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Despite the ongoing fracas with Jawahar Nesan leaving the education panel set up by the state government to draw up an alternative education policy, the committee is set to submit its report by September.
The policy has been tasked to be a contrarian to the national new education policy and will take into account the specific history, present condition and future requirements and aspirations of Tamil Nadu, according to school education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi. The report will be evaluated by the government which will then come up with a policy best suited for the future of the state, he has said.
With Jawahar Nesan claiming that the government is allowing a backdoor entry for the national policy in the state document despite the public posturing, it remains to be seen that will indeed be so.
The 12-member panel was constituted June 1, 2022 with T Murugesan who retired as chief justice of Delhi high court as its chairman. The appointment of a judge, not an educationist, as chairman was met with much apprehension initially.
L Jawahar Nesan who played a key role in the Rajan panel on NEET was among the members. The Rajan committee was sharply critical of the NEET and strongly argued against it. A year later, Jawahar Nesan quit the education panel charging official meddling in the committee’s functioning. He has implied that officials were ensuring that the present panel will not be so sharply critical of national policy and will not throw it out lock stock and barrel. Jawahar Nesan has inferred and articulated publicly that the present DMK government is therefore carrying out the agenda of the BJP government at the Center. But other members of the panel have disagreed.
L Jawahar Nesan who played a key role in the Rajan panel on NEET was among the members. The Rajan committee was sharply critical of the NEET and strongly argued against it. A year later, Jawahar Nesan quit the education panel charging official meddling in the committee’s functioning
In the wake of Jawahar Nesan’s departure, two more members have been added to the panel — Freeda Gnanarani, former principal of Quaid-e-Milleth college for women, and Tamil scholar G Palani. The panel’s tenure has been extended by four months too.
It would be best if the panel considers in good faith the inputs that Jawahar Nesan had given including the reports of sub-committees he constituted. Feedback obtained from various quarters should also be taken into consideration while coming up with the final report. Meanwhile education activist Prince Gajendra Babu has asked why the government has not come up with a response to all the followup guidelines, advisories and notices by the Union government taking forward its education policy.
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The state policy would have made its mark if it takes a strong stance against commercialization of education and regulates fee collection. This, in and of itself, would be going against the spirit of the Union policy.
The state policy must also aim at substantially improving teacher-student ratio in government schools, as well as support underprivileged students and those coming from marginalized communities. It should aim at expanding education in mother tongue and public schools and colleges besides promoting neighbourhood schools.
If these are addressed at the minimum, the policy would have stayed true to its original mandate.
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