Kolkata, September 07: West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee on Monday said the new National Education Policy (NEP) undermines the country's federal structure, and it will not be implemented in the state any time soon.
Chatterjee, who attended the 'Governors Conference on the Role of NEP in Transforming Higher Education' earlier in the day, also said that he has objected to the Centre's decision of not including 'Bengali' in the list of classical languages, during his address at the meeting.
"There is no question of implementing NEP in the state for the time being. More discussions need to be held on the matter with all stakeholders. We have expressed our reservations about certain aspects of the NEP, which have been framed without taking Bengal into confidence.
"They undermine the country's federal structure and the role of the states," the minister told reporters.
He also said that NEP implementation can wait, as the state currently needs to focus on the COVID situation.
"We do not support the common test concept at the national level for admission to undergraduate courses, multi- layered UG-level programmes and discontinuation of MPhil courses among other aspects. There is no rush for NEP implementation. Right now, we should focus on fighting the pandemic," the senior TMC leader asserted.
Proposals such as consolidation of higher education system and centralisation of education will only defeat the purpose behind framing the NEP, and marginalise the role of states, the minister said.
Chatterjee also expressed dismay over non-inclusion of Bengali in the list of classical languages.
"We are surprised that the language of Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay does not figure in the list of classical languages in this new education policy. I have conveyed (to the Centre) the state government's view in this regard," he said.
The Bengal government had constituted a six-member team of experts to study and submit its observations on the policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in July.
The state had said it would share its opinion on the policy with the Centre after the team files its report.
"Our six-member advisory panel, comprising eminent academicians, has already submitted views to the state. How can any education policy be framed without talking to those imparting education in a state? Hence, we are also seeking views of teachers on the issue," he said.
The NEP, aimed at paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems, replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address at the conference, said "maximum flexibility" has to be shown in implementing the policy.
The PM also said that it is natural for stakeholders to have questions about various aspects of the policy and "we are all working to address all these questions".