“The New Education Policy will offer a new vision of modern thought and growth in science, technology and human values”
“In school education, we discovered that students don’t get time for anything other than completing their curriculum. It is a crammed curriculum, which is not needed. The world over, books are so simple because education is comprehension, communication, analysis. But our system became rot-learning by memorising the answer sheet, which is not education. The basic component of education is to develop a human being into a good one. And how will it be done? A student must play, should be imparted with human-value education, life skill-based education, physical education–all need to be done. So, we have decided to half the curriculum and that is what we are going ahead with,” said Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in an exclusive interview with Deepak Kumar Rath, Editor, and Nirmal Jain, Bureau Chief, on the occasion of completion of four years of Modi government at the Centre. Excerpts:
As per your manifesto for 2014 general election for promotion of education in the country, to what extent have you been successful in achieving the goal?
Practically, this is one sector we have really done complete transformation with the inspiration from our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, who has a great interest for the uplift of the education sector. Therefore, we have achieved 90 per cent of what we mentioned in our manifesto. First and foremost, the government school system during the UPA regime practically collapsed. They cancelled the examination system–No-Detention Policy. There was no exam from class Ist to practically class IXth. Therefore, you find survey after survey that an VIIIth class student could not solve Vth class math; VIIth class student could not solve IVth class math. In fact, they couldn’t even read the text. This happened because there was no accountability. Many schools became only mid-day schools. Against this backdrop, what we have done is introducing Learning Outcomes. Now everything is defined as to what students must learn in each class and in each subject. How to achieve that is taught to teachers and it will be their responsibility, students’ responsibility, parents’ responsibility, schools’ responsibility how to attain those Learning Outcomes. So, we have changed No-Detention Policy and have introduced Learning Outcomes. And there will exams in class Vth and VIIIth in March 2019. Also we have given training to many untrained teachers. This is world’s largest teachers’ learning programme, where 15 lakh teachers are simultaneously learning–online and offline, on TV and through computers. They get tutorial, lectures, discussion forms and then examination and certification are held.
What steps have you taken to reduce the burden of education on students?
In school education, we discovered that students don’t get time for anything other than completing their curriculum. It is a crammed curriculum, which is not needed. The world over, books are so simple because education is comprehension, communication, analysis. But our system became rot-learning by memorising the answer sheet, which is not education. The basic component of education is to develop a human being into a good one. And how will it be done? A student must play, should be imparted with human-value education, life skill-based education, physical education–all need to be done. So, we have decided to half the curriculum and that is what we are going ahead with. Now, we have decided to enhance the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which was initiated by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. We have brought out Smagra Shiksha Scheme, which aims at unifiying learning from pre-school to class 12 levels by treating education holistically as continuum from pre-school to class 12. It encapsulates elements of previous scheme and focuses on digital education by giving emphasis on integration of two Ts–Teacher and Technology. The scheme envisages active participation of all stakeholders especially parents, school management committee (SMC) members, community and state functionaries towards efforts to ensure quality education to children. It also extends benefits of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme, under which girls from disadvantaged sections are provided education with hostel facility from class 6-8 to class 6-12.
What initiatives have you taken to modernise higher education?
As far as higher education is concerned, we have taken three initiatives–quality initiative, autonomy initiative and research and innovation. Six innovation centres, Atal Incubation Centres, Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana, Smart India Hackathon, in which last year 40, 000 students participated and this year one lakh students are participating–so all put together, it is inculcation and pushing-up of the research and innovation, which is the real capital creation for the future of India. Then there is RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan), under which it is ensured that no poor student is deprived of quality education due to lack of financial means. Also RUSA would create new universities through upgradation of existing autonomous colleges and conversion of colleges in a cluster. It would create new model degree colleges, new professional colleges and provide infrastructural support to universities and colleges. Faculty recruitment support, faculty improvements programmes and leadership development of educational administrators are also an important part of the scheme. In order to enhance skill development, the existing central scheme of Polytechnics has been subsumed within RUSA. At the same time, we have expanded seven IITs, seven IIMs, 141 universities (state and private), started four central universities. On the autonomy front, the Indian Institute of Management Bill is passed; we also granted autonomy to 17 universities–all the moves are in right direction and the world is appreciating them.
You said that you are focussing on autonomy to universities and colleges, but there is a lot of protest…
No, there is no protest. We have not started it. It has been there since 1970s and 635 colleges that existed are autonomous. However, it is not compulsory. Who is eligible, we tell them. If they apply, we process it, and if they don’t, we don’t force them.
It is alleged that autonomy would enhance fee structure.
No. It is all humbug. In fact, those who are hurling such accusations don’t want accountability. As far as centrally-funded universities are concerned, we provide funds to them and there is fee only Rs 50 and we are not increasing even Re 1. So, where is the issue? But they don’t want to be autonomous, let them remain as they are.
What about the development on replacing UGC, AICTE and NCTE with single regulator?
We are processing and discussing the concept.
But when will it exactly be implemented?
We have not prepared the Bill. If we prepare the Bill, then it will go to the Cabinet and then to the Parliament. It takes time. But the issue is we
have already started reforming UGC and aligning processes of all the three regulators–UGC, AICTE, NCTE–so that there is ease of processes and quality benchmarking and outcome-based inspections.
You just mentioned about human-value education. Please elaborate.
Human values are truthfulness, sadachar, believe in others, brotherhood, respect for others, unity in diversity–these are the values. These are the values that we want to inculcate into the students.
What are the other initiatives the government is taking?
Twenty initiatives taken by the government are all new ones, which were not taken by the previous Congress governments. There is National Digital Library, where there are one crore seventy lakh books in your computer. Then there is National Academic Depository, where, like de-mat shares, there would be de-mat degrees. Then there is Swayam scheme, under which, currently, 1,032 courses are offered. About 22 lakh students are undergoing these courses through this affordable platform launched last year. It makes knowledge available anytime anywhere like ATM offers cash, and it can be termed ATL–Anytime Learning. And all this is free of cost.
It is alleged that today students are very stressed out. Against this backdrop, the leakage of question papers further aggravates the situation.
I would like to say that there was only one paper that got leaked because of one person’s fault. He will get the severe punishment. We are now making a leak-proof system. Therefore, we have now established National Testing Agency (NTA).
What is the role of National Testing Agency?
It will conduct only examinations. In fact, the National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization will conduct entrance examinations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country. The NTA would initially conduct those entrance examinations, which are currently being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The examinations will be conducted in online mode twice a year in order to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best. In order to serve the requirements of the rural students, NTA would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would provide hands-on training to the students.
Education standards in private schools are still considered to be higher than those in government schools.
Today, the CBSE result for XIIth class is out. The total passing percentage is 84, in which government schools secured 88 per cent, whereas private schools’ percentage is 82. What is more, Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas got 98 per cent results. So, the government schools are doing much better than private schools.
Your government is committed to bringing out a New Education Policy from 2020 to 2040. What is the present status?
I can say with certainty that this New Education Policy will be for the next 20 years, which will take the country to the next level. It will offer a new vision of modern thought and growth in science, technology and human values. It will ensure that good human beings and good citizens are nurtured. It will ensure that the quality of education improves and research and innovation are facilitated. For this, a good policy is in the works. By June-end, the report will be submitted, and after that, it will be discussed at proper forums. Then, it will go the Cabinet, and thereafter, this policy will be declared. After that, some parts will start from 2019 and some parts from 2020. By 2021, all the accepted initiatives of the Policy will come into effect.
Do you think that the New Education Policy will be free from the influence of the western system of education?
It is not western or eastern…
Swami Vivekananda said that we are pursuing the western education system, whereas India should have its own education system. Also BJP advocates this viewpoint.
Today, what we are delivering is the Indian education system and we will be delivering more the Indian education system.