States Oppose, Centre May Drop National Education Commission Plan: Report

The issue was raised by education ministers or representatives from certain states in the recent meeting of the HRD Ministry.

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States Oppose, Centre May Drop National Education Commission Plan: Report

States which raised opposition to the plan include Gujarat and Kerala.


New Delhi: 

After facing opposition from states, Central government may drop the plan to constitute the National Education Commission (NEC), which was to be led by the prime minister, reports business daily Mint. The Draft National Education Policy had proposed the NEC as a new apex body, designated as the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog or National Education Commission, to be constituted with the prime minister as its Chairperson and the Union Minister for Education as Vice Chairperson, expected to be responsible for developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis.

According to Mint, the states which raised opposition to the plan include the BJP-ruled Gujarat and southern state Kerala.

Mint, which reviewed official records of a meeting of Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry with education ministers from states, also reports that several states opposed the idea saying the move "will centralize power with the Centre and it runs against the federal character of the country".
The proposal from the New Education Policy (NEP) had suggested approximately 20-30 members for the Commission. 

"Membership will include some of the Union Ministers, in rotation, whose ministries impact education directly (e.g. health, woman and child development, finance), as well as a few Chief Ministers of States, in rotation, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, Vice-Chairperson of the Niti Aayog, the senior-most Secretary in the Ministry of Education, and other such senior bureaucrats/administrators as the government may deem appropriate," it says. 

It also proposed at least 50% of the members to be eminent educationists, researchers and leading professionals from various fields such as arts, business, health, agriculture and social work. 

"The collective vision, under the leadership of the PM, of a body of eminent educationists, researchers, and professionals, with their holistic understanding of the complex demands of the knowledge society will provide an effective high level direction to the national education endeavor," the NEP has said.

The proposal for the NEC had met with harsh criticism from various corners when the NEP was presented for public consultation in June this year.

"States are expected to function merely as local-level units of the RSA, without having the freedom to establish their own priorities or position themselves critically against the policies of the Centre. The RSA hierarchy of decision-making is an insult to the Federal character of our Constitution and its clearly defined relationship of the states to the Centre," CPI(M) had said its observations which were sent to the HRD Ministry in July.

Earlier, reports had emerged that various states have also flagged the funding issues regarding the proposed NEP by the Union HRD Ministry, saying the draft has some good proposals but no "financial plan of action for implementation."

The issue was raised by education ministers or representatives from certain states in the recent meeting of the HRD Ministry's Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), according to the minutes of the meeting.

A panel led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief K Kasturirangan had submitted the draft of the new National Education Policy (NEP) to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' when he took charge.

The draft was then put in public domain to seek feedback from various stakeholders and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry about the same.

The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992.

A new education policy was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election.

The drafting experts also took into account the report of a panel headed by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian and formed by the HRD Ministry when it was being headed by Smriti Irani.

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