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What is there for tribals in the new education policy?

Amarendra Kishore
The new National Education Policy (NEP), implemented in 2020 in place of the nearly 34-year-old education policy, is being considered as a recipe for transformational reform in the education system. It is expected that it will bring out the unique abilities of the students by making the school-college education system more flexible and holistic. The question is, how much space has been given to the tribal society in this policy?

Government and experts say that the vision of NEP 2020 contributes directly to the development of the nation. In this context, it is reiterated that children in the age group of 3 to 6 years will have access to free and high-quality education by 2025, as there is a serious learning crisis in India. The government acknowledges that children enroll for pre-primary, but fail to acquire basic skills. This failure is clearly visible in many such tribal dominated districts including Koderma-Kaimur-Karimnagar. In districts like Rayagada-Kanked-Jhabua and Adilabad, cut off from the mainstream, the talk of basic skills becomes redundant. These districts are nurseries of unskilled labor.

how much share
Can NEP be expected to bring about a paradigm shift in the lives of tribal communities? There should be a discussion on the share of forest-dependent communities, residents of mountains or tribal communities living in the plains in the NEP. The big problem is that for a long time the tribals were not told the purpose of education. He was not even asked what is his priority in life? Why are they studying? If you are studying for a job, what information do they have about employment?

forest management
The Kothari Commission formed in 1964 had said in the context of education that internal change, qualitative improvement and expansion of facilities are necessary in human beings. But in its place in wild culture, the exaggerated facts of the plains and the glory of the great heroes started. The forest of the tribals was not there in their education even earlier. Although there is mention of forest management in NEP 2020, there is no serious discussion on forests. By the way, the tribals have their own forest management, which has reached here through their tradition. If the management of forests is taught to them apart from their tradition, how much will they accept it?

dialect vs language
Statistics show that out of 74 identified tribal dialects in the country, more than twelve have disappeared. For thousands of years, tribals were saving them by bringing them into practice. Is there any initiative to save or cherish them in the new education policy? The tribal community has been hesitating even with Hindi, but learning English is a compulsion for them. Sociologists believe that teaching tribal children in an unfamiliar language not only limits their ability to learn, but also negates their traditional knowledge. From this point of view, under the National Education Policy, the system of imparting education in mother tongue can certainly prove to be somewhat beneficial.

In the draft on education policy in 1979, there was a proposal to increase the awareness of ethics and education. In the new education policy of 1992, again the same quality was talked about, but this time it has been talked about connecting education with the realities of life. Even then the education of tribals was nowhere seen as a priority, neither in Delhi nor in the state capitals. On the contrary, an illusion was created to make the policy successful by providing schools with scholarships and residential facilities to tribal children. Such facilities were not even reviewed whether such protective and compensatory measures should be continued or not?

Many loopholes still remain in our education system. There is no dearth of facilities in the present form of tribal education, but the question arises that seven decades have passed while providing facilities to the tribals, yet why the situation is the same today as it was decades ago.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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