IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 4th Nov 2020
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown
EDITORIAL HUNT #223 :“Academic Freedom Index vs NEP 2020 | UPSC”
Academic Freedom Index vs NEP 2020 | UPSC
Jos Chathukulam is the director of Centre for Rural Management (CRM), Kottayam
Academia and the free will
India’s dismal score on the Academic Freedom Index (AFI) reflects the issues plaguing the country’s education system
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Education
Discuss the hurdles in research and development inside university campuses with respect to AFI 2020. Do you think National Education Policy can bridge the innovation gap ? -(GS 3)
- NEP 2020
- AFI 2020
- Key Parameters
- Claims of NEP 2020
- Way Forward
- BACKGROUND : India announced its National Education Policy (NEP) on July 29 this year.
- POLICY OBJECTIVE : The policy aims at overhauling the educational system in the country and making “India a global knowledge superpower”.
- ALL NEW GOAL : The new system is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4).
- UNIVERSAL ACCESS : It also emphasises on raising the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), and ending the spiralling dropout rate in India.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM INDEX
- EROSION OF FREEDOM : One of the key disappointments is that the real problem plaguing the educational system in the country and the higher education system, the erosion of academic freedom.
- TOTAL SCORE : India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI) with a score of 0.352.
- CLOSE FOLLOWERS : We are closely followed by Saudi Arabia (0.278) and Libya (0.238).
- COUNTRIES DOING BETTER : Surprisingly, countries like Malaysia (0.582), Pakistan (0.554), Brazil (0.466), Somalia (0.436) and Ukraine (0.422) have scored better than India.
- LEADERS OF ACADEMICS : Uruguay and Portugal top the AFI, with scores of 0.971 each, followed closely by Latvia (0.964) and Germany (0.960).
THE MANY CLAIMS IN NEP 2020
- FREEDOM OF SCHOLARS : The AFI and the accompanying report quantify the freedom of scholars to discuss politically and culturally controversial topics, without fearing for their life is an aspect where India is failing terribly.
- NEP 2020 AND CREATIVITY : The NEP 2020 claims that it is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
- FREEDOM TO DESIGN : The policy states that faculty will be given the freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework.
- RESEARCH ANGLE : NEP also suggests constituting a National Research Foundation (NRF), a merit-based and peer-reviewed research funding, which will be governed, independently of the government.
- BEST IN-CLASS RESEARCH FACILITIES : NRF will have a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields.
- ON THE GROUND : However, the question is whether these promises and offers will be put into practice or remain just a rhetoric.
- POLITICS VS LIBRARIES : AFI has cited the ‘Free to Think: Report of the Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project’, to suggest that the political tensions in India may have something to do with declining ‘academic freedom’.
The AFI used eight components to evaluate the scores:
- Freedom to research and teach
- Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
- Institutional autonomy
- Campus integrity
- Freedom of academic and cultural expression
- Constitutional protection of academic freedom
- International legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Existence of universities.
- GRADING PATTERN : India has not fared well in components like institutional autonomy, campus integrity, freedom of academic and cultural expression and constitutional protection of academic freedom.
- HINDRANCES : Most universities in the country are subjected to unsolicited interference from state in both academic and non-academic issues.
- TOP RANKING POSTS : It is common that a majority of appointments, especially to top-ranking posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have been highly politicised.
- FAVOURITISM : Appointments including those in licensing and accreditation, thus promoting unhealthy favouritism and nepotism in staff appointments and student admissions.
- RENT-SEEKING CULTURE : This reflects a ‘rent-seeking culture’ within the academic community.
- BUREAUCRATIC SETUP : At present, many educational institutions and regulatory bodies, both at the Central and State levels, are headed by bureaucrats.
- AUTONOMY : NEP 2020 also talks about giving autonomy to higher education institutions by handing over their administration to a board comprising academicians.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Academic Freedom Index vs NEP 2020 | UPSC