the top 100 universities in the world) will be permitted to operate in India. Thus, his own suggestion of examining the NEP pulverises his own concoction into smithereens. Probably in a race to be relevant in the cabal, our phony-liberal also forgets to narrate the whole part wherein there is a clear benchmark set for the foreign and international universities—it is clearly enunciated that it will be the top 100 universities of the world and not any lackey.
Moreover, this purported intellectual conveniently forgets to mention the opportunity for our Indian institutions to perform and prove their mettle to establish international campuses. Imagine a US student residing in Texas who wants to study in Delhi University’s campus set up in Alabama. Can it harm our national interests?
The writer then talks of reservations. “The term constitutional reservation is not mentioned even once in the entire NEP document. It has been rightly said in opposition to the NEP that this is a document to destroy the public education system.” The cabal also argues for the reservation system, and the day is not far when these Left-leaning ideologues will demand reservations in the Ivy League, too! Interestingly, the meritorious ones shall actually be rewarded with world-class education and scholarships as per the NEP. This seems to be a welcome step towards a New India, free from caste, class, creed, sect, etc.
The public intellectual further states, “The NEP includes education curriculum (literacy/skill-centric), class-stepping (5+3+3+4 — students from rich backgrounds will be ahead while those from disadvantaged backgrounds will continue to be backward, with most of them out of the race for higher education). And the method of teaching (digital modes) has been prepared keeping in mind the needs and profits of corporate capitalism.” Even with a colossal amount of comprehensive skills, one would fail to fathom the reason in such specious arguments and conjecture. Clearly someone who has an axe to grind, one who is politically frustrated, will indulge in being a staunch proponent of fake or half-baked news.
Revamping the pedagogical structure is to be done to make the education system more responsive, reflexive and relevant at par with the global standards. The existing 10+2 framework has surely worked enough and, evidently, well for the Westerners in training and hiring us for them. The new structure is to ensure relevant and uniform measures of teaching according to the developmental needs and interests of learners at different stages, corresponding to the age ranges of 3-8 years (Foundational), 8-11 years (Preparatory), 11-14 years (Middle) and 14-18 years (Secondary) years.
Apart from conventional teaching methods, schools and higher education institutes are suggested to have smart and digital classrooms for using digital pedagogy. That will have to be carried systematically in a phased manner to benefit students. But it is the rare talent of our socialist friends to link every theory with corporate capitalism. “The NEP is a complete project to enslave the minds of learners to the corporate capitalist system. Terms such as scientific approach, critical thinking, creativity, cognitive power, sensitivity, diversity, and plurality have no meaning for an enslaved mind. An enslaved mind would not recognise the socio-economic inertia and inequality prevailing in the society”, he adds. What is flabbergasting is the magical vision of the socialists to contemplate zilch, the one that isn’t, and to selectively obliterate what exists and is obvious.
One can feel the agony of the socialists for they have lost ground everywhere in the world, post the disintegration of ‘the only fatherland’ in 1991. They can slander Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the nationalism he stands for, and the NEP which expounds actual socialist changes by empowering the blue-collar or the proletariat to seek education in the language they love and speak. But all of it is a fiction of their limited imagination. In fact, one can see the socialist writer going haywire, harping around issues ranging from caste to Hindu rashtra, with a couple of ill-fitted quotes here and a few contradictions there! The writer exhibits sheer hatred and political frustration with his raucous opinion to disparage the Modi government. Looked closely, NEP 2020, contrary to the charges of promoting a neo-colonialist and capitalist agenda, is tailored to favour people from all walks of life, cutting across class, caste and creed divide. It’s time some of our prominent public intellectuals stop confusing people, deliberately or otherwise.
Yuvraj Pokharna is an engineer turned-educationist and social activist from Surat who keeps a keen eye on contemporary issues including social media, politics and government policies.