New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) : Complete Analysis

Context: The National Education Policy 2020 underestimates the problem of settling the three systems of education in India.

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  • For education to fulfil its social role, it must respond to the specific setting in which the young are growing up. India has sufficient experience of attempts made from the national level to influence systemic realities on the ground.

Examine the evolution of centre-state relations in the field of education?

  • There is a huge history of strong recommendations made by national commissions and of provincial resistance.
  • States had their own social worlds to deal with, and they often preferred to carry on with the ways they became familiar with in colonial days.
  • A prime example is the continuation of intermediate or junior colleges in several States more than half a century after the Kothari Commission gave its much-acclaimed report.
    • The Constitution, in its original draft, treated the States as the apt sphere for dealing with education.
    • Central Advisory Board of Education: One hundred years ago, the Central Advisory Board of Education was created to co-ordinate regional responses to common issues.
      • The ‘recommended’ character of this administrative device meant that the Board served mainly as a discussion forum.
    • India chose to have a Ministry of Education at the Centre and its role was to clear aims and standards, or to pave the road to nation-building and development.
    • After independence, a more substantial scope of the Centre’s activities in education emerged in the shape of advanced institutions in professional fields and schools specifically meant for the children of civil servants transferrable across India.
  • Such institutions received higher investment than the States could afford.
  • The same was for national-level resource institutions which guided policy and encouraged new practices.
    • When the national policy was drafted, it stressed on national concerns and viewpoint without referring to provincial practices that directed strong divergence.
    • Private sector had begun to push both public policy and popular perceptions of education. The force of this push can be measured from the difference between the 1986 policy and its own action programme published six years later.
    • The rapidly expanding and globalising urban middle class had already begun to split from the public system, posing the question of why education cannot be sold if there are willing buyers.

Discuss the various systems of education in India.

  • Central System:
    • There is a Central system, running an exam board that has an all-India reach through affiliation with English-medium private schools catering to regional elites.
    • The Central system also includes advanced professional institutes and universities that have access to greater per capita funding than what their counterparts run by the States can afford.
  • State system:
    • The second system which also features provincial secondary boards affiliating schools teaching in State languages.
  • Private system:
    • The third system is based on purely private investment. Internationally accredited school boards and globally connected private universities are part of this.
  • An attempt was made under the Right to Education (RTE) Act to bridge the gap between the first two systems. The RTE is a parliamentary law, providing a set of standards for elementary education and a call to private schools to provide for social justice via the quota route.
  • Coordination among the three systems has proved unmanageable, even in purely functional terms.

Way forward

  • We need a systemic vision: both for recovery from institutional decay and for future progress.
  • Gradations of failure will have to be determined first and their causes studied before remedial steps are planned.

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