Tamil Nadu softening its stance on NEP? Higher Edu Minister expresses willingness to adopt "best things"

K Ponmudy emphasises the need for states to have the freedom to design their own education systems while supporting certain provisions of the National Education Policy
Photo of  K Ponmudy, the Higher Education Minister of Tamil Nadu | Pic: Express
Photo of K Ponmudy, the Higher Education Minister of Tamil Nadu | Pic: Express

On Friday, March 24, K Ponmudy, the Higher Education Minister of Tamil Nadu, indicated a change in the state government's approach towards the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 by expressing willingness to adopt the "best things" from it. This is being seen as a softening of the government's earlier stance against the policy. However, the minister also stressed the importance of giving states the freedom to design and implement their own education systems.

Speaking at the inaugural event of the national conference organised by the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), Ponmudy said, “Whatever best things are there in NEP, we are ready to adopt. But we should give freedom to states to follow their own system of education," stated a report by The New Indian Express.

K Ponmudy, the higher education minister of Tamil Nadu, has expressed his agreement with certain provisions of the National Education Policy (NEP). However, he also emphasised the state's opposition to certain other provisions, such as the three-language policy and mandatory public examinations for students in Classes III, V, and VIII.

Read Also : NEP implementation in Himachal Pradesh requires 500 more professors​

Importance of the statement 
Ponmudy's statement on Friday, March 24, holds particular significance as he is known for being a vocal critic of the NEP. He has previously made remarks using pani puri sellers as an example to refute the claim that Hindi will lead to better job prospects and has expressed concern that the NEP would increase school dropout rates. However, in his latest speech, the Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister appears to have shifted his stance, emphasising the importance of a national education system that fosters connectivity between states without eroding their identities, as reported by The New Indian Express.

“We should have a common system, but also understand that every state has its own system of education, language and a system of teaching,” he added. The minister urged AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) Chairman, TG Sitharam and national-level educationalists present at the event to devise solutions. G Viswanathan, President of EPSI and founder of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), also said that the state and Centre should sit together and find a solution to the implementation of NEP, as reported by The New Indian Express.

AICTE Chairman and Minister of State for Education on NEP
In August of last year, Union Minister of State for Education, Subhas Sarkar, visited Chennai and made a statement that the Tamil Nadu government was not against the National Education Policy. The government had only submitted its observations to the Centre. Recently, at an event, Sitharam emphasised the AICTE's initiatives to promote technical education in regional languages and stressed that the NEP prioritises research and the Indian knowledge value system. While acknowledging the decreasing popularity of engineering courses, Sitharam also highlighted the discipline's critical role in nation-building.

“To popularise core engineering courses, we have advised colleges to start minor programmes in emerging technologies to increase students’ employability courses. We can teach the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML) to students of civil and mechanical engineering. Besides, colleges have to put extra effort to partner with industries in the sector to ensure job placements.” Sitharam also urged colleges to inculcate critical thinking and problem-solving attitudes within students. Other panel discussions were also held at the national level conference with the theme “Leveraging research, innovation and digital learning technologies for better educational inclusion", as reported by The New Indian Express.

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