NEW EDUCATION POLICY UMPIRED BY WTO-GATS AND RSS IS A DEATH KNELL TO OUR NATION’S SOVEREIGNTY
article from Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IITM.
(you can reach them on their facebook page)
Our Nation’s whole education sector is under severe irrecoverable systemic crisis. This is evidenced from the prevailing deterioration in central universities, state universities and their affiliated colleges (where 95% of the students study) due to inadequate financing by government, leading to poor infrastructure, poor governance, corruption and bribe in appointments of teachers and government intervention in the appointments of VCs.
Since 1970 – after the government declared that, it is incapable of providing free quality education to all its citizens[i] It opened the doors of education sector to private entities to plunder. The result starkly visible in the current condition of thousands of engineering colleges and B-Schools. On one side lakhs of B.E. and MBA seats are vacant, while many of the students who aspire for education are either denied entry or drop out due to their social and economic condition. The status of R&D has not to be mentioned separately as its umbilical cord is connected with the interest of none other than the corporate industries.
The school education is has also not fared any better. When a middle class parent has to spend 50% of the income for their wards education, it is not even plausible for the toiling mass to dream off. The quality of education, for those who can afford is also poor. It made the younger generation a mere ‘mark generating machines’ with low moral values, lack of creative and critical thinking and without self-esteem, social consciousness or calibre to dissent. Thus we say, even after 180 years of implementation of Macaulay education by British in association with the already existing caste-based hierarchical discriminative system, the State staggered, failed and run counter to its own on its education policy.
(Ambedkar-Periyar Study circle is an independent student body at IIT Madras which was founded in 2014. Over past two years it has carried out a number of activities aimed at initiating discussions on socio-political-cultural issues in IITM campus. These activities range from organizing seminars, discussions as well as raising social awareness on the campus regarding the current political climate in the country. In May 2015 , APSC was unilaterally de-recognized by IITM administration after pressure from MHRD. This was, in a certain sense the beginning of onslaught on autonomous student bodies all across the country who believe in dissent and have critical opinion of current government and RSS ideology. After successfully fighting this de-recognition APSC has continued it’s activities including a detailed study of the New education Policy(NEP) of the central government and the impact of GATS on Indian education. We publish here there in-depth analysis of the GATS and NEP and what it means for right to higher education for students from the working class background.)
Ruling class also admits the State’s failure with a lament. A recent national employability report[ii] by a private rating agency is squalling that only 18% of the engineering graduates churned out each year are employable and warns such unemployable candidates are not only inefficient but socially dangerous. Likewise, the 33 themes and questions floated by the New Education Policy (NEP) on higher education and school education initially analyse the crisis prevalent in education sector. While criticising that the existing educational establishment is incapable of and failed in supplying skilled human capital to the labour market and complaining about its inadequacy in systematic thinking for a reform, NEP seeks consent from the citizens of India for its proposal.
New Education Policy 2015 (NEP) which is been drafted by the Government of India for which opinions on 33 themes are sought. After the framing of National Policy on Education in 1986 which was amended in the wake of implementing neo – liberal policies in 1992, the NEP 2015 is a move of GoI towards the implementation of its commitments given in WTO-GATS during the ministerial meeting in Dec 2015. The NEP draft committee is constituted with 3 bureaucrats and the only one academician in the committee is J.S. Rajput who is pro-RSS.
In order to improve the quality of education, NEP propose the unification and centralisation of pedagogy and curriculum by implementing choice based credit system (CBCS) in all higher educational institute. But this move is to abolish the uniqueness of regional educational institutions and to grab state governments’ share of power in education. By de-affiliating the colleges from state universities and dissolving the power of syndicate, all colleges will be made autonomous in academic, administrative and financial matters. Already ruling class is lamenting on the lag in production of skilled youth by these colleges. Eventually all the arts, science and engineering colleges will be converted to community colleges. The state universities will be opened for the plundering of private through public private partnership. Hence NEP plans to grab the power of state governments on education and decentralise the administrative power to respective local bodies, CSO or to For implementing this, the Universities Act will be amended.
NEP projects, the whole crunch is because of poor performing teachers, it proposes to eradicate permanent positions in teaching. By quality assessment cells in each institute, it plans to evaluate teachers and students occasionally and oust them in the name of ‘poor performance’. The quality cells will be networked with NAAC and NBA for further accreditation. Those who get top rating alone will be getting financial assistance. For instance, UGC is to be dissolved; instead Rashtirya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is proposed established as funding body. So far, UGC through its five year plans was funding for the infrastructure, subsidy for students and salary of staffs of the colleges and universities established under specific sections of Universities Act. Instead of UGC’s subject demand based inspection governed funding, NEP announces norm (performance) based funding only for top rated institutes through RUSA. i.e. funding is subsumed to the ‘leveling of playing fields’ as proposed by WTO-GATS. Thus it says government should not be partial towards public institutes alone. The tax payers’ money should be partitioned based on rating. Then only private institutes can compete with public institutes. On other words, there will be no more public institutes.
A single window clearance system is proposed for the finance and clearance of foreign educational institutions .Regulating mechanism of State and the society over the education institutes is stripped off and made ‘self-regulatory’. The institutes are asked to be left ‘free from interference’ by framing necessary legislative frameworks like Bills and Acts. Self-regulation is in entry and exit of foreign educational institutions, operation, decision on intake of students and faculty, fees, programmes, placements, governance, finance, business tie-ups and ownership and hence transforming the role of State from command and control to just evaluate and steering.
All kinds of scholarships will be scrapped and free education is only for 1% meritorious and 1% needy, (Ref: Annexure II – Themes and Questions for Policy Consultation on Higher Education- Theme XVI. Financing of higher education) thus wipe out social justice based reservation. Others fate are left to educational loans. As the state government’s role in education is taken away, these institutions will be starving with fund deficiency. In such a case, it is proposed to mobilise fund from students’ fee, alumni fund, corporate investment or seeking the corporates to spend 1% of its CSR in such institutes.
In the name of integration of skill development in education and promoting technically enabled learning, it is proposed to impose certificates in vocational training for school dropouts after 8th std through online. Introduction of service-sector courses rather than manufacturing based courses in schools and counselling the students at school level is nothing but forcing them to do their traditional caste based labour. Already the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has already introduced Paddy Farmer, Dairy Worker, Sugarcane Cultivator, Hatchery Production Worker (Fishery), Tailor, Mason, Plumber, electrician, Painter, Blacksmith, Fitter, Machinist, Welder, Carpenter, house keep, beautician – kinds of sector skill training in which school students are trained and certified along 8 states. For this, they are introducing multi grade –multi level (MGML) model of education. NEP mentions that India has targeted skilling five hundred million people by 2022 and exporting them to global labour market. i.e. such a huge skilled work force will be a commodity in the globalised labour market. Hence NEP projects the vocational education and skill development as mean to increase the productivity of individuals, profitability of employers and important human capital for development of nation. For this flexibility in entry and exit at any stage of education is promoted. Instead of putting effort to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education it paves way for increased no. of dropouts. Targeting the informal service sector, the school education and higher education including physical and adult education are brought under an agency NSDC. The vocational trainings conducted are based on the National Occupational Standards set by NSDC through its Sector Skill Councils (SSC) who will be certifying the secondary vocational education which is controlled by none other than the Corporates.
As admitted by the NEP itself, pursuing education for socially and economically marginalised youth is unaffordable. The world of caste in contemporary India is governed by the same logic as the world of caste in the past, that is, inequality of access to the all means and resources. Instead of addressing this and inclusively framing the policy, the present proposals are formulated in such a way as to further deny access to general education for socially and economically excluded children. Through vocationalisation of education, NEP is imposing the traditional work on the children of socially deprived castes. Yes! Its nothing but Doctor’s son should be a Doctor while Manual Scavenger’s son should be none other than a Manual Scavenger – re-establishment of caste system and imposition of Brahmanical Hegemony. Accordingly, the Child labour abolishment act has been amended recently[iii]. On talking about gender, NEP is talking in a tone of reactionary patriarchy. It suggests women to be safeguarded through surveillance or else they will be given education through distance mode, thus trying to veil and throw them back to the dark rooms of patriarchy. The establishment of Indology department for cultural integration and department for dead languages (Sanskrit) in every institute are nothing other than imposition of unified Bramanical culture and Sanskrit throughout India. English and Hindi will be the medium of instruction in education as they serve the needs both corporates and hindutva.
To internationalise the education and promoting technically enabled learning, the traditional chalk and talk method of teaching will be abolished. Instead, already they have initiated Global initiative for academic network (GIAN) to import 10, 000 academics and industry people per annum from foreign to teach in India. The courses will be converted to e- modules and large scale content will be generated and uploaded in NPTEL or Coursera like Massive Online Courses (MOOCs). Though, students rush to MOOCs with an idea that it is ‘open’ and a public property which anyone can access ‘at anytime’, ‘from anywhere’, and ‘acquire knowledge as if they wish’ – as that of ‘water’ to living beings, even the so labelled ‘not for profit’ EdX is generating revenue out of MOOCs through its “university self-service model” and “edX-supported model”[iv] In less than a year, Coursera – a corporate offering commercial MOOCs has attracted $22 million in venture capital is the sample for dimension of business turn over in this area. Monetization is not the most important objective for this business at this point of rapid accumulation of content that could be attracting universities that want to license it for their own use and familiarisation to common mass by giving hands-on training on usage of electronic gadgets and online courses and networked through Digital India, a decade later, the whole education establishment will be scrapped down as MOOCs is notorious in academic and business circles as ‘disruptive innovation’[v] . Then the teachers will be the endangered species; College and University buildings will be rented off for commercial purposes; The repository of e-modules will be sufficient for the corporates to have hi-handness on the entire knowledge resources.
IITs like centrally funded institutes (CFI) are projected to be established as academic incubators in the zonal level to pick 1% meritorious students from school level and nurture them as think-tanks to serve the corporates rather than our nation.
Whether the crisis in education as criticised by NEP can be rectified by just implementing the above recommendations? IIT is the best example for proto-type failure model of NEP 2015. After implementing the recommendations of Kadodkar committee report in 2010, the academicians are excluded in the Board of Governance and corporate CEOs occupy the chairs. The fees for students raised exponentially – around Rs. 3 lakhs, which is not even affordable for a middle class student. Majority of the students are having huge education debts in the form of bank loan or other. The hostel zones are separated from the academic zone and are been opened for private players. The Gymkhana entry fee raised exponentially. In IITM, A-Diet Express like caterers are allowed to plunder students’ money and health while they are exempted from regulation by admin. Starting from house-keeping to security and clerical works are outsourced. Now it’s the time for teaching and research to be outsourced. Though a huge sum of money was spent for 10,000 teachers trained in IIT Bombay for content generation in NPTEL, in Nov 2015, around 25 courses are offered by foreign professors and industrialists through GIAN in IIT Madras alone thus making the professors jobless. The no. of foreign students in campuses is increasing exponentially while a draft committee is constituted by MHRD to further tighten IIT-JEE, conduct it abroad and thus to seal the entry of Indian students.
On the other hand, majority of the government funding bodies have not released even the sanctioned research grants and hence the professors are striving hard to go ahead with on-going research. The fund allocated for departments are also declined. Hence most of the faculties are advised to implement austerity measures for academic activities. Simultaneously BoG is pushing for the fixation minimum wage for teachers and they have to rely on projects fund for further salary. It also plans for rating the performance of professors and bring them to tenure basis. Meantime, MHRD has announced IITs to rely on corporates for funding and CSIR labs to go self-financing. How such moves can increase the quality of education? Rather it can only serve the corporate plundering.
New Education Policy should be renewing the commitment to the development of education of our nation as ‘public mandate’ whose mission and objective must be to serve the social, economic and intellectual needs and priorities of the nation while contributing to the ‘global creation, exchange and application of knowledge’ in accordance with Accra Declaration. Instead, under WTO- GATS regime, NEP reduces our education to a “tradable commodity” and students as “consumers”. Thus making the education subject primarily to international trade rules and lose of authority of national government to regulate education according to national needs and priorities.
All the themes of NEP are in accordance with the four modes of trade in education articulated in GATS i.e. cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence, presence of natural persons. All though all the four modes seek liberalisation of Indian education market for the sole benefit of corporates, off all four, the first and foremost priority is to cross-border supply in hi edu, adult edu and training and testing services. That is, in the name of skill development the imperialism is with an eye to exploit the unorganised informal labour which constitutes more than 90% of Indian labour force. For this the GOI has launched the programme ‘Reorganisation of Prior learning’.
In Dec. 2015, before the Ministerial Meeting of WTO-GATS at Nairobi, GoI committed itself to restructure the whole system according to WTO. After the implementation of neoliberal policies in 1990s, the imperialists are in a rush to get hold of the essentials of human existence like food, water, education, health and sanitation, and climate and thus thriving to re-establish the inhumane ‘slavery’ over the mankind. GATS remove legislative authority of parliament and surrender judicial power to trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, students, environmental and advocacy groups and labour unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished. In this context, the New Education Policy is nothing but the spider’s web knitted over our nation as it terms human as ‘human capital’ and knowledge as ‘knowledge economy’ as mentioned in GATS. Yes! their plan is to ‘blur and disappear entirely’ the lines between academia and the labour market simultaneously to serve the ‘consumer of ‘ready-made’ human capital’ – the corporates, by pushing the toiling mass to uncertain livelihood to get certified and work life long. Perhaps WTO, controlled by the trans-national capital and supervised by the Super Hegemony – US, can legitimately be the policeman, guardian and rule maker of the international socio-economic-political and cultural system. Thus it rings the death knell to the sovereignty of our country which is nothing but the recolonisation. By demolishing establishments like agriculture, labour and services like education and health and restructuring it in accordance with GATS, Brahmanism is in service of US Super-Hegemony for the faster closing of recolonisation cycle of India.
In the era of systemic crisis, our duty is to litter new education policy which serves the imperialism and brahmanic hegemony and we have to implement a people’s policy on education.
[i] Ref: Ramakant Rai, Challenges in implementing the RTE Act, Infochange News & Features, May 2012 http://infochangeindia.org/education/backgrounders/challenges-in-implementing-the-rte-act.html
[ii] Ref: 3rd edition of the National Employability Report, Engineering Graduates – 2014; TOI, Jul 15, 2014 ‘Only 18% engineering grads are employable, says survey’
[iii] Ref: Hindustan Times Apr 08, 2015; Govt planning to relax laws to allow children below age 14 to work in select family businesses