After MNM chief Kamal Haasan, actor-turned politician Rajinikanth has now lauded Kollywood star Suriya Sivakumar for his stand against the draft National Education Policy 2019. At the audio launch of Suriya's latest film Kaappaan, the Superstar said that the actor had revealed a 'new face' to the state and that his views on the policy would have reached the Centre.
Last week, in a press meet organised by Agaram Foundation that was founded by Suriya, the actor brought into focus, a number of issues that he claimed the draft NEP had brought into focus. He broadly alleged policy errors in three aspects including the quality of education in regard to entrance exams, the closing down of anganwadi schools with less than 10 students and the three language policy. The actor urged teachers, students and parents alike to contemplate, debate and weigh in on the latest policy draft published by the Government. His speech received both support and criticism from politicians through the week.
'Modi would have heard'
And now Rajinikanth has taken his side as well. At the audio launch he said, "Another face of Surya was revealed a few day ago. The speech he gave on education and the questions he asked, I agree with several of them. It became a huge discussion and created awareness. It did not become big because Surya the star or actor spoke about it. It is because he spoke about the difficulties of the students associated to his Agaram Foundation. He has seen it with his eyes and has not simply made a statement. People said that if Rajini had said this, Modi would have heard it. But Modi would have already heard what Suriya has said."
However, he also issued a subtle warning to the actor, telling him focus on his films first.
"Children will have lot of ambitions but parents will say you first finish your degree. Suriya must finish his degree in cinema, he must act in lot of movie and give several hits. He still has age on his side and we don't know what time has in store. He must live for long with good health. Not just movie fans, but people too need your contribution," he told the 43-year-old actor.
This message from the actor-turned-politician comes after MNM Chief Kamal Haasan took to Twitter to support Suriya's views and right to comment on the draft NEP.
" I agree with many of the points Suriya raises and he has my support. I condemn the autocratic attitude of the Centre and the State. Suriya has every right to talk about education as he and his family have done a lot for the educational development of the poor," said Kamal Haasan.
Suriya, based on his personal observations from running Agaram for the past ten years, shared in his speech that close to 30% students in government schools tend to study without teachers.
âHow can you ask them to write NEET?â he asked. Insisting that NEET has caused a social imbalance in the state, Suriya stressed that the trend would result in schools being turned into âcoaching centresâ. âThere wonât be any teaching but only coaching. As of now coaching centres in the country make a turn over of Rs 5000 crore annually,â he said.
He also alleged that, âKasturi Rangan Committee has suggested in the draft that anganwadi schools with teacher student ratio less than 1:10 will be closed. What will happen to students in remote areas? Where will tribal students go? What will happen to their primary education? They say Indiaâs soul is in its villages. We have close to 60% students studying in Government schools across the country."
On public exams being introduced for classes 3, 5 and 8 students, Suriya listed figures to point out that student dropout ratio in the country has been 40% invariably and such exams will only tend to make things worse.
He then went on to criticise the three language policy and said âHow will students go to schools if that is the case? What will happen to first generation students? If a language is imposed upon them how will they handle it? If we all stay quiet about it, it will surely be imposed upon us."
His remarks drew the ire of the AIADMK and BJP, whose leaders slammed the actor and termed his comments 'half-baked'.
"While speaking about the draft, Suriya has said that âif we keep quietâ NEP will be implemented. Can he speak like that? Doesnât that mean that he wants to disturb peace,â asked BJP National Secretary H Raja. "âWhat does Mr. Suriya know about the NEP. I cannot respond to half-baked comments,â he said.
Suriya in his speech made allegations and statements that TNM could not directly link to details given within the draft NEP. The source of his information for the statistics quoted in the speech remain unknown. It is also to be noted that the Centre revised the policy, to remove the requirement for non-Hindi states, after massive uproar over the recommendation.