No language imposition: revised new education policy
The National Educational Commission, in its commitment to multilingualism, has proposed a new education policy specifying no language impositions on any state in reference to the three-language formula, imparting "great flexibility" to the same
The final policy, which will soon go to the Cabinet for approval, will also drop a draft provision for the Prime Minister to chair the proposed Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or National Educational Commission. Instead, the RSA will be headed by the human resource development minister, backed by a panel of eminent academics and experts, according to people familiar with the matter.
The draft policy, submitted to the government in May, sparked a political controversy with its emphasis on the three-language formula, mention of the need to teach Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states and alleged over-centralisation through bodies like the RSA.
Several state and political parties, especially from Tamil Nadu, made their opposition clearly known to the government. Although the Kasturirangan Committee, which prepared the draft policy, revised its recommendations on the three-language formula to pacify opponents and the government clarified that this was only a draft, the issue continued to simmer.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stepped in recently, speaking in praise of the Tamil language.
The final version of the policy has come about after filtering through more than 200,000 suggestions received by the government and after discussions with state governments.
ET has gathered that the final policy will clearly say that no language will be imposed on any state. The three language formula will continue, keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions as well as the aspirations of the people of various regions. However, there will be a ‘great flexibility in the three-language formula’ in keeping with the larger principle of flexibility in the new policy.
To underline the commitment to multilingualism, the new policy is set to mention that school-goers may have the option to study a classical language of India and its associated literature for at least two years in grades 6-12. It will advocate the setting up of academies for each of the Schedule 8 languages.
Addressing concerns related to over-centralisation and poor representation of academics in the RSA, the new policy keeps the PM completely out of the permanent advisory body on education that is proposed to replace the Central Advisory Board of Education.
The RSA will be chaired by the HRD minister and will consist of 30 members, two-thirds of whom will be eminent Indian and global academics and leading professionals from various fields. They will be assisted by a Permanent Secretariat headed by an executive director who will be a person of high eminence in education.
The almost 50-page final education policy document is a crisper version of the 400-page draft and is aimed at drawing a broad vision for education. It is said to have stayed off specifics that were in the draft.
A proposal to create a single higher education regulator, the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, has been dropped. However, it calls for “one common regulatory regime for the entire higher education sector” that will do away with duplication and regulate in a “light but tight” and facilitative manner.
While the final policy will mention the four-stage design of school education proposed in the draft and the loosening up of the ‘high stakes’ board examinations, it will leave it to the National Council for Education Research & Training to detail the exact implementation formula.