Two years in the making, the 477-page draft National Education Policy 2019 report produced by a committee of nine academics chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan, an accomplished space scientist and former chairman of the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) — one of the few public sector enterprises to give a good account of its activities — is like the proverbial curate’s egg, good in parts. Certainly it is elaborate and comprehensive inasmuch as it examines every segment of the country’s collapsing education system from pre-primary to Ph D and adult education. Even if they are unaware of it, one of the greatest crimes committed against innocent children and youth of post-independence India by politicians, bureaucrats, the academy and establishment, is the neglect of education and development of the country’s high-potential human capital.
Since independence, several high-powered academic committees including the Kothari Commission (1966), the National Education Policy (1986/92), and the T.S.R. Subramanian Committee (2016) have recommended far-reaching reform of India’s education system, evidently to little avail. In particular, all of them — and indeed the election manifestos of almost all major political parties — have recommended that national expenditure (Centre plus states) on public education should be urgently raised to 6 percent of GDP. But that ideal has never been attained, mainly because of consistently rising establishment expenses of the Central and state governments, a blindspot of learned pundits monitoring the Indian economy.
Against this backdrop of Indian education caught in a tailspin, the KR Committee has made some constructive suggestions stressing the critical importance of early childhood care and education, bunching of government primary-secondaries into school complexes to enable resources sharing, curriculum and teacher development, integration of skills education at all levels, separation of the regulatory, operations, accreditation and assessment functions in schools and higher education institutions. But the consultation process adopted by the KR Committee, its poor market intelligence, naive faith in the reform capabilities of government, and archaic prejudice against private initiatives in education, are deep flaws of its comprehensive education reforms blueprint as discussed in our detailed cover story.
There’s a lot more in this bumper issue of EducationWorld. Check out our pictorial essay special report in which we celebrate private universities, engineering institutes, multi-disciplinary arts, science and commerce undergrad colleges and private B-schools which topped the recent EW India Private Higher Education Rankings league tables (EW May). High-potential private higher ed institutions tend to be sidelined, if not ignored, by mainstream media and the HRD ministry’s NIRF rankings. Also check out our EW Analytics feature in which we highlight the arguably more important state and city rankings of primary-secondaries in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana which were somewhat overshadowed by national rankings in the annual EW India School Rankings league tables 2018-19 published last September.