“The Tamil Nadu government is reluctant to take Tamil pride to the national level,” accused Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Exclusive interview given by him to our daily:
In the new National Education Policy, mother tongue education is said to be given importance. How do you implement it?
All the states are unanimous in giving importance to mother tongue education. So, currently, we are working on designing various course units. Then, we will create lesson plans for it.
Let’s write textbooks. National Institute of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is responsible for this. It coordinates all the state education councils and conducts district level discussions. In a few months, the first batch of textbooks will be out.
Why so much concern for mother tongue education?
There is a socioeconomic problem here. Not everyone can go for English education. It is the mother tongue that helps employment and progress in rural areas and among the poor and needy. Take, for example, Abdul Kalam, the great personality of this state.
He did his primary education in Tamil and that is why all educationists insist that education should be taught in the mother tongue. Tamilians continue to oppose trilingualism. But the National Education Policy also proposes a trilingual policy.
How will you convince the Tamil Nadu government?
Education is included in the general list of central and state governments. Here from the beginning, there is an idea. At the same time, there is no confusion in people’s minds. In many schools, different languages are taught. Learning a language is not a problem in today’s technological world. Learning multiple languages is also fully accepted by the Tamil community.
Tamils are now learning Malayalam, Kannada, English and various other languages. So, I don’t think there is any contradiction here. The government can never stop social change. Chief Minister Stalin has said that ‘national education policy is taking away Tamil Nadu’s rights’.
In the affidavit filed in the High Court, the Government of Tamil Nadu has stated that ‘implementation of the National Education Policy is cruelty to the people of Tamil Nadu’.
When the National Education Policy was formulated, was the Tamil Nadu government consulted or not?
Tamil Nadu was also asked for its opinion. I don’t understand one thing. I went to Gandhi Grama University in Dindigul. An exhibition has been held there to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence.
In it, they kept the photographs of all the freedom fighters of Tamil Nadu. It also had pictures of soldiers from the 18th century.
Will the Tamil Nadu government object to taking this rare treasure to the national level?
Tamil is an older language. Its culture and history are ancient. The National Education Policy says that this cultural resource should be taken to a national level. Does the Tamil Nadu government oppose it? If the history of Tamil Nadu is like this, how can we accept the national education policy that reflects all that, if the cruelty is inflicted on the people of Tamil Nadu?
The National Education Policy gives importance to Tamil and mother tongue education, does the Tamil Nadu government oppose this?
We want to provide skill development training to the youth here and create employment for them, is the Tamil Nadu government opposing it? All these oppositions are purely political. It has nothing to do with the education of the students and their future.
I have no answer to the political objections. Tamil Nadu government says that if there are orders from the Governor of Tamil Nadu or from the education department of the central government, the vice chancellors should first bring it to the attention of the state higher education department.
Wouldn’t this be like interfering with the independence of the Vice-Chancellors?
You are asking a good question to the wrong person. Ask the vice-chancellors. We do not even interfere in the day-to-day operations of the UGC. It is an autonomous body. It is managed by academics and intellectuals. Vice Chancellors should be given independence and autonomy.
We expect the state governments to extend similar respect to the vice chancellors. It has been seven years since the launch of the Prime Minister’s National Skill Development Programme.
How are its benefits?
Today everything is becoming technological. In this case, everyone should improve their skills; Need to update. In this case, the central government is developing a skill development framework at the national level to create job opportunities.
States, industry and commerce should adapt to this change. Nowadays no one goes to the bank to withdraw or deposit money. It’s a digital transaction. Hence, ‘Digital Payments’ have arrived.
Who brought this skill development?
People have improved themselves. Now, new mobile phones are coming, new electronic devices are coming. Who told them to run these; People learn them. These are naturally occurring skill development and nurturing. The central government is implementing a comprehensive framework to make all these possible.
Is there a growing demand to include Tamil in the languages taught in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools?
If a certain number of students come forward and request that they learn a language, the school principal will do so. This also applies to Tamil Nadu. During the previous Tamil Nadu government period, ‘NEET’ exam coaching classes were conducted. After the new government took over, those classes were discontinued. This is why it is said that not enough government school students have passed the ‘NEET’ exam this year.
Can you crack NEET only with practice?
Definitely not. Our approach is completely different. The current Tamil Nadu government’s opposition to NEET has nothing to do with coaching. It is purely political. I don’t want to talk about this. There are countless other reasons why they oppose NEET.
It was not the central government that came up with the ‘NEET’ exam; Supreme Court. There are two reasons for that. One is merit and the other is transparency. Tamil Nadu should realize this and cooperate with the central government in the matter of ‘NEET’.
In terms of training, the central government has embarked on a completely different initiative. Funds have been earmarked for starting 200 educational TV channels in every language and every subject. This educational training will be available free of cost to all students. We do not accept paid training.
It is said that urban students are more successful than rural students in NEET?
The data doesn’t say that. Students from both sides have won. Even poor students from rural areas of India have cracked NEET. For example, many students who have studied in Navodaya schools have scored well in NEET.
In Tiruvarur Madhya University, there are only four departments. What steps will be taken to create additional subjects?
Action will be taken for sure. For the past few days, I have been touring all over Tamil Nadu. IITs and Central Universities are sure to become the biggest academic temples in the future. Currently, there are only three universities in India that teach English and foreign languages.
Today, with the growing interest in learning foreign languages, will the central government start an additional university?
University of Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. The central government is trying to start a digital university. For two years now, IIT Chennai has been successfully running an ‘online’ degree program in the field of data science. I participated in it and awarded certificates to the students who completed the foundation and diploma courses.
We provide quality education online. So, we have to depend more on online education system to learn foreign languages. Such are the courses. This is the best way to get quality foreign language training at a low cost. After the corona pandemic, the demand for research in the field of medical science is increasing.
Will the central government increase financial support for such studies; Create systems?
‘Medical data science research’ is happening at your IIT, Chennai. Such studies are for future development. Therefore, there is no need for new systems. Multidisciplinary scientific studies are sufficient. I have no doubt that Tamil Nadu will take the lead in such studies.
Bharatiyar and V.U.C. have been asked to declare Tirunelveli Madhya Pradesh, Hindu College Higher Secondary School as a national monument?
As India completes 75 years of independence, the central government supports the measures to protect the schools where national leaders studied. A good decision will be reached in consultation with the Tamil Nadu government and the school management. This was said by the minister.
– Our Correspondent —
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