Bengaluru: Former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, who had championed the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) and got it passed in the State Assembly, threatened to launch a statewide agitation along with parents and education institutions following Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s decision to scrap the policy from the next academic year, even as academics expressed mixed feelings about the issue.
“The move by Siddaramaiah is nothing but gambling on the future of the children. When a system which is there across the country is not available in the state, how are our children going to compete?" Bommai told the media while reacting to the move by the new Congress regime.
Karnataka was the first state to implement the NEP under the earlier BJP government.
Bommai told reporters, "It is a great sin to undermine our children's future and scrap the NEP for politics. The policy is designed to suit the needs of the present day. The blueprint of NEP was consented by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government between 2013 to 2018. The expert committee headed by Kasturirangan had worked behind it. Kasturirangan who evolved the policy of education for Karnataka state, has framed the NEP for the whole country."
"CM Siddaramaiah should not see the NEP with prejudiced eyes. He should rather consider the future of students, especially from rural areas”, he said.
Earlier, Siddaramaiah had accused the BJP of hindering the interest of students by implementing NEP in Karnataka, even before the other states could do so.
“The NEP must be abolished after the necessary preparations, which could not be done on time this year. By the time the state election results were out (this May) and the new government was formed, the academic year had already started.”
Making changes to NEP in the middle of the academic session would have created problems, he said.
Academics give mixed reactions
Meanwhile, academics in Karnataka had mixed reactions to Siddaramaiah’s announcement.
Madangopal M, who headed the task force for the implementation of NEP in the state, said, “There are some good points in NEP. The government should have continued with those, rather than discard it completely, without understanding the nitty-gritties.”
NEP includes many structural and academic reforms, along with incorporation of progressive measures in teacher education, skill development, a multi-disciplinary approach towards education and flexibility in choosing subjects, which should have been retained, he added.
However, Niranjanaradhya, an educationist, was quoted in the media as saying that the government should form a new committee as soon as possible as policy formulation takes time. “The policy should clearly spell out the vision for the next 15-20 years,” he said, adding that the focus should be on quality and equitable distribution of educational facilities
Meanwhile, All-India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) welcomed the government’s decision to scrap the four-year degree course rule proposed under NEP.
Ajay Kamath, AIDSO state secretary, was quoted in the media as saying that “A four-year degree course is not the only problem that higher education in the state is saddled with. AIDSO appeals to the government to spare a thought about other issues as well, including increase in admission fees, shortage of faculty, shortage of hostels and the long delays in granting scholarships.”