The policy will aggravate the issues affecting the Indian education sector stated eminent scientists
The draft of the New Education Policy 2016 (NEP) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) fails to identify the main issues affecting the Indian education sector opined a section of the scientific community form Kerala. The scientists added that the proposed measures might aggravate the issues instead of addressing them.
This is the third NEP that will be introduced in the country after the previous ones dating 1968 and 1986 failed to provide an “equitable education system”.
The draft policy states that there is rampant commercialization in the Indian education sector. Added to this is the burgeoning number of often substandard private educational institutions. Francis Kalathunkal, general convener of the Breakthrough Science Society stated that the policy has no provisions for an efficient and well funded government school and college system to tackle the proliferation of substandard private educational institutions. He stated that the government instead seeks to increase privatization of education with tax breaks and incentives.
The scientists are also crictical of what they call the tacit Hindutva agenda of the government. They noted that that the preamble to the policy draft states that, "The Education System which was evolved first in ancient India is known as the Vedic system and it proposes ways of building synergies and linkages, providing mentoring and advice between ashram shalas and nearby secondary schools."
"There is no harm in any religious- or theology-based education, be it Hindu, Christian or Muslim, yet all should be aimed at value-based education that helps build the character of an individual," stated an eminent scientist.
Another scientist added that there is a great lack of laboratories in Indian schools and consequently an absence of a culture of experimentation. The learning thus become limited to theoretical lessons form often substandard textbooks.
"We teach students what science has found, but do not teach how science has found them. The method of science and the life and struggles of great scientists are not included in the curriculum. Naturally, students learn science just as any other subject without understanding that it is a guide to thinking. That is why we see so many people who are science literates subscribing to all sorts of unscientific beliefs and superstitions," the scientists noted.
Speaking to a national daily, Praveen Raj, senior scientist at CSIR-National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) stated, "Science textbooks are overloaded, yet there is no building block to experiment. Science is the only saviour for the mankind. Therefore, education should promote scientific temper. Science students should be told in the beginning itself that there is no Bible and no God in Science. Only then, they can challenge existing paradigms and invent out-of-box thinking."
"In Kerala, we had discussed about the draft NEP-2016 and share a common perception with BSS. Education is not to make a person just fit for a job or to make profit, it should be aimed at making a person think the right and scientific way. Value-based education has no priority and instead it looks at education as a business to invest and earn profits," lamented Dr E Sreekumaran Head of the Department of life Sciences at the University of Calicut.