Actor Suriya has once again spoken strongly against the Central Government’s Draft Education Policy, stating that it shows the centre’s complete disregard for the lives of students outside cities who go to schools and colleges that lack basic facilities. He said the policy will increase stress levels and drop-out rates, making an already highly unequal education system worse.
The speech was given at the 40th anniversary event of Sri Sivakumar Educational Foundation. The Film Journalists’ Association and several other people and unions have come in his support.
Expressing his disappointment and anger at the lack of noise around the issue, he said, “The policy will decide the future of 30 crore students. Those in cities like Chennai are safe. But children in villages are going to suffer, and we can do nothing but watch if we don’t act now.”
He explained the four main issues that the rule will bring – shutting down of nearly 2,000 schools and 35,000 colleges, confusion around the three-language policy, increase in drop out rates with public exams for secondary school students and the semester system for high school students, and lack of access to coaching facilities with the introduction of entrance exams for all college degrees.
He said, “The draft education committee, headed by respected Kasturirangan sir, has said that schools with less than 10 students will be closed down. Where will these students go? There are problems in these schools that must be fixed, but the schools cannot be closed down. Students travel miles and there are no bus facilities to get to these schools. We have about 1840 schools like these. Primary education of all students who go here will become a big question.”
He also said there was no clarity on language imposition yet, and if implemented, the three-language formula will be imposed on 4-year-old children. “There is also going to be a public exam for students in 3rd, 5th and 8th standards, and those who don’t do well will drop-out out of shame.”
He said that research shows that about 95 percent of the students join school at a primary level and the number of students enrolled reduces to 55 percent by the time they reach class 10. The drop-out rates have not changed in the last 10 years, and 30 percent of students write their 12th public exams without any guidance from teachers. “How will these students write six semesters in class 11 and 12? How can we ask them to write NEET exams?”
The draft also proposes the introduction of entrance exams for all degrees. Suriya said that schools will be converted to coaching centres, denying access to crores of students, and making education a big industry. “Didn’t we see the problem with NEET? About 1 lakh students wrote the exam and only one government school student was able to clear it. 60 percent of those who passed NEET this year completed class 12 two years ago. They studied at private coaching centres to clear the exam. These centres across the country are earning over Rs 5,000 crores. And this is the state even before the rule has been implemented for other degrees. Why are we even saying government school students are our future when we are denying them education?”
The draft also says that the number of colleges and centres for higher education will reduce from 50,000 to 12,000. However, it proposes that there will be a 50 percent rise in the students who pursue higher studies. Suriya said, “Why is there no fear or consciousness around this? And what is the government’s urgency to bring this policy?”
The central government’s Draft Education Policy is available for comments from the public till July 31.
Read the draft and submit your comments here – https://innovate.mygov.in/new-education-policy-2019/