November 27, 2019 08:22 PM

Chandigarh (Face2News)

Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) organized a seminar on New Education Policy 2019 (NEP) on Wednesday at the English Auditorium. At the outset President PUTA Prof. Rajesh Gill pointed out that the ambitious target of enhancing Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) to 50% would result in massive privatization of education, in view of the greater marketability of private institutions of higher education.

The existing number of public-funding Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) is inadequate to deal with this increase in enrollment. The stated thrust of the Policy on quality would suffer as private institutes often compromise on quality. Prof. Akshaya Kumar, who coordinated the seminar, spoke on the hidden implications of conceding so-called ‘autonomy’ to Higher Education Institutes.

He warned that the ‘autonomy’ would lead to abdication of financial responsibility on the part of the government. Since a nominated Board of Governors would administer HEIs, students and other stakeholders shall have no role in the decision-making. The policy smacks of growing centralization of curriculum and examinations, and admission processes. NEP rejects the idea of affiliated colleges, and projects a substantial decrease in the number of Higher Education Institutes by 2040.

The accessibility to higher education would suffer if colleges with strength of less than the stipulated 3000 students were shut down. Prof Kumar welcomed the thrust on multi-disciplinarity, but he apprehended that the role and place of liberal arts would remain more or less subsidiary as IITs remain the cherished model of the policy-makers. The proposed architecture to carry out the goals of NEP also overlooks the federal spirit of Indian culture. Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog and the corresponding Rajya Shiksha Ayogs in various states do not give any space to elected representatives of teachers or students.

The formation of National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct entrance exams at the national-level for admission to various courses in Universities and Colleges all across India would deprive the Higher Education Institutes of their local role. Prof. Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC, in his keynote lecture, pointed out that how private and public-funded are placed on the same footing in the NEP to the disadvantage of the latter. He said that the proposed increase in the Higher Education to the level of 7% of GDP is a mere mirage, and even in the previous policies such promises were made but never fulfilled.

He also referred to the non-democratic make-up on the proposed architecture of the NEP. Autonomy, he argued, would remain at best notional, as the proposed top-down structure of governance would marginalize the role of teacher associations and students councils. The NEP, he averred, succumbs to the demands of market forces rather too uncritically. What people need or what the nation needs would remain secondary as the students are sought to be trained to adjust to the demands of the market, he observed. The lecture was followed by a question-answer session in which teachers, research scholars and students expressed their doubts about the impact NEP would make in the near future.


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