The New Education Policy (NEP) of the present government is effectively in cold storage, with the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) still contemplating on its future. Though HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that a re-draft of the NEP can be expected in a few months and while the Ministry, too, has stated in the Rajya Sabha that “it will take more time”, sources within the ministry say that a new committee for re-drafting the NEP has not been formed, yet.
A source within the ministry said, “Some suggestions were made for the chairman’s position of the committee, but nobody has been short-listed. There has been no progress on the formation of the committee which will be responsible for re-drafting the NEP.”
Earlier, the MHRD had announced that a new committee to re-draft NEP would be formed after it decided to discard a similar report that was drafted under T.S.R. Subramanian.
The Subramanian committee submitted its report to the government in May 2016, suggesting measures to improve the sector that caters to over 300 billion students.
Sources close to the ministry say that no substantive work is being done on the policy as there are chances that the strategy laid down by former HRD Minister Smriti Irani might witness changes under Javadekar. Sources have confirmed that though Javadekar had announced the decision to form a new panel for the New Education Policy, a final decision has not been taken on who will be part of the new panel and who will lead it. Furthermore, the delay can be “intentional” too.
A source close to the ministry said, “Since the government is half-way through its tenure and there are only two years left until the 2019 general elections, any major policy implementation won’t get enough time to deliver results. So there is a possibility that the delay on any important announcements regarding the NEP is intentional. The government might choose to work on the policy silently and if it gets re-elected, it might use the whole new five-year tenure to announce and implement changes.” Experts had said that if the new education policy that was envisioned by Smriti Irani had become a reality, it would have had major implications as Irani had tried to include all states, prominent institutions and educationists, as well as opinion of the general public, in obtaining inputs on what the New Education Policy should be like.
A source said, “Non-cooperation of the states was a major challenge for Irani. That is why, under the new Education Minister, the focus might not be on bringing one huge policy for different reforms. Instead, he might work on bringing reforms on various levels without a blanket policy.”
However, another source within the ministry said, “The former minister did not face any out-of-the-box challenges. There were differences of opinion between the Centre and states like Karnataka, etc., but nothing was unbridgeable. Yes, it is true that the new panel for NEP has not yet been formed. We might have to wait a little longer to know the government’s strategy on the subject.” Speaking on the issue, Amit Chandra, who has been part of primary education reforms, said, “Even if there is no blanket policy that defines all the reforms that are needed, we can manage as long as the stakeholders continue to work for betterment. The ultimate goal is to bring in positive changes and take corrective measures. Since education is primarily a state subject, a lot of work depends on state governments and their willingness to implement the guidelines or policy drafted at the Centre. I believe that education policy or no education policy, required reforms should be brought in at the earliest.”
However, Lokesh Mehra, director of workforce development at Oracle, said, “We should have at least some kind of framework policy. A policy helps define the basic outcome, which is needed to achieve across various levels. Without a policy, implementation cannot be 100% guaranteed. States can improvise, but a common code of development and learning outcomes should be available for all.”