ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Political Economy of Curricula in Higher Education Institutions

Three years of the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 have witnessed several regulations and guidelines by the University Grants Commission regarding changes in the curriculum. It is important to examine the implications of these curricular changes. It is noted that the curriculum, instead of evolving through scientific inquiry, is influenced by the ideology of the state and the market.

By the “political economy” of the curriculum, I mean the curiosity-based scientific basis of determining or designing the curriculum for students. It is decided through a critical examination of knowledge for the benefit of the general public at large, reflecting the aims of public education. The curriculum is determined by subject experts and the state plays a role in providing legitimacy to the whole process of curriculum design and its delivery to the students. However, if the influence of political power dominates curriculum design instead of scientific inquiry, it leads to a curriculum that is corrupted by ideology. It is important to understand the directions of change in curriculum design which are influenced by market forces rather than the interests of the people and the nation. Curriculum design is also shaped by the extent of academic freedom. If academic freedom is compromised, then the process of know­ledge generation itself gets mutilated.

The curriculum shapes the young minds of children. They should inculcate values which are considered important for the progress of a nation. However, there is a certain degree of indeterminateness regarding the choice of values to be nurtured among children. Values related to equal citizenship, scientific temperament, composite culture, values about one’s civic responsibilities, etc, are important to pass on to the students through the appropriate choice of the curriculum. However, there are conflicts among these values as well, and the choice of values that need to be protected is decided through the political process, in particular, and by the ideology of dominant interests, in general. For instance, there are debates at the level of school curricula that highlight the validity of these value conflicts (Bhattacharya 2009). Moreover, value conflicts over the choice of materials in the curricula of higher education institutions have also been noted in the recent past.1 The objective of this article is to examine the ideology and politics of the curriculum in higher education institutions as presented in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and carried forward by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the last three years of the implementation of NEP.

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Updated On : 30th Nov, 2023
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