[lg policy] Modi govt panel wants school fees regulated, Indian languages given prominence

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Jun 1 10:34:41 EDT 2019

Modi govt panel wants school fees regulated, Indian languages given
prominenceThe new policy, by a panel set up by the Modi govt in 2017, has
also called for primary school education in the mother tongue and a
four-year liberal arts degree.
NEELAM PANDEY <https://theprint.in/author/neelam-pandey/> Updated: 1 June,
2019 6:58 pm IST
Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' being sworn-in as a Cabinet minister | PTI
Photo/Vijay Verma
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*New Delhi: *Primary school education in the mother tongue, an option to
attempt board exams multiple times and better regulation of fees in private
schools are some of the key suggestions in the National Education Policy
(NEP), formulated by an expert committee set up by the Modi government in

The committee has submitted a draft policy to the Human Resource
Development (HRD) ministry, which will be looked at by new HRD minister
Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.

Some of the other important suggestions in the NEP, accessed by ThePrint,
include the introduction of a four-year bachelors degree in liberal arts
and the creation of a new apex educational body, the Rashtriya Shiksha
Aayog (RSA) or National Education Commission to be headed by the Prime
Minister. The RSA will be responsible for developing, articulating,
implementing, evaluating, and revising the “vision of education in the
country” on a continuous and sustained basis.

The NEP has also recommended that the Right to Education (RTE) Act should
cover complete school education, from pre-primary school level right up to
Class 12. RTE covers classes 1 to 8 at present.

It also proposes to change the name of MHRD to Ministry of Education to
bring the focus back on education and learning.

ThePrint highlights key suggestions that could become part of the new
government’s education policy.

*Class 10, Class 12 board exams*

The NEP says students should be allowed to take a board examination in a
given subject in whichever semester they take the corresponding class in
school — that is whenever they feel most ready. It also calls for a policy
to allow students to repeat subjects in the board examination if they feel
they can study and do better.

Board examinations in each subject may replace the in-school final
examinations for a semester or year-long courses, whenever possible, so as
not to increase the examination load on students, it says. “All
examinations such as board and entrance examinations will not be as ‘high
stakes’,” if students are allowed “best of multiple (at least two)
attempts”, it adds.
*Fees in private schools*

The policy says private schools may be free to set their fees but they
shall not increase the amount (taken under any head) arbitrarily. It
further says that a reasonable increase, which can stand public scrutiny,
such as inflation-related, can be made.

Any substantial increase in the fees that cannot be anticipated or
justified shall not be made, including under any ‘fees head’ such as
‘school development’ or an ‘infrastructure fund’, the policy says. The
percentage fee increase, permissible based on inflation and other factors,
will be decided by a new regulatory authority for schools, the State School
Regulatory Authority (SSRA), for every three-year period.

*Also read: Modi govt will finally announce New Education Policy by 31 May
after 4-year delay
*Financial support for students*

The policy says that a National Scholarship Fund will be established, which
will ensure that all students who require financial support to attend a
public higher education institution will receive it — this could also cover
stipends, boarding and lodging, and may not be limited to just a waiver of
tuition fees.

The NEP says private higher education institutions will have to offer
scholarships ranging from 50 per cent to the full 100 per cent for at least
half of their students.
*Flexible bachelor’s degree options*

The proposal has stated that for ideal attributes of liberal education,
institutions will offer a four-year Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) or
Bachelor of Liberal Education (BLE) degree (or BLA/BLE with research). The
courses will include broad-based liberal education together with a rigorous
specialisation in a field or fields.

The four-year Bachelor of Liberal Arts/Education will provide the full
range of liberal education with a choice of majors and minors.

The three-year traditional B.A, B.Sc, as well as B.Voc degrees will
continue for those institutions that wish to continue such programmes, but
all Bachelor’s degrees will move towards taking a more comprehensive
liberal education approach, the policy states.
*Liberal education in higher education institutions*

The policy stresses on liberal education as it points out that among the
eminent graduates and scholars of the ancient universities of Takshila and
Nalanda were the philosopher and economist Chanakya; the Sanskrit
grammarian, mathematician, and discoverer of generative grammar, Panini;
the leader and statesman Chandragupta Maurya; and the mathematician and
astronomer, Aryabhata.

As such, the policy states, a “liberal education approach” will be the
basis of undergraduate education in all fields and disciplines at the
undergraduate level, including professional education.

The notion of ‘streaming’, where science, arts and vocational students are
separated, based on their academic performance, majors, interests, or any
other such criteria, will end. Courses across all subjects will be
available for all students across majors.

*Also read: The future is here, but our education systems are stuck in the
*Primary education in the mother tongue*

The NEP has championed education in mother tongues, calling for local
tongues to be the medium of instruction in the lower classes. “When
possible, the medium of instruction, at least until Grade 5, but preferably
till at least Grade 8, will be the home language/mother tongue/local
language,” the document says. “Thereafter, the home/local language shall
continue to be taught as a language wherever possible.”

In addition to this, the policy states that all students from pre-school
and Class 1 onwards will be exposed to three or more languages with the aim
of developing speaking proficiency and interaction, and the ability to
recognise scripts and read basic text, in all three languages by Class 3.

“In terms of writing, students will begin writing primarily in the medium
of instruction until Grade 3, after which writing with additional scripts
will also be introduced gradually,” it adds.

The document also says that those interested in studying a foreign language
will have to choose it as the fourth language and an elective.
‘*English an elitist language’*

Coming down heavily on the use and reliance of English language in India,
the document states that “despite the rich, expressive and scientific
nature of Indian languages, there has been an unfortunate trend in schools
and society towards English as a medium of instruction and as a medium of

It further states that since Independence, the economic elite of India has
adopted English as their language and that only about 15 per cent of the
country speaks it.

“Furthermore, the elite often use English (whether deliberately or
inadvertently) as a test for entry into the elite class and for the jobs
that they control: English is regularly used by the elite as a criterion to
determine whether someone is “educated”, and perhaps most unfortunately of
all, as a prerequisite for jobs — even in cases of jobs where knowledge of
English is entirely irrelevant,” it states.
*Incorporation of Indian knowledge systems into the curriculum*

Indian contribution to knowledge — and the historical context that led to
them — will be incorporated wherever relevant, into the existing school
curriculum and textbooks, the document says. The topics will include Indian
contribution to mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, psychology, yoga,
architecture, medicine, as well as governance, polity, society, and
conservation course on Indian knowledge systems
*NCERT curriculum to be revised*

The policy has called for a revision of NCERT textbooks.

“NCERT textbooks will be revised to first contain only the essential core
material in each subject, keeping in mind a constructivist,
discovery-based, analysis-based, engaging, and enjoyable style of learning
in accordance with the revised National Curriculum Framework, 2020,” it
*Higher education*

The policy envisages moving towards a higher educational system consisting
of large, multi-disciplinary universities and colleges.

“The main thrust of this policy regarding higher education is the ending of
the fragmentation of higher education by moving higher education into large
multidisciplinary universities and colleges, each of which will aim to have
upwards of 5,000 or more students,” it says.

It says that clear merit-based procedures for appointments of the board of
governors (BoG), the chancellor, and the vice-chancellor of higher
education institutions will ensure the elimination of external
interference, including from the government.

It also states that there will be one regulator for all higher education,
including professional education, from the current multiple watchdogs. In
another important change, degree-granting powers, which at present are
vested only with universities, will be extended to autonomous colleges that
can also grant their own degrees.
*Inviting foreign universities into India*

Select universities (those from among the top 200 universities in the
world) will be permitted to operate in India. A legislative framework
facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will
have to follow all the regulatory, governance, and content norms applicable
to Indian universities, the policy says.
*Focus on language, literature, arts, sports, and music*

All undergraduate programmes will have to have a special focus on language
education, the policy says, adding that institutions will be encouraged and
funded to offer several Indian languages, as well as some foreign languages.

“Students will be required to attain proficiency in discussing their major
in at least one Indian language through an appropriate written project or
presentation in that language,” the policy says. “Yoga shall form an
integral part of such efforts as well. Institutions will be encouraged and
funded to offer full-fledged programmes and courses in these areas.”

Further, universities seeking to become attractive destinations for foreign
students will receive funds to develop and offer specially designed courses
in Indian languages, arts, history, Ayurveda, yoga, among others.
*Indian languages*

All doctoral students will take a unit on communication in at least one
Indian language other than English, as part of their course on teaching,
“in order to develop the capacity to communicate their discipline/field in
that language”, the policy says.

“This is considered important to write newspaper articles and conduct
interviews in Indian languages, and to visit and speak in areas (e.g. at
schools) about their subject where that language is prevalent,” it adds.
*Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog*

A new apex body, designated as the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or the National
Education Commission, will be constituted for “developing, articulating,
implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the
country on a continuous and sustained basis”.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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