New Delhi – The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 needs representation of children, ChildFund India’s country director and chief executive officer (CEO) Neelam Makhijani said at event in New Delhi on 26 Jul.
Makhijani said that as biggest stakeholders, children need to have a voice in the policy. She was speaking at a dialogue on the Draft National Education Policy (NEP), 2019 organised by India CSR Network in collaboration with STEM Learning and Friends Union for Energising Lives (FUEL).
The ‘India CSR Dialogue’ talked about expectations and opportunities for the corporate sector and the civil society in the Draft NEP. It also talked about the role that the two stakeholders could play to take forward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which envisages to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.
India CSR will be collating the suggestions and feedback from the participants and will be sending it to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) before 31 Jul, the last date for sending the feedback.
“This is a historic moment. It is only the third instance in the history of the Indian republic that education policy is being envisaged. It was in 1966, that the policy was first formulated,” Dr. Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director at the Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) said while speaking at the occasion.
Dr. Chaturvedi welcomed the Draft policy’s proposal to increase the span of education from existing 6-14 years to 3-18 years. He also praised the proposal to improve infrastructure; closing schools which are financially unviable and shifting the students to neighborhood schools.
He, however, said that the implementation part would pose real challenges for the government as an exercise of this nature would require huge resources including increased budget allocations. He said that the existing education budget was hardly 3% of the Gross National Product (GNP) even after 52 years since the first policy came which recommended for a 6% allocation.
He further said that India’s ambition to become a USD 5 trillion economy could be achieved only if the education system was robust and the next ten years will determine how the country progresses.
On the role and opportunities for the corporate sector working in education initiatives as part of their corporate social responsibility, Dr Chaturvedi said that the entire CSR expenditure in the country was Rs 15,000 crore while the government’s allocation on education in this year’s budget was around Rs 100,000 crore.
The CSR expenditure on education initiatives was even less so the primary responsibility rested with the government, he said adding that the private sector’s role was secondary but significant. It should act as an augmenter, he added.
He said that the corporate sector could invest in promoting soft infrastructure like teacher and parents’ education, soft skills development in students, among other things.
The aim to discuss the Draft NEP was to bring awareness about the policy and ensure greater participation and commitment towards the goal, India CSR founder, Rusen Kumar said.
While a lot of corporate and civil society organisations are doing some wonderful work in the education sector, it will be interesting to know how they identify with the draft policy, he added. There is much clarity now on what we can expect from the businesses, he added.
The suggestions will be handed over to the MHRD so that it gets to know the concerns of each stakeholder, he said adding that the government in its wisdom can then take the call on how to go about them.
The dialogue saw participation from who’s who in the corporate and academia.
Issues related to rote learning, teachers training, the proposal to set-up the National Research Foundation, the role of anganwadis in early childhood education and curriculum & pedagogy were discussed during the event.
Among the key speakers, Nidhi Pundhir, Director at HCL Foundation; Praveen Karn, CSR head at Spark Minda Group; Varsha S, Head, Advocacy & Partnership at Mobile Creches and Suresh Reddy, Director & Lead CSR at SRS Foundation participated in discussions.
Ashutosh Pandit, CEO at Stem Learning shared their practical experiences and gave suggestions. Stem Learning is smart learning solution providers working on various education initiatives in India.
Atul Sud, Director (Legal and Regulatory Affairs) at Perfetti Van Melle and gave his expert views on particular theme and issues.
Stem Learning’s Pandit too highlighted the importance of innovative pedagogy in the school curriculum. The company designs plug-and-play models on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to enhance understanding and minimise rote learning, he said.
Pandit said that the company installed 700 Mini Science Centers (MSC) in rural schools where table-top models were put. The results and value for our products were far greater in rural centers, he said.
The MHRD constituted a committee in June 2017, under the chairmanship of former ISRO chairman Krishnaswami Kasturirangan to prepare the Draft NEP, 2019. The committee submitted its report on 15 Dec.
The policy was released on 31 May. The government has extended the deadline to submit suggestions from 30 Jun till 31 Jul.
The dialogue was organised in association with Mumbai-based Stem Leaning is empowering school teachers with innovative tools to teach science and mathematics. The company has been promoting learning in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the school level. The company works with corporate groups to develop sustainable and effective CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives in education. As of now, the company has tied up with over 100 companies including top banks like the HDFC Bank Ltd, ICICI Ltd, and HSBC Ltd to implement its programmes, Pandit said.
Friends Union for Energising Lives (FUEL) stems from the understanding that the youth in India form one of the most vulnerable groups, who on the one hand are expected to be the leaders to determine the destiny of India, and on the other lack essential information and opportunities to succeed in life.