The central government announced a new education policy (NEP) on July 29 2020 to bring reforms in the country's sector and the government claims that the new education policy will ensure universal access at all levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12.
Under the NEP, there will be early childhood care and education for all children between 3-7 years. It will also introduce a new curricular and pedagogical structure where there will be no matriculation and graduation will be of four years. The new policy will internationalize education, according to a press brief released by the PIB (Press Information Bureau) on August 1, 2022.
Many states, especially the BJP-ruled, have announced the implementation new education policy whereas non-BJP-ruled states have denied the same, citing various reasons.
Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance government in Bihar has categorically said that it would not implement the policy.
RJD leader and state education minister Chandrashekhar said, “We have no educational infrastructure to implement the new education policy as of now.”
"We have no sufficient teachers; sessions are running late, so we are currently unable to implement the new education policy. We will consider it in future," he said.
He further said that he did not consider it appropriate to forcefully implement the new education policy. "The Bihar government is worried about the education of the state. There are many difficulties right now. So, in such a situation, there may be difficulty in implementing the new education policy," Chandrashekhar said.
Governor says- 'useful for all'
Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, governor of Bihar emphasized the need for new education terming it beneficial for all. Addressing a discussion on the National Education Policy 2020 in Muzaffarpur town, he said that the new education policy liberates from the slavery of the British. "This is in line with global changes," he said.
The governor further said that language has been given prominence in the new education policy. The promotion of the mother tongue will be helpful in increasing comprehension in education, according to him.
The Bihar unit of BJP criticized the government for not implementing the new education policy and said that it was shameful that Nitish Kumar has been ruling the state for over 18 years and despite this, educational infrastructure is poor in Bihar.
Ironically, in the 18-year rule of Nitish Kumar, BJP was part of the government for 15 years.
However, the reasons Chandrashekhar mentioned are valid to a large extent. Bihar lacks sufficient teachers, many universities’ sessions are running for one to three years and many schools lack infrastructure.
Now the question is being raised if the state has done the right thing by rejecting the news education policy or has made the blunder.
State educationalists have mixed views on this
Some believe that denying the implementation of the new educational policy will adversely impact Bihar’s education. But, others say that it will have no impact in Bihar, instead the state did the right thing by not implementing it here.
"No impact on state education"
Rupesh, secretary of Koshish Charitable Trust says, “This new education policy is going to promote non-equality and it will reduce local wisdom, so there will be no harm to the education of Bihar if the state is not implementing it."
“The Right to Education Act was absolutely right, but this new education policy is a mess,” he said.
DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, believes that not implementing the new education policy in Bihar will not harm the state but will only benefit Bihar.
He said, “This is India's first education policy, which has been prepared without any study. The government felt that this rule should be made, so it was made. No assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of this rule was made.”
“In the past, when education policies were made, a study commission was first constituted for that. The commission studied every issue in depth and rules were made according to the need. But no study has been done for this new education policy that has been brought. It is better if such a policy is not implemented,” he said.
DM Diwakar further said that education does not mean mere alphabetical knowledge. Education is that which brings about inner change in a person. But there is nothing like this in this new education policy.
“It seems that this policy has been designed with a specific agenda which aims to privatize education,” he added.
"Bihar has its own mechanism in place which can be used to frame the state's education policy."
Some other educationalists termed the state government decision a political one and said that it would have an adverse impact on the state's education.
Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, former head of the economics department of Patna College, said, "It is true that the educational infrastructure of Bihar is not up to mark but it is not that bad that new education policy can't be implemented."
"It is certainly a political move. By opposing it, the Bihar government has tried to strike a political note, but it will impact the education of Bihar," he said.
He further added, "By not implementing the policy, the state will be out of the national scheme as well as the credit system. The state will also be deprived of educational funds from the central government."
He criticized the Modi government for failing to make a consensus with states. "There should have been consultation with the state governments and consensus should have been made to avoid such controversy," he said.