Bengal government drafts its own education policy

Bengal government drafts its own education policy

Bengal Government Drafts Its Own Education Policy

The West Bengal government has decided to formulate its own education policy instead of adopting the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 prepared by the Centre. The state government has constituted a 10-member committee that includes education experts, to evaluate steps taken by states such as Maharashtra and Kerala in the education sector, and to submit a report on developing a state education policy.

Why Bengal Rejects NEP 2020

The NEP 2020 is a comprehensive document that aims to bring reforms in the education sector to meet the demands of the 21st century. It proposes several changes in the school and higher education system, such as introducing a 5+3+3+4 structure, making board exams optional, promoting multidisciplinary and flexible courses, and increasing the gross enrolment ratio.

However, the West Bengal government has rejected some of the key aspects of the NEP 2020, citing that they are not suitable for the state's context and interests. Some of the reasons for rejecting the NEP 2020 are:

- The state government does not agree with changing the school structure to a 5+3+3+4 system from the existing model because it advocates abolishing the Class X board examination. The state government believes that students should not be burdened with choosing their career paths at Class 9 level itself, and that the board exams are important for assessing their learning outcomes.
- The state government also opposes the three-language formula proposed by the NEP 2020, which requires students to learn three languages from Class I to VIII, including one classical language. The state government argues that this would impose Hindi or Sanskrit on the students of Bengal, who have a rich linguistic and cultural heritage. The state government wants to retain its own two-language policy, which allows students to learn Bengali and English, and a third language of their choice from Class V to VIII.
- The state government is also wary of the centralization of power and authority in the education sector by the NEP 2020, which envisages creating bodies such as the National Education Commission, the Higher Education Commission of India, and the National Testing Agency. The state government fears that these bodies would undermine the autonomy and diversity of the state universities and colleges, and impose uniform standards and curricula on them.

What Bengal Proposes in Its Own Education Policy

The West Bengal government has drafted its own education policy which details how far the state government has accepted the NEP 2020 and what modifications it has made to suit its own needs and goals. The draft also incorporates the recommendations of an empowered committee headed by former vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University Suranjan Das, which was formed in 2020 to study the NEP 2020 and suggest changes.

Some of the highlights of the draft education policy are:

- The draft education policy seeks to retain the existing 4+4+2+2 structure expanding the academic integration with the children of AWCs (Anganwadi centres). It also proposes to introduce pre-primary education for children aged 3-6 years in all government schools, and to ensure universal access and quality education for all children up to Class XII.
- The draft education policy agrees with implementing a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme from the academic session 2023-24 in order to maintain parity between the UG courses in the state and in the rest of the country. It also supports creating more autonomous colleges and clusters of colleges within universities, and enhancing research and innovation in higher education institutions.
- The draft education policy emphasizes on preserving and promoting the linguistic and cultural diversity of Bengal, and ensuring that education is inclusive and equitable for all sections of society. It also stresses on enhancing teacher education and training, improving learning outcomes and assessment methods, and strengthening digital infrastructure and technology in education.

Conclusion

The West Bengal government's decision to draft its own education policy reflects its resistance to accept some of the radical changes proposed by the NEP 2020. It also shows its commitment to protect its own identity and interests in the education sector. The draft education policy is expected to be placed as a bill in the ongoing session of the Assembly, where it will be debated and passed. The state government hopes that its own education policy will help improve the quality and accessibility of education for all students in Bengal.

Sources:

(2) West Bengal to draft own state education policy, won't adopt NEP .... https://news.careers360.com/west-bengal-draft-own-state-education-policy-wont-adopt-nep-education-minister.
(3) West Bengal to formulate its own education policy. https://www.educationworld.in/west-bengal-to-formulate-its-own-education-policy/.
(4) In jolt to NEP 2020, Bengal forms panel to draft its own education policy. https://thefederal.com/states/east/west-bengal/bengal-opposes-nep-2020-forms-panel-to-draft-its-own-education-policy/.
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