The chief minister of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin, said on Tuesday that, beyond its opposition to the National Education cum Entrance Test (NEET), his government is winning the National Education Policy (NEP) because it alienates students from education. “We are against it because it is not a stepping stone, but a stumbling block. It is a great injustice of the century,” said Stalin. “We resist because we are a society that fought for the right to education. The Tamil community was fighting for self-respect.”
Stalin made these remarks Tuesday at a conference of vice chancellors of state universities at Anna University in Chennai. The conference, which was organized for the first time by the DMK government, discussed improving the quality of teaching and research work at state universities.
Earlier in April, Tamil Nadu had formed a 13-member panel led by D Murugesan, a former chief justice of the Delhi Supreme Court, to draft a state education policy. “The commission will ensure that a scientific temperament is developed in society,” Stalin said. The prime minister urged the vice chancellors to introduce new topics and reject conservative ideas. “It is your duty to make this a golden reign for higher education,” he said. “Building a society of equality and rational thinking is the greatest duty as educators.”
The prime minister also reiterated the need for the state government to appoint vice chancellors – powers of which now rest with the governor, who is the chancellor of state universities. The minister of higher education is the pro-chancellor. The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two bills in April authorizing the government to appoint vice chancellors to 13 universities in the state, in an apparent attempt to get the governor to flinch on the issue.
“Because this is an issue related to the rights of the state,” Stalin said at the VCs conference. “I request universities to act in a manner that reflects state government policy decisions.”