Siddaramaiah has accused the previous BJP government of “trying to implement the RSS agenda” in education through the NEP. Representative photo

Karnataka to scrap NEP, replace it with state education policy

Karnataka was the first state to implement the National Education Policy in 2021 when it was ruled by the BJP

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In a move that may rattle the BJP dispensation at the Centre, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka has decided to reverse the implementation of the new National Education Policy (NEP) and instead bring its own state policy the next year.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday (August 14) made the announcement to scrap the NEP-2020 at a meeting of the Congress state unit in Bengaluru.

Karnataka was the first state to implement the NEP-2020 in 2021 when it was ruled by the BJP. It was also the first state to implement the NEP in higher education.

In an obvious reference to the RSS, the Congress had dubbed the NEP ‘Nagpur Education Policy’ and during its assembly poll campaigning promised the electorate that it would scrap the NEP and put in place a state education policy if voted to power. The RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, has its headquarters at Nagpur in Maharashtra.

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However, the government will continue with the NEP for the present academic year during which time it will prepare its own State Education Policy (SEP).

While making the announcement at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee meeting, Siddaramaiah said, “NEP has to be abolished after making some necessary preparations. There was no time for preparations this year. By the time the election results came in and the government was formed, the academic year had already started. This year NEP will be continued as it should not cause problems to students in the middle of an academic year.”

Alleging that the previous BJP government had implemented the NEP without taking into account protests against it from various quarters and stakeholders, the chief minister said, “NEP is simultaneously opposed by students, parents, lecturers and teachers. The BJP has sacrificed the interest of the students of the country by implementing NEP for the first time in the state without implementing it in the country.”

Siddaramaiah also accused the previous BJP government of “trying to implement the RSS agenda” in education through the NEP.

“They tried to impose the RSS hidden agenda all over. The draft was made in Nagpur, the RSS headquarters. No other BJP-ruled state implemented it, but Karnataka did. I want to tell you one thing, this year we were late. But in the next academic year, we will change the new education policy and will try to give education as per the Constitution,” Siddaramaiah said.

The decision to scrap the NEP comes in the backdrop of protests from academics and students community not only in the state but also across the country ever since the Centre rolled it out in July 2020 when the entire country was reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic. Various student and teachers organizations have been demanding scrapping of the NEP.

As recent as in May this year, student organizations affiliated to 10 political outfits of the country, decided to strengthen protests against the NEP. The All India Democratic Students’ Organisation, for instance, staged a protest against the NEP-2020 in Kalaburagi on June 27.

Also read: PM Modi on new education policy: Futuristic education system being created in India

Similarly, the All India Federation of University and College Teacher’s Organizations (AIFUCTO) has been protesting against the policy, alleging that the Centre is making a determined attempt to privatise, commercialise, centralise and saffronise the education. AIFUCTO has rejected the NEP as a “corporate-communal conspiracy” to demolish the very foundations of the Indian Constitution and has dubbed it deeply flawed.

“Since the announcement of NEP 2020, AIFUCTO has been holding various webinars, seminars and mobilising political parties and state networks so that a situation will come where the government of India will be compelled to repeal the policy,” Professor Arun Kumar, General Secretary of AIFUCTO, reportedly said on June 10 in Kohima on the sidelines of a seminar.

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Vice-chancellors of public universities of Karnataka had in a meeting with Karnataka Higher Education Minister MC Sudhakar in June apprised the government of the challenges in implementing some of the provisions of the policy. Among other aspects, concerns were raised around offering multidisciplinary courses to students given the lack of qualified faculties for teaching open elective subjects under the NEP. Minister Sudhakar has directed all state universities to frame the syllabus only till fifth and sixth semesters thus paving the way for scrapping of the four-year honours degree under the NEP.

The NEP has extended three-year undergraduate degree programmes to four years as honours degrees.

(With inputs from agencies)

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