Archive for the ‘Developments in Indian Education System’ Category
The Centre has superseded the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) for six months and its functions have been taken over by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). A notification to this effect was issued by the Ministry on Thursday under sub-section (1) of Section 30 of the NCTE Act, 1993. The NCTE is a statutory body set up to regulate development of the teacher education system.
The supersession follows a June 2 show-cause issued to the NCTE following several complaints expressing dissatisfaction over its functioning. In its response, the NCTE admitted that “there have been gross procedural agenda in the processing of cases in terms of non-preparation of comprehensive agenda, intimation of deficiencies in the proposal to the institutions within a specified time frame and lack of supervision and monitoring.”
The NCTE, however, appealed to the Ministry to reconsider its move as the council had not totally failed to perform its functions and there was no wilful non-compliance with the Centre’s directions. But the Ministry concluded that the NCTE was “unable to perform its functions properly, had persistently defaulted on the performance of the duties imposed on it by the Act and has, wilfully and without sufficient cause, failed to comply with the directions of the Centre”.
The show-cause expressed grave concern over the working the NCTE as well as its regional committees. The Centre took note of a review committee report, which pointed out major infirmities and defects in the decision-making process of the Northern Regional Council and lack of monitoring and supervision of the functioning of the NRC and the NCTE.
A writ petition filed by SASTRA University, Thanjavur, in the Madras High Court for a direction to the Centre to supersede the NCTE and allow universities to conduct teacher education programmes of their own without seeking NCTE approval is pending adjudication.
Source: The Hindu, July 9, 2011
The Tamil Nadu Open University has given its nod to the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) to start as many as 60 Community Colleges (CC) under the guidance of the University Grant Commission (UGC), an IRCS official said today.
The CCs would organise weekly compulsory classes for its students on technical courses like Turner, Fitter, and also basic computer courses on subjects like MS Word and Power Point, according to Ramesh Kumar, State Co-ordinator, Youth Red Cross, IRCS, Chennai Branch.
Some of those who were working full-time after not being able to go to college despite qualifying for it in 10th standard and Plus Two examinations, could join in the CCs by paying a nominal fee, Kumar said. He said besides technical courses, the CCs would also offer diploma courses on Arts and Science. He further said the IRCS had been negotiating with the Open University to implement the courses “very soon.”
Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), July 2, 2011
Here is good news for the students wishing to take up distance learning but apprehensive of the lesser value attached to the technical degrees obtained from these courses as compared to those from regular streams. The Centre is planning to establish a virtual university that will impart training on diverse technical areas to the undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as the newly recruited teachers through flexible, credit-based correspondence courses.
The proposed Virtual Technical University (VTU) will offer programmes in the fields of science, technology, management, architecture, pharmacy and other areas of applied knowledge. It would come up as part of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
“There is no question on the feasibility of the virtual university because the world is moving in that direction. We only need to implement it and though the idea has not come before the board as yet, we expect the varsity to be there in the current Plan period (2007-12),” said M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur.
The Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) has a virtual university that enables off-campus students to avail of the facilities offered to a normal on-campus student registered under the same programme and get a degree from BITS. “The piecemeal approach to distance learning is leading to its misuse and a quality check is needed. The education system is large enough to accept another type of distance learning model besides IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University),” added Anandakrishnan.
The university will use video courses, web-based learning material and live lectures using satellite and internet-based technologies. The VTU will have a repository of video courses created by experts in the field, a website that will host learning material while live lectures will be delivered using satellite and Internet technologies. The virtual university may also have five different schools — one each on developing teaching methodology, engineering sciences, natural sciences, management sciences and human sciences.
The school of education will look at developing inner and outer strength of the individuals and their emotional intelligence while that of engineering would focus on different disciplines of engineering. The school of management sciences will look at industrial and management engineering. Human sciences like economics and humanities would be catered to by the school of human sciences. A high-powered panel set up by the ministry for faculty development in technical institutes had recommended that each school float a suitable number of courses in order to cater to the need of various disciplines associated with the school.
It was envisaged that VTU shall have at least 300 courses for the school of engineering sciences and engage a large pool of talented faculty from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and other institutions and retired faculty.
Source: The Financial Express, May 16, 2011
The era of exceptionally low fees at central universities could soon be over, if the government accepts the alternative funding system suggested by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)-appointed Madhava Menon Committee. The freedom to institutions to set their fees is one of the key recommendations of the committee. It has also suggested revamping of the public funding system to increase autonomy of the institutions as well as ensure a productive and efficient allocation of funds to institutions.
Given trends in growth of the higher education system and government allocation, it is clear that complete dependence on public funds is not a viable option. As the demand for raising the level of education at central universities to match global standards increases, public funding will not be sufficient to meet the increased demand for funds.
The committee has suggested that the institutes should have the freedom to raise alternative funding. This can be internal and external. Giving central educational institutions the freedom to decide the fees to be charged would be one way of increasing revenues. The university should also have a free hand in the quantum of scholarships to be granted. All of this will have to be in keeping with the broad policy guidelines of the government. It has said that funds raised by the central university or educational institute should not be adjusted against any grant from government agencies.
At present, any funds raised beyond government grants are adjusted against it. The committee makes it clear that external generation of funding has to be in conformity with general financial rules and policy. On internal generation or funding from government, the committee has suggested that all central institutions be given a block grants, with the flexibility to manage finances.
The annual revisions of the block grant will depend on the institutions overall academic and financial performance. It has suggested that government departments and ministries, particularly relating to science and technology, should provide a minimum 30% overhead on research and development funding.
To ensure more effective allocation, the committee has suggested financial incentives for overall performance. A stipulated amount of regular grant should be given to all institutions that are performing well. The grant should be enhanced to ensure parity with development requirements of the institutes.
A performance indicator will have to be developed which will reward those institutions that exceed the set requirements. This could be research, publications and so on. As part of this, it has suggested the idea of norm based funding. The committee is of the view that a special provision of grants should be made for institutions which show clear improvements in the gross enrolment ratio.
Source: The Economic Times, May 9, 2011
The government is gearing up to pilot a legislation for ensuring greater levels of autonomy to colleges and institutes that have achieved a certain level of excellence. Keen to have legal backing to the proposal, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) is learnt to have initiated the process of drafting a law that will allow reputed colleges such as St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, and St. Stephen’s, Delhi, among others to award degrees to their students — a sole prerogative of universities.
Though the ministry had been considering this proposal for a while, it has now decided that the plan must be backed by a law to ensure greater autonomy to institutes of excellence. But the degree-granting powers will come with riders. Such institutes will have to follow certain academic standards and best practices, encourage research, promote transparency in administrative and governance norms, etc.
Currently, colleges are affiliated to universities, which award graduate as well as post-graduate degrees. Several colleges had raised the issue before and argued they should be accorded powers to award degrees. A recent report submitted by a committee constituted to evolve a comprehensive policy for the autonomy of central educational institutions supports the move.
The other suggestions include allowing IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) to offer degrees, semester systems and choice-based credit courses as well as dual degree programmes across unversities, freedom to central educational institutes to start any programme of study, establish centres and departments and create teaching positions, hire eminent faculty from across the world, etc.
Source: The Indian Express, May 9, 2011
>Giving a big boost to B.Com. graduates aspiring to pursue a career in teaching, the Government has decided to allow them to appear for the mandatory test for appointment as teachers from standard six to eight. According to the qualification norms for teachers issued last year under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, B.A. and B.Sc. graduates were only eligible for appointment of teachers.
“The National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), however, received representation from State governments and other stakeholders in respect of inclusion of B.Com. degree holder for the appointment of teacher for class VI to VIII,” said an official in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
Therefore, it has been decided to include B.Com. graduate also in the qualification prescribed for appointment as a teacher, the official added. A notification in this regard will be issued shortly.
As the minimum qualification laid down last year also required B.A. and B.Sc. graduates to pass the ‘Teacher Eligibility Test’ (TET), the official said all concerned have also been asked to make appropriate changes in the TET related criteria to allow B.Com. holders to sit for the test. The Government has decided to introduce this national level teacher eligibility test from this year for teacher recruitment for class I to VIII to set a benchmark in quality of teaching.
The “Central Teacher Eligibility Test” (CTET) will be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on June 26 for recruitment in Central Government schools such as Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Tibetan Schools, etc. and schools under the administrative control of union territories of Chandigarh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Source: Business Line, May 2, 2011
>School science toppers from across the country — get ready for a special invitation to take up science in higher education and as a career. The Centre is tying up with over 30 central and state boards across India, to send a special letter to students who emerge toppers in the science stream in Class XII examinations this May and June. These include the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Under the plan, the letter will specially inform these toppers about the science ministry’s ambitions INSIPRE scholarships in a unique bid to attract these students to science in higher education and as a career choice, top government officials told HT.
“It is a most unique method which we are trying and are very hopeful about,” a senior official in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said. The DST met officials of all school boards earlier this month, and the boards suggested sending special letters to science toppers, sources said. The letters will only be sent to the top 1% of science students in each board — only these students are eligible for the INSPIRE Scholarship for Higher Education.
The INSPIRE programme was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008 as a part of his plan to draw bright young students back into science, at a time when financially more lucrative educational and career prospects have reduced the attraction of science.
The scholarship for higher education offers a whopping Rs. 80,000 a year to each winner for the duration of their undergraduate or masters programme in science in Indian institutions. The DST offers 1000 such scholarships each year.
But the government has struggled to find enough takers for the scholarship — suggesting inadequate awareness of the programme and possibly declining numbers of toppers taking up science after school, officials said. The special letter will ensure that the topper is aware of the INSPIRE scholarship, while also serving as a select invitation to pursue science ahead.
Source: Hindustan Times, April 26, 2011
>The pilot run of the online All India Engineering/Architecture Entrance Examination (AIEEE) has received a lukewarm response with only 4,904 students registering themselves for the Net version while over 1.1 million aspirants will still be going for the traditional mode.
The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE ), which conducts the exam, was planning to register 100,000 students for the online version this year. Interestingly, the board is also planning to scale it up to a complete online examination in a year or two.
But CBSE officials are upbeat and said the plans were in place to make it a complete online exam in the near future. “I don’t see it as lukewarm. We have created a capacity of 100,000,but we are happy with the 5,000-odd registration, primarily because there are registrations from across 20 cities and none of our centres is going vacant. We will see increase in numbers in subsequent years,” said CBSE Chairman Vineet Joshi.
CBSE officials are of the view that as this is the first time that the exam is going online and most students are comfortable with pen-and-paper-based exams, aspirants are apprehensive of making a shift. “One should not measure the success of the exam by its number but by its conduct. And we are confident of the smooth conduct of the online exam. These are teething problems, but the success of the CAT (Common Admission Test for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management) is an indication that computer-based test (CBT) is the future,” said the media coordinator of CBSE, Rama Sharma.
Source: The Times of India, April 25, 2011
>The education budget was increased by 24 per cent this year, but the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is still facing a fund crunch, so much so that it has put six new schemes on hold. These are the schemes that have run aground after the Ministry of Finance said it did not have the money to fund them.
While the Ministry of Finance has made it clear that many of these plans cannot be implemented during this plan period and would have to be pushed to the 12th plan, others would be scrutinised by the Planning Commission before they are cleared. This year’s budget had allocated Rs. 52,060 crore (Rs. 520.6 billion) to the MHRD, the highest for a social sector ministry, but this now seems insufficient. The MHRD had placed a demand for Rs. 80,000 crore (Rs. 800 billion), arguing that it needed more cash as it runs a host of flagship programmes, has to stabilise a bunch of new IITs, IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and Central universities set up by the UPA government and push forward the Right to Education Act. Against a demand of Rs. 60,000 crore (Rs. 600 billion) for school education, the department got Rs. 38,957 crore (Rs. 389.57 billion), while the Higher Education department got Rs. 13,103 crore (Rs. 131.03 billion) against the Rs. 21,000 crore (Rs. 210 billion) it had asked for. Source: The Financial Express, April 19, 2011
While the Ministry of Finance has made it clear that many of these plans cannot be implemented during this plan period and would have to be pushed to the 12th plan, others would be scrutinised by the Planning Commission before they are cleared. This year’s budget had allocated Rs. 52,060 crore (Rs. 520.6 billion) to the MHRD, the highest for a social sector ministry, but this now seems insufficient.
The MHRD had placed a demand for Rs. 80,000 crore (Rs. 800 billion), arguing that it needed more cash as it runs a host of flagship programmes, has to stabilise a bunch of new IITs, IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and Central universities set up by the UPA government and push forward the Right to Education Act.
Against a demand of Rs. 60,000 crore (Rs. 600 billion) for school education, the department got Rs. 38,957 crore (Rs. 389.57 billion), while the Higher Education department got Rs. 13,103 crore (Rs. 131.03 billion) against the Rs. 21,000 crore (Rs. 210 billion) it had asked for.
Source: The Financial Express, April 19, 2011
>In the thick of the entrance exam season, a furious dispatch to the Prime Minister from his own scientific adviser has termed such tests as one big menace. Strongly recommending an immediate halt to the system of sitting for a pile of exams, Prof. C.N.R. Rao, who heads the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SACPM), said in a letter sent last week that the American method of holding one national exam before joining university is the way.
Putting it bluntly, Rao told the PM that India is said to “have an examination system but not an education system… When will young people stop taking exams and do something worthwhile?” Referring to the exam overdrive, Rao briefed Manmohan Singh on the various flavours of examinations that dot a student’s life: “It is important to relook the entire examination system including the system of final examinations, entrance examinations, qualifying examinations, selection examinations, and so on. Now one hears of a proposal to have a qualifying or accreditation examination for medical graduates and post-graduates.” Students who groan under the pressure of multiple entrance exams will cheer this advice.
Citing the example of Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by IIT, he said: ” IIT entrance exams have the reputation of being difficult and purposeful, but they have also had a negative effect on young minds. Young people suffer so much to succeed in these entrance exams, and in the process lose excitement in education itself.” The lakhs who don’t make it across the IIT gates, Rao told the PM, get exhausted and can’t perform as well as young people with fresh minds.
Talking about the agony that the Indian higher education sector is in, the SACPM, in a brief document sent to the PM recently – accessed by TOI – noted, “Today there is not a single educational institution in India which is equal to the best institution in the advanced countries”. In view of the growing number of aspirants for higher education, the SACPM has readied a 10-point checklist of key problems and challenges. It has asked the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) to set up a taskforce to come up with an action-oriented document within a year.
“We should seriously consider a possible scenario wherein the young India advantage enables India to emerge as the provider of trained manpower for the entire world in the next 20-30 years. This could be a worthwhile national objective,” he told the PM. Rao’s checklist for higher education include:
Raising the bar: Provide all required support to 10 educational institutions to enable them to compete with the best in advanced countries.
Look ahead: There’s a manpower mismatch in many countries with too many professionals in some subjects. Prepare a vision document which foresees the problems 20 years hence.
Inclusivity: Increase the number of fully residential schools up to higher secondary level in rural India to nurture rural talent.
Source: The Times of India, April 14, 2011