Content of Report

Content of Subramanain Committee NEP Report – ‘National Policy on Education 2016’

The earlier subsection, Formation of Committee, dealt  with the constituting of the Subramanian NEP Drafting Committee on October 31, 2015,  and why it was established . It  concluded with its Report morphing to the National Policy on Education 2016, when it was submitted to  MHRD on April 30, 2016.

This section begins with providing a link to the text of the 2-Volume Report of the Subramanian Committee, and will focus on the inputs that went into its drafting. It first provides an understanding of why MHRD expected the Committee to meet the December deadline for producing a Draft NEP Report. It then deals with in some detail  the limitations of the inputs the Committee  received from from the MHRD -initiated grassroots, state and thematic consultations  held during the previous 6 months. Consequently , the Committee had to broaden the  scope and nature of its consultations, which was a primary reason for  its  failure to meet the MHRD December deadline.

This section  also the  covers the relevant implications of the conflict between Mr. TSR Subramanian, Chairman of the Committee and Ms. Smriti Irani, the Union HRD Minister over the public release of the Committee Report,  and concludes with an evaluation of this document.

Text of Draft NEP Report

The terms of reference of  the Subramanian Committee was to produce in 2 months by December 31, 2015, a Draft New Education Policy and a Framework of Action. The Drafting Committee was renamed the Committe for Evolution of the New Education Policy. By April 30th, 2016 when the Draft New Education Policy Report was finally submitted without a Framework of Action, it was also renamed as ‘National Policy on Education 2016‘, of the Committee For Evolution of the New Education Policy.

The National Policy on Education or the  Subramanian Committee Report contains two volumes. The first deals with the main report and proposals, and the pdf is provided on the NUEPA website.

The second volume provides various annexures including a detailed list  of official and non-official organisations,  networks and experts consulted Vol.II-Annex-to-the-Report-of-the-Committee-for-Evolution-of-the-NEP-2016

Why MHRD Expected The Subramanian Committee to Meet the December Deadline

As demonstrated earlier, Ms. Irani had reiterated on several occasions that the NEP would be completed by the end of December 2015. In the previous 6 months, prior to constituting the Subramanian Committee, there had been extensive consultations held within states,  zones as well as national level thematic discussions organised by apex organisations.

It was expected by MHRD expected that the Subramanian Committee would  mainly rely on the these recommendations and perspectives which had already been posted on the official government website. MHRD  viewed the contribution of others in this process as limited, noting that the “ Committee may hold further consultations with experts, if that is felt necessary by them”.

This view of MHRD that the Subramanian Committee could cobble a Draft report in 2 months as it mainly – and perhaps only – needed to consult the perspectives and recommendations of the official consultations spread over the previous six months was completely unfounded.  As the following detailed analysis shows, the contributions of these NEP grassroots, state, zonal and thematic consultations yielded little that the  Subramanian Committee could concretely use.

The Limitations of the Inputs Provided by the Official Consultaions to the Subramanian Committee

Beginning in early November 2015, and using the National University of Educational Planning (NUEPA) as its Secretariat, the Committee for Evolution of New Education Policy  began  its deliberations.

Actual  Grassroots and State- level Inputs in the Framing of the  Subramanian Draft NEP Report Considerably Underwhelming

According to Smriti Irani, the foundation and the USP of the NEP  was that the voices of the people would be for the first time  heard  from the the extensive inputs  received from the MHRD scheduled consultations from more than 2.6 lakh villages, blocks, districts, urban local bodies, states and zones  in India.

As analysed in the subsection, NEP developments, Jan – Oct.2015,  most of the approximately 2.6 lakh meetings were not held, far fewer posted. What were the grassroots and state inputs received by the Subramanian Committee? Since there was a deliberate MHRD strategy to exclude the public from viewing any of the NEP recommendations from districts and states, as well as all the consultations of apex bodies and academic institutions, it is unclear what recommendations were provided to the Subramanian Committee.

According to articles which appeared in The Indian Express during the third week of May, the Subramananian  Committee was provided summaries of state recommendations on the 33 NEP themes on Higher Education and School Education outlined by MHRD for discussions. These summaries would at best have helped the Subramanian Committee to get a feel for what the state education department and its functionaries felt about various MHRD- specified themes on education.

Beyond this, the state – level  recommendations would have had  extremely limited utility to the Subramanian  Committee. First and foremost, these inputs emerged out of consultations which had varied and extreme limitations. The quality of these inputs were also constrained by the poor quality of the MHRD discussion documents used in state and local  level NEP consultations which were dominated by  by the state and local education department officials and school functionaries.

Furthermore, academicians, educationists, NGOs in education, politicians and other Civil Society members were conspicuous by their absence. All of this has  already been detailed in both my commentary and extended critique, as well as other articles and reports, delineated in the earlier section, ‘Discussions/Critiques of NEP Formulation: Process and Content, Jan. 2015 – Oct. 2015’

These  state summaries provided to the Subramanian Committee were responses from only 16 of the 36 States and UTs – most of them smaller states – comprising 25% of the population of India. In addition, the state-level inputs had other limitations. The responses were little help in terms of policy formulation, as few were based on scientific studies and data. For example, while all states overwhelmingly indicated that significantly increased ICT inputs would improving student learning in schools, they were unable to cite specific studies or data to back this assertion.

Submission of  the Subramanian Committee Report and the Conflict between Shri Subramanian and Ms. Irani over Putting it  in the Public Domain

The Subramanian Committee was unable to meet  the December 2015 deadline, and received two extensions before finally submitting  its report to MHRD on April 30, 2016. Within a week of submitting the report, Mr. TSR Subramanian, Chairman of the Committee wrote to  Ms. Smriti Irani, the Union HRD Minister to make the NEP Draft report public, and added that  if MHRD failed to take this step that  he would do so.

According to a newspaper report, the former had conveyed to Ms. Irani that  placing the Committee document in the public domain would be in the public interest, and that it would facilitate receiving   important inputs in the policy making process.  Ms. Irani publicly refuted the idea of immediately putting the report in the public domain, and conveyed that she would not disclose the report’s contents before  MHRD received views and feedback from all state governments.

Shortly after this very public disagreement,  both volumes of the entire report were leaked almost immediately made public.  While the national press published extensive summaries of the document,  soft copies of the entire report were soon made available to interested readers by the third week of June, 2016.

Interestingly, while the Report does not feature on official government websites,   the apex national government institution – National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) – also uploaded the text of the report on its website . Links to the text of this 2-Volume report is provided at the beginning of this subsection.

Copies of the Subramanian Committee  Report entitled ” National Policy on Education 2016″, of the Committee For Evolution of the New Education Policy was widely circulated and discussed. Almost immediately, the deliberate silence of MHRD on this public circulation and discussion of the Subramanian Committee Report  ended  with the publication of its own report by the end of June entitled, ” Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy”.

A separate section, MHRD Draft NEP Report, is devoted to the latest official NEP Document. However, it is relevant at this juncture  to highlight the fact that  the Subramanain Committee Report  is not even mentioned in the latest MHRD document. Such a glaring omission can only be attributed to Ms. Irani’s personal conflict with Shri TSR Subramanian over his decision to  publicly  circulate the  Committee Report.

This conflict  leading to the Subramanian Committee Report  being conspicuously and deliberately omitted in the subsequent MHRD Draft NEP Report has had adverse consequences for the status of the former publication.  It has now  become a “non-official” document. While it has not entirely been consigned to the rubbish bin of history, the official view  expressed by Shri Prakash Javadekar, the current MHRD Minister, is that the Subramanian Committee Report will  provide “inputs” for the formulation of the next New Education Policy.