‘How the dream of universalisation of education will be realised by stoking commercialisation?’: Ambarish Rai

National Consultation on New National Education Policy (Draft) 2019 with Teachers’ Associations and other Stakeholders

New Delhi, 11th July 11, 2019 :  The Right to Education (RTE) Forum organised a National Consultation on new National Education Policy (Draft) with teachers’ associations and other stakeholders at India International Centre (Main) in New Delhi.

Distinguished dignitaries including Prof. Jagmohan Singh Rajput, India’s representative to the Executive Board of UNESCO, Prof. Muchkund Dubey, former Foreign Secretary & President, Council for Social Development, Shatrughan Prasad Singh, Ex – MP & General Secretary, Bihar Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh & AISTF, Prof. Poonam Batra of Delhi University, Prof. Anita Rampal (Retd.) of Delhi University, Ramchandra Begur, Education Specialist, UNICEF, Prof. A. K. Singh, Associate Professor, NIEPA, Dr. Neerja Shukla, former Head of Department of Education of Groups with Special Needs, NCERT, Sanjeev Rai, Adjunct Professor, TISS, Mumbai, Shashi Bhushan Dubey, Secretary, Bihar Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh and Rampal Singh, President, AIPTF, Dr. Bhola Paswan, Bihar Arajpatrit Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh along with more than hundred representatives from Teachers’ Associations, CSOs, educationists and other stakeholders and social activists  participated in the Consultation.

Welcoming the participants, Ambarish Rai, National Convenor, RTE Forum underlined the importance of the Consultation in the context of new National Education Policy (Draft) 2019. He said, “We agree that there is a need for a new National Education Policy. It was due since long. The last National Education Policy came in 1986. And it was revised in 1992. Since then, significant changes of far – reaching effects have taken place both nationally and internationally. The most important among them are the advances made in the areas of technology, particularly information and communication technologies, which have a bearing on the kind of education that is most relevant and on the modality of providing such education.”

Mr. Rai further said, “Budget after budgets, expenditure on education is being curtailed. In last few years around one lakh government schools have been closed down on various pretext. How the dream of universalisation of education will be realised, if government schools are closed at such a fast pace? There is a apprehension that the draft new policy will encourage commercialisation of education by favouring low cost private schools”.

Addressing the gathering, Prof. Muchkund Dubey said, “A new education policy shouldn’t be adopted at the cost of or divert attention from the recent advances made in the realm of school education policy. The most important among them is the adoption of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Because of this Act, elementary education is now a fundamental right.”

Prof. Dubey further said, “In any case, we cannot accept any dilution in the RTE Act. In the preamble as well as in the draft report, it is stated that in school education, India has pursued equity and access at the cost of quality. This assertion is not based on facts. We have to take into account attendance and drop- out rates also.”

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Jagmohan Singh Rajput said that running away from existing problems won’t serve any purpose. Education is an area where we have to pay our utmost attention immediately. “We are not looking at education practically. We will not reach anywhere without reforming our education system. In that context, we can’t overlook or ignore Indian tradition of gaining knowledge. Today, nobody is talking about academic leadership, which has been ruined over the years. It’s highly unfair that academicians had no significant say in formulating policies related to education in the past. Education had been left at the mercy of non – academicians, particularly bureaucrats.”

“It’s imperative that the new Education policy should be formulated in such a manner that it encourages positive work culture and devotion to the nation. For this, re – evaluation of curriculum after every five years is required,” Prof. Rajput added.

Shatrughan Prasad Singh said, “Teachers are key component of education system. But it’s very sad that teachers are more engaged in non – teaching works than their actual duty of teaching. In that context, we can praise this draft as it also discards non- teaching works for teachers. But in totality, this draft is lop – sided. It keeps mum on a Commission for teachers’ appointment. Such Commission is very essential for ensuring teachers’ prestige.”

In her address, Prof. Poonam Batra said,

“The draft of the proposed New Education Policy is full of positive notes. It promises for the extension of the ambit of the Right to Education 2009. It also talks about foundational learning. But in reality, it doesn’t prescribe any concrete positive mechanism for the ground. In fact, this draft encourages inequity in the field of education.”

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