Teaching up to class five in mother tongue or regional language, lowering the stakes of board exams, allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India, a single regulator for higher education institutions except for law and medical colleges and common entrance tests for universities are part of the sweeping reforms in the new National Education Policy (NEP) unveiled on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Left party claimed that the new NEP approved by “the RSS-led NDA government” will fundamentally change the prevalent system by creating “education markets” and will not ensure universalisation of education through government schools as well as rejecting quality education to the poor and socially disadvantaged sections of society.
“In the absence of public-funded education this will take away the social justice, whatever little it is there today,” it said.
The Left also alleged that the government bypassed Parliament and undermined federalism in formulating the policy and accused the central government of taking “unilateral decisions to aggressively push through its neo-liberal agenda including in the system of education”.
It further said the NEP is an attempt to lead to “total privatisation, commercialisation and over centralisation” and will result in higher fees, attacks on autonomy of universities and no permanent jobs in teaching.
“The government will earmark six per cent of GDP for education. It was a proposal made by Kothari Commission decades back. Now there is a demand that the Centre should spend on education more than 10 per cent of the GDP. NEP will lead to more privatisation, commercialisation under the management and control of Board of Governors.
“This is done to invite foreign universities as per WTO. Also 50,000 educational institutions will now be converted to only 15,000 and all colleges with less than 3,000 students will either be closed or merged with others. This will lead to regional disparities in a big way,” it said.
The statement claimed that as a consequence of the NEP, institutions like IIMs, IITs and ISC with single subjects will be closed and only institutions teaching multiple subjects will exist, thus hurting specialisation.
The party, however, said one positive element of NEP is imparting education from three years of age to 18 years under the Right to Education (RTE), as against till 14 years of age earlier.
However it said the success of this was extremely doubtful considering the characteristic changes that are brought in the system.
“CPI urges upon the government to have proper discussion on the policy in Parliament and also with the state governments which have the highest stake since education is on the Concurrent List,” the statement from the party said.