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  • Priyank Sharma

Is policy a legal document? Are states supposed to adhere to the national education policy 2020?

Is policy a legal document? Are states supposed to adhere to the national education policy 2020? What if, they don't?

Why can't policies be converted to laws? Wouldn't it be easier if policies could be laws and states are bound to follow them?

We will take these two questions for today.

Let's be clear, policies are not a legal document. So, there's no legal binding for a policy to be implemented. And, education is in concurrent list, so both state and central govt can make their own policies for education. Therefore, a state can have a completely different education policy than the national education policy.

So, why would state adhere to the national education policy?

It's because of the fact that the funding comes from the centre. Constitutionally, a state can choose to reject a national education policy and have their own policy, but where will the money come from.

"Sab paise ka khel h babu bhaiya"

With any policy comes money, and it's this money that everyone wants. Because to build a better school, college or anything, you need money. So, though centre can never force the state govt to do as they say, by law, but they indirectly force them because: "If you don't listen to me, I won't give a penny". This is how central govt have been implementing all other education policies and missions.

Now, why can't we convert policies into laws? Just like RTE?

Because policies are not supposed to be laws. Every context is different, and state govts are supposed to take policies as guiding documents, and then tune it to their context. A law will devoid state govts. from revising the policy according to their context, and it could negatively impact the very purpose of the law.

Can you give an example?

For instance, one of the detrimental impacts of Right to Education (RTE) was that a lot of single teacher schools and schools for particular communities had to be shut down because they didn't adhere to the RTE law. Walking one km in hilly areas is different from one km in plains, right? So, hilly terrains in Himachal Pradesh can not have the same distance laws. Or not all schools provide access to SC/ST students (that's the social reality), hence, community schools, though not adhering to RTE, were needed. So, ironically, RTE was brought in to make sure that every child is able to access school, but the same RTE created barriers for access (Please note, this doesn't mean I am against RTE, I can give you 10 other reasons why RTE was needed).

In my next post, I will give an example and explain why great policies fail during implementation.

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