New Education Policy: Non-inclusion of teachers in core committee deprived panel knowledge of on-ground challenges

Editor’s note: The draft New Education Policy, which intends to introduce broad reforms, is now open for public scrutiny. In this three-part series, Firstpost examines the structural efficacy of the proposed policy. This is the first part of the series.

“When was the last time you used a quadratic equation in your life?”

I have not used it in at least seven years. I am not suggesting that learning quadratic equations is not important, because it is, for a small set of people. But why is every child grilled through the same, then?

 New Education Policy: Non-inclusion of teachers in core committee deprived panel knowledge of on-ground challenges

Representational image. Reuters

Looking back, I would have benefited more if the school years taught me how my identity shapes my actions, how I may have been less misogynistic (#YesAllMen), handing rejections without being harsh on myself, normalising writing gratitude letters and learning to disagree without being bitter or losing the fondness for the other.

I believe I would have benefited more by combining music and science, history and physics, and computers and environment. I think others too would have benefitted from these. Instead, we were learning quadratic equations’ formulas.

It is in the context of such a disconnect between our individual as well as collective needs that having examined the specific provisions of the policy, I zoom out to examine the broad principles and approach of the New Education Policy.

New Education Policy is a piece of mixed news. It has its fair share of good news and a fair share of areas where the committee disappoints.

Several studies including the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) shows that more than 50 percent of our class 5 children are unable to read the basic text and perform basic arithmetic. This is a national emergency that is neither adequately discussed nor acted upon. With the majority of the children unable to read basic text, it is difficult to predict the future of these children or India because there does not seem to be one.

In that context, the New Education Policy lays emphasis on building foundational literacy and numeracy. The policy goes on to recommend sound measures such as dedicated time for foundational skills, reviewing textbooks for primary grades, redesigning teacher education modules to reorient focus towards building foundational skills, among others.

The committee acknowledges that the syllabus currently imposed on students is unwarranted. Harvard professor Lant Pritchett has demonstrated negative consequences of overambitious curricula.

Ours is not only ambitious but disconnected. Recall the last time you used trigonometric equations? He showed that two countries with exactly the same potential learning could have massively divergent learning outcomes just because of a gap between curricular and actual pace—and the country which goes faster has much lower cumulative learning.

Ironically, the learning could go faster if curriculum and teachers were to just simply slow down, the research proved. Therefore, the recommendation of the committee to reduce the content curriculum making space for critical thinking and the arts is a progressive step forward.

The policy, however, falls short of establishing the connection between our national needs with that of its proposals. One of the most significant challenges our democracy faces today is the menace of fake news. The responsibility of building citizens that can identify the difference between fake and real news, facts and fiction, campaign and propaganda lies in our schools. The menace is eating up our democracy with no foreseeable sign of it relenting. In that light building institutions that can resist and counter to this menace is the key responsibility that the committee has failed to even take into account.

The committee that drafted the New Education Policy did not have a single school teacher in it. One is unable to understand the reasons and explanation for it if there can indeed be any. There are nearly 80 lakh teachers in India and they remain the most important unit of effecting changes proposed in the policy. Without their involvement and considerable say in the making of the New Education Policy, it remains to be seen as to how the teaching community responds to it. The fate of the No-Detention Policy is well-known because the teachers did not want it. Within two years of Right to Education, a review committee was set up and within seven years, the provision has been diluted significantly.

Not one school teacher can be found in the list of 217 eminent persons the committee consulted. However, the committee rightfully laments the loss of prestige of teachers and its approach provides evidence for it.

 The author works as a Secretary-rank officer in Delhi Commission For Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), Government of Delhi.

Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on Follow us on Twitter andInstagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.


Opinion | New education policy misses a critical chance to address inequalities in system

Not specifying a common minimum standard below which schools cannot fall, creates conditions where quality of facilities in some schools will only sink lower. (Mint)

The draft National Education Policy (NEP), 2019, is full of provisions that many in the education sector have been desperate to see for decades. The conferring of the Right to Education to children under six and above 14, doubling of the overall financial allocation to education and strengthening the teaching profession bring cheer. However, many of the policy’s omissions and contradictions, combined with the previous track record of central and state governments in implementing existing education policies, diminish this hope.

The omissions: While the policy talks about the need to bring “unrepresented groups” into school and focus on educationally lagging “special education zones”, it misses a critical opportunity of addressing inequalities within the education system. It misses to provide solutions to close the gap of access to quality education between India’s rich and poor children. It proposes to remove the expectations that all schools meet common minimum infrastructure and facility standards, and that primary schools be within a stipulated distance from children’s homes.

India’s schools already vary across the scale—from single room structures without water and sanitation, to technology-enabled international schools. Not specifying a common minimum standard below which schools cannot fall, creates conditions where quality of facilities in some schools will only sink lower, widening this gap.

This is even more of an issue since it proposes a roll back of existing mechanisms of enforcement of private schools making parents “de-facto regulators” of private schools. Parents, and particularly poor and neo-literate parents, cannot hold the onus of ensuring that much more powerful and resourced schools comply with quality, safety and equity norms.

India should have moved towards a national system of education that shapes India’s next generation and enforce standards of quality across the country.

The contradictions: While the policy places considerable emphasis on the strengthening of “school complexes” (clusters of schools sharing joint resources) and decentralized mechanisms for supporting teachers, their everyday management appears to have been tasked to the head teacher of the secondary school in the cluster.

Furthermore, no separate funding appears to have been earmarked for this. This is false economy, since this is a full time activity and needs to be staffed and resourced accordingly.

Lessons from non-implementation of past policies: The policy’s implementation is predicated on the assumption that the education budget would be almost doubled in the next 10 years through consistent decade-long action by both the centre and states. However, the revenue is decentralized to the states and it is unclear what would be done to ensure that resources needed will be allotted. The sheer scale of changes expected, the rapid timeline, the absence of a strong mechanism for handholding states on this journey and the probable inadequate budget raises questions on the full implementation of this policy. India’s history is littered with ambitious education policies that have not been fully implemented. The National Education Policy risks following this tradition, unless the government addresses the reasons behind the past policy-practice implementation gap and makes conscious efforts to carry all of India on the same road towards improvement in education.


3-language policy: National Education Policy draft revised, 2 members object

3-language policy: National Education Policy draft revised, 2 members object

The criticism forced the HRD Ministry to issue a statement Saturday clarifying that the policy was only a draft and will be finalised after incorporating public feedback and views of the state governments. (Representational image)

Two members of the government-appointed committee led by scientist K Kasturirangan are learnt to have objected Monday to their chairperson’s decision to revise a contentious paragraph in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2018, dropping a reference to Hindi and English in the recommendation on the three-language formula.

Following protests by political parties, mainly in Tamil Nadu, on what they called the “imposition” of Hindi, the HRD Ministry, at Kasturirangan’s behest, has shared a revised document on its website, which dropped the recommendation that stipulated the languages that students must choose to study from Grade 6.

Committee members Ram Shankar Kureel, former founder vice-chancellor of Baba Saheb Ambedkar University of Social Sciences in Madhya Pradesh, and K M Tripathy, former chairperson of Uttar Pradesh High School and Intermediate Examination Board, are learnt to have registered their opposition to the revision of the draft with the government.

Responding to an email sent by an HRD Ministry official, informing all committee members of the change effected at the behest of Kasturirangan, Kureel is learnt to have called the move unfortunate, while Tripathy objected to the changes made without consulting the committee members — especially since the changes had been discussed and decided against during the panel’s deliberations. The panel has a total of 11 members.

When contacted, Tripathy refused to comment on the matter. Kureel told The Indian Express: “The committee had submitted the hard copy to the HRD Minister (on May 31) and that is the report of the NEP. I stand by that report. The three-language formula is in the interest of national integration.” He did not wish to comment any further.


The formula, the opposition

The three-language formula, dating back to 1968, means students in Hindi-speaking states should learn a modern Indian language, apart from Hindi and English and, in non-Hindi-speaking states, Hindi along with the regional language and English. Tamil Nadu has always opposed this policy, and the new row is over the draft NEP proposing its continuation.

Advocating for bringing in flexibility in the implementation of the three-language formula, the earlier version of the draft NEP, uploaded on the ministry’s website on May 31, read: “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English.”

The revised version states: “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school.”

The draft NEP was submitted to the new HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on May 31, following which it was made public for feedback and suggestion.

The earlier version of the draft’s pitch for the proper implementation of the three-language formula in schools across the country drew strong reaction from the DMK, which dubbed the suggestion as an effort to “thrust” Hindi on Tamil Nadu.

The criticism forced the HRD Ministry to issue a statement Saturday clarifying that the policy was only a draft and will be finalised after incorporating public feedback and views of the state governments.


It was a massive shock: Gambhir recalls Dhoni’s 2012 selection policy for Australia series

Gautam Gambhir played 7 matches in the CB series scoring 308 runs (Reuters Photo)

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir on Saturday came down hard on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy during the 2012 CB series in Australia.

Gambhir, in an explosive interview with India Today, reveaked how he Dhoni told him that he couldn’t play him, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the ODI playing XI as they would leak runs on the field in Australia.

But Gambhir was eventually included in the ODI final XI for the tri-series between Australia, India and Sri Lanka.

Gambhir and Tendulkar eventually got to play 7 matches in the series while Sehwag featured in 5. Gambhir amassed 308 runs at an average of 44 and was the second highest run-scorer for India behind Virat Kohli while Tendulkar and Sehwag managed just 143 and 65 runs respectively.

“In the 2012 Tri-series in Australia, Dhoni declared that he can’t play all three (Gambhir, Sachin and Sehwag) of us together as he was looking ahead at the 2015 World Cup.

“It was a massive shock, I think it would have been a massive shock for any cricketer. I have not heard anyone be told in 2012 that they would never be a part of the 2015 World Cup. I always had the impression that if you keep scoring runs, age is a just a number,” Gambhir told India Today.

“If you have the skills to score the runs and you are not a liability on the field, you can go on to play as long as you want. This was always told to us and even in Australia we got to know that all the three can’t play together, and we eventually got to play together.

“When we were in a desperate need to win a game, I remember in Hobart, Viru and Sachin opened and I batted at three with Virat batted at four. India won that game and we had to chase in 37 over.

“At the start of the series, we didn’t play together, it was a rotation thing. When it was a desperate moment, MS had to play three of us. If you take a decision, back your decision, stick to it. Don’t back on something on which you have already decided.

“First you decided that you won’t play the three of us together, then you decided that you are going to play the three of us together. Either the original decision was wrong, or the second decision was wrong. He took that decision as a captain and it was a shock to all three of us,” Gambhir added.


University of St Andrews chief defends admissions policy

St Andrews University

The head of admissions at the University of St Andrews said it had a good “student diversity” policy without having to be a “charitable venture”.

Mike Johnson said the elite Fife institution had outreach programmes which connected with local communities.

Recent figures showed that the number of 18-year-olds from Scotland’s poorest areas going to university was down.

Mr Johnson said a good university needed “diversity of thought” from its “diversity of students”.

The admissions’ director was speaking to BBC radio presenter Bill Whiteford who was hosting Thursday’s Good Morning Scotland programme from St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university.

Mr Johnson said: “We meet our funded places allocation with Scottish students, we cannot go above that cap but we always meet that number in terms of Scottish students.

“What we want to see is the diversity of the student, wherever that student comes from.

“It shouldn’t be seen as some charitable venture at universities – this is about the diversity of a student bringing diversity of thought, we want many world views.

“When students are in tutorials we want them to come from different backgrounds, this is good for universities, there is no doubt about that.”

The Scottish government has placed a major focus on cutting the attainment gap between rich and poor, and increasing the number of Scots from the worst-off communities making it to university.

However, some politicians and education experts believe the cap on funded university places needs to be lifted if the system is going to target poorer students without impacting on the wider student population.

Convenor of Universities Scotland, Andrea Nolan, told the programme it was important to give “as many opportunities as we can to people who we believe have the potential and the ability to succeed”.

She explained “In Scotland we have a fixed number of places for Scottish and EU domicile students and as we seek to widen access to people from communities that are underrepresented at universities that is going to put pressure in a fixed system.”

Wide choice

Ms Nolan said lifting the cap on places was one way of “expanding the system”.

She added: “There are other ways where we can work more efficiently with our colleagues in the college sector, but we are keen to have the opportunity available to those attending higher education, if that is the right pathway for them. So that may involve expanding places.”

Ms Nolan said universities were keen to talk with the Scottish government about ensuring that “everybody who has the potential and ability to succeed at university gets that opportunity”.

Education Secretary John Swinney said work was under way to improve access to education for those from the most deprived backgrounds.

He told the BBC: “We have to work collaboratively with the universities, with other players in the education system to make sure we strengthen the attainment of young people and ensure that young people are able to have a wide choice of what destination they want to pursue.”

[Source:- BBC]

Headteacher who sent home 50 pupils for breaking school uniform rules vows to continue with strict policy


The headteacher who sent home 50 children for breaking school uniform rules has vowed to continue.

Matthew Tate, headmaster at Hatsdown Academy in Margate, Kent, defended his actions in an interview.

Mr Tate reaffirmed the school’s policy and said he and his staff will not be changing their uniform policy.

“We’ve had an overwhelming number of people bullied in year 7 for wearing the wrong uniform, and we won’t move from our stance,” he said on ITV’s This Morning.

“The fact is, I care far too much about the children in this school to allow them to do what they like and the reality is, if we’re ensuring those tough standards and ensuring our children are behaving, they will do well.”

The headmaster argued the rules were needed to improve the school.

“For too long, this school has been known for being a bit scruffy, and something’s got to change,” he argued.

The news should not come as surprise as Mr Tate said parents had been warned this would happen in a letter earlier this year, according to Kent Online.

“We wrote to parents to say we would be ensuring our uniform policy is adhered to and that if children were not in perfect uniform today they would be sent home. The majority of our parents are pleased with that.”

[Source:- independent]

Education policy ‘key to social mobility drive’

Alan Milburn

Ministers must put education policy at the centre of the drive to deliver social mobility, the Social Mobility Commission chairman has said.

Alan Milburn said an education system in England that left many lacking the skills they needed in the modern labour market must not be tolerated.

He called for a new target that by 2020 at least half of children from poor homes should achieve five good GCSEs.

Ministers say they want every child to reach their full potential.

Speaking at Teach First’s Impact Conference, Mr Milburn also suggested:

  • scrapping tuition fees for teacher training and housing support for existing teachers who worked in the worst schools in disadvantaged areas
  • the lowest performing 20% of schools were given intensive support or had wholesale change in leadership if they continued to fail
  • introducing a new school performance measure in 2018 to track pupil’s destinations into work or continued education

Mr Milburn said at current rates of progress, it would take at least 30 years for the educational attainment gap in schools between poorer and better-off children to halve.

And it would take more than 50 years before the gap in access to university was closed.

He told the conference: “The truth about our country is that over decades Britain has become wealthier but we have struggled to become fairer.

“The introduction of the pupil premium and other reforms are positive steps in the right direction.

“However, efforts to narrow the attainment gap within schools are not being given equal priority to the focus there has been in recent decades on raising the bar of improving all schools. They have to be doing both.

“We should no longer tolerate an education system that produces a cohort of youngsters who simply lack the skills to compete in the modern labour market.

“It will be impossible to make progress in improving social mobility until the educational attainment gap between less well-off and better-off children is closed.

“Our future success in a globally competitive economy relies on using all of our country’s talent not just some of it.”

Brett Wigdortz, founder and chief executive of Teach First, said: “Educational inequality is a slow burning injustice that goes unnoticed, but threatens the very fabric and foundations of a fair society.

“The fact that a child from a poorer background is less likely to succeed at school and life is totally at odds with a British sense of fair play.

“Following Brexit, it’s clear we need to invest in education, the communities and young people that have been left behind if we are to build a better Britain.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “This government is focused on making Britain a country that works for everyone.

“We are determined that every child, regardless of background, gender or ability, has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

“The pupil premium, now worth £2.5bn a year, is being spent to improve the education provided to children from the poorest backgrounds.”

[Source:- BBC]