Guwahati: Implementation of National Education Policy is a huge challenge in Assam with multiethnic societies compared to the bigger states with one language, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday.

“Although in Assam we speak Assamese, everybody knows Assamese…when we say that children have the right to be taught in their mother tongue, this is a different ball game altogether,” the chief minister said addressing the North East Education Conclave at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) auditorium here.

The conclave was organised by Assam’s education department and Shankardev Education and Research Foundation (SERF)

“The same goes for Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and other states as they do not have a single mother language,” Sarma said.

“The role of the central government is very important in achieving the goals of the policy in the Northeast. The Central and state governments will have to work closely in developing the NEP implementation framework for the region, the chief minister said.

This will ensure that the Northeastern states do not lag behind in implementing the policy. “We know we need to implement this policy for the future of the country,” he added.

“We have bigger challenges…children have a right to get education in their mother tongue at least up to Class V. It is a very easy concept when we are in Lucknow or Delhi…everybody knows Hindi…” Sarma said.

“But when it comes to a diverse region like the North East with 180 languages, it is a challenge,” Sarma said.

“States will have to recruit teachers who can teach in these languages and prepare textbooks every year. the state prepares textbooks in four languages and mix-up of these books or errors in content is not well received,” Sarma said.

Himanta Biswa Sarma speaking at the NE Education Conclave

“People are sensitive about their languages,” the chief minister said.

“Even a minor human error is not appreciated,” Sarma also said.;

Sarma said that the NEP has been adapted to the times by incorporating the new scientific thinking of the 21st century. This policy is also synchronized with the basic tenets of India’s civilization which is based on the foundation of knowledge and wisdom.

While beginning his speech with a Sanskrit sloka “विद्याधन सर्वधनात् प्रधानम्”, the chief minister also quoted Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who said, “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”.

Sarma further said that the NEP 2020 gives the students an opportunity to go beyond mark sheets to strive for knowledge. He said that NEP 2020 will help to make India more powerful, take the country to greater heights, empower students and afford them opportunities to grow.

He also viewed that this will free the student community from the rat race and inculcate creative and innovative thinking in them.

Sarma also highlighted the progress made by the state education department in the implementation of NEP 2020. He informed about various steps taken including the constitution of the High-level Committee, the implementation plan for NEP, the process undertaken for upgrading North Lakhimpur College, Nagaon College, JB College, Sibsagar College and Handique Girls College to the level of a university.

Addressing the conclave as chief guest, Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the country’s education sector is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, and the National Education Policy 2020 introduced by the Union government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims at preparing the youth to be future-ready, socially aware, global citizens of the 21st century.

“NEP 2020 is a visionary approach to transform the education landscape of the country and to achieve the realistic goal and to percolate its ripple effect to the grassroots,” Pradhan said.

The National Education Policy is a unifying factor in stimulating Indian knowledge systems, regional languages, arts & culture and in celebrating our diversity and strengths as a civilization, Pradhan said.

The diversity of languages can’t be witnessed better than in the Northeast with about 180 languages being spoken by tribes residing in the region. The NEP has amplified the potential of language in education, he added.

Assam education minister Ranoj Pegu, vice-chancellor of CSS University, Meerut, UP, Prof Narendra Kumar Taneja, UGC chairman, Prof DP Singh, education ministers of eight NE states, Assam’s education advisor Prof Nani Copal Mahanta, stakeholders and academicians were present in the inaugural session.

Also read: Assam govt allocates 2 MBBS seats to students from Bhutan

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