Minority rights

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The Minister of Human Resource Development, New Delhi 110001

Subject: Urgent Response to the draft New Education Policy

Dear Mr. Pokhriyalji,

We appreciate the efforts in drafting the New Education Policy 2019 to improve the education. However, we find that the draft policy does not make the slightest mention of minority rights and institutions. It is an acknowledged fact that a large section of the top schools and colleges in the country are run by minority groups, especially the Christian Community. Article. 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution give linguistic and religious minorities the right to establish and administer their own institutions. It is shocking that this Right has been ignored in the draft, putting in danger the special character and excellence that minority institutions continue to offer to the country. This right needs to be incorporated in the NEP.

A point to be noted, as an example, is that the proposed School Complex has a Management Committee (SCMC) consisting of parents, teachers, alumni and local community representatives. The SMC is similar. The control of the present Trustees of the institutions has not been provided for even though these institutions have excelled in all the national standards of quality. There is therefore the need to amend P8.3.2 to remove Private Minority Grant-in-Aid Schools from the definition of "Public Schools", to enable them to continue giving all sections of Indian society a guaranteed quality of education, at an affordable price.

In addition we have four points to mention:

1. The restructuring of the educational Syhe formal system does not seem advisable. Formal including children from the age ors he age of 6. Our Anganwadis and Balwadis need ystem bring in the three years the pre-primary, schooling across the world begins from "strengthening", which is the word used in the draft policy but not a take-over by the formal school setup which is not appropriate for play groups, nurseries and kindergartens.

2. The common curriculum and syllabus to be prescribed for both rural and urban settings for all types of schools, will lead to a destruction  of diversity in content. Social conditions require a variety of choices. Trying to maintain quality should not mean a dictated standardization of content which will cripple quality.

3. A careful scrutiny of the 484-page NEP 2019 reveals that the words "secular" or "secularism" are not found anywhere in it. This is contrary to the Indian Constitution and to the 1986 policy which laid down the policy framework which guides the Indian education system. The content of education needs to preserve our secular, multi-religious ethos.

4. The admittedly pathetic 2.7% of GDP being spent on education must be increased to 6% of GDP within 5 years, if the Plan is to be practical and viable, and not mere tall promises.

I suggest that the document needs far greater scrutiny than it has received so far and that a hasty implementation will have grave consequences, diluting if not reversing the serious and painstaking attempts that have been made to develop education India.

Yous Sincerely,