New Education Policy 2020: Binding or breaking the barrier?

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Author : Hetvi Vashi.

The National Education Policy 2020 upgrade has brought a mixed opinion among different parts of the country, particularly diverse reactions with the three language policy completely differing the opinions in North and South Indian states.

The NEP has focused a lot on moulding the education according to the need of this era, which consists of introducing special subjects like coding, carpentry, etc and there will not be any rigid distinction between Arts and Science subjects and scrapping out the 10+2 system . There will be inclusion of breakfast in the midday meal scheme for government schools and will include setting up of gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for providing help and support to the socially and economically backward classes. Special emphasis is also laid on the recruitment of teachers, that is, by establishing a common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST).

Another amendment, has been regarding the languages, which proposes that the school education for children upto Class 5, and preferentially till Class 8, will be catered to in the mother tongues of the students. The curriculum will include classical languages like Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit at all levels and foreign languages will also be taught to the secondary school level.

The idea of having the fundamental pillars of education set in the minds of the children in their mother tongues can sync with the objective of giving them better clarity, comprehension and understanding of concepts. But, language specificity is a difficult implementation, considering that every state has their own inherent inclination to a particular language.

NEP, however, firmly puts forth that, “no language will be imposed on any student”.

Controversy about imposing ‘Hindi’ mandatory in schools

There was a lot of controversy revolving around the draft of NEP, because of its attempts of imposing Hindi as a mandatory language in the schools. Though, the draft was worked upon after strong opposition from South Indian states.

After the release of NEP 2020, a lot of speculations were rife about the policy imposing the languages of Hindi and Sanskrit. It was strongly opposed particularly by the Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu and also by south Indian states citing that Hindi was imposed as a ‘third’ language apart from English and their state language. And, Hindi would be a part of their curriculum till Class 8.

What followed after the draft was a series of strong protests from the DMK and AIADMK parties, which are the primary political parties in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said, “We are saddened by the three-language formula introduced by the central government in National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Our state is already following two-language policy (of Tamil and English) for decades and there will be no changes in it.”

Following the strong protests, the Draft was Amended and Hindi was no longer to be a compulsory language in schools.

The revised draft quoted, “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school.”

Though NEP 2020 has been projected by its way as ‘student-friendly’ and to adhere to the mould students as per their forthcoming career prospects, it has been termed as the tool of the government (BJP party along with RSS) to influence the sculpture the educational framework according to their personal choices.

Origin of Language-Politics:

Taking side any negative elements, language politics has a deep-rooted growth in our country, right from the country’s independence. Conventionally, in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a pattern followed of ‘bhasha’ medium schools, even by the well-to-do and rich families. It was preconceived that only the children from elite families could pursue education in the expensive English-medium schools.

According to the Constitution 1949, Hindi was to be the official language in the Devanagiri script. And, there was a temporary law about English language. In the 1960s, Hindi along with English was used. But, ‘Hindi’ started becoming a trouble when states in south India started reorganizing based on their linguistic preference and comfort. Though, the Constitution has left it on the state legislature to choose any one of the languages spoken in the state along with or without Hindi as the official language. Conclusively, it can be stated that the gist of these Amendments is that the children in our country learn to read, write, speak and acknowledge as many languages as possible. So, whether it is Hindi, English or other state-specific language, it is ultimately for the linguistic development of the students.

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