New Delhi: Several political parties on Thursday urged the government to ensure the proposed education policy was “inclusive" and “bereft of any ideology" as a draft was thrown open for a debate in the Rajya Sabha.
Human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar termed the draft as an “input" for the proposed education policy. But he faced tough questions on several provisions, including those dealing with the promotion of Sanskrit and value education, in the draft policy.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) general secretary Sitaram Yechury remarked that the draft policy aims to achieve “3Cs—centralization, commercialization and communalization". He alleged that the Union government is pushing “Hindu ideology" instead of “Indian philosophy".
Former HRD minister and Congress parliamentarian Kapil Sibal said that “all education is ideology neutral" and efforts must be made to build a consensus on the content of the new education policy.
He alleged that the draft policy in its current form is “directionless and needs to be junked". Sibal advised that the ministry should start a fresh consultation process with all stakeholders, including political parties. “If we can reach consensus on GST (goods and services tax), we can do the same here," he added.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) parliamentarian Derek O’Brien advised the HRD ministry to take the “input seriously" and not colour it along idealogical lines. “The policy should be inclusive and open to diversity of belief and thoughts," O’Brien said.
The new education policy, coming after a gap of nearly three decades, aims to lay a road map for the education sector, which has grown over the years but suffers from varied quality parameters. The draft policy speaks about a host of issues, including revision of the no-detention policy and bringing back Class X board examinations.
Rajya Sabha MPs asked the government to spend 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) on education, up from less than 4% at present.
Industrialist and Rajya Sabha member Anu Aga said that the government must give a detailed account on how it intends to increase education spending in the next few years to achieve the 6%-of-GDP target. Parliamentarians also suggested a common syllabus and assessment pattern across school boards and asked the government to improve the quality of education on a priority basis.
The draft policy states that the aim is to ensure “quality education and lifelong learning opportunities". It includes issues ranging from pre-school education, curriculum renewal, school assessment, quality assurance, internationalization, faculty development in higher education and language and culture in education. The draft policy also seeks to reform the higher education sector, including promoting private sector participation and revamp of education regulators like University Grants Commission for effective management of the sector.