Bengaluru: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said the draft National Education Policy calls for a "pragmatic" language policy in which the mother tongue is given its due importance, as also the proficiency in other languages, required to advance in a multilingual world. He also noted that it was time to "re-think, re-imagine and re-invent" the entire education system.
"We in India are now embarking on a major reform process. You would have read about the draft National Education policy that has been released for public debate a few days ago. It is a document that covers a whole range of issues in great detail. It seeks to lay out a path for making quality education accessible to all children and youth," Naidu said.Pointing out that the draft policy also looks at the need to aim for excellence and equity, he said it strikes a balance between the national needs and ethos and the need to prepare students in India to be among the best in the global context. "It calls for a pragmatic language policy in which the mother tongue is given its due importance and so also is proficiency in other languages required to advance in a multilingual world," he added. The Vice President was speaking at the inauguration of the golden jubilee celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Amid the controversy over the recommendation of an HRD Ministry panel to teach Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states, a revised draft education policy was issued recently that did not mention the language being made compulsory. Several south Indian states had strongly opposed the three language formula in the draft policy and alleged it was tantamount to thrusting the Hindi language on them. Naidu pointed out that India today was a young nation with more than 50 per cent of its population aged below 25 years and more than 65 per cent below age of 35, which was a huge untapped demographic dividend, to realize which investment has to be made in education. "We must ensure our education system is revamped to equip our young children and youth with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the 21st century. The foundations of this structure must be strengthened," a copy of Naidu's speech shared with the media quoted him as saying. Noting that India's literacy rate was 74.04 per cent and the youth literacy rate, measured within the age group of 15 to 24, was 81.1 per cent, Naidu said it has to ensured that in the next few years, the country has a population that can read and write, compute, articulate and participate with greater self-confidence in the developmental processes. The Vice President said the school system must be more child friendly, geared towards a holistic development of each child's innate faculties and added that the higher education system needs to be re-engineered to bring in greater emphasis on excellence in research and teaching. Naidu pointed out that the draft education policy has a number of recommendations that will potentially advance the education agenda of the country and help India move towards a higher growth trajectory. These suggestions of the expert panel have to be studied by all stakeholders in the country and there must be an active engagement with key issues raised in the draft policy,he said. "As our economy becomes more robust and resilient, as we keep reforming each of our governance structures and trying to transform the lives of our citizens, as we gain greater stature in the comity of nations, the education system, the catalytic development accelerator, should be further activated and given utmost attention. "We have to shape the future. The onus of moulding the future is upon us collectively and we must not fail. It is time that we re-think, re-imagine and re-invent our entire education system," he added.