KOLKATA: The National Education Policy 2020 and its provisions have elicited mixed reactions from educationists, faculty members, teachers’ associations and senior officials in Bengal. While some praised the mobility and uniformity, which the new policy will bring in, others criticized its “over-centralization of the country’s education system”.
Academics pointed out that under the new policy announced on Wednesday, the Class-X board examinations were being replaced with a US-styled education system, where school years were divided into foundational stage, preparatory stage, middle stage and the secondary stage. Instead of an exit examination in Class X, so far, the first public exam for students, they would now have to appear for their first board exams in Class XII, they said. Students may also choose to exit the programme in Class X and re-enter in Class XI later.
West Bengal Government Teachers’ Association general secretary Saugata Basu said in the final four years from Class IX to XII, there would be eight semesters, meaning evaluation would have to be conducted after every semester. “This will require a massive overhaul of the current infrastructure,” Basu said, adding that the state would have to form a liaison in implementing the NPE 2020. A school principal pointed out that multiple suggestions that stakeholders made in the draft policy found no reflection in the policy changes.
For higher education, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, said, “In the undergraduate courses, the three-year system has been replaced with a four-year course. Students will be offered a certificate at the end of the first year, a diploma after completing the second year and a degree at the end of the fourth-year programme. Thereafter, they can choose to pursue post-graduation for a year. The concept of MPhil has been done away with and candidates can directly take admissions for research. There are multiple entries and exits allowing more mobility to students.” He added that the NEP 2020 provisions had paved the way for centralizing the entire higher education system. “In absence of a common syllabus, doing away with the UGC model curriculum, where universities were given the free hand to alter 20% of the syllabus and include diversion, depending on the regional requirements, have been erased. Rather, all universities will have a common syllabus without which such mobility can’t be allowed in the education system,” he said.
The principal of a college affiliated to Calcutta University said the NEP 2020 would spell a doom for state universities. “The academic autonomy is now indirectly curtailed.” she said.
The RBU vice-chancellor, however, said one of the reasons to feel optimistic about the policy and its provision was that within 2035, the Gross Enrolment Ratio would have to go up to 50%, which was encouraging.
Sankhayan Choudhury, general secretary of Calcutta University Teachers’ Association, criticized the move. “Segregation of universities into teaching and research institutions goes against the very idea of a university, where research and teaching have to go hand in hand,” he said. JUTA general secretary Partha Pratim Ray felt NEP 2020 “had set back education in India by at least a century”.