Controversy Surrounding the PM-USHA Implementation
The Ministry of Education’s (MoE) decision to link the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 with the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) has sparked debates and raised concerns. This move has stirred discussions around inclusivity, equity, and cooperative federalism, with various States and Union Territories expressing dissent.
GS- 02 (Education, Government Policies & Interventions)
- NEP 2020
- Discuss the implications of mandating NEP 2020 adherence for availing funds under PM-USHA and analyze the reasons behind the dissenting States’ refusal to comply. (150 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- A Central Scheme’s Impact on States
- The Conditioned Agreement: Assessing the Memorandum of Understanding
- The Backdoor Diplomacy of NEP 2020: Concerns and Implications
- Concerns: Accessibility and Economic Considerations
A Central Scheme’s Impact on States
- The recent guidelines unveiled by the Ministry of Education have set a course that requires States and Union Territories to follow the NEP 2020 to access funds allocated under the PM-USHA.
- However, this approach has triggered concerns of exclusivity, potentially sidelining those States that have reservations about the policy’s implications.
- The PM-USHA, essentially an evolution of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, strives to enhance the accessibility, equity, and quality of higher education through central financial support.
- As of now, only 22 out of several States and Union Territories have chosen to participate, signifying a divergence in perspectives.
The Conditioned Agreement: Assessing the Memorandum of Understanding
- The linchpin of the PM-USHA implementation lies in the memorandum of understanding between the States and the Department of Higher Education.
- This memorandum not only emphasizes adherence to the NEP 2020 but also necessitates adopting specific guidelines such as the National Credit Framework and Choice Based Credit System for Four Year Undergraduate Programmes.
- This conditional pact serves as a gateway for accessing a substantial fund allocation of ₹12,926.10 crore spanning 2023-24 to 2025-26. However, this fund-sharing model stipulates that States contribute 40% of the funds, creating a dual financial commitment.
The Backdoor Diplomacy of NEP 2020: Concerns and Implications
- For certain States, NEP 2020 has been a contentious proposition since its inception. The demand to restore education to the State List, coupled with reservations about its content and impact, underscores the complexity of the issue.
- The PM-USHA’s conditions appear tailored to enforce NEP 2020 indirectly, raising questions about the true intent behind the scheme.
- Moreover, the call for multiple entry and exit options within degree programs, and alignment with the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework guidelines, introduces a new layer of uncertainty.
- Academic experts caution against the potential rise in dropouts due to these options, casting a shadow on the policy’s feasibility.
Concerns: Accessibility and Economic Considerations
- The spotlight on a four-year undergraduate program, though intended to enhance the educational experience, unveils economic and accessibility challenges.
- Economically disadvantaged students might find it daunting to bear the additional financial burden and time commitment that comes with an extended college duration.
- These concerns amplify when considering States like Meghalaya, which is in its nascent stages of operationalizing its state university. Even amidst supportive states, calls for reevaluating funding criteria and expanding beneficiary units are echoing.
- Navigating through this complexity requires a balanced and cooperative approach. It’s paramount for the Ministry of Education to engage in constructive dialogues with dissenting States, respecting the principles of cooperative federalism. The path forward involves acknowledging and addressing the valid concerns expressed by States and Union Territories while aligning the goals of higher education enhancement with the realities on the ground.
- The intertwining of NEP 2020 with the PM-USHA has given rise to a nuanced discourse within the educational landscape. As the wheels of education turn, it’s crucial to recognize that diversity in perspectives enriches policy formulation and implementation. By fostering collaboration, transparency, and mutual understanding, India can pave the way for a harmonious educational growth trajectory that values inclusivity, equity, and the cooperative spirit that binds the nation together.