The Concerns about New Education Policy
By: Sadaket Malik
The concerns expressed by a wide range of educationalists and policy makers with regards to the National Education Policy are coming true. The intentions of the central government to implement this policy in the country are no longer hidden from anyone and it is becoming more and clearer that the government is preparing to implement the policy with loud claims of bringing about revolutionary changes in the education sector.
It seems that a systematic plan has been made to introduce the policy and progress has been made towards it. According to a recent report in the Times of India, the National Institute of Open Schooling, an institution under the auspices of the Union Ministry of Education, has been vested with the responsibility of providing distance education and make arrangements for the teaching of Ramayana, Gita, Sanskrit and Yoga for the students. Immediately after the publication of this report by the Times of India, the Ministry of Education clarified that the orders given to the NIOS did not make it mandatory that every open school should have Ramayana, Gita, Sanskrit or yoga but it will remain an optional subject for all.
This explanation of the government officials is not acceptable because, in the end, why the government introduced such a policy for all including religious madrassas of the Muslims! The scheme is being launched in selected 100 madrassas across the country with 50,000 students. Although the status of these subjects is still optional, all these subjects can be made compulsory in the future. There is also a good chance that madrassas that refrain from including these subjects in their curriculum will have no support from the government.
NIOS is an institution affiliated with the Central Ministry of Education that provides educational opportunities for non-formal learners. It is benefiting millions of students who, for one reason or another, have not been able to get formal education in schools and colleges. Among the Muslims, the students who get religious education benefit largely by this medium of education. On the one hand, they have religious education and also get a chance to study sciences and they also get degrees in in different subjects.
As a result of introducing this new policy, the leaders of many religious madrassas in the country, not realizing the dangers of the future, affiliated their madrassas with NIOS and started seeking government assistance. These heads of religious madrassas may have fallen prey to the delusion that in a free and democratic country like India, all citizens have the right to religious freedom, and with the help of the government, they will work hard to equip their nation with religious education. But these responsible religious seminaries may have failed to understand the tacit dangerous of this policy.
The government claims that the subjects included in the syllabus of the religious madrassas are aimed at making the students studying here and become 100% “Indian”. The question arises as to whether the students who have graduated from these religious schools so far were not 100% Indians. Can any government investigative agency prove that the students of these religious schools have done anything that has brought the country into disrepute or that they have ever conspired against the country? In the 200-year history of Indian madrassas, no such incident has taken place.
It is a historical fact that India’s struggle for independence began with these religious schools. It would be ridiculous to make them 100% Indian now. It is also being said that it will bring students of religious schools into the “mainstream”. Aren’t these children of the nation part of Indian society now? It seems strange to marginalize a class by completely depriving it of its “national fruits” and then to talk about bringing the children of that nation into the national mainstream.
NIOS President Saroj Sharma said that under the new education policy, 100 madrassas have been selected to combine traditional Indian sciences and Indian culture with the new knowledge and the curriculum will be included in another 500 madrassas in the future. If the development and promotion of Indian culture is the goal, then the teachings of all the religions of the country and their basic principles must be included in the curriculum besides the constitutional knowledge of this country instead of influencing the minds of children by including the traditions of a particular religion. It is in the best interest and it cannot bring any educational revolution in the country.
There have been lots of discussions with regards to the policy and the informed circles knew that the only purpose of implementing this education policy in the country is to bring in religiosity into the curricular landscape. Ever since the new national education policy was unveiled in 2019, there have been fears that the aim of the education policy is to overthrow the country’s existing education system and move students towards a particular religion and culture in the name of nationalism. The Muslim religious schools, in particular, were closely monitored.
For the sake of the glory of the existing education policies and for celebrating the much known religious, cultural and scientific vibrancy that India has, once and again, showcased to the world, such policies that are driven by religiosity must not be approved. India is a thriving economy and its schools, Madrassa’s, religious institutions, colleges as well as universities have been a beacon of light for other countries and that trend should not be replaced at all.