North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) condemns the decision of the Union government to approve the new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 which has been vehemently criticized by students, teachers, academics, activists, among others, since the last many years. The fact that NEP was approved without any discussion in the parliament exposes the plan of the BJP government to worsen the already pathetic situation of education in the country.
The policy has incorporated the interests of the industry and corporate sector and has subordinated the interests of the people to the whims of a small exploitative clique. Instead of tackling the real issues which are faced by the majority of students and non-students such as the number of government schools, the quality of teaching in such schools and the need to bring more children into formal mode education by earmarking more funds for public-funded education, the new NEP among other retrograde measures openly advocates informatization of education both at secondary and higher levels.
However, the policy institutes measures which in effect would victimize the students of the North-east. The NEP, 2020 evades the problems faced by the students of different school boards for admissions in premier institutions after 12th by the simple expedient of instituting entrance exams in place of merit based admission. It should be noted that majority of the school students study in schools which are affiliated to the state boards. In the admissions to the few premier institutions these students are penalized in so far as their marks tend to be far less than that of those in central boards to which generally the elite government and private schools are affiliated.
The solution to this problem by building more infrastructures in all the regions and providing generous funding to the regional educational institutions stands evaded, as the central government only makes cosmetic changes to the hierarchical and discriminatory educational edifice of the country. Moreover, the measure to institute entrance examinations conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) instead of marks attained by students would further imperil the chances of the students of the state boards as due recognition to the diversity of content of state board syllabi will not be adhered to.
The NEP, 2020, moreover unduly emphasizes the study of Sanskrit at the cost of other Schedule 8 and other languages of India. It can be seen as an attempt by the RSS-BJP government to impose a single identity on the various peoples of India. Furthermore, the reason for the study of Sanskrit mentioned in the document, especially highlight the utter insensitivity towards the other languages. It has been stated the there is a unity in most of the languages of India as they have been derived from Sanskrit or the other classical languages.
The reasoning of the policy makers is incorrect at least and outrageous at best since the languages in the country are a result of various influences, not just that of standardized classical languages. In fact, most of the standardized forms of modern languages are unfamiliar to the general speaking population of these languages. While the other classical languages are mentioned in the policy to forestall any attack on the intentions of the central government to impose a unitary identity on all, Sanskrit is to be hitherto given a greater prominence than other languages.
Thus, it can be safely concluded that NEP 2020 is going to further penalize the North-East people whose already dire condition would be worsened. NEFIS condemns the policy and would be launching struggle against its retrograde measures in the coming days.
Written By: Thokchom Yaiphalembi Chanu,
Member, North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS)