Published: 31st July 2019
People in Tamil Nadu have misunderstood Three Language Policy: Dr B Ramaswamy
July 31 was the last date for submitting any suggestions or feedback about the draft New Education Policy 2019 that has caused quite an uproar across the country
At a time when everyone even remotely linked to the education sector is debating the pros and cons of the Draft National Education Policy, Dr B Ramaswamy of the State University of New York said that people in Tamil Nadu had misunderstood the controversial three language portion of the policy, "The language policy has been misinterpreted in Tamil Nadu. No one is saying that you cannot learn Tamil. No one is forcing you to study Hindi either. It is just an option." He was speaking at a panel discussion titled Education Essentials on the NEP at DG Vaishnav College in Chennai on July 31 — the last day for submitting feedback on the draft policy.
Delivering his keynote address, he also said that the education policies that India has been following till date were only helping students get certificates but no real education. "No matter what kind of development you look at you need educational development to be the stepping stone. The NEP is a comprehensive plan towards it. Criticising the policy will only pull us back," said Dr Rama Swamy.
The day's proceedings were set in motion by a welcome address by Chairman of Shri Vallabacharya Vidya Sabha, HK Jhaver followed by a short speech by the college Principal Dr R Ganesan. Ashok Kumar Mundra, Secretary of DG Vaishnav College also spoke about the importance of education and added that it is the most prized possession one can have. Social Policy expert, Dr Akila Radhakrishnan, moderated the discussion.
Discussing the commendable and controversial aspects of the policy, Dr Munirathna Anandakrishnan said that it would not be wise to write off the policy as totally unacceptable or embrace it in toto. "We have up to a thousand colleges affiliated under a university. It is not possible for the VC to even keep track of so many colleges. It is good that the new policy wants to abolish this system of affiliation," said Dr Anandakrishnan while delivering the Presidential Address.
The Former Chairman of IIT Kanpur and Former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, Dr Anandakrishnan, criticised the NEP's proposal for a common test for admission in colleges calling it not just "atrocious" but simply "stupid". "The Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, headed by the Prime Minister, will be responsible for everything pertaining to education — they will tell the states what to do and what not to. The sates will be left like nothing but dummies," said Dr Anandakrishnan. "The NEP proposes to let private universities tie-up with foreign institutions and even let foreign universities set up base her — this is great but we need to keep an eye on the legitimacy of the universities coming to India," he added.
Accusing the Draft NEP of commercialising the education sector, Prince Gajendra Babu, General Secretary of State Platform for Common Schools System, TN, said that the constitution mandates the government to provide free education under Article 41 of the Constitution that says that the state should make provision for the right to education within the limits of its economic capacity. "The Draft New Education Policy says that the private players can charge as much as they wish to. Is it not the commercialisation of education?" he asked. "In 1927, Dr B R Ambedkar had said that the 30 per cent of educational expenditure that is collected in the form of fees is too much and can be termed commercialisation of the education. And now the Draft NEP is proposing that there should not be any fee regulation for private schools and colleges," he added.
Jayashree Nambiar, the Principal of The School, Krishnamoorthi Foundation India (KFI) raised concerns about the implementation of the proposed vision. "India is a diverse country and that should not be lost in the process of centralising the education system. Another aspect that needs attention is the role of the Management Committees of the schools. Where do they stand?" she asked. "We call teaching a noble profession but it is in no way lucrative. But a lot of people opt for teaching at a later age. What about them if we enforce a mandatory four-year course?" Jayashree questioned.
Former Professor and Vice-Chancellor of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, Dr Jandhyala BG Tilak said that the NEP draft contradicts its own proclamation of considering education as a public good — which he feels is commendable — when it talks about the privatisation of education. "Classification of the HEIs will only create a sense of hierarchy among the institutions. Moreover, the policy recommendation that suggests a four-year bachelor's degree with stages of qualification would require the teachers to be equipped for every level of education the students would need. I feel that is a tall expectation," said the professor. Answering Gajendra Babu's question on whether the policy is Constitutional he said, "The Constitution is there. But I think it has gone to the background and modern influences of the market forces are playing a major role," he added.
Dr MG Sethuraman, Professor of Chemistry at the Gandhigram Rural Institute, Tamil Nadu, said that implementation of the said vision is vital. "If you ask a student what the problem is he will say the teachers are not good, if you ask the teachers they will say the students are not good and if you ask Rajinikanth he will say system seri illa (the system is not right)," he quipped. "The proposal for multi-disciplinary institutes is commendable. So is the proposal for the establishment of the National Research Foundation. But the major problem is getting the proper funding or Vitamin M as I like to call it," added the professor.
Calling the Draft NEP frank because it speaks about corruption openly, Dr Siva Subramanian said that he appreciates the honesty and added that India desperately needs the innovative ecosystem that is proposed in the NEP. "The transformation to a Type I or Type II institution should be merit-based — it should not matter whether it is a Central or State University," Dr Subramanian said. "Members of any governing body, be it a board of a college or the RSA should be academicians — at least the majority of them should be," added the Former VC of Barthiyar University.