Mamatas U-turn: Why Bengal government has softened position on NEP 2020

Mamata's U-turn: Why Bengal government has softened position on NEP 2020

TMC regime has directed state universities to introduce a 4-year undergrad programme in compliance with New Education Policy

After several months of posturing on the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress regime has signalled a rejig of its strategy. In what appears to be a sudden softening of its opposition to NEP, the Mamata Banerjee regime has asked the state universities “to take appropriate steps” to comply with it “from the forthcoming academic session”.

Several state-aided universities in West Bengal have started the process of restructuring their syllabus to introduce a four-year undergraduate programme in compliance with NEP. As per the new policy, undergraduate courses will be of four years with multiple exit and entry options instead of the present three-year courses. 

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The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government’s latest directive is a shift from its earlier stance on the Centre’s education policy.

Earlier opposition

Last April, West Bengal Education Minister Bratya Basu had said the state government would come up with its own education policy instead of adopting the NEP. To formulate the policy, the state government had even constituted a 10-member committee that submitted its report earlier this month. 

But, without making the report public, the state government took the first step towards implementing the NEP 2020.

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The state government’s decision came after the secretary of the University Grants Commission (UGC) wrote to it on January 31, asking it to implement NEP guidelines.

Institutions like Jadavpur University and Presidency University have started the process of introducing a four-year undergraduate programme as directed by the state government.

Embracing NEP

Many educationists feel that by implementing undergraduate courses in compliance with the NEP 2020, the state government has set rolling the process of adopting the entire policy.

“With this, the state government has started the process of implementing the anti-people NEP in the state. A four-year UG course will result in more dropouts,” said Tarun Kanti Naskar, general secretary of the All India Save Education Committee.

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Calcutta University Teachers Association (CUTA) general secretary Sanatan Chattopadhyay complained that the universities were not even given the opportunity to discuss the issue prior to issuing the directive.

Jadavpur University Teachers Association general secretary Partha Pratim Roy pointed out that various teachers’ associations and educationists in the state were opposing the NEP 2020.

The state government’s directive, ignoring such opposition, goes on to show that the TMC is on the same page as the BJP, said Roy.

Why U-turn?

The development has raised the obvious question on the reason for the heart of the TMC government. Those closely following state politics, however, see the development from another perspective. After all, the state government, as reported earlier by The Federal, is avoiding major confrontations with the Centre.

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The CPI (M) and the Congress allege that the TMC has gone soft on the BJP government at the Centre because it has entered into some tacit understanding with the latter to shield its top leaders from corruption charges. Such allegations, however, are hard to prove.

The TMC’s new approach could be part of its political strategy in the state’s changed political scenario, said senior political commentator and author Nirmalya Banerjee.

Political realities

“The results of recent Sagardighi by-election and civic polls indicated that the BJP is fast losing its position as the state’s main opposition party,” NIrmalya Banerjee said.

In the changed political scenario, the TMC could be taking a relook at its aggressive anti-BJP stand.

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