National Educational Policy 2019
Representative photo. Image credit - prashantchaturvedi.com

The draft National Education Policy (NEP) was discussed in Meghalaya on Thursday to understand the nitty-gritty of the policy whether it would suit or affect the state.

The hill state of Meghalaya has demanded that the Centre maintains status quo on Hindi subject and should not make the subject compulsory up to secondary level.

The state government also expressed concern as in the 448-page of the draft NEP, no mention was made about the contributions made by schools run by Christian missionaries to quality education in the state and the country.

The meeting was chaired by Meghalaya education minister Lahkmen Rymbui in the presence of other education officials and stakeholders.

“We have studied the national policy how it may affect the state and whether it is suitable for our state which has so many educational institutes run by religious bodies,” Rymbui said after the meeting.

Rymbui had also interacted separately with representatives of various religious minority institutions to understand the issues that affect their functioning.

“We cannot deny the fact that religious minority institutions played a very important role in changing the education landscape in our state and the country. The national policy did not mention about the role of school sponsoring bodies or school managing committees. We have taken the views of the minority run schools and we will talk to the Centre and seek its intervention,” Rymbui said.

The state will have to submit its views to the Centre on draft NEP by June 30.

Rymbui said that issues related to schooling were discussed thoroughly which include the age to start going to school is 3 years, the Right to Education Act should cover students till 18 years, and the division of the structure of education into four categories – pre-nursery to class II, classes III to V, classes VI to VIII, and classes IX to XII.

“If schooling has to start from the age of 3 till class XII (15 classes), this is a major issue we have to raise because many schools are facing space problem. If schooling start at the age of 3 years for pre-primary, the state which is facing financial crisis will have to see how it can provide fund to create infrastructure and appoint the teachers. We need to think how to take care of the secondary level from classes IX to XII, and who will fund these schools to upgrade them from classes X to class XII. These are issues that the state government wants the Centre to look into,” Rymbui stated.

On teachers’ education, Rymbui said that the national policy proposed that stand-alone institutions should be done away with, meaning B.Ed colleges have to be integrated to ensure they do not offer only one course, but there will be four-year degree course – BA+B.Ed or B.Com+B.Ed or B.Sc+B.Ed.

“According to the policy, some B.Ed colleges should be closed down. Whether we can make such colleges as extended campus of any government college is an issue to be taken up with the Centre. We also have seven District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), but the policy remained silent about the role of standalone institutions like DIETs,” the education minister said.

“We want to know whether these DIETs can become extended campus of different government colleges. We will take up with the Centre because one DIET has 17 teachers, and if the policy is to be implemented where will these teachers go,” he added.

On Hindi subject, Rymbui said that the proposed draft national policy mentioned the language should be made compulsory till secondary level.

“We will talk to the Centre that in respect to language policy, status quo should be maintained as at present, Hindi subject is compulsory from classes V to VIII in the state. There has also been strong resentment from various institutions and they demanded that status quo should be maintained when it comes to language policy,” Rymbui said.

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