New National Education Policy in doldrums

New Delhi: The roll-out of the new National Education Policy (NEP) under work since the Modi government assumed power in May 2014 has been further delayed, this time because of Prime Minister Modi’s intervention to direct the Human Resources Development Ministry to rework on certain issues in the draft NEP before finalising it.

The PM’s intervention means putting on the back burner a Bill promised to be brought before Parliament during the current budget session to implement the new policy.

Sources said the PM acted after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) went through every detail in the draft NEP, seeking clarifications and directing the ministry to make the necessary changes both in the higher education and secondary education segments.

The last NEP was revised in 1986. The new NEP has been the ruling BJP’s agenda in every manifesto and Prime Minister Modi promised the new NEP soon after coming to power in 2014.

Two former Human Resources Development Miniters – Smriti Irani and Prakash Javadekar – formed own committees to draft the NEP. While Irani tasked TSR Subramanian-led committee to suggest recommendations, Javadekar rejected the committee’s report and disbanded it. Instead, he formed another panel chaired by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan. The committee began work on the policy in July 2017.

“The HRD Ministry will now have to amend the draft NEP policy document on a war footing to seek the Cabinet approval since the PM desires that the policy incorporating the suggested changes is put it before the Cabinet at the earliest. The PM wanted the related Bill tabled in the current session that closes on April 3,” the ministry sources said.

The PMO shot down the NEP draft seeking to bring the pre-primary education from age three onwards with the purview of the HRD Ministry. It directed that the existing system of early childhood education should be continued with the Women & Child Development Ministry.

It sought education to the age group of 3-5 years continued under the WCD ministry while the HRD Ministry take over from five years onwards.

The PMO is learnt to have also directed the HRD ministry to omit the clauses on the state regulatory bodies for schools, citing objections from many states.

It also disapproved the proposed policy envisaging four regulatory bodies in the case of the higher education as it would only create complications and overlapping, suggesting that there should be only one overarching body of the higher education regulator. The PMO said it found no specific changes that can enable the foreign investments in the higher education as envisaged by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget on February 1.

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