GS2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

What is the issue?

  • Subsequent to the submission of the draft National Education Policy 2019, there were protests against the three language formula.
  • The controversial provision was thus revised by Dr. Kasturirangan-led committee that submitted it.

BACKGROUND

  • Education plays a pivotal role in the social life of Indian society since its inception.
  • In ancient India, religion played a vital role in spreading and deciding education in the society.
  • Modern education in India was introduced by British in 18th Macaulay minutes and Wood’s Despatch gave further impetus to the modern education in India.
  • After independence, Radhakrishnan commission, in 1948 appointed to study about the University education.
  • The D.S. Kothari Education Commission was appointed to deal with all aspects and sectors of education and to advise Government on the evolution of a National System in of Education for the country.
  • Based on this Commission’s report, the National Policy on Education 1968 was formulated.
  • Major recommendations such as 10+2+3 Pattern, Use of regional language, Education for the people and The Common School System.

Major proposals in old and new policies

  • Earlier provision – Students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6.
  • But this is only as long as the study of 3 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.
  • Likewise, study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English.
  • New change – Students who wish to change one or more of the 3 languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7.
  • This is only as long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level).
  • This will be as per their modular Board Examinations held sometime during secondary school.

DISCUSSION

Issues persisting in the primary education

  • The draft NEP acknowledges a “severe learning crisis” in India, where children in primary school fail to attain basic math and reading skills.
  • A large number of children currently in elementary school — perhaps over 5 crore — cannot read and understand basic text and solve simple addition and subtraction problems, the report states. Many of them eventually drop out.
  • Attributing a major part of this crisis to a “tragic deficiency” in early childhood care and education (ECCE) of children in the age group 3-6 years.
  • The draft recommends that early childhood care and education (ECCE) be made an integral part of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
  • To ensure continuity from pre-primary to primary schools, the draft advocates bringing all aspects of ECCE under the purview of the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Major recommendations of the Draft policy

  • While the 1986 education policy push for a uniform 10+2 structure, the 2018 draft pitches for reconfiguration of curriculum and pedagogy in a “5+3+3+4” design.
  • It also recognises different stages of development of cognitive abilities in children.
  • This corresponds to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory stage), 11-14 (middle stage), and 14-18 (secondary stage).
  • Redesigning of school curriculum for Grades 1 to 5 to include dedicated mathematics and reading hours every day.
  • In addition to that, activities that relate classroom maths to real-life maths, weekly puzzle-solving sessions to inculcate logical thinking, and language and maths-focused morning assemblies.
  • A ‘National Tutors Programme’ that will enrol the best performers of each school for up to five hours a week as tutors for students who have fallen behind.
  • A ‘Remedial Instructional Aides Programme’ to draw instructors from the
  • Local community to hold remedial classes during schools hours, after school hours and during summer vacations for students who need help.
  • A school preparation module to be prepared by NCERT for all Grade 1 students to ensure they have the required learning levels (letters, shapes, colours, numbers) before starting the Grade 1 syllabus.
  • Vacancies to be filled urgently to ensure a pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1.
  • A nutritious breakfast, in addition to the midday meal, for improved learning.

 Persisting contentions

  • As per the earlier version, the committee stipulated the languages that students must choose to study from Grade 6.
  • In the revised draft, the committee has merely omitted the references to the language that students may choose.
  • However, the broader recommendation regarding the implementation of a three-language formula remains.
  • In other words, the revised draft retains the recommendation to introduce a three-language formula from Class 1 onwards.
  • It simply removes the clause stipulating the specific languages that students must choose in Grade 6.
  • Also, the revision was not done by the Central government but by the committee that drafted the policy.

Centre’s rationale on the issue

  • The draft policy’s push for Hindi seems to be based on the premise that 54% of Indians speak Hindi.
  • However, according to the 2001 Census, 52 crore out of 121 crore people identified Hindi as their language.
  • About 32 crore people declared Hindi as their mother tongue.
  • This means that Hindi is the language of less than 44% Indians and mother tongue of only little over 25% people in India.
  • But there has been greater push for making Hindi a pan-India language, which is seen as imposition of Hindi by many states, especially that of the South India.

Evolution of Hindi as an official language

  • Constituent Assembly – The debate over Hindi has been raging since Independence.
  • The Constituent Assembly witnessed heated exchanges over the use and scope of Hindi.
  • The Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights of the Constituent Assembly recommended the following:
  • Hindustani, written either in Devanagari or the Persian script at the option of the citizen, shall, as the national language, be the first official language of the Union.
  • English shall be the second official language for such period as the Union may, by law, determine.
  • Constitution – Article 343 of the Constitution prescribes Hindi as written in Devanagari script as the official language of the government along with English for 15 years initially.
  • However, it has been extended subsequently without any scientific considerations.
  • Clearly, the Constitution did not declare Hindi as the ‘national language’.
  • It rather accorded Hindi the status of ‘official language’ along with English.

Way forward

  • Language is primarily a utilitarian tool than a political plank.
  • While acquisition of additional tools can indeed be beneficial, compulsory learning should be limited to one’s mother tongue.
  • Besides, English, as the language that provides access to global knowledge and as a link language within India, could be a supportive language.
  • Given this, not everyone is satisfied by the changes, and the three-language formula itself is seen as an unnecessary imposition.

# Practice Question

  1. What are the challenges faced by the education sector in India? Do you think the present educational policies are capable enough to address these challenges? (250 Words)
Share This