-A Retrograde move!
(The following is the text of the Joint Appeal to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India by Former Vice – Chancellors of Tamil Nadu Universities on National Education Policy 2020. The signatories of the appeal are 1. Dr. A. Ramasamy, Former Vice-Chancellor, Alagappa Univeristy, Karaikudi, 2. Dr. S. Sathick, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras, Chennai, 3. Dr. Ignacimuthi, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras, Chennai, 4. Dr. M. Ponnavaiko, Former Vice-Chancellor, Bharathidasan University, Trichy. 5. Dr. P. Ramasamy, Former Vice-Chancellor, Alagappa University, Karaikudi. 6. Dr. D. Janaki, Former Vice-Chancellor, Mother Teresa Women’s University, Kodaikanal. 7. Dr. M. Thangaraj, Former Vice-Chancellor, Periyar University, Salem, 8. Dr. R.B. Sabapathy Mohan, Former Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, 9. Dr. M. Rajendran, Former Vice-Chancellor, Tamil University, Thanjavur, 10. Dr. A. Kalyani Anbuselvan, Former Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Open University, Chennai, 11. Dr. T. Padmanaban, Former Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Teachers Education University, Chennai, 12. Dr. S. Swaminathan, Former Vice-Chancellor, Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore, 13. Dr. Ramasamy, Former Vice-Chancellor, Agricultural University, Coimbatore, 14. Dr. Vasanthi Devi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, 15. Dr. N. Ramachandran, Former Vice-Chancellor, Periyar Maniammai University, Thanjavur, 16. Dr. K.A. Manikkumar, Former Vice-Chancellor, Swami Vivekanand University, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, 17. Dr. C. Thangaraj, Former Vice-Chancellor, Anna University of Technology, Chennai.)
With our rich experience in University administration, academic matters and general education, we have perused in detail, the documents – the Draft National Education Policy 2019 (DNEP) and the National Education policy 2020 (NEP) and after a long deliberation, we offer the following observations for your kind consideration.
1. Several advanced countries like U.S.A., U.K., China and Japan admit children in schools only after the age of five. Contrary to this internationally accepted child education age limit, the DNEP in page 46 says, that education of child begins from the age of three.
2. The DNEP Chapter I proposes to bring in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) under formal Education. At this tenderage, the child passes through a period of transition in its early learning process. Good nutrition and most informal way of learning needs to be assured at this stage. Merging pre-primary and primary Grade 1 and 2 and prescribing a formal syllabus for pre-primary will not allow the child to enjoy the childhood.
3. Anganwadi has a larger role and ECCE should be designed in such a way that they are not merged with Grades 1 and 2 and all facilities to learn in a healthy atmosphere through the mother tongue should be ensured. Foundational course of 5 years as suggested in the DNEP in Chapter 4 is not beneficial for the child.
4. The DNEP in Chapter 4 proposes to restructure the school curriculum and pedagogy in a new 5 (2+3)+3+3+4 design. It is totally unnecessary because its implication is that the terminal stage can be at 5, 8 or 12. But in the present structure of 10 +2, the terminal stage can be either 10 or 12. As DNEP’s restructure of school system will encourage dropouts even at the 5th year of schooling, it is also not acceptable.
5. The NEP, para 1.3, suggests a national syllabus for students all over India from anganwadi to 5th std. India is a Union of States and different states have different languages, cultures, traditions, practices etc. So, a national syllabus cannot meet the aspirations of people in different states. In a federal set up, the framing of syllabus should be left to the states.
6. Further, the NEP, para 1.3, says that the syllabus would be provided both for parents and students. Nowhere in the world syllabus is prescribed for parents and that too in a country like India, where a majority of the population is still illiterate, it is quite impossible. How could an illiterate parent go through the syllabus and educate his children? This unpractical idea should be given up forthwith.
7. The DNEP, Chapter 7, talks extensively about the creation of school complexes and sharing of resources. Merger of schools will deny the students from poor families, the access to schools in the neighbourhood.
8. The NEP, para 1.8 says, that Asramshalas will be introduced in the tribal areas as alternative schools in a phased manner. In the real constitutional spirit, Government should provide equal and quality education to all scheduled tribe students in regular schools. Alternative schools are not equal to regular schools and so it should be dropped.
9. The NEP, para 11.1, emphasizes the importance of 64 Kalaas, such as dance, music etc. It suggests to teach 64 Kalaas or arts to students. Instead of introducing latest 21st century science and technological innovations and advancements, NEP introduces age old 64 kalaas in the curriculum. Many among the 64 arts are obsolete and outdated. Many of them are not in use. Some are not suitable to be included in curriculum for students. 64 arts were not in curriculum earlier in schools and colleges. So, there is no necessity to introduce 64 kalaas in curriculum. This will create a negative impact.
10. At present, students studying upto class 8 in Tamil Nadu Government Schools are promoted without detention on the basis of continuous and comprehensive evaluation. This system reduces stress among students and teachers. But NEP para 4.40, proposes the conduct of examinations for grade 3,5 and 8. This has an ulterior motive and will lead to more drop out at early stages.
11. The DNEP para 4.9.5 proposes the conduct of semester examination for high school students from class 9. Even in higher education, semester system is a debatable one. Such a system will be more stressful for secondary school students and will increase drop outs from schools.
12. The NEP repeatedly proposes to appoint volunteers, social workers, counselors and others to handle curriculum and co-curricular activities inside schools. This will lead to political appointments. Ruling party may appoint its party workers in schools, in the name of social workers and volunteers. This is an attempt to politicize the students and teachers in school campus.
13. The DNEP, in page 58, attempts to limit midday meals scheme only to pre-primary and primary schools upto 5th std. So, as per this report, students of high school from 6 to 10th std., who have been getting the benefit of midday meals in Tamil Nadu, will be denied of this benefit. This will lead to more dropouts among the poor students. The NEP, para 2.9, mentions the word midday meals. But it has not specified upto which class and upto which age and to how many students, the midday meals would be provided.
14. The NEP gives great importance to vocational courses. The NEP, para 4.6.purposefully talks about gardening, electrical work, metal work, pottery, wood work, carpentry for students in the name of vocational training. This will segregate and drive away students towards caste based hereditary occupations (kula kalvithittam). Thus NEP in the name of vocational courses, attempts to bring back Varnashram System and take India back to feudal and pre feudal age.
15. The DNEP and NEP talk about grouping of schools from foundational stage to the secondary stage. These two documents talk about grouping of schools in the name of infrastructure, lack of students and teachers in schools. This will lead to closure of thousands of rural school in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. School complex/cluster is another complicated and non-practical suggestion given in NEP para 7.6.
16. The NEP pushes and compels both students and teachers to follow online system. Most of the rural and tribal students do not have online facility. They may lose the benefit of education if online system is strictly followed. A flexible approach based on textbook will only enable them to have the benefit of education.
17. The NEP talks about accreditation and standard assessing system of schools. But accreditation at the school level is not desirable. Accessibility and enrollment of more students shall be the goal at school level. On the other hand, introduction of accrediting and standard assessing system will lead to closure of thousands of schools, especially in rural areas in the name of lack of infrastructure and lack of students strength.
18. The NEP, paras 4.13 to 4.20, talk about the implementation of three language formula and multilingualism in schools. It is very casually observed that children are capable of learning many languages. This claim can be disputed as all children cannot. Children may be able to learn many languages if they are immersed in a polyglot community. Even if they can in a formal class room, the question is: why should they learn them? What purpose will it serve? So, learning many languages will not only be burdensome, but also a useless exercise. If children learn many languages in the early age those languages will be forgotten if they are not continuously used.
19. The Hindi speaking states do not follow the three language formula. They follow only one language (i.e.) Hindi. At the same time, the Union Government and the NEP urge the non-Hindi speaking states to adopt three language formula, which is nothing but an indirect imposition of Hindi. This cannot be accepted.
20. According to NEP, there are 1,08,017 single teacher schools in India. The fate and future of these single teacher schools remain doubtful. NEP does not provide any suggestion or solution to improve the school infrastructure or to increase students strength. These schools may be closed in the name of lack of students strength or lack of infrastructure.
.to be continued in the next issue