The chairperson of the New Education Policy (NEP) draft expert committee is expecting the government to make the NEP draft recommendations public soon. T.S.R. Subramanian, former Cabinet Secretary, told The Sunday Guardian that he may not do so himself ahead of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), though he had announced earlier that he would do so. He added that he had come across some “shocking revelations” regarding the country’s education scenario.
“This is a policy that will affect the future of the country, so it cannot be treated as gossip. When I will be revealing or if I’ll be revealing it shouldn’t be the concern here. The real issue is the policy itself and that should be the focus. I am waiting for the government to make the NEP recommendations submitted by the expert committee public. I am expecting it will be done soon; so inform me, too, as soon as it goes out in the media,” Subramanian said.
“We learned a lot during the process of making recommendations. There were some shocking revelations that we hadn’t expected to come across. As we tried to determine the reasons for the poor health of education, we came across some ugly facts like the post of a Vice-Chancellor is ‘sold’ for Rs 27 crore and a post graduate student aiming to become a skin specialist has to ‘pay’ Rs 4 crore for a seat. From where do these people generate this kind of money? Obviously, a doctor’s first target would be to get his money back. Capitation fees are illegal, but the practice prevails unregulated,” he said.
The committee prepared the NEP recommendations to the MHRD after a thorough examination of over 29,000 online suggestions and “thematic consultations” with institutions like the University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education, the National Council for Teacher Education, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and several Centrally-funded universities and institutions. Six zonal meetings were held by the HRD Minister in the eastern, central, north-eastern, western, southern and northern zones, covering all states and union territories.
Subramanian condemned the current literacy scenario and said, “In survey reports, it has been revealed that 25% of Class 5 students in the country couldn’t read Class 2 books. Can anything get worse than this? A FICCI report established that only 10-15% engineers in the country are employable. This is depressing. When we were drafting our recommendations, half-way across, we could see the two biggest challenges that NEP had to be equipped for—first, a sharp upgrade of our system and second, large scale improvement in the quality of our education from primary to higher education level. Education agencies like the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, too, have failed to deliver substantial results.”
The process to revamp the education policy was started by the MHRD last year. It has been almost three decades since any changes were made to the 1986 education policy to which amendments were last made in 1992. “There are glaring discrepancies in the announcement and implementation of the last education policy. A systematic failure in implementation is largely responsible for the present shortcomings,” Subramanian said.
“India has vast and talented human resources, but we haven’t been able to bridge the gap between our cities and villages. A young village student with potential has to face a lot of social challenges in big cities, like in the case of Rohith Vemula who was from a different background. We need to create more inclusive opportunities for our youth to withstand stigma,” Subramanian said.
The Centre had formed the Subramanian-headed committee last year. The other members of the committee were former National Capital Territory Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra, former Delhi Home Secretary Sevaram Sharma, former Gujarat Chief Secretary Sudhir Mankad and former NCERT Director J.S. Rajput.