The ambitious National Education Policy (NEP) has gone into the works yet again to specifically address some key contentious issues, and this could result in a further delay in its implementation despite the Government’s plans to table a Bill in this regard in the current Budget Session of Parliament.
In a review meeting a couple of days ago, sources said, the Prime Minister's Office asked the HRD Ministry to rework on certain issues in the draft NEP before being finalised and brought in the Union Cabinet for its approval.
Sources said that the PMO went through every detail in the NEP and while seeking clarifications also directed to make the necessary changes both in the higher education and secondary education segments.
"The HRD Ministry will now have to amend the NEP policy document on a war footing to seek Cabinet approval as the PMO has desired that the NEP be brought in during the current Budget Session of Parliament," sources said.
In the wake of controversy over language in State education system, the PMO suggested that NEP should not impose any language on the States but at the same time ensure that the existing three-language formula is continued.
While the NEP draft has talked about bringing the pre-primary education from age three onwards within the purview of the HRD Ministry, the PMO said that the existing system of early childhood education be continued with Women & Child Development (WCD) Ministry.
It said this should be reworked with age group 3-5 years being under the WCD Ministry and five years onwards under the HRD Ministry. The PMO is also learnt to have asked the HRD Ministry to omit the clause of State regulatory bodies for schools as objections have been reported to the PMO by the States.
The PMO also raised doubts as to why there are four channels in higher education regulations which seem to be complicated and there has to be one overarching body of the higher education regulator.
On the issue of restructuring of higher education regulatory system, NEP advocates for a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) as regulator and recommends three independent bodies working simultaneously - General Education Council (GEC) for academic standards, the National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) for accreditation functions and the third one Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding.
A new NEP has been the ruling BJP's agenda in every manifesto and soon after coming to power in May 2104, the Modi government promised to transform educational system with a new NEP. The last NEP was revised in 1986.
Two former HRD Ministers - Smriti Irani and Prakash Javadekar -formed their own committees to draft the NEP. While Irani tasked T.S.R. Subramanian Committee to suggest recommendations for the policy, Javadekar rejected the Subramanian panel's report and disbanded the committee and formed another chaired by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K. Kasturirangan. The committee began work on the policy in July 2017.