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The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is about to announce a committee to draft a national education policy, after it decided to shelve a similar report from the T S R Subramanian committee.Perhaps shelving out of the earlier TSR Subramanian Committee report is not acceptable to the HRD Ministry and a new committee is going to be formed to draft the New Education Policy in India.
The National Policy on Education was framed in 1986 and modified in 1992. Since then several changes have taken place that calls for a revision of the Policy. The Government of India would like to bring out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.
Government of India has embarked on a grassroots consultative process, which is claimed to have enabled the Ministry of HRD to reach out to individuals across the country through over 2.75 lakh direct consultations while also taking input from citizens online.
The government of India appointed a committee, headed by, former Cabinet Secretary, Mr TSR Subramanian which submitted its recommendations on the New Education Policy (NEP) which was not without lapses. This policy was supposed to have inputs and suggestions from Panchayats, local bodies, district level body/organizations, states and national level. To collect the inputs and suggestions a pre-defined questionnaire survey form (called Consultation Document) for user survey report on certain topic was launched. There were 15-20 questions / discussion points in two parts (Part - A School Education, Part – B Higher/Technical Education).
It was claimed that a wide range of Consultations were organized (a) holding regional consultation meetings at Gandhinagar, Gujarat (for western region), at Raipur, Chhattisgarh (for eastern region), Guwahati, Assam (for north-eastern region), and NUEPA, New Delhi (for both northern and southern regions). It also claims to have visited (b) institutions of higher education and school visits in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat; (c) consultations with national level institutions like NUEPA, NCERT, AICTE, UGC, NCTE, IGNOU, NIOS, etc; and (d) consultations with more than 300 educationists, Vice-Chancellors, experts, CSO and NGO representatives, and representatives of education providers in the private sector at NUEPA, New Delhi.
The final draft report of the Mr TSR Subramanian Committee was submittedto the ministry on May 27 2016. However, the ministry failed to bring the draft out into the public domain and it was unofficially circulated to stakeholders and media only. The ministry was reluctant to release the draft. A fortnight after receiving the report, HRD ministry opinedto share the draft with the states to seek their opinion before releasing it for public comments. The comments from the ministry had come after ministry had held its own consultations on the draft before sharing the suggestions with the drafting committee.
Now, with the report already out, the HRD ministry seems to come out with another draft. The ministry announced to reconstitute a new committee to prepare a fresh draft. To save time, the ministry will share the suggestions that it has gathered from its own consultations to the new committee if constituted. The ministry had held nationwide consultations involving block, district and state level stakeholders.
It is high time series of consultations with academia, social sector, media and policy makers is organized in order to review the earlier policies and our concerns in consonance with the commitment in ‘Sustainable Development Goal 4’ where India is a signatory.
THE UNFINISHED GOALS OF EARLIER COMMITMENTS
During 2000 at Dakar the nations had committed to achieve six explicit ‘Education For All’ goals by 2015 as under:
- Expand early childhood care and education
- Provide free and compulsory primary education for all
- Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
- Increase adult literacy by 50%
- Achieve gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015
- Improve the quality of education
It’s a pity that most of the goals are still unfinished and we are still lagging behind many of the developing countries on certain goals. The government of India has also shown its commitment further by signing the most ambitious Sustainable Development Goal commitment this year at UN. India has committed to attain Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 (SDG4) on “equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all”. The Muscat Agreement, adopted at the 2014 Global EFA meeting in Oman, represents a shared vision of the global community of education for the future. This important goal along with targets on education proposed by the UN open Working Group and decided by the UN General Assembly is the basis for integrating SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda.
The World Education Forum 2015 organized by UNESCO (Incheon, Republic of Korea, May 2015) deliberated upon both the EFA unfinished goals and post-2015 education agendas. The Forum took stock of achievements and shortfalls in the implementation of the ‘Dakar Framework for Action’. It also agreed on the incorporation of education goals and targets in SDGs, and the basic elements of a comprehensive ‘Framework for Action for education 2030’.
SDG4 AND EDUCATION 2030 AGENDA
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 is further expanded in 7 targets and 3 means of implementation as under:
Goal-4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”
4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education
4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, througheducationfor sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development .
MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION
4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
4.b By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries .
4.c By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, includingthrough international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.
Also the 2nd SAARC education ministers meeting held in New Delhi in October 2014 adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration on education’ which agreed on the formulation of the ‘SAARC Framework for Action’ for the post- 2015 education agenda.
Keeping in view the commitments of EFA and SDG 4 as well as the political will expressed by our hon’ble Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi
Some quotes of commitment from our hon’ble Prime Minister, ShriNarendraModi
THE UNFINISHED GOALS OF EFA:
The EFA national reviews conducted in 2014 by India indicated that some EFA goals would not be met by the year 2015, and would remain an unfinished agenda. Despite free and compulsory education provision in India, adult and youth illiteracy and out-of-school children (OOSC) is high and remain critical problems since they reflect inequality and inequity in access to education. The latest report of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and UNICEF pointed out that there were nearly 57.8 million primary school-age children and 62.9 million lower secondary-age children, who were out of school in the world. The South Asia region contributes 9.8 million (17%) and 25.3 million (40.2%) out-of school primary and lower secondary school-age children respectively.
Along with illiteracy and OOSC, some of the other unfinished agenda relating to EFA include inequity and inequality in participation in education including in pre-primary education, unsatisfactory education quality, poor learning outcomes, insufficient teacher supply and poor quality of teaching-learning process, and inadequate learning opportunities for youth and adults, and lack of adequate and appropriate opportunities for children and youth to improve skills for life and for work. National assessments and community-led assessments show low learning achievement in primary and lower secondary education (UIS database on learning outcomes, 2015). Inequalities based on region and society, and issues and challenges relating to governance, management financing and implementation of education are some of the other challenges faced by the SAARC countries.
- Goal 1 - Early Childhood care and education
The principal public initiative for ECCE is the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which aims at responding to the challenge of providing pre-school education, on one hand, and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality, on the other. The ICDS seeks to improve the nutritional health status of children in the age-group 0-5+ years. The available data shows that the number of children of age 3 to 5+ years who received pre-school education under the ICDS Scheme increased from 16.7 million in 2001-02 to 35.3 million in 2012-13. The total enrolment in pre-primary education programmes has increased from 13.9 million in 1999 to 41.3 million in 2010. Till date only almost 65% of the children are being covered under ICDS scheme.
- Goal 2 - Universal Primary Education:The 8 year Elementary Education in India
With more than 1448712 (354743Private and 1093969 Govt.) elementary schools, India operates the biggest education system in the world. In India elementary school, Class I–VIII is recognised as the period of compulsory schooling, with the constitutional amendment making education a fundamental right. The elementary stage consists of a primary stage comprising Classes I-V (in some states I-IV), followed by a middle stage of education comprising Classes VI -VIII (in some states V-VIII or VI -VII). The minimum age for admission to Class I of the primary school is generally 5+ or 6+. The ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009’ makes it compulsory 8 year schooling (1 to 8 grades) for all the children between the ages of 6 to 14.
THE PROGRESS OF SCHOOLING SYSTEM
The implementation of constitutional amendment and RtE Act 2009 is still sluggish and not all the children are in the schools. The DISE (District Information on School Education) data is a surprising report which reveals that the progress of elementary education is dubious and there is something inherently wrong in the enrolment of children. The ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’ seems a far dream for all the children of this country.
MASSIVE NUMBER OF OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN!!!
Based on the 2011 Census, there were 233,583,108 children from age 6 to 14 in India. However, from the total enrolment figures for 2011-2012 (page 27 of the DISE 2012-13 Flash Statistics) had only 199,055,138 students in schools (including enrolment in unrecognized schools and madrasas). This means that over 34.5 million children covered by the RTE Act were not enrolled in school.
Further, assuming population growth of 1.64% per year (the average between the 2001 and 2011 Census reports), there would be 237,420,972 children from age 6 to 14 in 2012. The DISE enrolment figures for 2012-13 show that only 199,710,349 students were enrolled in school. There is an increase of 37,710,623 students out of school, representing 15.9% of all children covered by the RTE Act. (Source PIL in Apex court of India by NCE).These out of schools children don’t come from affluent class. They are from poor, marginalized, displaced, deprivation victims, girls and minority children.
SPENDING ON EDUCATION
There is massive shortfall in allocations for Education by the Union Government. The 12th Plan has recommended an allocation of Rs. 1,92,726 crore for five years (2012-13 to 2016-17) for SSA, from the Union Budget, making it Rs. 38,545 crore per year. As compared to this figure, the budgetary allocations for SSA by the Union Government for 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 have seen shortfalls of Rs. 12990 crore, Rs. 11287 crore and Rs. 10910 crore respectively. For FY 2015-16 and 2016-17, SAA allocation figures (BE) are Rs. 27575 Crores (RE Rs. 19298 Crores) and Rs. 22500 crores respectively, implying deficits of 19000 Crores and 16000 Crores respectively. The total shortfall in allocation for SSA, the flagship scheme to Universalise elementary education India has been gigantic figure of Rs. 73577 Crores.
Given the fact that India has not been able to allocate funds for implementation of RTE and there has been a accumulated shortfall of more than Rs.73000 Crore for SSA allocations by the Central Government, it will be Herculean task before the finance ministry to allocate requisite amount of funds required to finance the commitments under SDGs which encompasses not only elementary education in its purview but alsoincorporates under its umbrella the issues of secondary education, tertiary education, elimination biases based along gender and special needs and asks the State to provide adequate training to them an employable labour force. These are the mandates that any civil society provide to their citizens. Given the pathetic state of affairs vis-à-vis education, training and employability, coupled with stereotyped gender biases, the government would be required to increase the allocations 10 times more for a decade or two to achieve the targets under SDGs.
Various teachers’ related studies show some disturbing trends in so far the issue of equity in education provisioning is concerned. Out of the total elementary teachers of 79.63 lakhs, 58.8 percent of teachers are in government schools and 29.9 percent of teachers are in private unaided schools in 2014-15. The respective figures for 58.17 lakhs are 68 percent and 23 percent. There is clear pattern of reduction in the proportion of government school teachers and concomitant increase in private school teachers. It may be mentioned that more than 80% of the enrolments in government schools are comprised of students from the marginalized community (SCs/STs/OBCs/Minorities) and the proportion of teachers in these schools are falling consistently. Indian education system is progressing towards privatization and these trends have grave implications for ensuring equity and social justice in education.
Yet another disturbing development is the increase in proportion of contract teachers. In 2008-09, the proportion of contract teachers was 9.4 percent. It increased sharply to 13.6 percent in 2014-15. These developments are strikingly opposed to the philosophy of RTE and will severely damage the quality of education.
Another important factor that may have serious implications for addressing quality issue is the in-service training of teachers. While 2009-10, the proportion of teachers who received in-service training was 35 percent and that declined to 18.3 percent in 2014-15. The percentage of female teachers has stagnated around 47 to 48 percent. This proportion need to be increased to address gender concerns of elementary education in India. Pupil teacher ratio has declined substantially between 2009-10 (32) and 2014-15 (25). Yet this national average marks wide regional variations across states.
Shortage of qualified and trained teachers is hampering efforts in most of the region to enhance the quality of education. On the one hand, recruiting qualified, trained and committed teachers is one challenge the countries are facing, on the other, distributing recruited teachers in an equitable manner is another challenge.
CHALLENGES OF PRIVATIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF EDUCATION IN INDIA
India is no exception to the world-wide trend of educational privatization, the growth of private schools, and the rise in corporate involvement in public and private schools. Until the nineties, some form of public schooling or schools run by charitable trusts and voluntary organisations were the norm. Today, India is an emerging market for the commercialization of education: global corporations like Pearson, international chains like Bridge International Academies, corporate foundations like Dell and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and international consultants and venture capital firms encourage and invest in for-profit commercial ventures in the school sector especially targeted at low-income and working class communities that represents, for them, a vast untapped market. In India, the decline of public education and the concomitant growth of private education can be traced to the meager education budget that does not match demand.
India has the largest youth demographic in the world, with half of the country’s population of 1.2 billion under the age of 25, but the education budget hovers at around 3.8 percent of Gross National Product (GNP) (Government of India, 2016). Moreover, in 1968, the Indian state had committed to six percent of GNP for its education budget, a target unfulfilled to this day (Tilak, 2009, 2006). A lack of political will to finance public education has legitimated the corporate sector “solution” to and involvement in education. Second, in 1991, the Indian state launched far-reaching reforms to liberalise, deregulate, and privatize the public sector, including social sectors such as health and education (Nayyar, 2008; Venkatnarayanan, 2015). As a result, state governmentsdivested themselves from government schools, shrinking the size of the sector and adversely impacting quality. Studies show that “the government’s reduced priority toward providing sufficient resources to elementary education has indirectly increased the privatization of schools at elementary level” (Venkatnarayanan, 2015). Further, these reforms opened the door to closer integration with the global economy and expanded the service sector, especially in the information technology (IT) field that has intensified the demand for English language education. The government schools are required to teach in the native language of the student, especially at the primary level. However, in a context of changed aspirations and declining quality, government schools are perceived as an impediment to success in the new economy (Lukose, 2009; Jeffrey et al., 2008; Faust and Nagar, 2001). These economic, social and political transformations of the last two decades have led to the proliferation of private (English-medium) schools in the country.
THE NEED AND JUSTIFICATION OF NEW EDUCATION POLICY:
There is not enough discussion or debate regarding review of previous education policies. The first National Policy on Education (NPE) was formulated by the Government of India in 1968, based on the recommendations of the Indian Education Commission (1964-66), also known as the ‘Kothari Commission’ which emphasized on promoting acommon school system for national progress, a sense of common citizenship and culture, and strengthening national integration. The policy mostly focused on Free and Compulsory Education, Education of Teachers, Language Development, Education Opportunity for all and Uniform education structure 10+2+3.
The subsequent Education policy was launched in 1986 and further revised in 1992. This was the time when flood gates of International funding organizations (ODA)were open to India. Lot of international funding was coming to India. So the structural adjustments affected the Indian education policy i.e. Non-formal Education for out of school illiterates, formation of CABE committee. Also the emphasis was made on girls and women and marginalized communities.It is worth noting that in Education Policy 1986, (September 26) Ministry of Education was renamed as Human Resource Department; the change reflecting the State’s attempts to begin the process of neo-liberalization or neocolonialism. This led to massive privatization in education sector.
After three education policies the Right of children to free and compulsory education was notified on April 1, 2010, amidst much fanfare, India through the Right to Education Act, 2009, joined the league of over 135 countries that have made legal commitments to provide free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14 years. The RTE’s enforcement deadline expired on March 31, 2013, and it is time we took stock of elementary education in our country complete the enforcement of the act by March 2013.It is a pity that proposed document of New Education policy neither properly acknowledges the provision of earlier education policies nor quotes the relevance of new policy in terms of earlier experiences of education sector.
The report of the Subramanian Committee for NEP also fails to promote and expands the vision of RTE Act 2009.Most surprisingly the Subramanian Committee for NEP doesn’t at all acknowledge and mentions the promises and commitments of Sustainable Development Goals. The report tries to justify the privatization of education sector not only in elementary level but also up to Higher and Technical education with soft core consideration in favour of private sector.
Some of the major recommendations are as follows:
- Strict adherence and implementation of the provision of earlier education policies. It is also imperative to review the earlier education policies and make a positive departure based on the review process and experiences.
- There is a need to implement the RTE Act with strong political will and ensure the strong participation of community with transparency and of the people.
- Along with making Right to Education Act a Fundamental Right it will be viable to empower the school education committees to implement it.
- Teacher should be trained in government systems. They should be completely involved in teaching work and as in the work mentioned in RTE Act for some limited period only.
- There should provisions for 6% of GDP to be spent on educationor the 20% of the whole budget to allocate for education.
- Basic education is a complete responsibility of state.The privatisation and commercialization of education are to be strictly forbidden through the National Education Policy.
- In India the number of children deprived of education is higher in the world and which is not a decent situation for the country. In this situation it is necessary to identify such children with immediate effect and help them avail the schools and educational facilities with the coordination of ministries and departments.State Child Protection Right committee should be decentralized up to the block level.
- The Policy should provide for building a national education system based on the common school system and neighborhood school principle.
- Inappropriate language like referring students as products of education, using terms like handling of cases of children with disabilities are to be avoided in the Policy document. Children are to be treated with dignity.
- The National Policy of Education is to provide for a system of education within a human rights based framework that enables the overall development of individuals.
- Consultation Process for New Education Policy; Department s of School Education & Literacy and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 21stMarch, 2015
- NiranjanAradhya “The New Education Policy and its implication”; Draft prepared by Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University
- Kamat, S., Spreen, C.A., Jonnalagadda, I. (2016) “Profiting from the Poor: the Emergence of Multinational Edu-businesses in Hyderabad, India”.
- Krithika. B. S., Shruthi Raman “Observations, Suggestions and Recommendations on “Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016”; Drafted by Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University in association with Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Association
- National Consultation for New Education Policy, Government of India. www.mygov.in
- National Policy on Education 2016 - Report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy, Ministry of Human Resource Development
- Status, trends and challenges of Education For All in South Asia (2000 – 2015): A Summary Report, UNESCO New Delhi, 2015
- SourinaBej (2015) “New Education Policy: Death Knell for India’s Education Sector?” www.Countercurrents.org
- Vinay K Kantha “After three documents: Need for Changes in educational discourse in 2016
Rama Kant Rai
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