Discussion on the National Education Policy and the recent changes in Karnataka’s textbooks

The Progressive Critical Study Circle, SJCL in collaboration with The Student Collective, Bengaluru organised a discussion on the National Education Policy and the recent changes in Karnataka’s textbooks on the 21st of June 2022, which was titled as The Politics of Pedagogy. The panel included Mr. Sripad Bhatt, writer, and critic and Ms Prajval Shastri, Astrophysicist at the All Peoples Science Network.

Mr. Sripad Bhat commenced his talk by highlighting the importance of discussion and how we have stopped to do so, he spoke about the true meaning of Pedagogy and how important it is to have a scientific temperament in approaching the education method. He also dwelled into the history of the National Curriculum framework. He further insisted that the syllabus for students must be based on Article 14 and 21 of the constitution i.e., equality of religion, gender, caste and the importance to accommodate cultures of their respective region, their local writers, and eminent personalities. He also spoke about the importance of the stakeholders of education; students, government, and the leaders and that they all must be in sync. Mr. Sripad also highlighted that the syllabus cannot be made in vacuum and needs to be integrated along with the pedagogy. The speaker also stated that the government needs to honour the democratic and educational values while making the syllabus and concluded his address by reminding us about the importance of having awareness and discussion which is key.

Our second speaker for the session Ms. Prajval Shastri being an educator and astrophysicist herself spoke about the various factors ailing higher education in India, how inequality of classes and people of marginalized and Adivasi groups did not have equal access to education, how there is shortage of institutions and scholarships to cater to the needs of higher education. She also highlighted that research funding is also relatively inadequate for higher education and how it is mixed in bureaucracy and dominance of coaching classes. She also expressed that discriminatory social process must be prohibited on campus. The speaker also emphasised the importance of scientific thinking and incorporation of a multidisciplinary system of education as it is most essential for critical thinking. She stated that academic freedom is not safe guarded in our country and that professors and student should be allowed to express their own ideas. The speaker also shared her views on blended learning and said though it sounds good but is misleading as it fragments the whole learning process. She shared few statistics as part of lessons that must be learnt from the pandemic. According to the research as of May 2020, 38% of the students were not able to access the study material due to online education and only 28% were able to learn from online. India being 1 of 57 countries who did not prioritise teachers as frontline warriors during the crucial period. She also mentioned certain important things that are missing in the National Education Policy like, reservations are not mentioned as the government has not budgeted them, there is no mention of education autonomy, student government and Right to education not being mentioned. Ms. Prajval further concluded her address by reminding us that education needs to be seen as a public good and not a money-making mechanism.

The discussion was very insightful and brainstorming one. It was attended by around 40 students overall. The session was concluded with question and answer session followed by presentation of memento and vote of appreciation.

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