September 08, 2015

India: RSS's Dinanath Batra wants education panel on the lines of Election Commission

The Hindu
NEW DELHI, September 8, 2015

Batra moots education panel on the lines of EC

Nistula Hebbar

Dinanath Batra called for integrating life lessons with academics.
The HIndu

The new education policy, to be debated and finalised this year, has received many suggestions for inclusion, but none would be as influential as those forwarded by Dinanath Batra, chairman of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan and member of the new committee on education advising the Government of Haryana.

Mr. Batra, who earlier headed the RSS’ school education wing, Vidya Bharati, and successfully litigated against Wendy Doniger’s book On Hinduism, envisages sweeping changes to the education system, including the setting up of an education commission, on the lines of the Election Commission. “An education commission, just like the Election Commission will be responsible for the organisation of education in India. This will include education in values, of how to be a part of and raise a good family,” he told The Hindu in an interview.

Mr. Batra said that setting up of a commission like this would insulate education policy from political regime changes.

“The idea is to integrate life lessons with academics. For example, our young people must be taught how to be good mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. What food to eat as expecting mothers, what books to read,” Mr. Batra said. He termed it family education as opposed to sex education to which he was against. It was on his advice that the Madhya Pradesh government had discontinued sex education from its State curriculum.

“Just as I have advised the Haryana government, the Centre too should re-introduce examinations up to Class VIII which they had discontinued earlier. That system has only encouraged children not to apply themselves as there is no fear of evaluation,” he said. “It would be unpopular but necessary,” he added.

Mr. Batra also spoke in favour of not binding university students to a fixed course, but allow students the freedom to pick and choose courses and subjects from various departments in a college or even within a university.

“At least 6% of the GDP should be set aside for education by the government and a Bharatiya Education Service should be created to administer the education commission and schools and colleges. Teacher education should be increased to five years, straight after Class 12,” he said. “The final year of the training should be at a village school for rural students or a slum-based school for urban students,” he said.

Mr. Batra’s suggestions were part of the presentation made by Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani at the RSS-BJP co-ordination meet. The RSS had expressed the view that an education commission was not really feasible but that “Leftist influence” on India’s education policy and its textbooks be weeded out.

Mr. Batra is considered a formidable influence on matters pertaining to education in the Sangh Parivar. Textbooks written by him are compulsory in Gujarat, and he formally and informally shaped education policies in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.