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Disturbing Educational Policy Trends

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It is not surprising that the underlying vision and recommended policy thrust for education in the Economic Survey 2019–2020 is towards more privatisation, non-state stakeholding and consequent neo-liberalisation; as has been the trend in educational policy since 1991. However, what is disturbing is the near equating of education with entrepreneurship in an oversimplified argument that low levels of literacy correlate with lower entrepreneurship by highlighting that eastern regions with lowest literacy rate of 59% have the least number of new firms being established. This correlation is drawn on the flawed assumption that education has merely utilitarian aims, denying its social purpose, criticality and emancipatory possibilities. Even Adam Smith argued for education to remain a public good outside the logic of the market; an assumption which the survey in its fetish for wealth creation has wholly ignored.

Yet, the survey paradoxically laments the lack of access to education for the poor, by citing that the expenditure per student in primary grades is 10 times more in a private school as compared to a government school. Needless to say, this difference has created social divisions in our already stratified society where class, caste and gender do not cross-cut, but overlap. School education has further created a social differentiation, with government schools having turned into a colony of the poor, underprivileged and marginalised children. The Economic Survey’s proposals for more push in the direction of privatisation will further entrench school differentiation and the social divisions it engenders. It does not even desist from recommending the marketisation of education “at all levels,” unequivocally abandoning the constitutional commitment of free and compulsory education, for at least the elementary school level. Such policy trends craft a devastating vision for education, which is particularly worrying, as the government is about to formalise a much awaited new education policy in the days to come.

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Updated On : 7th Feb, 2020

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