NEW DELHI: The policy direction for education contained in the Finance Minister’s budget speech yesterday is a recipe for social exclusion and decline of educational standards and it furthers the case for commercialisation of public funded institutions along with greater reliance on privatization, said Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) in a statement. The statement has also called that the proposal to grant autonomous status to colleges identified on the basis of accreditation and ranking as “to incentivise commercialisation in the form of self-financing”. Regarding the proposal to launch SWAYAM, an online portal similar to MOOCs for students to attend courses, DUTA accused that the idea is being peddled as a means to provide “quality education” in non-formal ways instead of strengthening public-funded institutions by greater funding towards teaching positions and infrastructure.
“The MHRD too has been emphasising greater financial autonomy i.e., less dependence on budgetary support and more on the market. It is absolutely clear that the Government is trying to peddle the idea that the quality of education will only improve by letting educational structures and contents be determined by market forces. It is neither interested in addressing the real issues that ail education, specifically higher education, nor sensitive to the inequalising effect of such a move,” said the statement.
The DUTA condemned the attempt by the government to implement parts of the Draft National Education Policy for Inputs into National Educational Policy which the Minister had announced as withdrawn after widespread protests across the country. We demand that these provisions be dropped and debates initiated before any education policy is formulated.
Union Minister Arun Jailtey submitted the Budget 2017-2018 yesterday and proposed various programmes to ‘reform’ the higher education sector of the country which included a National Testing Agency, Swayam online platform with 350 courses, Autonomy to colleges and institutions based on accreditation, All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Jharkhand and Gujarat etc.