Bengaluru: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday that the draft National Education Policy (NEP) needs a “pragmatic” language policy. He said that it should give due importance to the mother tongue and ensure proficiency in other languages that would help children advance in a multilingual world.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the golden jubilee celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning on Sunday.

According to reports, Naidu said that it is time to rethink, re-imagine and re-invent the entire education system in India. He said that India is embarking on a major reform process and that the draft policy seeks to layout a path to make quality education accessible to all children and youth in the country.

He said that the education in India should equip the children and youth with knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the 21st century. He also added that the foundations of this structure should be strengthened.

The draft NEP submitted to the newly appointed Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank by a committee headed by the HRD Chairman K Kasturirangan sparked reactions from people in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The first draft said that the students who wished to change one of their three languages in school could do so in Grade 6. According to the draft, the students in Hindi speaking states will have Hindi, English and one other modern regional language from other parts of the country. The non-Hindi speaking states will have Hindi, the regional language and English as their three languages.

There was an uproar in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka against the new NEP draft just hours after it was released for public debate. The reaction was towards what they called “imposition of Hindi” on non-Hindi speaking states. They also raised questions regarding the third language that the non-Hindi speaking states will choose. They wanted to know whether they will study any South Indian languages as their third language.

Tamil Nadu was the first to react to the new draft. Political leaders in Tamil Nadu spoke out against the three-language policy.

Whereas in Karnataka, people took to Twitter to showcase their opposing views.

The new draft of education policy did not mention the word Hindi but still insisted on students studying three languages. The focus lay on the fact that the students would be proficient in three languages. The students who wanted to change one of the three languages could change it in Grade 6 or Grade 7.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) stated that the NEP is a draft that has been submitted, and has not been made a policy by the government.