National Education Policy Alliance, India’s diverse group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has started an avant-garde concept of creating a Wiki on the government’s draft National Education Policy (NEP) to democratize the policy discourse. The Wiki is at www.nep.ccs.in. The idea is to have an open platform to deliberate, publically collaborate and find realistic solutions for the challenges plaguing the education sector and influence the policy in a participatory manner. It is a collaborative, productive and a transparent platform for public discourse on education policy.
India has embarked on a historic mission of formulating a new National Education Policy (NEP), which was left untouched since 1992. The two official documents give a distinct idea of the contours of the NEP: One by the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy, headed by TSR Subramanian and the second by the MHRD titled ‘Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016.’ The MHRD has also invited comments on the document with a deadline of July 31 to be mailed at – NEP email@example.com. Both the documents are open to discussion on the platform- NEP Wiki.
The launch of the participatory platform of Wiki coincides with the reshuffle in the Cabinet and Shri Prakash Javadekar has become the HRD Minister. Shri Javadekar has the first hand knowledge of the complexity of the challenges in school education as his mother and sister have been teachers. This complexity requires working with all voices and stakeholders, none more so than the citizens of India. He will be particularly thrilled to see the active engagement of the citizenry on this critical issue of national education policy formulation.
Visibly excited at the prospect, Dr Parth Shah, Founder & President, Centre for Civil Society (CCS) said, “Technology has been the most powerful tool for democratization of public space. A group of citizens and CSOs—NEP Alliance—has decided to democratize the whole policy discourse via NEP WIKI. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first in the history of Indian public policy making.”
Professor Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, Chair, UCL Institute of Education, University College London and Economist said, “The NEP-wiki is an excellent initiative, which will give voice to many stakeholders who feel passionately about improving the quality of education in the country. I urge the contributors to write only evidence-based critiques and suggestions, in order to make the contributions free of ideology and focus mainly on what works and what does not, to improve quality of schooling.”
Wiki provides a transparent process wherein one can read the comments of all the others, as opposed to each one sending in suggestions unknown to other citizens. It is a more collaborative approach since before making a comment, one can see all the other points of views and therefore build on the contributions of all. It is more productive since at the end of the process, there will be a new document on policy and not just a list of random reform ideas.
Commenting on the novel idea of the participatory democracy, Mr D Shashi Kumar, Director, Brain Center and General Secretary, KAMS Karnataka (Associated Managements of Private Unaided Schools in Karnataka) said, “We are thrilled about the initiative taken by NEP Alliance as it is the need of the moment to showcase the concern of all individuals in policy making on Indian education. Usually suggestions are taken only from a few individuals who do not have practical experience. It is time to harness digital technology and rope in people from all walks of life.”
Stating his views on the NEP Wiki, Mr C L Rose, Secretary General, All India Associations of Teachers’ Organizations (AIFTO) said, “Teachers are rarely consulted in making policies about education. Most assume that they would oppose reforms. The NEP Wiki allows teachers as well as all the real stakeholders to voice their concerns on the policy and do it publicly.”