NPISE 2008 - Letter to MHRD. October


October 2008

The Hon'ble Minister,
Ministry of Human Resource Development
New Delhi

Subject - ‘National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in School
Education’ - some grave concerns

Dear Sri Arjun Singh,

1. The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has initiated a process of
formulating a “National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in
School Education”. Whereas framing such a policy is important, we have grave concerns
about the procedure being followed by MHRD in this policy making. MHRD has asked
GeSCI to lead the policy making process, who in turn have further outsourced this task to
CSDMS. Both are private organisations with no experience with Indian public education
system and its priorities as anchored in various policies from time to time. They have closely
associated technology vendors such as Intel, NIIT, Microsoft, Educomp etc, large private
monopolies with vested interests in the policy. These organisations have also excluded from
their consultations, the large body of educationists, many who were an important part of the
framing of the NCF 2005, a landmark curricular policy in India.

2. Thus the present policy process is being conducted in a very non-transparent manner with
significant role given to private agencies with little experience and expertise in the Indian
education system, with committed ideologies of greater privatization of education, and close
relationships with big corporations who see the ICT policy for schools as a major
opportunity for advancing their business interests. This is an unprecedented and blatant
privatization of national policy making and making public interest subservient to private

3. The impact of the flawed process is being seen in the outcomes as well. The draft prepared
by these two organisations ignores the Indian context and contradicts national education
policies, distorts the roles of the teacher, teacher educators and students and compromises
Indian education goals and priorities. The draft favours business interests of these vendors
and primarily sees Indian school system as the 'largest ICT market' in the world and it was
rejected by several people and organisations working in Indian education. The NCF 2005
position paper on Education Technology has highlighted several dangers from imposing
specific hardware and software systems in a centralized manner across the country.

4. ICTs have a significant potential to shape India’s education system and hence a national
policy that on ICTs in education needs to be very carefully thought through by domain
experts acting completely in public interest. The current process of private interests
dominating and ignoring education perspectives is highly detrimental to public interest as
well the Indian education system. Hence, it is critical that public policy making be anchored
in public institutions. The National Policy on ICTs in school education is essentially an issue
with curricular and systemic implications and not a technology sector policy. Hence its
making needs to be located in a national institution such as the NCERT which is the apex
body in charge of curriculum policies, and its processes driven by a deep understanding of
the institutional and social contexts, and the policies and priorities of education in India. The
NGOs associated with the policy process should be such which have sufficient experience
and expertise in the area of public education in India.

5. We have made several attempts to communicate and discuss these concerns to MHRD, butthe policy process continues in its referred problematic ways. Though a new policy 'drafting
committee' has been setup by MHRD, the leadership to the policy making is still vested in
GeSCI and CSDMS. We request that the process of privatization of national education
policy be immediately stopped and a new process initiated through national education
institutions such as NCERT which are tasked with curricular design; with open and
widespread consultations led by people and organizations with experience and expertise in
Indian education. A brief record of the events so far and other relevant information is being
provided in an annexure to this letter.

Yours truly,
1. Amman Madan - IIT Kanpur
2. Anita Rampal - Department of Education, Delhi University
3. Anjali Noronha – Eklavya*
4. Aarti Saihjee, UNICEF
5. Aruna Roy - MKSS (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan)
6. Arun M - Free Software Foundation
7. B.K. Anitha, National Institute of Advanced Studies
8. C.P Chandrasekhar, JNU
9. Farida Abdulla Khan - Jamia Millia Islamia
10.G. Nagarjuna - Free Software Foundation and Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education
11.Geetha Nambissan - JNU
12.Gora Mohanty - Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
13.Gurumurthy K – IT for Change*
14.Hridaykant Dewan – Vidya Bhawan Society*
15.JBG Tilak - NUEPA
16.Janaki Nair, Center for Studies in Social Science
17.Mary John, Center for Women's Dvelopment Studies
18.Nayana Tara, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
19.Nikhil Dey - MKSS (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan)
20.Niranjanaradhya.V.P - Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India
21.Padma Sarangpani – Tata Institute of Social Sciences
22.Poonam Batra - Professor, Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi
23.Prabir Purkayastha - Delhi Science Forum*
24.R. Govinda - NUEPA
25.Rama Kant Agnihotri, Dept of Linguistics, University of Delhi
26.Ravi Subramaniam - Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education
27.Rahul Dey, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore28.Rohit Dhankar – Digantar*
29.Sadhana Saxena - National Institute of Adult Education
30.Sejal Dand, Area Networking and Development Initiatives
31.Sridhar Rajagopalan - Educational Initiatives
32.Stalin K - Documentary filmmaker and community media activist
33.Sunil Batra – Centre for Education Advocacy and Research*
34.Suparna D, Centre for Leadership and Management in Public Services
35.Vimala Ramachandran – Educational Resource Unit*
36.Vinod Raina – Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
37.Upendranadh - Institute for Human Development
and others ..

* Institutional endorsement

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