‘The Ministry of Human Resources Development does not want to attract controversy ahead of the 2019 general elections’.

The nation will have to wait till the next term of the government for getting a new National Education Policy (NEP) as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is unlikely to introduce the NEP during the remaining tenure of its government, sources close to the MHRD have said.

According to sources, with the general elections round the corner, the Centre is unlikely to take any risk by introducing the NEP, as several provisions in it, particularly related to the role of private players in the education sector and the stress on traditional forms of knowledge, might attract unnecessary controversy.

A source in the MHRD told The Sunday Guardian: “The MHRD is unlikely to introduce the NEP this year as several provisions in it could be contentious and might lead to protests against the government. Therefore, the Ministry is unlikely to take any risk of getting into such a situation ahead of the 2019 elections.”

A committee headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan was supposed to submit its report in December 2017, but since its inception, the committee assigned to draft the NEP has been given many extensions and the last one was given in March this year. The committee’s last three-month extension expired this month (June), but it has not presented the draft yet.

Though the government claims that the drafting committee is still working on the NEP, sources in the MHRD said that the viewpoints of all stakeholders have already been received and the draft is almost completed. “Due to fear of controversy ahead of 2019 general elections, the MHRD is using diversionary tactics to escape the implementation of the NEP,” the same source cited above said.

Earlier, the HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar’s predecessor Smriti Irani had appointed the first panel headed by former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramaniam to draft the NEP. The Subramanian panel submitted a 200-page report in November 2016 containing about 90 recommendations to uplift the standards of the primary and higher education sector. However, the report attracted wide criticism and protests against the MHRD ministry. Later, the Subramanian committee was replaced by the Kasturirangan committee.

“In the NEP, the focus is on girls’ education, strengthening public institutions and promotion of traditional knowledge. Also, special attention is given on technical and skill-based education,” the source said.

The Sunday Guardian has learnt that school education could see a paradigm shift after the implementation of the NEP which stresses on the need for affordable education.

Implementation of a new NEP was part of the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. The existing NEP is two decades old as it was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992.

By Kundan Jha
Courtesy: Sunday Guardian (June 16, 2018)