The Ministry of Human Resource Development released the draft National Education Policy, 2016 in July this year. The Ministry was receiving comments on the draft policy until the end of September 2016. In this context, we provide an overview of the proposed framework in the draft Policy to address challenges in the education sector. The country’s education policy was last revised in 1992. It outlined equitable access to quality education, with a common educational structure of 10+2+3 years. The draft Policy 2016 aims to create an education system which ensures quality education and learning opportunities for all. The focus areas of intervention of the draft Policy are: (i) access and participation, (ii) quality of education, (iii) curriculum and examination reforms, (iv) teacher development and management and (v) skill development and employability. Through these key interventions, the draft Policy provides a framework for the development of education in the country over the next few years. We discuss the key areas of intervention below.
Access and participation Presently in the country, enrolment at pre-school levels for children between the ages of 3- 5 years is low. 38% of children in this age bracket are enrolled in pre-school education in government anganwadi centres, while 27% of the children are not attending any (either government or private) pre-school. In contrast, the enrolment rate in primary education, which is class 1-5, is almost 100%. However, this reduces to 91% in classes 6-8 and 78% in classes 9-12. The trend of lower enrolment rates is seen in higher education (college and university level), where it is at 24%. Due to low enrolment rates after class 5, transition of students from one level to the next is a major challenge. Figure 1 shows the enrolment rates across different education levels. With regard to improving participation of children in pre-school education, the draft Policy aims to start a program for children in the pre-school age group which will be implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It also aims to strengthen pre-school education in anganwadis by developing learning materials and training anganwadi workers. Presently, the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 applies to elementary education only. To improve access to education, the draft Policy suggests bringing secondary education under the ambit of the RTE Act. However, a strategy to increase enrolment across different levels of education has not been specified. Quality of education A large number of children leave school before passing class eight. In 2013-14, the proportion of students who dropped out from classes 1-8 was 36% and from classes 1-10 was 47%.3 Figure 2 shows the proportion of students who exited the school system in classes 1-8 in 2008-09 and 2013-14. Among the population of children who stay in school, the quality or level of learning is low. The Economic Survey 2015-16 noted that the proportion of class 3 children able to solve simple two-digit subtraction problems fell from 26% in 2013 to 25% in 2014. Similarly, the percentage of class two children who cannot recognize numbers up to 9 increased from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014. To address the issue of learning levels in school going children, the draft Policy proposes that norms for learning outcomes should be developed and applied uniformly to both private and government schools. In addition, it also recommends that the existing no-detention policy (promoting all students of a class to the next class, regardless of academic performance) till class 8 be amended and limited to class 5. At the upper primary stage (class six onward), the system of detention should be restored. Curriculum and examination reforms It has been noted that the current curriculum followed in schools does not help students acquire relevant skills which are essential to become employable. The draft Policy highlights that the assessment practices in the education system focus on rote learning and testing the students’ ability to reproduce content knowledge, rather than on understanding. The draft Policy aims to restructure the present assessment system to ensure a more comprehensive evaluation of students, and plans to include learning outcomes that relate to both scholastic and co-scholastic domains. In order to reduce failure rates in class 10, the Policy proposes to conduct examination for the subjects of mathematics, science and English in class 10 at two levels. The two levels will be part A (at a higher level) and part B (at a lower level). Students who wish to opt for a vocational stream or courses for which mathematics, science and English are not compulsory may opt for part B level examination. Teacher development and management It has been observed that the current teacher education and training programs are inadequate in imparting the requisite skills to teachers. The mismatch between institutional capacity to train teachers and required supply in schools results in a shortage of qualified teachers. At the level of classes 9-12, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan prescribes a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30. However, some states have a higher teacher-pupil ratio: Chhattisgarh (1:45), Bihar (1:57) and Jharkhand (1:68).3 In various central universities, the total number of sanctioned teaching posts is 16,339, of which 37% are lying vacant. The draft Policy recommends that state governments should set up independent teacher recruitment commissions to facilitate transparent, merit based recruitment of principals, teachers, and other academic staff. For teacher development, a Teacher Education University should be set up at the national level to focus on teacher education and faculty development. In addition, the draft Policy also states that all teacher education institutes must have mandatory accreditation. To ensure effective teacher management, periodic assessment of teachers in government and private schools should be carried out and linked to their future promotions and increments. Skill development and employability It has been noted that the current institutional arrangements to support technical and vocational education programs for population below 25 years of age is inadequate. The social acceptability of vocational education is also low. Presently, over 62% of the population in the country is in the working age-group (15-59 years). Only 10% of this workforce (7.4 crore) is trained, which includes about 3% who are formally trained and 7% who are informally trained. In developed countries, skilled workforce is between 60-90% of the total workforce. The draft Policy proposes to integrate skill development programs in 25% of schools and higher education institutions in the country. This is in line with the National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy that was released by the government in 2015. The draft Policy 2016 focuses on important aspects that have not been addressed in previous policies such as: (i) curriculum and examination reforms, and (ii) teacher development . Although the Policy sets a framework for improving education in the country, the various implementation strategies that will be put in place to achieve the education outcomes envisaged by it remains to be seen. For an analysis on some education indicators such as enrolment of students, drop-out rates, availability of teachers and share of government and private schools, please see our Vital Stats on the ‘overview of the education sector’ here.  Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016, Ministry of Human Resource Development, http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/Inputs_Draft_NEP_2016.pdf.  Rapid Survey on Children, 2013-14, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India, http://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/RSOC%20FACT%20SHEETS%20Final.pdf.  Secondary education in India, U-DISE 2014-15, National University of Educational Planning and Administration, http://www.dise.in/Downloads/Publications/Documents/SecondaryFlash%20Statistics-2014-15.pdf.  All India Survey on Higher Education 2014-15, http://aishe.nic.in/aishe/viewDocument.action?documentId=197.  Economic Survey 2015-16, Volume-2, http://indiabudget.nic.in/es2015-16/echapvol2-09.pdf.  Overview, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Ministry of Human Resource Development, http://mhrd.gov.in/rmsa.  “265th Report: Demands for Grants (Demand No. 60) of the Department of Higher Education”, Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, April 2013, 2015, http://188.8.131.52/newcommittee/reports/EnglishCommittees/Committee%20on%20HRD/265.pdf.  “Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship: Key Achievements and Success Stories in 2015”, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Press Information Bureau, December 15, 2015.  Draft Report of the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Skill Development, NITI Aayog, September 2015, http://niti.gov.in/mgov_file/Final%20report%20%20of%20Sub-Group%20Report%20on%20Skill%20Development.pdf.  Economic Survey 2014-15, Volume 2, http://indiabudget.nic.in/es2014-15/echapter-vol2.pdf.
The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 is listed for passage in Rajya Sabha today. It was passed by Lok Sabha last week. The Bill creates a regulatory framework for anti-doping rule violations in sports. It was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports, and some of their recommendations have been incorporated in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.
Doping is the consumption of certain prohibited substances by athletes to enhance performance. Across the world, doping is regulated and monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is an independent international agency established in 1999. WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise, and coordinate anti-doping regulations across all sports and countries. It does so by ensuring proper implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and its standards. In this blog post, we discuss the need of the framework proposed by the Bill, and give insights from the discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha.
Doping in India
Recently, two Indian athletes failed the doping test and are facing provisional suspension. In the past also, Indian athletes have been found in violation of anti-doping rules. In 2019, according to WADA, most of the doping rule violations were committed by athletes from Russia (19%), followed by Italy (18%), and India (17%). Most of the doping rule violations were committed in bodybuilding (22%), followed by athletics (18%), cycling (14%), and weightlifting (13%). In order to curb doping in sports, WADA requires all countries to have a framework regulating anti-doping activities managed by their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations.
Currently, doping in India is regulated by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which was established in 2009 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. One issue with the existing framework is that the anti-doping rules are not backed by a legislation and are getting challenged in courts. Further, NADA is imposing sanctions on athletes without a statutory backing. Taking into account such instances, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) had recommended that the Department of Sports bring in an anti-doping legislation. Other countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan have enacted legislations to regulate anti-doping activities.
Framework proposed by the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021
The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government. Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations. A National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel will be set up for determining consequences of anti-doping rule violations. This panel will consist of legal experts, medical practitioners, and retired athletes. Further, the Board will constitute an Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel. Athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules may be subject to: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv) other consequences as may be prescribed. Consequences for team sports will be specified by regulations.
Initially, the Bill did not have provisions for protected athletes but after the Standing Committee’s recommendation, provisions for such athletes have been included in the Bill. Protected persons will be specified by the central government. As per the WADA Code, a protected person is someone: (i) below the age of 16, or (ii) below the age of 18 and has not participated in any international competition in an open category, or (iii) lacks legal capacity as per their country’s legal framework
Issues and discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha
During the discussion on the Bill, members highlighted several issues. We discuss these below-
Independence of NADA
One of the issues highlighted was the independence of the Director General of NADA. WADA requires National Doping Organisations to be independent in their functioning as they may experience external pressure from their governments and national sports bodies which could compromise their decisions. First, under the Bill, the qualifications of the Director General are not specified and are left to be notified through Rules. Second, the central government may remove the Director General from the office on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity or “such other ground”. Leaving these provisions to the discretion of the central government may affect the independence of NADA.
Privacy of athletes
NADA will have the power to collect certain personal data of athletes such as: (a) sex or gender, (ii) medical history, and (iii) whereabout information of athletes (for out of competition testing and collection of samples). MPs expressed concerns about maintaining the privacy of athletes. The Union Sports Minister in his response, assured the House that all international privacy standards will be followed during collection and sharing of data. Data will be shared with only relevant authorities.
Under the Bill, NADA will collect and use personal data of athletes in accordance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information. It is one of the eight ‘mandatory’ standards of the World Anti-Doping Code. One of the amendments moved by the Union Sports Minister removed the provision relating to compliance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.
Establishing more testing laboratories across states
Currently India has one National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL). MPs raised the demand to establish testing laboratories across states to increase testing capacity. The Minister responded by saying that if required in the future, the government will establish more testing laboratories across states. Further, in order to increase testing capacity, private labs may also be set up. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) also emphasised the need to open more dope testing laboratories, preferably one in each state, to cater to the need of the country and become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of anti-doping science and education.
In August, 2019 a six-month suspension was imposed on NDTL for not complying with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by WADA. The suspension was extended for another six months in July, 2020 due to non-conformity with ISL. The second suspension was to remain in effect until the Laboratory complies with ISL. However, the suspension was extended for another six months in January, 2021 as COVID-19 impacted WADA’s ability to conduct an on-site assessment of the Laboratory. In December, 2021 WADA reinstated the accreditation of NDTL.
Several athletes in India are not aware about the anti-doping rules and the prohibited substances. Due to lack of awareness, they end up consuming prohibited substances through supplements. MPs highlighted the need to conduct more awareness campaigns around anti-doping. The Minister informed the House that in the past one year, NADA has conducted about 100 hybrid workshops relating to awareness on anti-doping. The Bill will enable NADA to conduct more awareness campaigns and research in anti-doping. Further, the central government is working with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to test dietary supplements consumed by athletes.
While examining the Bill, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) recommended several measures to improve and strengthen the antidoping ecosystem in the country. These measures include: (i) enforcing regulatory action towards labelling and use of ‘dope-free’ certified supplements, and (ii) mandating ‘dope-free’ certification by independent bodies for supplements consumed by athletes.