In this section, we will provide you with all the relevant information on the education sector of India.
Post-Pandemic School Education System: Issues and Challenges – Explained, Pointwise
The pandemic highlighted the shortcomings of our school education system that is more focused on rote learning. This system pays very low regard to the creativity and mental wellbeing of children. The government tried to cope up with the pandemic by focusing on digital education but failed to deliver the desired results.
The issue has again come in news after the government’s directive to cancel the class 10th board examination and postpone the class 12th examination. Revamping the education system is an essential condition for delivering an inclusive, sustainable, and quality education for every citizen.
Current Scenario of School education system
- The rising Covid-19 cases and the onset of the second wave in India induced many activists and parents to demand the cancellation of exams.
- This created pressure on the government. Finally, the government canceled Class X Boards and the postponed Class XII Board in 25000 CBSE affiliated schools.
- The government is again focusing on the same steps as it did in 2020 i.e. sustaining the education system through the online mode.
Government steps to improve the online education system
- The government used various means such as text/video/audio content through SMS, WhatsApp, radio, and TV programs to reach out to students and engage them.
- Further, the government also used various free e-learning platforms to deliver education. This includes,
- Diksha portal: It contains e-learning content aligned to the curriculum.
- e-Pathshala: It is an app by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for Classes 1 to 12 in multiple languages
- SWAYAM: It consists of 1,900 complete courses including teaching videos, computer weekly assignments, examinations, and credit transfers. It caters to both school and higher education.
- SWAYAM Prabha: It is a group of 32 direct-to-home channels devoted to the telecasting of educational programmes.
Challenges with online education system
- Millions out of the education network: As many don’t have access to digital devices like mobile phones and internet routers. Further, a study points out that inability to attend online school was the biggest challenge girls faced.
- It also disrupts the significant school programmes that enhance enrolment levels like the Mid-Day meal scheme.
- Neglect of Child emotions: Children in the pandemic are undergoing emotional turmoil due to reduced peer to peer interactions, confinement in homes and enhanced grip of adults on the lives of children. These all impact the child’s basic emotions.
- Poor Learning Outcomes: Teachers lack the skill and expertise to impart digital education. Similarly, children copy from textbooks during their exams as there is a shortage of invigilating software programs to check malpractice.
- A study by Azim Premji university estimates that 92% of students from Classes II to VI have lost at least one specific foundational ability in languages.
- Neglect of physical and mental well-being: Excessive focus on academic learning reduced the focus on physical fitness through sports and mental well-being through moral education.
- Mismatch with Industrial requirements: India Skills Report 2021 estimates that only 45.9% of Indian youth possess sufficient employability skills. Online learning will further affect the employability of students. This shows lacunae in the quality of the higher education curriculum.
- Appeasement Tools: Imparting education through a digital medium is just an appeasement policy that doesn’t cure the real problem in the education system.
Causes for these challenges in school education system
- Excessive focus on rote learning: The curriculum tries to encourage memorisation of text rather than cultivating a conceptual understanding of issues. To cater for the changing needs of online education, the government did not modify the rote learning education curriculum. Instead, the government continued with the same syllabus in an online way.
- Exams define intelligence: The system equated passing of exams with a student’s intelligence level. Online education also places excessive focus on completing the exam cycle and giving multiple exams.
- Discourages Creativity: Parents and teachers want to see children as doctors, engineers, bureaucrats etc. Children are rarely encouraged to become writers, artists or adopt any other vocational skill.
- Myopic View of Education: The focus of online education also tuned solely on syllabus completion. Thus, the education neglected other key elements like peer interaction, physical fitness, moral education etc.
- Digital Vulnerability: The digital systems of many schools and universities are using obsolete technology. This makes them prone to greater connectivity and security issues
- Greater hardships for the teachers: The school/college administrators failed to assess the mental health of teachers and non-teaching staff. They were forced to deliver regular lectures irrespective of their online teaching skills.
- Not considerable as a permanent option- Despite the high momentum, online options are still not considered permanent alternatives to classrooms.
Suggestions to improve school education system
- The government should adopt a new system of education that is fair, robust, and removes the dependency on time-tabled exams. It must focus on unleashing the creative potential and imparting greater resilience in children.
- In this regard, there must be a prudent implementation of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that aims to achieve this purpose.
- There has to be a bridge between higher education institutions and schools to ensure a seamless movement into tertiary learning.
- For this, the government need to review the higher education entrance exams and make necessary changes as per the new learning of this century.
- Further, the focus must be on imparting new-age skills like Big Data Analytics, Artificial intelligence, Digital Marketing etc. This will improve the employability potential of students.
- Schools should adopt novel methods of teaching. For instance, other states might adopt the Delhi government’s happiness curriculum for improving the mental well-being of students.
- The assessment of students must be based on an integrated approach rather than mere textbook exams. Under this weightage should be given to indicators like peer interaction, curiosity potential, creativity acumen etc.
- The bureaucracy must recognise that universities and schools have their own academic considerations. They must refrain from standardising academic requirements, calendars and learning processes.
- Finally, to implement all these measures we need to support the education sector with adequate budgetary resources. Hence, it is important to increase the share of education to 6% of GDP as envisaged by NEP 2020.
India has an opportunity to reimagine and modernise learning in order to combat future uncertainties. It must adopt a multi-step strategy for a more equitable and resilient educational system thereby coming closer to the realisation of SDG -4 (Providing Quality Education).
State obliged to facilitate access to education: Supreme Court
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has said that the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels.
What was the case?
- 2 students from Ladakh filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The Union Territory administration for MBBS studies nominated them.
- They were allocated seats in the prestigious Lady Hardinge and Maulana Azad medical colleges. However, they were not admitted.
- Hence, the students moved to the court saying their fundamental right to education was at risk of the government authorities.
What has the Supreme Court said?
- Firstly, the court ordered that the students be admitted within a week. It was government policy to allot one seat each at Lady Hardinge and Maulana Azad medical colleges from the Central pool.
- Secondly, the court held that the Right to pursue higher(professional) education is not a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution. But the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education at all levels.
- Further, the court cited the recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR Committee). The committee was formed to monitor the implementation of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights(ratified by India in 1979). The committee stated that:
“As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities”.
Source: The Hindu
UGC’s new Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) -Explained, Pointwise
The UGC (University Grants Commission) recently released a new document on the undergraduate history curriculum. It is named “Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), 2021″.
The LOCF aims to change the syllabus for the undergraduate history curriculum in India. Further, it aims to provide a focused, outcome-based syllabus at the undergraduate level. Further, the LOCF also has an agenda to restructure the teaching-learning experiences in a more student-centric manner. However, the changed syllabus of the undergraduate history curriculum falls short to meet its desired objectives and requires reconsideration.
Key provisions of Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF)
The Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), 2021 for undergraduate education in history begins with the declaration: “History, as we all know, is a vital source to obtain knowledge about a nation’s soul”.
- Firstly, the document seeks to create a student body that will compete globally and be aware of its glorious past.
- Secondly, under the LOCF, the Undergraduate education qualification will be awarded on the basis of demonstrated achievement of outcomes.
- Thirdly, these outcomes are expressed in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and values.
- Further, it also specifies the expected known, understandable to do things for graduates completing a particular programme of study.
Overall the document is a policy directive to mould the entire undergraduate history education in India.
About New Curriculum for History under LOCF
- To acquire a degree in BA History a student must study
- Fourteen Core Courses (CC)
- Four Discipline Specific Elective Courses (DSE)
- Four interdisciplinary General Elective Courses (GE)
- Two discipline centred Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC)
- Two Ability Enhancement Courses (AEC)
- The new curriculum is based on a choice based credit system. Under this, a student has the flexibility to choose their course from a list of elective, core, and soft skill courses.
- The first paper of course is titled ‘Idea of Bharat.’ It seeks to study the primitive life and cultural status of the people of ancient India.
- The five units of this paper cover:
- The concept of Bharatvarsha
- Indian knowledge traditions, art and culture
- Indian economic traditions
- Dharma, philosophy and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’
- Science, environment and medical sciences
- The third paper includes features of the “Indus-Saraswati Civilisation” and its continuity, fall and survival.
- Similarly, there are other changes in other papers as well.
Intended objectives the LOCF
The LOCF aims to achieve the following objectives. Such as,
- Use history as a vital source to obtain knowledge about a nation’s soul.
- Create a conscious student body that is aware of India’s glorious past and can compete at the global level.
- Build a new narrative about the nation through a dialogue between past and present.
- Bring out the best intellect of the student and also allow him/her to keep pace with the contemporary development.
Benefits of LOCF
If implemented the LOCF will yield the following benefits. Such as,
- The curriculum will break the stereotypes of History learning and also creates interest amongst students to study History.
- It provides great flexibility to students. As the curriculum offering a large amount of choice. So the students can tailor their education on the basis of their interests.
- Further, the LOCF enables a student of History to be well versed with other complementary subjects. As it offers a balanced combination of Core, Discipline Specific Electives and Skill Enhancement Courses.
- Moreover, its interdisciplinary nature would open multiple career paths for students like:
- Administrative Assignments
- Foreign Assignments for building International Relations
- Journalism and Media
- Policy Making and Governance
- Public Life and People’s Representation
Concerning Issues of LOCF
- Improper representation of Bharatvarsha: Under the unit of ‘ The concept of Bharatvarsha’, little focus is paid towards the contributions of the south, east and northeast people.
- Further, the struggle of the masses in the freedom movement is also not given its due space in the creation of Bharat.
- Regional Bias: The curriculum is biased towards the history of North India. The rich sociocultural, economic and political changes of other regions has not provided adequately. Further, some regions introduced only as political formations.
- Weakens the social fabric: The paper on medieval and the early modern India (History of India, 1206-1707) shows that Hindus and Muslims as two separate entities. This would strengthen the belief in separate nations for Hindus and Muslims which led to the country’s partition in the past.
- Violence as a Major Driver of change: The use of force is projected as the main driver of change in society. For example, the case of Aryan, Mughal or any other invasion in new curriculum. This kind of narrative portrays violence as the sole reason for the change.
- Disputed Findings: The Saraswati (a mythological river) is mentioned in the Vedas, but its existence is disputed amongst historians.
- Ignoring Multilayered Explanations: The new curriculum adopts the categorization methods of colonial historians. It ties the history to the story of dynasties and rulers who mainly operate under the force of religion.
- This undermines the Multilayered Explanations that state social, economic and cultural changes occur as long-term processes. These are hard to pin down to specific dates or years or dynasties.
Pedagogical challenges with the LOCF
- The style of pedagogy is more textbook-oriented. The book is less emphasised towards the archaeological artefacts, coins, visits to monuments and museums etc. Further, this hinders the better understanding of the subject.
- The new framework does not encourage reading a diversity of opinion. This will restrict the students only to limited sources.
- The curriculum ignores the finest writings in Indian history. The bulk of readings span from the 1900s to the 1980s, with a heavy dependence on the work of Indologists. This curtails their resource base.
- The linkage of critical 21st-century issues like climate change, democracy, social justice etc. with the historical framework is also missing.
Suggestions to improve the LOCF
- Firstly, the UGC should re-include the works by prominent historians in the curriculum. As it would ensure a better understanding of the history by the students.
- This includes R.S. Sharma’s book on ancient India and Irfan Habib’s book on medieval India.
- Secondly, the LOCF also has to include New modes of thinking especially about Big Data, digital mapping and visualisations, critical study of the environment etc.
- Thirdly, apart from that, there should be a re-adoption of inclusive and secular texts like Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the poems of Kalidas, Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita etc.
- fourthly, apart from that, the UGC can arrange a meeting with eminent persons (representing diverse sections) in order to re-examine the proposed syllabus.
The shortcomings of the curriculum have to address efficiently through cautious discussion. In conclusion, the LOCF should make it more rational, objective and comprehensive in order to deliver optimum outcomes.
“Lab on Wheels Programme” For Education Equality
What is the News?
Delhi Education Minister inaugurates Delhi Technological University(DTU) Lab on Wheels programme.
About Lab on Wheels Programme:
- The Programme aims to impart education in the fields of Mathematics and Science. Especially to the students from marginalised and poor economic backgrounds. The programme aims to stimulate their interests in these subjects while pursuing higher education.
- In the end, the programme becomes mutually beneficial, if some of these students decide to take admission in DTU once they finish schooling.
Key Features of the programme:
- Under the Lab on Wheels, Delhi Technological University students will travel in a bus across Delhi. Also, they will teach government school students and underprivileged children.
- The bus will comprise 16 computers, two televisions, one 3D printer, one laptop, cameras and one printer. It will also be Wi-Fi enabled with 100% power back up and fully air-conditioned.
- The Lab on Wheels programme will cover some important things. Such as basic computer training for students, regular classwork for Class 10 and 12 students, and 3D printing training.
Source: Indian Express
“DIKSHA Platform” -Visually challenged struggle with e-textbooks
What is the News? As per a study by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Visually impaired students can’t access more than half of NCERT material on DIKSHA platform.
About the study:
- The study conducted a systematic review of the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing(DIKSHA) portal. The platform is a national platform for school education.
- Purpose: It analyzed how much the DIKSHA portal is Accessible for Students with Visual Disabilities.
What are the key findings? The assessment of inaccessibility was conducted on two fronts:
Inaccessibility of the DIKSHA platform:
- The DIKSHA web platform has a variety of accessibility issues. That makes it difficult for visual disabilities persons to independently navigate it to search and access the content they are looking for.
Inaccessibility of the resources on the DIKSHA platform:
- NCERTs: All chapters sampled from NCERT e-textbooks uploaded in an appropriate e-text format. However, only 36.4% were completely accessible and 54.5% had inaccessible elements and 9.1% were completely inaccessible.
- Of the 21 SCERT chapters sampled for Tamil Nadu, 90.5% were totally inaccessible. Only one of the sampled chapters was totally accessible using a screen reader.
- Out of the 22 SCERTs chapters sampled for Telangana, none were totally inaccessible. However, 95.5% were partially inaccessible, and only one chapter was totally accessible.
- Subject wise Inaccessibility: Mathematics chapters had the highest number of inaccessible learning activities at 80%. Following that are English, Science, and Geography chapters.
About DIKSHA Platform:
- DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) is a national platform for teachers to excel in school education.
- Launched by: It is an initiative of the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT), Ministry of Education.
- Purpose: The DIKSHA platform offers engaging learning material, relevant to the prescribed school curriculum, to teachers, students, and parents.
- Significance: DIKSHA made it possible amid Corona Pandemic, for all states and Union Territories, to enable learning and education at home through innovative state programs.
Source: The Hindu
Government launches “SARTHAQ” plan to implement NEP at school
What is the News?
The Union Education Minister has released an implementation plan for school education called SARTHAQ. SARTHAQ stands for ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education.
- The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, has developed SARTHAQ.
- Purpose: SARTHAQ is an indicative and suggestive implementation plan for school education.
- The plan was launched to implement the goals of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Further, it will assist all the States/UTs in this task.
- Firstly, to provide all-around development for the students at the primary and secondary level.
- Secondly, to establish a safe, secure, inclusive and conducive learning environment for students as well as teachers.
- Thirdly, to meet the diverse national and global challenges of the present and the future. Further, it will help the students to imbibe 21st-century skills along with India’s tradition, culture and value system.
- Key Features of the Plan:
- The plan keeps in mind the concurrent nature of education and adheres to the spirit of federalism.
- States and UTs are given the flexibility to adapt this plan with local contextualization. Also, they can modify it as per their needs and requirements.
- The implementation plan delineates the roadmap and way forward for the implementation of NEP, 2020 for the next 10 years.
The SARTHAQ plan aims to meet the following goals of NEP 2020:
- The plan will pave the way for curriculum reforms. This includes the new national and state curriculum frameworks for school education as well as early childhood care and education.
- The programme will focus on the improvement of the enrollment ratio of children at all levels. Also, it will focus on reduction in dropouts also.
- Further, It will provide access to quality and Universal Acquisition of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by Grade 3.
- It will implement vocational education, sports, arts, knowledge of India, 21st-century skills, values of citizenship, awareness of environment conservation in the curriculum.
- Apart from that, it will focus on experiential learning and will also improve the quality of Teacher Education Programmes.
“E9 Initiative” to Accelerate Digital Learning
What is the News? The Minister of State for Education will attend a consultation meeting of Education Ministers of E9 countries called the E9 Initiative.
About the E9 Initiative:
- Theme of the Meeting: “E9 initiative: Scaling up digital learning to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4”
- This consultation meeting will be the 1st of the 3 phase process to co-create a Digital Learning initiative. Marginalized children and youth, especially girls, would be the target population.
- The initiative will aim to accelerate recovery and advance the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda by driving rapid change in education systems.
- The initiative will also focus on three of the 2020 Global Education Meeting priorities namely: (i) support to teachers; (ii) investment in skills and (iii) narrowing of the digital divide.
About E9 Partnership:
- Launched in: 1993 at the UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) Summit in New Delhi.
- Member Countries: The United Nations is spearheading the initiative with nine countries namely Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
- Purpose: The E9 forum aims to achieve the goals of UNESCO’s Education For All(EFA) initiative. It strengthens political will and collective effort to ensure quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
- The forum represents over half of the world’s population and 70% of the world’s illiterate adults.
- Significance: E-9 Initiative has become a forum for the countries to discuss their experiences related to education, exchange best practices, and monitor EFA-related progress.
About Education For All(EFA) Summit:
- Education For All(EFA) is a global movement led by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth, and adults.
- EFA was adopted by The Dakar Framework in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Senegal, Africa.
Right To Education Act still has some arbitrariness
Synopsis: The Right To Education Act evolved so much in the past. But there is still some arbitrariness in the RTE Act.
Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act or RTE Act is a horizontally enforceable Fundamental Right. That is, the Right is enforceable against the State and Individuals.
But the Right To Education Act have some arbitrary discrimination against private institutions and favours minority educational institutions.
Evolution of Right To Education as a Fundamental Right:
Earlier, Article 45 mentions the right to education as a part of the Directive Principles. It mentions that the state should provide free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 14. The provision also mentions a timeline for this achievement(within a decade).
Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka case 1992: In this case, the Supreme Court held that the Right to education is a part of the right to life recognised in Article 21.
Unnikrishnan JP v. State of Andhra Pradesh case 1993: In this case, the Supreme Court held that the state was duty-bound to provide education to children up to the age of 14. Further, the SC also mentions that the state alone cannot fulfil the task. Private educational institutions, including minority institutions, have to assist the State in that.
86th constitutional amendment of 2002:The government provided a status of a fundamental right to the right to education. The government inserted Article 21A into the constitution.
Evolution of Right To Education Act:
P A Inamdar vs State of Maharastra 2005 case: In this case, the court held that there shall be no reservation in private institutions, minority and non-minority institutions.
93rd constitutional amendment of 2005: This amendment included Clause(5) to Article 15. Under this, the State can provide for admission in institutions, including private institutions for the advancement of “backward” classes. This purposefully omitted both the aided and unaided minority educational institutions.
In 2009, the government enacted the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act or RTE Act. The Act provides for 25 per cent reservation in private institutions.
Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India case. Private schools challenged the 25% percent reservation in the RTE Act. The court, on the other hand, upheld the validity of the legislation. But the court exempted the unaided minority institutions from providing reservation.
The arbitrariness in Right To Education Act:
The amendment to the Right to Education Act 2012: The amendment mentions that the RTE Act will subject to Articles 29 and 30. In other words, It protected the administrative rights of both unaided and aided minority educational institutions.
But in the Pramati Educational Trust vs Union of India case 2014, the court held that the RTE Act is applicable to both non-minority aided and unaided Private schools.
This created an arbitrariness in the Act. This has the following problems in the RTE Act,
- Onus on private unaided schools is higher than the government schools
- Minority institutions both aided and unaided were exempt.
- According to Article 21, there is no discrimination between minority and non-minority institutions. But, the RTE Act has.
- There is no explicable or rational explanation for leaving minority institutions, especially the unaided ones.
Suggestions to improve the Right to Education Act
In the Sobha George v. State of Kerala case, 2016 the court held that the no-detention policy will apply to minority schools also. Further, the court also held that the minority institutions will not subject to the RTE Act. But they are subject to the fundamental rights of the Constitution. The Court demands two fundamental questions on Section 16(no-detention policy).
- Whether the provisions such as Section 16 of RTE are statutory right or Fundamental Right?
- If it is the Fundamental Right, then the minority institutions will not claim the exemption under the Pramati Educational Trust case.
So, the government has to relook the Right to Education Act to fulfil the view of the Sobha George v. State of Kerala case. Until then the Supreme court may overrule its judgement on the Pramati Educational Trust case.
Source: The Indian Express
Governance Issues facing Private Education Institutions
Synopsis: The private educational institutions are failing to deliver optimum results. Thus, the role of the state in providing accessibility in educational institutions can’t be ignored.
- The two renowned faculties of Ashoka university (Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian) have recently resigned. Allegedly, the owners of the institution were cautious of their outspoken criticism of the government.
- This instance questions the ability of private institutions to withstand the government’s pressure and deliver optimum results in the field of education.
Rationale behind privatisation:
- They promise to possess greater academic freedom as the government plays no role in the appointment of faculty and staff. Further, they are not dependent on government aid for carrying out day-to-day activities.
- For instance, JNU’s freedom has been curtailed by the appointment of a favourable Vice-Chancellor by Govt. Stricter norms, budget cuts, and frequent student clashes have been seen after the appointment.
- They promise better academic performance of students by providing better infrastructure and good quality teachers. They use this as a crucial factor for attracting parents towards them.
- Likewise, they complement the government schools and universities that don’t have the capacity to solely accommodate the huge Indian population.
Concerns with Privatisation:
- Rising Inequalities: Private institutions create a class divide. They are costly and expensive thus beyond the scope of many people. Further gender and caste inequalities are also prevalent in them.
- The boys and students from upper-caste backgrounds are overwhelmingly represented in private institutions relative to public ones.
- Profit Motive: Many private institutions are established by Businessmen who also need to protect their business interests. This leads to moulding of the institution’s policy in line with the government’s interest or the popular sentiment in society.
- For instance, historian Ramachandra Guha had to decline to join Ahmedabad University after a religious group’s protest over his appointment.
- Overnight Closures: Many private institutions promise good quality education at low rates. Less fees results in poor infrastructure and inefficient teachers, thereby threatening their survival and leading to overnight closures. This puts many children out of the education map.
- Security of Tenure: This is not available in private institutions due to which teachers have to surrender towards the wishes of private management.
- For instance, even with frequent clashes between VC and teachers, no full-time faculty was forced to resign from JNU.
- Flawed Results: Better results are generated due to the privileged children studying in them and not the quality of resources offered by them.
- There should be democratic decision-making within the private universities. This will provide greater resilience against the government’s pressure and strengthen academic freedom. For instance, Vice-Chancellors in private universities should be made part of the decision-making process.
- Recommendations of the Central Square Foundation report on private participation can be implemented. It’s recommendations includes:
- Reviewing the non-profit mandate for the education sector and existing fee regulations
- Opening corporate governance structures to private schools
- Classifying private schools as micro, small, or medium enterprises
- There should be proper implementation of the Right to Education act. So that, at least 25% of students in private institutions come from diverse backgrounds.
Apart from reforming the private sector, the role of state can’t be ignored for maintaining a just and equal educational system.
Source: Indian Express
Higher Education in India – Significance of Quality Faculties
Synopsis: The size or location of educational institutions is not a big barrier to academic excellence. The quality and strength of faculty should improve to ensure quality higher education.
- Some experts are of the belief that there should be only 10 to 12 IITs. Furthermore, the location of these institutes should be in big urban areas, and they should focus on becoming “crown jewels”.
- However, other experts do not favour this belief. Instead, they believe that the size or location of campuses can not be a barrier to academic excellence.
- The success of IIT-Mandi and other international universities such as Cornell University (England) and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (Japan) favors this belief.
- Thus, the focus should be on increasing the number and quality of faculties in higher education. The recruitment parameters for faculties should be strengthened to ensure quality.
Significance of faculties in higher education
There are a few best practices that some IITs have adopted for improving the quality of education. However, not all the IITs are able to adopt these practices due to the shortage of faculties.
- First, the majority of incoming students lack language and study skills. Thus, they require extra training and confidence-building measures in using the English language.
- For this purpose, many IITs like IIT-Mandi introduced induction programs.
- This program helps to break the ice between students and faculty, making it easy for the students to get in touch with their teachers.
- However, this program is not mandatory in even some “crown jewel” IITs. One of the reasons for this is the increasing strength of the students without a proportionate increase in faculty members.
- Second, Innovative curriculums to provide students with practical work experience are very helpful in exposing students to industrial requirements.
- For example, IIT Mandi courses from a design and innovation stream include a mandatory socio-technical practicum.
- These kinds of innovative curriculums need effort from faculty members.
- Third, many IITs have scrapped the mandatory requirement to submit final year projects. But final year projects are important to test an individual’s knowledge and skills on a concrete problem. The key reason for this is that the increase in student’s strength is not in proportion to increase in faculty strength.
Issues related to the current recruitment process of faculties
There are two existing problems with recruiting and retaining faculty members.
- First, not enough faculty members are hired. The hired faculties are burdened with additional non-academic responsibilities such as: running the canteen, managing the placement cell, etc.
- Second, the issues in the current recruitment process.
- One, shortlisting process is mechanical. It creates the possibility of the elimination of quality resources.
- Second, shortlisting done on the basis of the number of papers taken and the size of grants won by faculties.
Suggestion to improve the recruitment process
- First, each applicant should be asked to provide their two best research publications and their two best pedagogic materials. It should be in addition to their full curriculum vitae.
- Second, based on the two best publications and sample pedagogic materials the external experts should prepare a shortlist. Then the local hiring committees should attempt hiring from within this shortlist.
Case Study: Remoteness will not impact Academic quality: The case of IIT Mandi
- It has as international a resident faculty body as any other IIT.
- It was seventh in the Atal innovativeness ranking published last year.
- Notably, the IIT Mandi project that developed a landslide warning system won the SKOCH award
Source: The Hindu
Education Minister inaugurates “Ānandam” – The Center for Happiness in IIM Jammu
What is the News?
The Union Minister of Education inaugurates “Ānandam: The Center for Happiness” at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Jammu.
About Anandam: The Centre of Happiness:
- The Centre for Happiness-Anandam established with the aim to help reduce the mental pressure of students and faculty. They undergo stress due to deadlines, coursework, and teaching load.
- Origin of Name: The Center for Happiness acquires name ‘Ānandam’ from Indian wisdom tradition. There the state of pure consciousness is anandam. Thus, it doesn’t only aim for happiness but also on knowing the truth, doing good, and enjoying the beauty around.
- Categories: The Centre has five broad categories — counseling, holistic wellness, elective courses on happiness development, research and leadership, faculty development.
- At the center, students and teachers will participate in regular physical exercises. Moreover, they will be able to practice breathing exercises such as prāṇāyāma and mindfulness and practice meditation and contemplation.
What is Gross National Happiness(GNH)?
- Firstly, Gross national happiness(GNH) is a term coined by the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s.
- Secondly, GNH measures economic and moral progress as an alternative to gross domestic product measurement in Bhutan.
- Thirdly the concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress. Thus, it gives equal importance to non-economic aspects of well being.
- Fourthly, in 2012, for the first time, the World Happiness Report was released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network based on Gross Happiness Index at a global level.
What is Happiness Curriculum?
- The Happiness curriculum launched by the Delhi government in 2018.
- The curriculum aims at increasing mental health awareness among school children from classes nursery to eighth in all government schools.
- Under the curriculum, students will attend Happiness Classes. In these classes, students participate in exercises such as storytelling, meditation, and question and answer sessions.
Issues of Vacancies in IIMs For Reserved Faculty Positions
Synopsis: There are larger vacancies in IIMs for reserved faculty positions from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes communities. The unavailability of deserving candidates is one of the reasons for that.
According to an RTI, older Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) are lagging behind the newer IIMs in enforcing the quota rule. For example, IIM-Kolkata has no SC or ST faculty member and only two OBC faculty members.
Does IIMs oppose equality?
It is not like IIMs are not trying to fill the vacancies, there are many reasons behind that. Also, IIMs have taken many steps towards ensuring equality, such as,
- The IIMs fulfill the government-mandated admission quotas for SC, ST, and OBC candidates.
- Apart from that they also implement certain own inventions towards inclusion. For example, IIM-Banglore has taken the following measures towards inclusion. Such as:
- The IIM-B provided reservations to the students with a disability even before the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.
- IIM-B set up a dedicated Office of Disability Services in 2009. This functions as a nodal support point for students with disability. This helps in studying the needs of each student and proactive recommendation for disabled students.
- All these steps resulted in global recognition with the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award. The award for IIM-B highlighted the pioneering work in promoting accessibility and ensuring a life of equality and dignity.
Then, why there are large no. of vacancies on reserved positions in IIMs?
But according to the recent report the IIMs are also facing certain challenges. Such as shortage of qualified candidates from reserved categories. But this is not a simple thing to fill up. This is due to the following reasons.
- IIMs need to balance between the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act 2019 and the Indian Institutes of Management Act, 2017.
(The IIM Act recognizes IIMs as Institutions of National Importance and demands their fulfilment to global standards.)
- Admitting potential students to doctoral programmes is a challenge. The alumni discussion reveals that the reserved category students pursue MBA programmes to employ themselves in a good job. So that, they can move up the societal ladder quickly. But they don’t want to pursue the Research and not showing interest in the faculty postings.
How the IIMs can tackle the challenge?
The IIMs have to launch a specific pre-doctoral programme to fulfil the following objectives.
- Encourage under-privileged category students to take up research and Faculty positions.
- Encourage them to do research by offering financial incentives.
This can improve the necessary talents in the long run. Further, It will also improve the social positions of the under-privileged persons. For example, IIMB in 2019 launched the N.S. Ramaswamy Pre-doctoral Programme. It is a self-funded academic and mentoring initiative.
The other Higher Educational Institutions(HEI) in India have to follow the path of IIMB. It will fulfil the large vacancies in the HEI’s.
Source: The Hindu
Issues with UGC’s New Undergraduate History Curriculum
Synopsis: Recently, the UGC (University Grants Commission) suggested a new undergraduate history curriculum. However, it falls short to meet its desired objectives and requires reconsideration.
- The UGC released a new document on the undergraduate history curriculum, named Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF), 2021.
- The document suggestes changes as per the changing domestic and international scenario.
- Use history as a vital source to obtain knowledge about a nation’s soul.
- Create a conscious student body that is aware about India’s glorious past and can compete at the global level.
- Build a new narrative about the nation through a dialogue between past and present.
About the curriculum:
- The five units of the course cover:
- The concept of Bharatvarsha
- Indian knowledge traditions, art, and culture
- Indian economic traditions
- Dharma, philosophy and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’
- Science, environment, and medical sciences
- First paper of course is titled ‘Idea of Bharat.’ It seeks to study the primitive life and cultural status of the people of ancient India.
- Firstly, the idea of Bharatvarsha is portrayed as devoid of invasions.
- The origin is associated with the pristine ancient past. No credit is associated with Kushans, Mughals, etc. invasions in shaping the idea of Bharat.
- Further little role focus is paid towards the contributions of the south, east, and northeast people towards nation-building.
- The struggle of the masses in the freedom movement is also not given its due space in the creation of Bharat.
- Secondly, the paper on medieval and the early modern India (History of India, 1206-1707) shows that Hindus and Muslims as two separate entities. This would strengthen the belief in separate nations for Hindus and Muslims which led to the country’s partition in the past.
- Thirdly, the use of force is projected as the main driver of change in society. It is shown in the case of Aryan, Mughal or any other invasion. This kind of narrative portrays violence as the sole reason for the change.
- Fourthly, it adopts the categorization methods of colonial historians. This simply undermines the efforts of historians to challenge the colonial way of history-writing.
- The colonial methods used to pose a contrast between the secular, modern Europe and the backward ‘oriental’ states (having irrational adherence to religion).
- Fifthly, the curriculum is biased towards the history of North India. The rich sociocultural, economic and political changes of other regions have been given very little room. Further, some regions are only introduced as political formations.
- Firstly, the style of pedagogy is more textbook-oriented. A less emphasis is placed on archaeological artefacts, coins, visits to monuments and museums etc. that helps in better understanding.
- Secondly, the students are not encouraged to read the diversity of opinion which would have helped in a better understanding of history.
- Thirdly, the curriculum ignores the finest writings in Indian history. The bulk of readings span from the 1900s to the 1980s, with a heavy dependence on the work of Indologists. This curtails their resource base.
- Lastly, the linkage of critical 21st-century issues like climate change, democracy, social justice etc. with the historical framework is missing.
In a nutshell, the curriculum aims to make history education space for passive rote-learning of ideas which was last popularized in the 1920s.
Declining Autonomy of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
The recent attempts of intervention in the functioning of IIMs raise concerns with respect to the degree of autonomy enjoyed by them. The powers of government and board of governors to intervene in the institute’s functioning needs re-examination.
- Recently a challenge to institutional autonomy was posed in IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Calcutta.
- In IIM Ahmedabad, the institute’s director pressured by the government to re-examine a controversial Ph.D. thesis on electoral democracy. The director although refused to comply with the government’s order.
- Similarly, in IIM Calcutta, the director was stripped of its power of making appointments and taking disciplinary actions, by the board of governors.
Autonomy Prior to IIM Act 2017:
- The IIMs functioned as societies and enjoyed significant autonomy in academic matters including fee determination.
- The independence of fixing the fees in older IIMs (Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Indore) ensured they are not dependent on government funds.
- However, the appointment of the director and board of governors was done by the government that reduced IIM’s autonomy. This gave them sufficient scope to intervene.
- Friction was observed in some instances, like in 2003-04, the government’s order to reduce fees in six IIMs was opposed by the IIMs.
Autonomy Post IIM act 2017:
- The act converted autonomy based on the convention to autonomy derived from legislation.
- The government needs to follow the provisions of the act and any alteration to curtail the autonomy can only be done by the legislature.
- The act reduced the power of government but enhanced the powers of the Board of Governors over the institute. Due to this, a tussle is seen between the board and the director of the institute. (IIM Calcutta Scenario)
Impact of Declining Autonomy:
- The creativity of institutes will decrease. It would in turn reduce the quality of education.
- This further culminates into lowered reputation thereby impacting the overall higher education framework in India.
- The government should avoid unnecessary intervention. In the case of IIM Ahmedabad issue, a more prudent way is to go through the appropriate academic forums within the Institute to flag complaints.
- The government should support higher education institutes in multiple ways (including funding) as is done across the globe. However, the support shouldn’t be converted into intervention.
- For instance, funding gives more controlling power to the government. This happens because Parliament and the CAG have the right to know the fate of the funds approved by the government.
The Indian Institute of Management has remained the brightest jewel in the country’s higher education set-up. Maintenance of this position would definitely require a significant degree of autonomy.
Flaws in New AICTE rules
Synopsis: The new AICTE rules allow non-Physics and Non-Maths students to pursue engineering. It will impact students’ prospects in education.
- Recently, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) brought changes to the entry-level qualification for undergraduate engineering programmes.
- According to the new changes, students who haven’t studied either physics or mathematics (or both) in Classes 11 and 12, will be eligible for admission in undergraduate engineering programs.
- Earlier, an engineering aspirant was required to pass high school with physics and mathematics as compulsory subjects.
- Under the new norms, a candidate is expected to have scored at least 45% in any three subjects out of a list of 14 subjects. It gives choice for students to pursue engineering without opting Physics, mathematics from the listed 14 subjects.
AICTE’s rationale behind the move
- AICTE stated that the new changes are in line with the new National Education Policy’s multidisciplinary approach.
- Further, they have decided to supplement the student’s lack of knowledge in Physics and maths through a bridge course.
- This new decision by AICTE attracted criticism from Niti Aayog member and Scientific Advisor Scientist V K Saraswat.
What are the issues with the new AICTE rules?
- First, according to V K Saraswat, developing strong basics in mathematics and physics is easier during the school period. Most of the Engineering subjects require depth knowledge in physics and maths. It will be difficult for non -background students to develop these logics in a short period.
- Second, offering bridge courses to cope with Maths and physics concepts will reduce the student’s ability to excel in graduation. For example, a non-background student needs at least 2 semesters to study physics and maths through a bridge course. It will be difficult for him to cope up with both graduation subject and bridge courses simultaneously.
- Third, worldwide there has been a renewed focus on STEM subjects. Nowadays, every subject even MMBS doctors are using mathematics. In this scenario, neglecting sciences and maths at the school level will limit students’ opportunities.
Colleges need to complete bridge courses before starting formal classes so that students will be pre-equipped with the knowledge of science and maths.
Source: Indian Express
Issue of High Vacancies in Higher Educational Institutions
Synopsis – According to the Education Ministry’s committee, there is a high rate of Vacancies for faculty positions in Central institutions for higher education. State-sponsored preparatory programmes are essential to fill vacancies.
- The government provides reservations for faculty positions to the weaker sections under the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019.
- But, According to the data shared by the Education Ministry, more than half of the faculty vacancies reserved for SCs, STs, and OBCs in Central institutions of higher education are vacant.
- The situation is particularly worse in the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Here more than 60% of SC and OBC reserved positions are unfilled, while nearly 80% of ST reserved positions remain unfilled.
- If we include Central Universities, IISERs, IIT (non-faculty), IGNOU, and Sanskrit Central Universities then the vacancies are about 38% to 52%.
This data highlights a serious mismatch between the government’s reservation goals and actual recruitment outcomes.
What are the recommendations made by an official committee?
- Exemption from a reservation in faculty hiring – The official committee suggested exempting IITs, IIMs from the reservation for SC, ST, OBC and Economically Weaker Sections.
- Vacancies to be de-reserve if no suitable candidates are found within a year– If vacancies for appropriate candidates from SC/ST/OBC/EWS applicants are not filled during a year, the vacancies may be de-reserved for the next year.
However, these recommendations are viewed as undermining the government’s goal of social equity through the reservation. The government needs to understand the education system’s shortcoming.
State-sponsored Preparatory programmes to fulfil various issues:
According to the Education Ministry’s committee, the failure for filling the reserved positions is due to a lack of qualified applicants. The issue can be resolved by-
- State-sponsored Preparatory programmes(prepare faculties for their interviews) to meet the IITs and IIMs standards. These preparatory programmes have the following advantages,
- The programme will increase the pool of aspiring candidates from the reserved sections.
- Further, this will also create research faculties among the reserved sections.
- These preparatory programmes could help to overcome the quality deficiencies in faculty preparation.
- Make higher education institutions(HEIs) more socially responsive, thus achieving the objective of ending historical caste-based discrimination.
- Apart from state-sponsored preparatory programmes, the government must increase the funding for education at all levels. This will support the vulnerable sections on their way towards equality.
Source- The Hindu
Why India should Invest More in Research and Innovation System?
Synopsis: India could use its education policy to improve the research and innovation ecosystem in the country.
The Government of India celebrates National Vaccination Day every year on March 16 to communicate the importance of vaccination to the people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the significance of this day becomes even more important.
- India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine will help India in emerging as a global leader in the post-COVID-19 era.
What steps were taken during the pandemic?
- Most developed nations ramped up their efforts to vaccinate their respective population. However, the developing countries were far behind. It could have resulted in another year of humanitarian and economic crisis for them.
- Developed countries engaged in vaccine nationalism during this time. However, India made vaccines widely available for other developing countries. India guaranteed a universal, unbiased, and affordable supply of vaccines for developing countries.
- This firmly established India as the pharmacy of the world and sent out the message that medical products must be dealt with as global public goods.
- The country has supplied vaccines to over 70 countries while ensuring that its domestic demand is met.
Why India should invest more in Research and Innovation?
The IITs came up with significant innovations like low-cost portable ventilators, affordable AI-powered COVID-19 test kits, drones for sanitization, and cheap and effective PPE kits and masks.
These innovations helped in providing healthcare facilities to Indian citizens. Moreover, the products were exported to different countries.
Thus, India should invest more money and energy in research and innovation to make India a long-term global leader.
Steps taken to strengthen research and Innovation
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a step forward in this direction.
- Firstly, the NEP aims to improve the research and innovation landscape in India. It proposes that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should focus on research and innovation. This will be done by establishing start-up incubation centres, technology development centres, and interdisciplinary research.
- Secondly, the NEP also recommends setting up Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, which will be on the level of IITs and IIMs to achieve the highest global standards in education.
- Thirdly, the National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established under the Principal Scientific Adviser. Its aim is to transform India’s research culture. An outlay of ₹50,000 crore for the next five years has been allocated for NRF in the Budget.
The world will remember India for initiating the largest education reforms and emerging from the pandemic as a global leader. The Prime Minister has given a solid boost to the vaccination drive and instilled confidence in the nation after taking the vaccine himself.
Source: click here
Older IIMs lag behind in enforcing “Quota rules”
What is the News?
According to an RTI, older Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) are lagging behind the newer IIMs in enforcing the quota rule.
Data on IIMs enforcing Quota Rule:
- In older IIMs, less than 10% of the faculty are from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes communities.
- However, In some newer Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) some progress is made in hiring faculty members.
Institute wise Data:
- IIM-Kolkata: It has no SC or ST faculty member, but it does have two OBC faculty members. It makes up less than 3% of its total strength of 77.
- IIM-Bengaluru: It has 6% of its 103 faculty members from the reserved categories: 3 SC, 1 ST, and 2 OBC community members.
- IIM-Ahmedabad: It has said that it does not maintain category-wise information for faculty.
- The Institute at Shillong has more than 30% of faculty members from the reserved categories.
- Institute of Raipur has 25% and Institute of Jammu more than 22% from the reserved categories.
- However, among newer IIMs, IIM-Nagpur does not have a single faculty member from any of the reserved categories.
Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act,2019:
- Purpose: The act provides for the reservation of posts in appointments of Central educational institutions by direct recruitment of persons belonging to
- Scheduled Castes (SCs) (15%)
- Scheduled Tribes (STs) (7.5%)
- Socially and Educationally Backward Classes(SEBCs) (27%) and
- Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs) (10%).
- Coverage: The act will apply to ‘central educational institutions’ which include
- universities set up by Acts of Parliament
- institutions deemed to be a university
- institutions of national importance and
- institutions receiving aid from the central government.
- Exception: The act excludes
- certain institutions of excellence, research institutions, and institutions of national and strategic importance.
- It also excludes minority education institutions.
Source: The Hindu
“Vacancies in Central institutions” for higher education
What is the News?
The Union Education Minister informed the Lok Sabha about the vacancies in the faculty positions of Central institutions for higher education. He mentioned, there is a higher vacancy in the seats reserved for OBCs, Scheduled Castes, and Tribes.
What are the Vacancies in Central institutions of higher education?
- More than half of the faculty positions reserved for the OBCs in Central institutions of higher education are vacant.
- Moreover, 40% of those reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the Central institutions of higher education also remain unfilled.
- This situation is prominent in the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). More than 60% of SC and OBC reserved positions are vacant, while almost 80% of positions reserved for the STs are vacant.
Vacancies in Central institutions at Professor Level:
- Vacancies in Central institutions for SCs and STs:
- In Central Universities, vacancies were higher at the level of professors and not the assistant professor level.
- Of the 709 assistant professor positions reserved for the STs more than 500 have gotten filled.
- However, when it comes to professors, only nine of the total 137 have gotten filled for the ST candidates. This means that 93% of these posts remain vacant.
- Vacancies in Central institutions for OBCs
- Similarly, 64% of the 2,206 assistant professor positions reserved for the OBCs have gotten filled in the Central Universities.
- However, less than 5% of the 378 professor positions reserved for the OBCs have gotten filled.
Source: The Hindu
Addressing Systemic Issues in Higher Education
Synopsis: There are systemic issues in higher education. They need to be addressed to strengthen our education system.
- According to the recently released QS World University Rankings, India has 12 universities and institutions in the top-100 in particular subjects.
- Though it is a better achievement compared to the previous years. Still, there is room for improvement.
- We need to address the systemic issues to further strengthen our education system.
Why are the systemic issues impacting quality in higher education?
There are many systemic issues which needs to be addressed in higher education. For example,
- First, lack of relevant career opportunities diminishes the appeal of academic education among students. For example, if studying hard and critical thinking doesn’t lead to career improvement, students tend to lose academic ambition.
- Second, the lack of relevance of the core syllabus decreases students’ interest in higher education. For example, students joining IIT’s initially, work hard to secure admission, but then lose motivation owing to a lack of relevance in the actual syllabus.
- Third, lack of High-quality jobs. In India, only a few jobs exist after higher education. The Majority of jobs require lower skills and pay poorly. In such a system the Lower-ranked colleges don’t find any motivation to improve themselves.
- Fourth, prioritising top colleges and neglect of Low ranked colleges. For example, top colleges in India enjoy much state-sponsored support. They attract the best faculty and students. This makes it further difficult for low ranked colleges to make any improvement.
What needs to be done?
For the mediocre college to improve, its students must first see value in a better education. It requires system-wide growth in opportunity. To achieve this the relevant stakeholders must do the following;
- First, policymakers, they need to promote employment led -growth oriented policies to create enough jobs for 650 million Indian youths under age 25.
- Second, industry, they should focus on developing indigenous technologies. It will help in improving our Higher Education standards.
- Third, teachers, standard of teaching will improve standards of the institutions and create more competitive students.
- Fourth, Students, they need to demand for better education. Only then institutions will respond to their needs.
- Finally, students will demand better education only when the quality education is valued by society. And vice versa, it will be valued by society only when the imparted quality education is applied towards the benefits of the society.
We must teach students not only our subjects, but also how to think about both existing applications and future ones. Students must aim to relate their learning to society.
Source: Indian Express
Cabinet approves “Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi | PMSSN”
What is the News?
The Union Cabinet approves the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN).
About Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi(PMSSN):
This program will ensure access to universal & affordable health care through a fund that does not lapse at the end of the financial year.
- It has been set up as a single non-lapsable reserve fund for a share of Health.
- It will be made from the share of health in the proceeds of Health and Education Cess.
- The fund will be administered and maintained by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Note: Finance Minister announced the 4% Health and Education Cess during the Budget 2018-19. It replaced the existing 3% Education Cess.
How will the fund be utilised? The fund will be utilized for the following flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare:
- Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
- Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs)
- National Health Mission
- Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
- Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
- Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017.
Tap Water Shortage in Schools despite “100-day special campaign”
What is the News?
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources provided information that only half of the government schools and anganwadis have a tap water supply. It is despite a 100-day special campaign by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
Centre’s 100-day Special Campaign:
- Launched by: On 2nd October 2020, the Ministry of Jal Shakti had launched the 100-day Special Campaign.
- Aim: It aims to provide a 100% potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes. And tap water for washing hands and in toilets in every school, Anganwadi and ashram shala, or residential tribal school.
- Why was the campaign launched? The campaign was launched as children are more susceptible to water-borne diseases. Moreover, there is also a need for repeated washing of hands as a precautionary measure during the pandemic.
- Duration: The campaign was to end on January 10, 2021. However, it has been extended till March 31, 2021, as some States/ UTs have asked for more time to complete the task.
What has been achieved so far?
- Seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Punjab have achieved 100% coverage.
- Around 1.82 lakh greywater management structures and 1.42 lakh rainwater harvesting structures were also constructed in schools and Anganwadi centres.
What more needs to be done?
- Tap water supply in schools and Anganwadis: Only half of the government schools(53.3%) and Anganwadi’s(48.5%) have a tap water supply.
- Tap Water Supply in States: Tap water supply is only available in less than 8% of schools in Uttar Pradesh, 11% in West Bengal, and 2-6% of Anganwadi’s in Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Bengal.
Source: The Hindu
NEP 2020 and language policy
Synopsis- Since colonial times, efforts to introduce education policy based on mother tongue have failed. The NEP 2020 also fails to uphold a multilingual educational approach.
- Since colonial times, all committees and commissions recognized the importance of education in the mother tongue. Its proponents include Elphinstone’s Minute of 1824, Macaulay’s Minute of 1835, and Wood’s Dispatch of 1854.
- However, they laid the foundation of India’s education system in the English language.
- UNESCO declared in 1953 to use mother tongue for the conceptual clarity and cognitive growth of students
- Even NEP 1986, plan of action 1992, NCF 2005, RTE 2009 also highlighted the importance of mother tongue in education. However, they did nothing to fill the quality gap between English-medium schools and non-English medium schools.
- Now, NEP 2020 also recommends the medium of instruction to be in the home language/mother-tongue/local language or regional language in primary classes. But again words such as “preferably” or “wherever possible” are used, making implementation uncertain.
NEP 2020 sticks to the ‘three-language formula’ while emphasizing that no language would be imposed on anyone.
What is the issue with NEP 2020 on the language front?–
- Multiplicity of languages and dialects in India – Students are better able to learn to read and write in the language that they are most familiar with. However, in a multilingual country like India, it comes across as a challenge with different states, regional and national languages.
- Just 47 of the 270 mother tongues identified in the 2011 Census used as mediums of instruction in schools.
- NEP 2020 speaks a lot about multilingualism. But it fails to recognize that children arrive in school not with “a language” but with a complex verbal repertoire.
- The NEP 2020 three-language formula is theoretically unsound and has had a disastrous history. NEP, 2020 fails to understand that people only learn another language to integrate with others or when it is an instrument of benefit.
- For example, people from South India learn Hindi for jobs and increments. People in North India learn Sanskrit because it ensures high marks without much work.
What needs to be done?
- The Government needs to ensure that every child’s voice is heard in the classroom according to the child’s own understanding.
- The Government needs to initiate an MLE model and identify the problems in implementation and the cost of change of the model. After then prepare an action plan which resolves all of such problems.
Ranking of Indian Universities in “QS World University Rankings 2021”
What is the News?
The QS World University Rankings 2021 released.
About QS World University Rankings 2021
- Released by: Global higher education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds releases annually.
- Parameters: It calculates the performance of the universities based on the following four parameters:
- Academic reputation
- Employer reputation
- Research impact (citations per paper)
- Productivity of an institution’s research faculty
- Subjects Covered: It covers a total of 51 disciplines grouped into five broad subject areas: 1) Arts & Humanities 2) Engineering and Technology 3) Life Sciences & Medicine 4) Natural Sciences and 5) Social Sciences & Management.
Key Findings Related to India:
- Twelve Indian universities and higher education institutions have achieved top-100 positions in their subject. In total, 25 Indian programs have achieved top-100 positions – two fewer than in 2020.
- The top-ranked Indian programme globally is the IIT Madras petroleum engineering program. It is followed by mineral and mining engineering at Bombay and Kharagpur IITs.
- Engineering and Technology: Only three institutions made it to the top 100 in this category — the Bombay, Delhi, and Madras IITs. In 2020, 5 institutions were ranked in the top 100.
- Social Sciences and management: the University of Delhi is the highest-ranked Indian institution in this category. But it fell 48 places at 208.
- Life Sciences and Medicine: All India Institute of Medical Sciences remained the only institution in the top 300 in this category.
- Natural Sciences: Indian Institute of Science(IISc) has entered into the top 100 in this category.
- Arts & Humanities: Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) anthropology program has been ranked 159th in this category.
- Private Institute: OP Jindal Global University is the only Indian private institution in the top 100 list. It entered into the top 100 law schools of the world with a rank of 76.
Source: The Hindu
NEP 2020 and children’s right to playgrounds
Synopsis: NEP 2020 (National Education Policy) has disregarded the children’s right to playgrounds in the name of efficiency.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE) guarantees essential infrastructure including playgrounds to all school-going children between the ages of 6 and 14.
- However, the New NEP 2020 is going against the RTE requirements of providing mandatory infrastructural facilities.
- This requirement is introduced with the intention to increase efficiency and optimization. It may also lead to an increase in total schools and decrease school fees.
- However, it will deprive children’s access to playgrounds. It is also a denial of their right to play in safe and adequate spaces.
What are the changes brought by NEP 2020 with respect to playground provisions?
- First, the NEP directs a review of the “practicalities of playgrounds in urban areas”, school-area, and room-size requirements. It aims to “ease” school operation by removing RTE playground requirements.
- Second, the NEP proposes that by 2025, state governments create school complexes. The school complex would be comprised of a mix of schools and anganwadis in a 5-10 kilometre radius. Schools will be encouraged to use shared resources such as playgrounds.
What are the issues?
- First, according to NEP 2020, neither the government nor private schools need to provide playgrounds. After that, private schools may charge exorbitant fees without providing playgrounds.
- Second, one school complex comprises a 5–10 KM radius, sharing playgrounds among large no. of schools and children of different ages will be difficult. Because Children of different ages have different playground needs. For instance, Anganwadi learners have different spatial needs than middle school students.
- Third, this is against the court’s directive. In 2019, the Allahabad High Court ruled that playgrounds must be provided within a school’s land area to ensure access for all children, including children with disabilities.
- Fourth, there is a growing scarcity of playgrounds due to intensive urbanization. Children’s playgrounds have increasingly been appropriated by governments and private parties for development.
- For instance, in 2019, Gujarat amended its RTE rules to reduce the minimum playground area requirements for urban and rural schools.
- Fifth, NEP provisions are contradictory in nature. Despite removing playground requirements, the NEP advocates sports-integrated education. It fails to explain how sports may be integrated without playgrounds.
- Sixth, it is against the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention recognizes play as an indispensable right of the child as it allows for the free and true expression of one’s personality.
- Seventh, Sports is also a minuscule sub-category of the infinite varieties of children’s play. It can accommodate only a few children based on “abilities”.
- Even if specific forms of sports infrastructure are provided in well-resourced schools, these cannot substitute for large, open playgrounds.
The NEP 2020 provision will bring down the minimum standards of quality education, instead of protecting and expanding it. This is also seen as a move to prioritize neoliberal interests that prioritize market demands over societal good.
[Answered] “The draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 recommends a restructuring of school years and the curriculum, in a wide-ranging manner but it lacks the critical components of education i.e. critical thinking and deeper understanding”. Critically analyse.Give some measures to improve education system in India.
3rd Phase of “Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme(TEQIP)”
What is the News?
The third phase of the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) is coming to an end in March 2021.
About TEQIP project:
- It was launched in 2002 by the Ministry of Education. World Banks is assisting in its implementation.
- Aim: The TEQIP project aims to upscale the quality of technical education and enhance the capacities of technical institutions.
Phases under the TEQIP project:
- TEQIP project was first launched in 2003. It was implemented in 13 States and covered 127 Institutions including 18 Centrally Funded Institutions.
- It focussed on
- Promotion of Academic Excellence
- Networking of Institutions for quality enhancement and resource sharing
- Enhancing quality and reach of services to Community and Economy.
- Phase II of the TEQIP project was launched in 2010. The coverage was widened to cover 23 States/Union Territories (UTs) and 191 Institutes.
- It focussed on
- Scaling up Post – Graduate education and demand-driven Research and Development innovation
- Establishing Centres of Excellence for focussed applicable research
- Training of faculty for effective teaching.
- It was started in 2017 and will be completed by 2021. It focussed on improving quality and equity in engineering institutions in seven low income, eight northeastern and three hilly States.
- Under this phase, graduates from elite institutions such as NIT and IIT were recruited to teach in some of the poorest and most remote areas. They were paid salaries in accordance with the Seventh Pay Commission.
What is the next step?
- The Central Government is planning to replace the TEQIP project with a new programme called MERITE Project.
- The MERITE project will have similar objectives to improve technical education.
- However, the MERITE Project is still in the conceptual stage and has not yet received Cabinet approval.
Neither States nor Centre is willing to commit continued funding of the TEQIP project. This may leave 1,200 assistant professors out of the job. Apart from that, it would also impact the rural colleges as they would be deprived of the faculty.
Source: The Hindu
NEP’s Approach to Effective Education for Children
Synopsis: The end-of-the-year examination results do not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child. Thus, NEP attempts to look beyond examinations and emphasizes child-centred pedagogy.
Gijubhai Badheka, an educationist who helped introduce Montessori methods to India, wrote in his book that the school culture in India considers several things of children’s interest. It ranges from insects to stars which is irrelevant to classroom study.
- Teachers teach students from the textbook to prepare them for examination instead of developing the child’s curiosity. The school does not provide conditions in which the teacher could focus on the overall development of children.
- Examinations should not be the final goal of a rewarding learning experience as it only rewards the power of memorisation.
- Exams are one of the multiple milestones to be crossed by a child on her path to holistic growth and development.
What does the new education policy focus on instead of examinations?
The National Education Policy, 2020, uses two interesting phrases: “No hard separations” and “elimination of silos” in the context of learning.
- First, India is now working on implementing the policy. It is important to have an understanding of these phrases and their implications.
- For example, NEP 2020 requires the achievement of common standards for high-quality education in all schools. It means removing differences between public and private schools through the setting up of a State Standard-Setting Authority (SSSA). It requires a variety of learning from pre-school to higher education.
- Second, the removal of hard separations would include removing the barrier of language. For that, the mother tongue/language spoken by the child shall be the medium to understand the subjects, especially in the foundational years.
- Third, teaching and schooling should be activity-based and experiential. It helps in cognitive growth through story-telling, art, and craft, sports, and theatre.
- Fourth, classrooms need to discard the typical seating plan. At present all the children sit, facing the board. A flexible seating plan which has students sitting in a circle or in groups shall be introduced.
- Fifth, schools will need to embrace a variety of teaching and learning materials. For that, methods such as toys, puppets, magazines, worksheets, comic and storybooks, nature walks, visits to local crafts, etc. are useful.
- Last, assessment should only be viewed as a means of learning. The NEP would help in including more in depth knowledge with fewer curriculums, less content but more proficiency, less textbooks but more diverse learning, less stress but more joy, less assessment by the teacher but more self and peer evaluation.
The way forward
- A lot of research shows that a supportive environment is one in which a child is constantly learning to collaborate, think critically, solve problems, be creative and articulate.
- NEP 2020 wants to break the belief that taking exams on the basis of what is written in textbooks is sufficient. Examination results do not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child.
Education ministry circular on online conferences
Synopsis: Ministry of education’s circular for regulating online conferences is not well thought out. It will discourage innovation.
What was the circular about an online conference?
- Recently, education ministry released a circular to the state-funded universities and educational institutions. A per this circular, these institutions and universities need prior official approval from external Affairs ministry for hosting online “international conferences and seminars online”.
- It also prohibits the conference topics relate to security of the state, border, the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and broadly, any “internal matters”. Not only topics, but a background check of participants will be required.
- Event organisers were required to give preference to technological tools and channels not owned or controlled by hostile countries or agencies.
- The circular was issued in consultation with the External Affairs Ministry. Indian Academy of Sciences protested this circular and triggered a rethink on it.
Importance of virtual or online conference
- Firstly, in a pandemic-hit phase virtual conferences are the only viable channel for researchers to collaborate and discuss various issues with their global peers. The circular created a new bureaucratic hurdle for scientists in public universities, colleges and organisations.
- Secondly, Online conferences were instrumental in increased participation of thousands of Scientists. It increased attendance at events by 80% in 2020 over 2019 for the Plant Biology Worldwide Summit and over 300% for the American Physical Society meeting.
- Third, Virtual conferences clear out many hurdles like visas, expensive travel, and physical disability and so on, for the scientists who don’t have resources for that. Even researchers and students in the smallest towns can attend these conferences.
- Fourth, India has also made progresses in peer-reviewed publications due to these collaborations. It reduces the concerns of bio piracy by documenting natural assets.
Thus, online conferences proved to be very beneficial for the research and technology in India. Government should adopt more liberal approach towards it.
World bank Released “Education Finance Watch(EFW) Report” 2021
What is the News?
The World Bank and UNESCO released the Education Finance Watch Report (EFW), 2021.
About the Education Finance Watch Report:
- The report is a collaborative effort between the World Bank and UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.
- It summarizes the available information on patterns and trends in education financing around the world.
Key Findings of the Education Finance Watch Report:
- Global spending on education has increased continuously in absolute terms over the last 10 years. However, the pandemic may interrupt this upward trend.
- Education Budgets: 2/3rd of low and middle-income countries reduced their education budgets since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In comparison, only a third of upper-middle and high-income countries have reduced their budgets.
- Spending on Child’s Education: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, high-income countries were spending annually the equivalent of $8,501 for every child’s education. It was $48 in low-income countries. The pandemic has further widened this spending gap.
- Access to education has improved in low and middle-income countries. However, the learning poverty rate (the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read a short, age-appropriate text) was at around 53%. It was only 9% for high-income countries. This has increased further to 63% after COVID-19-related school closures.
Global Education Monitoring Report(GEM Report):
- Published by: It is an annual report published by UNESCO. The report was formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
- Mandate: The report aims to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education. It also targets education-related goals in the SDG agenda.
Source: Down To Earth
“IIT Council” sets up panels for more autonomy
What is the News?
The Union Education Minister has chaired the 54th meeting of the IIT Council. The council discussed the implementation of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
About IIT Council:
- Headed by: The IIT Council is headed by the Union Education Minister. It also includes the directors of all IITs and the chairman of each IIT’s Board of Governors.
- Purpose: IIT Council advises on admission standards, duration of courses, degrees, and other academic distinctions. It also lays down policy regarding cadre, methods of recruitment, and conditions of service of employees.
Key Recommendations by IIT Council:
It has set up 4 committees to look into the issue of greater autonomy for the IITs, as recommended by NEP, 2020. Moreover, these committees will look into the issues like reform of the academic Senate, grooming faculty to head the IITs, and innovative funding mechanisms.
- Reducing staff strength: It has recommended a reduction in staff strength of IITs, especially non-teaching manpower. It is due to the increasing digitization and outsourcing.
- Currently, IITs have one faculty member for every 10 students. Whereas, for every 10 faculty, there are 11 staff members.
- IIT R&D Fair: The council has suggested arranging an Online IIT Research and Development (R&D) fair. It will showcase the quality research work of IITs to the industry.
- Mobility of Faculty: The IITs should develop an Institute Development Plan to improve the mobility of faculty between institution and industry.
- One IIT – One Thrust Area approach: IITs were urged to adopt ‘One IIT – One Thrust Area’ approach based on local needs.
Source: The Hindu
Impacts of School Closures and way forward
Synopsis: Policies to ensure education during COVID-led school closures has increased the disparities. Disparities need to be rectified by suitable policy measures to deliver universal education to all.
- Lockdown measures to contain COVID spread has forced the government to resort to school closures.
- The governments tried to address the situation by giving a push to the digital distance learning method.
- However, studies indicate that the initiative failed to take into account existing divides such as spatial, digital, gender and class.
- The digital learning methods widened the digital divide between the rich and the poor and the urban and rural areas.
What were the steps taken by the government?
- The government used various means such as text/video/audio content through SMS, WhatsApp, radio and TV programmes to reach out to students and engage them.
- Further, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development in March 2020 started sharing the following free e-learning platforms.
|1.Diksha portal: It contains e-learning content aligned to the curriculum|
|2. e-Pathshala: It is an app by the National Council of Educational Research and Training for Classes 1 to 12 in multiple languages|
|3. SWAYAM: it consists of 1,900 complete courses including teaching videos, computer weekly assignments, examinations and credit transfers, aimed both at school (Classes 1 to 12) and higher education.|
|4. SWAYAM Prabha: it is a group of 32 direct to home channels devoted to the telecasting of educational programmes|
What are the issues concerning the use of the digital distance learning method?
The attempts at initiating a rapid transition to digital learning following the pandemic have many lessons,
- First, according to a recent UNICEF report, the massive school closures exposed the uneven distribution of technology required for remote learning. It reduced the chances of social and economic mobility through education.
- Second, it also disrupted the significant school programmes that resulted in high enrolment as well as regular attendance. (The mid-day meal scheme, the school health Programme and pre-metric scholarships to girl children).
- Third, the abilities of the families and communities to support their children’s education reduced. For example, A survey promoted by the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies found that in families which faced cash and food shortages, only 50% of the boys and girls were confident of returning to school.
- Fourth, students with lesser access to digital connectivity forced them to share the burden of household chores. Also, their educational routine disrupted. In many cases, students don’t remember what they learnt earlier.
- Fifth, apart from the above issues the education sector faces many challenges. Such as delivery of pedagogical processes, classroom assessment frameworks, students’ support and teacher-student engagement.
|Case study of Rajasthan:|
What needs to be done?
- First, Education planning should be made context-specific, gender-responsive and inclusive.
- Second, the government should take enabling measures even when schools are closed. Such as;
- providing access to online education,
- removal of barriers in pre-matric scholarships and
- ensuring the provision of mid-day meals, iron and folic acid tablets and
- provision of personal hygiene products to girl students
- Third, currently, there are around 300 million children reported to be out of school in India across all age groups. This number can increase once schools are reopened.
- Hence, the authorities should establish the re-enrolment of children as mandated by the National Education Policy 2020. Mass outreach programmes should be developed with civil society to encourage re-enrollment.
- Fourth, to retain the poorest at schools’ remedial tuitions and counselling along with scholarships, targeted cash transfers and other entitlements are advisable.
- Fifth, we can also think about making secondary education for girls free.
- Finally, to implement all these measures we need to support the education sector with adequate budgetary resources. Hence, it is important to increase the share of education to 6% of GDP, as emphasized by the President of India.
Overexpansion of IITs will reduce its standards
Synopsis: The recent decision by UGC to allow IITs to open branches abroad will jeopardize the Institution’s brand. This overexpansion of IITs will reduce their quality.
- The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are India’s premier institutes with world-class quality standards. They are among few Indian higher education institutions that perform well in the global rankings.
- However, in the last decade, the IIT institutes have expanded beyond their capacity. This accelerated expansion is likely to affect its quality standards. For example, Currently, there are 23 IITs compared to 5 IIT’s in the early 1960s.
- Moroever, recently, the University Grants Commission permitted select IITs under the ‘Institutions of Eminence’ category to set up campuses abroad. This decision could further weaken the quality standards of IITs.
- So, we need to rethink the changing role and mandate of IITs in order to ensure that quality and focus are maintained.
How the expansion of IITs is affecting the quality standards of the premier institutions?
- In recent years, the government expanded the number of IITs throughout the country. This has the following consequences.
- Most of the new IITs are located in smaller towns. Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), Palakkad (Kerala), Dharwad (Karnataka), and others.
- It will be difficult for IITs in small locations to attract top-quality faculty and staff. For example, IIT Dhanbad is approved to hire 781 instructors, but only 301 positions were filled as of January 2021.
- Also, it will be difficult to provide world-class facilities and infrastructure for IITs that are located in smaller towns.
- Thus, inevitably it will lead to quality decline and the dilution of “IIT brand”.
What are the other issues hampering the growth of IIT’s?
- First, IIT’s are unable to attract a sufficient number of young faculty to fill vacancies resulting from retirements.
- Because the salaries offered by IIT’s are relatively less compared to the salaries offered by the industries.
- Also, bright minds are getting attracted to universities and industries in other countries.
- Second, exclusive focus on technology and engineering and very less importance given to the humanities and social sciences.
- Recently, the 2020 National Education Policy emphasized that the IITs should focus more on “holistic and multidisciplinary education”.
- Third, lack of correlation between the local needs and IITs. Only a few State governments are effectively utilizing the presence of IITs for community outreach programmes through knowledge-sharing networks.
- An effective approach for local area development through IITs could have prevented the resistance of local groups for setting up new IIT in their region. For example, Goa.
What needs to be done?
- First, rather than creating new IIT’s we need to prioritise limited “IIT system”. It should be funded at “world-class” levels and staffed by “world class” faculty. Only, 10 to 12 “real” IITs located near major cities are practical for India.
- Whereas, the newly established institutes can be renamed. After that, they can be provided with sufficient resources to produce high-quality graduates and good research.
- The recent decision to liberalise the recruitment rules to attract more foreign faculty is a good step in the right direction.
- Second, IITs need to pay attention to internationalization by collaborating with the best global universities and hiring foreign faculty. Rather than starting overseas branches we need robust policies to attract international students.
- This move will produce excellent results and build the IIT’s international brand. For instance, IIT Bombay-Monash Research Academy and University of Queensland-IIT Delhi Academy of Research (UQIDAR), are promising examples.
- Third, adequate and sustained funding is mandatory from both the government and the philanthropy to ensure high-quality standards.
Data on participation of marginalised Communities in leading IITs
What is the News?
The Hindu Newspaper has published the data obtained through the RTI queries. Data provides info. on the representation of marginalized communities such as OBCs, SCs, and STs in the leading IITs of the country.
About the data:
- The RTI query data covers Ph.D. admissions made in the five-year period from 2015 to 2019. IITs covered are of Madras, Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, and Kharagpur.
Key Findings of the data:
- Selection of SCs and STs in PHDs: Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe applicants are half as likely to get selected for a Ph.D. program at leading IITs in the country as aspirants from the General Category (GC) are.
- Acceptance Rate: The acceptance rate refers to the number of students selected for every 100 students who applied. The acceptance rate stood at 4% for students from General Category. It falls to 2.7% for OBC students and further down to just 2.16% for SCs and 2.2% for STs.
Data given by Government in Parliament:
According to the Ministry of Education’s data submitted to Parliament last year:
The following data is based on the total admissions made by all IITs from 2015 to 2019:
- Only 2.1% went to STs and 9.1% to SCs. The government’s reservation policy mandates the allocation of 7.5% seats for students from the STs and 15% from SCs.
- Similarly, 23.2% of seats went to applicants from the OBCs against the 27% mandated by reservation.
- The remaining 65.6% or roughly two-thirds of all the seats went to General Category(GC) applicants.
Source: The Hindu
2nd Phase of the “Vigyan Jyoti Programme”
What is the News?
The second phase of Vigyan Jyoti programme commenced on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, 2021.
Vigyan Jyoti Programme:
- It was launched by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) in December 2019.
- Aim: It aims to create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school. It will encourage them to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) in their higher education and make them self-reliant.
- Classes Covered: This programme started at school level for meritorious girls of Class IX to Class XII.
- Coverage: The programme had been running successfully in 50 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas(JNV) since 2019. It is now expanded to 50 more JNVs for the year 2021-22.
- Activities under the programme: The activities under the programme include student-parent counselling, visit to labs and knowledge centres, partners role model interactions, science camps, academic support classes, resource material distribution and tinkering activities.
- It also provides online academic support to students. It includes streaming of video classes, study materials, daily practice problems and doubt clearing sessions.
- Second Phase: The second phase of the Vigyan Jyoti aims to spread the program to 50 more districts. It will be in addition to the existing 50 districts across the country.
Other Initiatives by DST to Promote Gender Parity in STEM:
- Women Scientists Scheme: This initiative primarily aims at providing opportunities to women scientists and technologists who had a break in their career but desired to return to the mainstream. It covers women between the age group of 27-57 years.
- Consolidation of University Research for Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities(CURIE) programme: It aims for improving R&D infrastructure and establishing state-of-the-art research facilities in order to create excellence in S&T in women universities.
- Artificial Intelligence(AI) Labs: Government has established AI labs in women’s universities with the goal to foster AI innovations. It will prepare skilled manpower for AI-based jobs in the future.
- Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions(GATI): It aims to develop a comprehensive charter and a framework for assessing gender inequality in STEM.
- Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing(KIRAN): It aims to bring gender parity in the Science & Technology sector by inducting more women talent in the research & development domain through various programmes.
“Foundational Abilities” of children lost due to closure of schools
What is the News?
Azim Premji University(APU) has released a study titled “loss of learning during COVID Pandemic”.
About the study:
- Focus: The study looked at the impacts of the closure of schools during COVID, on the students. It especially focussed on the students from lower classes.
- Coverage: The study was conducted on primary school children between Classes II and VI in the Government schools. It was done across five States, i.e. Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand.
- Children not only missed out on the curricular learning of regular schools but are also ‘forgetting’ what they had learned in previous years.
- On average, 92% of students from Classes II to VI have lost at least one specific foundational ability in languages that they may have acquired in previous years. The corresponding figure for mathematics is 82%.
What are Foundational Abilities?
- Foundational abilities are those that form the basis for further learning. Some examples of foundational abilities include reading a paragraph with comprehension, addition, and subtraction.
- According to researchers, a grasp of foundational abilities forms the basis of a student’s further learning in all subjects.
Source: The Hindu
Finance Minister allocates funds for “National Research Foundation”
What is the News?
The Finance Minister allocated funds for the creation of a National Research Foundation(NRF).
About National Research Foundation(NRF)
- The NRF found mention in the 2019 Budget speech first. New Education Policy(NEP),2020 also proposed its formation.
- The foundation would be an autonomous body. It will fund researches across four major disciplines –Sciences; Technology; Social Sciences; and Arts and Humanities.
- Moreover, It will develop and build research capacity at universities and colleges through a formal mechanism of mentoring. Experts researchers from premier institutions of the country will assist in that.
- Thus, It will also catalyze research at universities and colleges that have until now not been big players in research.
- The funding would be cross-disciplinary. The foundation will ensure that research already being funded by Science Ministries for instance — wouldn’t be duplicated.
Source: The Hindu
Agreement for Financial Support to “STARS Project”
What is the News?
Department of Economic Affairs(DEA) and World Bank signed an agreement for the financial support on the Strengthening Teaching-Learning And Results for States(STARS) project.
- The project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- Aim: To improve the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian school education system through interventions in selected states.
- Coverage: The project covers 6 States: Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Odisha.
- At National level, Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education(MOE) will be the main implementing agency.
- At the State level, the project will be implemented through the integrated State Implementation Society(SIS) for Samagra Shiksha.
- World Bank Funding: The World Bank’s support is primarily in the form of a results-based financing instrument called Program for Results(PforR). This will ensure major reforms at the State level through a set of disbursement-linked indicators(DLIs).
- A State Incentive Grant(SIG) will also be used to encourage States to meet desired project outcomes.
- Verification: An independent Verification agency(IVA) will verify each result before disbursement of funds.
- Impact: The STARS project will be instrumental in the implementation of various recommendations of National Education Policy 2020 namely:
- Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning
- Improving Learning Assessment System
- ICT-enabled approaches in education,
- Teachers Development and Vocational education etc.
Challenges in internationalisation of higher education
Synopsis: NEP, 2020 has an objective to attract International branch campuses (IBCs) of top Universities in India. But there are several challenges associated with it.
- Recently, National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) was introduced in India. NEP-2020, for the first time, has highlighted internationalisation of higher education as an objective.
- To achieve this, NEP-2020 allows the top 100 World-Class Universities to open international branch campuses (IBCs) in India.
- The reason behind this is to raise the standard of research and teaching to international levels and reduce the out-bound mobility of Indian students.
In this article. we will discuss the challenges that needs to be addressed at the implementational level before allowing International branch campuses (IBCs) in India.
How IBCs will help to increase the inflow of foreign students?
- In April 2018, India launched Study in India Programme with generous scholarships to increasing the inflow of foreign students. However, it did not succeed in attracting foreign students on a large scale.
- It is expected that, the establishment of IBCs in India will increase in-bound mobility of students and scholars.
- The international standards maintained by the IBCs will attract international students to explore and experience Indian education and culture.
What are the challenges that need to be addressed?
Top universities are willing to open international branch campuses (IBCs) in India. But they need clarity in areas essential for operationalisation of branch campuses in India.
First, such universities are not driven by state sponsored infrastructures. For example, the Dubai Knowledge Hub, that offered ready to move in campus, office space. IBCs wants to accumulate profits like any other business enterprise and repatriate income to their home.
Second, which subjects and areas of research to be allowed for IBCs is an area of concern. Most of the time Humanities and Social sciences are not considered due to low profits in them.
Fourth, IBCs demands for more autonomy in curriculum design, daily functioning of the institution etc. Thus, they might take decisions against the local requirement if they feel it is not profitable.
Fifth, IBCs will also expect to be treated on par with Indian institutions in matters of government funding and scholarships.
National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Implementation Plan for School Education
News: Union Minister of Education has released details of the implementation plan of National Education Policy 2020.
- National Education Policy 2020: It is the third in the series of National Education Policies (1968 and 1986 modified in 1992) in India and is the first education policy of the 21st century. NEP 2020 covers major reforms in wider spectrum of school education from pre-primary to senior secondary.
Implementation Plan for School Education:
- ShikshakParv was organised for discussing recommendations of NEP 2020 and its implementation strategies.
- Major portions of NEP will be covered under the new National Curriculum Framework(NCF) and centrally sponsored schemes. Groundwork for NCF is initiated and it is likely to be developed in the next academic session, that is 2021-22.
- Approval has been given for setting up the National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission. A Committee has been formed for preparing a framework on FL&N, codification of learning outcomes, etc.
- E-learning has been expanded through DIKSHA.DIKSHA provides access to a large number of curriculum-linked e-content through several solutions such as QR coded Energized Textbooks(ETBs), courses for teachers, quizzes etc.
- Government has launched an initiative called ‘Manodarpan’ for mental health and wellbeing of students.It aims to provide emotional support and counselling to the students under distress.
- Learning Outcomes upto Secondary level have been notified and draft of learning outcomes for senior secondary level have been released for inviting suggestions.
- The department is also aligning its existing schemes i.e, Samagra Shiksha, Mid Day Meal and Padhna Likhna Abhiyan with the recommendations of NEP 2020.
ISRO to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs for promoting Space Education
News: Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has announced that ISRO will be adopting 100 Atal Tinkering Labs across the country to promote education in the field of STEM, Space education and space technology related Innovations for school students.
- Atal Tinkering Labs: It is an initiative by the Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog with the aim of establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories(ATLs) in schools across India.
- Objective: To foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
- Key Features of ATL:
- ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode and learn innovation skills.
- Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
- ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
- ATL can conduct different activities ranging from regional and national level competitions, exhibitions, workshops on problem solving, designing and fabrication of products, lecture series etc. at periodic intervals.
- Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid of Rs. 20 Lakh to each school that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
- Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to set up ATL.
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Re–imagining the school education in India
Synopsis: We need to reimagine our school education system to ensure quality education for all and to make India a knowledgeable super power.
- Currently, the school as an institution has been criticised by many experts for turning into caged jails, for being run like factories, functioning like corporate enterprises and for forcing the curriculum into the child.
- In this backdrop, we will evaluate how the school system has been envisaged by great personalities, what are the drawbacks in our present schooling system and how we need to improve it to make school education inclusive, knowledgeable and as an institution for self-discovery.
How the school system has been envisaged by great personalities?
Progressive thinkers have always envisioned “free schools” for children. They always believed that school should be made to fit the child rather than the other way round. For example,
- Leo Tolstoy (Russian Novelist) himself founded a school for the children of poor peasants at his home (Yasnaya Polyana) without any strict schedule, homework or physical punishment.
- Maria Montessori (The first Italian woman to become a doctor) educational philosophy too emphasised on children’s freedom and choice.
- Rabindranath Tagore in his classical tale The Parrot’s Training (Totaakahini) has vehemently criticised the rote learning method followed in the Indian school system.
What are the issues with government schools in India?
Government schools in India faces the following challenges,
- Firstly, the poor Infrastructure in government schools leading to instances such as roof collapse.
- Second, lack of effective governance and monitoring. For example, Children’s falling sick after consuming mid-day meals.
- Third, there is a deep segregation of school systems in India, ignoring the 1966 Kothari Education Commission’s recommendation for a common school system.
- Fourth, existing inequality among children’s due to widening digital divide, the poor do not have access to mobiles, laptops and internet connectivity.
- Fifth, lack of political will to strengthen the government schools in India which can be understood from the point that government is pushing towards privatisation by handing over land and managements to private organisations.
What needs to be done?
We need to improve on the following areas to provide a healthy education to our younger generation.
- Firstly, we need to improve the schooling infrastructure by providing Clean toilets, drinking water, library, a tinkering lab, and a playground.
- Second, we need to think on having classes with mixed age groups instead of segregating children by age. This will allow children to learn at their own pace and make learning a fun activity. For example, David Horsburgh’s Neel Bagh School in Kolar, Karnataka, Here, Children’s could study Class V Telugu, Class III English and Class VII math all at the same time.
- Third, we need to identify the champions from within the government system and use them as effective resource people. This will surely motivate many teachers to perform better and achieve excellence.
- Fourth, government needs to cooperates with best NGO’s like PRATHAM to bring in best practices from all over the country.
- Fifth, we need to envision a plan to bring tens of thousands of retired professionals as teachers as they will bring years of practical experience to learning.
- Sixth, as we reimagine the school system, we must strive to bring more neighbourhood learning spaces as places for community learning. This can be done by utilising community halls in large housing societies and by creating an “activities centre” in each housing society.
- Seventh, we need to build a free archive for Indian languages such as archive.org where nearly 1.5 million people log in every day. The recent announcement by the government that it will buy bulk subscriptions of scientific journals to make them accessible for all is a step in the right direction.
- Lastly, we need to reimplement the success of Delhi government schools throughout India where government schools have become better than private ones by improving infrastructure (no stinky toilets), giving dignity to teachers, constituting school management committees and by involving many good NGOs for innovating learning methods.
We need to reimagine our school as a place where children with different backgrounds class, caste, religions, abilities can study together and learn to care and empathise. They should also be trained to excel in soft skills such as cooperation, group work, compassion, human dignity and plurality of opinions.
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Survey to enroll students, relaxing detention norm: Education Ministry to states
News: The Ministry of Education has issued guidelines to States for offering support to students during the closure of schools and when they reopen to minimize the impact of the pandemic on school education across the country,
- Door to Door Survey: States to conduct door-to-door surveys to identify children out of school and migrant students and prepare an action plan to prevent increased drop-outs, lower enrolments, loss of learning and deterioration in the gains made in providing universal access, quality and equity in recent years.
- Globally, the United Nations had estimated that almost 24 million school age children are at risk of dropping-out from the educational system due to COVID-19 this year.
- Relax Detention Norms: States should relax detention norms to prevent drop-outs this year as well as a slew of measures to address learning loss due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown of schools.
- Guidelines during Closure of Schools: The States have been recommended to explore the option of classroom-on-wheels and classes in small groups at the village level, increasing the access of children to online and digital resources, use of TV and radio to reduce learning losses and ensuring easy and timely access to the provisions of uniforms, textbooks and mid-day meals.
- Guidelines after Reopening of Schools:
- States should prepare and run school readiness modules and bridge courses for the initial period so that they can adjust to the school environment and do not feel stressed or left-out.
- Identify students across different grades based on their learning levels and relaxing detention norms to prevent drop out this year have also been recommended.
- Large-scale remedial programmes and learning enhancement programmes should be held to mitigate learning loss and inequality.
Dilemma of Reservation and merit system
The year 2021 is the centenary year of the “Communal” Government Order (GO) in Madras Presidency. It introduced reservations based on castes and communities.
GO was the acknowledgment of the social inequalities prevalent in the society, by the British.
Reservation became one of the most divisive public issues, dividing them into ‘reserved’ and ‘general’ categories. The reservation was seen as the opposite of a merit system.
Reservation, the especially caste-based reservation has been established as bad, whereas the reservations in the name of ‘Merit Stream’ for the wards of employees or alumni of universities and colleges is seen as right and justified.
- For example; some of the colleges reserve postgraduate seats for the students enrolled in their own undergraduate honors programs. But officially this system is called the ‘Merit Stream’.
However, now with the EWS quota and entry of reserved category students in unreserved categories this difference is getting blurred.
Are the merit system and caste-based reservation, mutually exclusive?
- If not segregated by the ideological differences, all reservations use merit-based criteria for the selection of eligible candidates. Thus, they are not mutually exclusive.
- Even in the merit-based system, reservation like arrangements has been established that built exclusionary access. merit is achieved by a mix of ability, effort, and social capital and the social capital plays the most crucial role in it.
- For example; expensive private schools or coaching institutes are affordable for the rich only, thus ability and effort only cannot get a student admission in them.
- Most recent judgment in the Saurav Yadav vs. State of Uttar Pradesh case, reiterate the judgment of Mandal judgment, that un-reserved category must be open to all and selection should be merit-based, including for those belonging to categories entitled to reservations.
- Thus, the reserved candidates making their way into the unreserved categories by the competition with the unreserved candidates should be appreciated.
DoE circular asks teachers to check weight of school bags
News: The directorate of Education has issued a circular asking school to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Why is there a need for a School Bag Policy?
- Heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and well-being of students. The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees.
Key Features of the School Bag Policy,2020:
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- School Teachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
- Weight of School Bags::The weight of the school bags should be 1.6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II, 1.7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V, 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII, 2.5 to 4 kg for Class VIII, 2.5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X and 3.5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII.
- Responsibility of Teachers: Teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class and any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.
- Responsibility of School Management: It is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantities to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.
Policymakers must promote research under NEP
Synopsis – The policymakers that finetuned the NEP and give shape to Atmanirbhar Bharat, must also nurture institutional frameworks that enable research.
- The NEP also fosters creativity, developing employability and inviting foreign institutions to set up campuses in India.
- We are working to make India a “knowledge economy” in the 21st century and the National Education Policy (NEP) will also tackle the issues of brain drain, said Prime Minister recently.
- However, there is an absence of much required cutting edge research system. The challenges this system facing are related to funding, academic autonomy, designing robust processes for recruitment of faculty, counselling arrangements for early-career researchers, and systems to help overcome the many barriers to equality and diversity.
Why India does not have cutting edge research framework?
- First, Lack of research institutes– Only few institutions like TIFR, IITs, across the country and are outside university systems, conducting cutting edge research.
- Second, Lack of freedom– Most universities in India do not have the freedom to design courses, find creative ways to raise funds, lack of collaboration between industry and academia.
- Third, Lack of collaboration between industry and academia – India is lacking in conducting research that is both practically relevant and scientifically rigorous.
On the other hand, In US, Pfizer [premier biopharmaceutical company], and the University of California have created systems to combine academic thinking with drug development expertise.
What are the most effective strategies to generate cutting edge research ecosystem?
- First, there is need to shift university admission process for the success of New Education Policy (NEP),
- Currently, non-viable high cut-offs speak of an education system that does not encourage creative learning.
- Second, there is a need for a strong collaboration between the universities and industries to come up with innovative ideas in research along with higher investments in R&D.
Therefore, policymakers should look after the institutional framework that enables research.
Need for reform in Governance structure of public universities
Synopsis: The governance structure of public universities must be reformed on an urgent basis as it may help them become world class universities.
55 central universities, endowed with prime land and extensive central grants, are crown jewels of the Indian academic system.
However, lately, these universities are facing governance-related challenges. Six vice-chancellors (VCs) of central universities have been sacked and another five have been charge-sheeted.
Need for Public universities
- There are some important public universities, where cross-disciplinary research to solve complex modern problems take place, with the focus on all the major branches of learning.
- Locus of innovation has been switched towards innovative private universities which have failed to develop into broad-based universities with the full range of humanities, social and natural sciences and the professional disciplines.
Thus, central universities must be saved to save the academia.
What is the governance structure in public universities?
As each of the 55 central universities is governed by a separate Act, there are difference in governance structures, but broadly it is as follows:
- VC: President of India is the Visitor of the university. On his behalf, Ministry of Education appoints chancellor.
- For that purpose, Ministry appoints search committee to interview multiple candidates and to come up with the list of 3 candidates. From the list ministry appoints a VC.
- Senate or court: It is chosen through different process and constituted of nominees from various stakeholders, including the government, faculty, students, and citizens.
- Technically, this is the governing council (GC) of the university.
- Executive council: Council carry on the university work. It is chaired by VC and appoints the registrar.
- Finance committee: Finance committee is appointed to maintain financial checks and balances. It is headed by a chief finance officer.
What are the issues in governance structure in public universities?
- GC has no say in the selection of the VC and meets only once a year. In theories, it approves the annual plan of the university, presented by VC. But in reality, plan is approved without discussions or questions.
- After approval there is very minimal direction or monitoring from the GC throughout the year.
- Size of the GC is very big to organise any fruitful meeting. For example; GC of Delhi University has 475 members.
Example of IIM
- In contrast to the general Governance structure, IIM structure is much better version.
- It has set a limit on the members of GC at maximum of 19. All of them are expected to meet s certain standard i.e. eminent citizens with broad social representation and an emphasis on alumni.
- Functions of GC includes:
- Selection of Director,
- Providing overall strategic direction,
- Raising resources,
- Monitoring the performance of director
Example of Harvard
- Until 150 years ago, Harvard was also a government university and was on verge of collapse.
- It only became what it is today after governance reform by creating an empowered board comprising its most successful alumni. They brought dynamism, oversight, and resources with them and made it a world-class university.
- Thus, it is apparent that the governing councils of all central universities IITs, and all other central institutions is restructured by an Act of Parliament.
- Boards of these universities should comprise of their most eminent alumni.
- Recently the billion-dollar endowment campaign announced by university is being spearheaded by its most successful alumni, many of them created Unicorns, or billion-dollar companies. If alumni like them invited to GC, they may help it become a world-class university like Harvard.
Cabinet Approves changes In Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme For Scheduled Caste Students
Source: The Hindu
News: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved changes to the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes.
- Changes are aimed to benefit more than 4 Crore SC students in the next 5 years so that they can successfully complete their higher education.
- Post Matric Scholarship scheme For Scheduled Caste Students: The Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education.
- Eligibility: These scholarships are available for studies in India only and are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs i.e. permanently settled.
- Funding: It is a Centrally Sponsored scheme with a funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and States.
- This replaces the existing ”committed liability” system and brings greater involvement of the Central government in this scheme.
- Income Ceiling: Scholarships will be paid to the students whose parents/guardians’ income from all sources does not exceed Rs. 2,50,000/- (Rupees two lakh fifty thousand only).
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- Transparency: The scheme will be run on an online platform with cyber security measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays.
- Community Audit: The community audits of the scheme would be conducted to make sure the benefits were reaching the students.
Suitability of International Branch Campuses (IBC) in India’s education system
Context: Before allowing international branch campuses (IBC) to operate in India, their potential role and suitability in Indian Environment should be analysed .
- Although National Education Policy 2020 has recommended allowing universities in the top 100 categories of the World University Rankings to operate in India, inadequate focus has been given to the potential role and suitability of international branch campuses (IBC) in the Indian environment.
- In India, there is general perception that there exists only a single IBC model i.e., foreign universities are self-funded and establish campuses on their own without any major support from the host country. But studies suggest otherwise.
- However, recent studies have shown that there are various other models of IBCs for example, IBC that is fully or partially funded by the host government or IBC supported by private organisations or an IBC functioning in collaboration with a local partner in the partner’s campus.
- The example of Australia’s Monash university operating in South Africa from 2001 to 2019, could provide India with useful lessons in this field.
What is an IBC?
- An IBC is an entity that is owned (completely or partially) and operated by a foreign higher education provider but provides an entire academic program onsite (I.e., In the host country)
- More than 300 IBCs are functioning in around 80 countries and many of these are operated by universities from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, France and Russia.
- Indian private institutions also operate IBCs in countries such as Australia, Mauritius, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Whereas Countries such as China, Malaysia, Qatar and Singapore host most of them.
Case study on the experience of Monash University in South Africa?
- SA’s regulatory framework:
- IBCs there were promoted in parallel with the pre-existing higher education system, on a dual track approach.
- The SA’s regulatory framework permits foreign universities to operate as private entities, but they need to legally register themselves as a company. Though IBC’s can offer accredited degrees and diplomas they cannot use the ‘university’ tag.
- Structural development of Monash university:
- Monash obtained registration in 2001 to operate as an IBC in Johannesburg as ‘Monash South Africa (MSA)’ and currently ranks among top 100 universities in the QS World University Ranking. It operates IBCs in China and Malaysia.
- In 2013, it started operating as a joint venture with U.S.-based majority owner Laureate Education after selling 75% of its shares.
- In 2018 both transferred the ownership to a South Africa based listed company Independent Institute of Education (IIE), a subsidiary of the ADvTech group.
What India can learn from the South African Experience?
- First, even a university that is among the top 100 could become a local private institution through mergers and acquisitions.
- Secondly, it is not necessary that the public nature of a foreign university is also reflected in its branch campus of host country. Nature may change according to the country.
- Third, ensuring parity of the programs offered at host country with the quality of programmes offered at the home campus would be a challenge.
- Fourth, domestic market demand influences course offerings, and there is dependence on contract academic staff.
- Fifth, there are limitations in substituting existing institutions.
The above experience illustrates the big gap between the state’s desired objectives and the actual reality that can be offered through IBC’s. Hence, we need to review the various delivery models existing in different national contexts to help us aid in future policy formulation process.
State of the Education Report for India: Vocational Education First
News: UNESCO has released the 2020 State of the Education Report for India: Vocational Education First.
● The second edition of the State of Education Report focuses on technical and vocational Education reports and training(TVET).
What is TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)?
TVET refers to aspects of the Education Report process involving in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupants in various sectors of economic and social life
How to improve TVET in India?
The report outlines a set of ten recommendations that should be adopted to help achieve the stated vision for TVET in the country.
● Place learners and their aspirations at the centre of vocational education and training programs
● Create an appropriate ecosystem for teachers, trainers and assessors
● Focus on upskilling, re-skilling and lifelong learning
● Ensure inclusive access to TVET for women, differently abled and disadvantaged learners
● Massively expand the digitalization of vocational education and training
● Support local communities to generate livelihoods by engaging in the preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage
● Align better with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
● Deploy innovative models of financing TVET
● Expand evidence-based research for better planning and monitoring
● Establish a robust coordinating mechanism for inter-ministerial cooperation.
● United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations(UN) based in Paris, France. India has been a member of the UNESCO since its inception in 1946.
Issues faced by Nursing sector in India
Context: Nursing education in India suffers poor quality of training, inequitable distribution, and non-standardised practices.
- The year 2020 has been designated as “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife”.
- Nurses and midwives will be central to achieving universal health coverage in India.
What are the structural challenges affecting nursing sector in India?
- Low number of nurses: India’s nursing workforce is about two-thirds of its health workforce. Its ratio of 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population is 43% less than the World Health Organisation norm. it needs 2.4 million nurses to meet the norm.
- Inequal Distribution: Though the number of nursing education institutions has been increasing steadily, there are vast inequities in their distribution. Around 62% of them are situated in southern India.
- Vacancies: The faculty positions vacant in nursing college and schools are around 86% and 80%, respectively.
- Higher qualifications of postgraduate nurses are not recognised: There is a lack of job differentiation between diploma, graduate, and postgraduate nurses regarding their pay, parity, and promotion. Consequently, higher qualifications of postgraduate nurses are underutilised, leading to low demand for postgraduate courses.
- Outdated and fails to cater to the practice needs: The education, including re-training, is not linked to the roles and their career progression in the nursing practice. There are insufficient postgraduate courses to develop skills in specialties, and address critical faculty shortages both in terms of quality and quantity.
- Lack quality training: Multiple entry points to the nursing courses and lack of integration of the diploma and degree courses diminish the quality of training.
- Largely unregulated: The Indian Nursing Act primarily revolves around nursing education and does not provide any policy guidance about the roles and responsibilities of nurses in various cadres. Nurses in India have no guidelines on the scope of their practice and have no prescribed standards of care.
- Lack of accountability for nurses: The Consumer Protection Act which protects the rights and safety of patients as consumers, holds only the doctor and the hospital liable for medico-legal issues; nurses are out of the purview of the Act. This is contrary to the practices in developed countries where nurses are legally liable for errors in their work
What is the way forward?
- A common entrance exam, a national license exit exam for entry into practice, and periodic renewal of license linked with continuing nursing education would significantly streamline and strengthen nursing education.
- Transparent accreditation, benchmarking, and ranking of nursing institutions too would improve the quality.
- The Indian Nursing Council Act of 1947 must be amended to explicitly state clear norms for service and patient care, fix the nurse to patient ratio, staffing norms, and salaries.
- The exodus of qualified nurses must be contained by Incentivising to pursue advanced degrees to match their qualifications, clear career paths, the opportunity for leadership roles, and improvements in the status of nursing as a profession.
- A live registry of nurses, positions, and opportunities should be a top priority to tackle the demand-supply gap in this sector.
- The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has recently formulated a framework for public-private partnership in medical education that could be referred to develop a model agreement for nursing education.
The disabling environment prevalent in the system has led to the low status of nurses in the hierarchy of health-care professionals. The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill currently under consideration should hopefully address some of the issues highlighted.
Pressure on the education sector- Due to COVID-19
Context – The novel coronavirus has turned India’s weak pedagogic system upside down, will be difficult to reunite the new technological environment with child psychology and educational theory.
What is educational technology?
Educational technology is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. Educational technology creates, uses, and manages technological processes and educational resources to help improve user academic performance.
What are the Advantages of educational technology?
- Democratized access to education– The infrastructure of the Indian education system has been a major concern, However, Ed-tech has the potential to democratize access to education and opportunities even amidst such fragmented market conditions.
- Bringing fluidity in the curriculum–
- New elements and concepts– For instance, gamification is a new concept, engaging students to learn by using the design and other elements of video games to capture the attention of learners and help them enjoy while learning.
- Equipping students with better perception towards today’s world- Technology is taking rapid strides towards advancement and are also facing a looming climate crisis that demands awareness and active participation.
- Online teaching facilitates and encourages frequent testing.
What are the issues related to online learning?
- Lack of sustained connectivity, a bane- The Indian internet infrastructure is not ready for the paradigm shift to online learning
- Cost – Both private and government schools have installed ‘smart’ infrastructure at great expense.
- Affordability-In the push for online education post-pandemic, the poorest of poor students left out as they do not have the e-resources (computers, laptops, internet connectivity) to access it.
- All subjects can’t be taught online– It is difficult to teach a few new concepts in an online classroom.
- Social science teachers face greater difficulties than science teachers do in introducing children to basic concepts.
- Not all teachers are technical adequate- This challenge places the onus on the teachers to up skill themselves to capitalize on the emerging opportunities.
- Teachers were asked to adopt a harder duty routine, combining screen time with messaging and responding.
- Not considerable as a permanent option- Despite the high momentum, online options are still not considered permanent alternatives to classrooms. The sector can at best make a useful supplementary learning system.
- Childhood is now fully exposed to the attractions of the virtual worldand there is no one to offer a safety net. Young children’s access to the Internet brings them face to face with self-styled video teachers of every subject, manufacturers of video games, fantasy app makers, and coding instructors.
- This can expose children’s to manipulative advertisements, violent entertainment and pornography.
What is the way forward?
- Government needs to step in to make new system of learning possible for all.
- Parents have a role to play– It is important that parents acquire a level of digital literacy, they can get help on using parental control apps. These apps will completely block sites that are inappropriate for children, such as porn sites, Online games can also be restricted.
Reopening schools for exams
Context: It is reasonable to plan for school exams in summer, if progress on COVID-19 holds.
Should schools reopen for exams, if covid-19 situation improves?
Views against opening schools:
- State board’s stance: State Boards are yet to make up their minds on the schedule for annual examinations and the academic session for next year.
- Badly affected Maharashtra and Gujarat are thinking of postponing the final examinations.
- ICSE’s views: The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has appealed to States to allow its schools to open Classes 10 and 12 in a limited way early in January.
- Conflicts in some states: There is also the likely conflict between summer elections in large States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and the examination schedule for 2021.
Argument in favour:
The strongest argument in favour of a written Board examination is that it eliminates asymmetrical access, including technology deficits, and gives all pupils an equal opportunity to score.
- View of CBSE: The CBSE which has more than 20,000 schools under its domain at the secondary level, has weighed in favour of written mode tests, obviously counting on progress in dealing with the pandemic.
- The board was able to wrap up its 2020 examination schedule that began in mid-February, without getting derailed by the national lockdown in March.
- Syllabus reduction: Students are relieved that, in line with the experience in countries such as the U.K., the syllabus has been significantly cut down and examination schedules may be put off by a few months beyond March.
- Vaccine covering teachers: The availability of a good vaccine that will also cover teachers and students through a staggered programme is arguably key to determining the coming year’s academic time-table.
- Hearing public concerns: Education Minister’s move to hear public concerns on such issues through an online consultation is a positive step to build consensus.
India is better placed than America or Europe to provide ventilated classrooms, an important factor in controlling viral spread, because of the climate. Yet, a definitive view on the school schedule for 2021 is not possible until the course of the pandemic over the next few months becomes clear.
Inequality in education system
Context: Aishwarya Reddy’s death points finger at an education system that turns a blind eye to inequality.
- Recently a young student, Aishwarya Reddy from Lady Shri Ram College, died by suicide.
- The girl from a poor family took her life due to her inability to buy gadgets required by her to continue her online education.
What factors that pushed her to choose death over life?
- Digital divide in accessing online education.
- Delay in giving her the well-deserved scholarship on time by the Department of Science & Technology’s (DST).
- Lack of knowledge on part of the college administration about its students’ socio-economic backgrounds because of which all students, except the freshers, were asked to leave the hostel premises.
- The girl’s inability to proactively reach out to those in positions of authority for help.
- The painful experiences of the daily struggle of her parents, their inability, desperation and frustration to buy her a laptop and the guilt of pushing them to mortgage their house and forcing her younger sister to drop out of school.
What is the most fundamental cause for such student’s suicides?
- ours is an unequal society and our socio-economic and cultural locations determine the school that we go to and the nature/quality of education that we get.
- So, most students find it difficult to come out of their vicious cycles of disadvantage, a few resilient ones manage to enter those elite institutions, to which there is limited access.
- Though they clear, the Children with different caste, class, religion and ethnicity, with unequal economic, social and cultural capital, are all treated alike.
- For example, syllabus, curricular resources, pedagogic processes, assessment practices are same for everyone, irrespective of the divergent spaces they come from.
- Though this seems to be equal and neutral is in effect unequal and biased.
What is the way forward?
- Institutions should take responsibility to make such spaces more democratic and egalitarian.
- They need to adopt more proactive measures to reach out to their students, especially those belonging to marginalised backgrounds.
- It is important to recognise that the pressures faced by students such as the pressure to do well academically, pressure to conform and look/dress/talk in a certain way, appreciate a particular kind of music/film etc.
academic freedom index
Context: India’s dull score on the Academic Freedom Index reflects the issues troubling the country’s education system.
What were the findings of academic freedom index?
- India has scored noticeably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI) with a score of 0.352, which is closely followed by Saudi Arabia (0.278) and Libya (0.238).
- The AFI of India has dipped by 0.1 points in the last 5 years.
- Countries like Malaysia (0.582), Pakistan (0.554), Brazil (0.466), Somalia (0.436) and Ukraine (0.422) have scored better than India.
- Uruguay and Portugal top the AFI, with scores of 0.971 each, followed closely by Latvia (0.964) and Germany (0.960).
- The AFI has cited the ‘Free to Think: Report of the Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, to suggest that the political tensions in India may have something to do with declining ‘academic freedom’.
- The police brutality against students at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and their being labelled as anti-nationals, has raised concerns about the state of academic freedom.
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What are the claims in NEP 2020?
- The NEP 2020 claims that it is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
- For instance, the policy states that faculty will be given the “freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework, including textbook and reading material selections, assignments and assessments”.
- It suggests creating a National Research Foundation (NRF), a merit-based and peer-reviewed research funding, which will be governed, independently of the government, by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields.
- The new education policy aims at repairing the educational system in the country and making “India a global knowledge superpower”, with a new system that is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4).
- It also emphasises universal access to schools for all children, raising the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), and ending the rise of dropout rate in India.
What were the components used in evaluating AFI scores? Examine India’s performance.
- The AFI used eight components to evaluate the scores:
- Freedom to research and teach
- Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
- Institutional autonomy
- Campus integrity
- Freedom of academic and cultural expression
- Constitutional protection of academic freedom
- International legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Contract on Economic ,Social and Cultural Rights
- Existence of universities
- India has not done well in components like institutional autonomy, campus integrity, freedom of academic and cultural expression and constitutional protection of academic freedom.
- Most universities in the country are subjected to unwanted interference from governments in both academic and non-academic issues.
- Majority of appointments, especially to top-ranking posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have been highly politicised.
- Such political appointments choke academic and creative freedom, and also lead to corrupt practices, including those in licensing and accreditation, thus promoting unhealthy favouritism and nepotism in staff appointments and student admissions.
- This reflects a ‘rent-seeking culture’ within the academic community.
- The NEP 2020 aims to de-bureaucratise the education system by giving governance powers to academicians.
- It also talks about giving autonomy to higher education institutions by handing over their administration to a board comprising academicians. This may help de-bureaucratise the education system and reduce political interference to an extent.
Context: Central scholarship scam underlines need to tighten checks and balances in DBT architecture, fix accountability
- An investigation by a newspaper has uncovered a nexus of middlemen, government employees, and bank staff were involved in cheating students from minority communities of a centrally funded scholarship in Jharkhand.
- It was found that the officials have bypassed the verification processes and have misused the DBT funds sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.
What is the need for Direct benefit transfer?
- Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) was perceived as a solution for the persistent problem of social welfare and subsidy schemes by the elimination of middlemen.
- The use of Aadhaar seeding ensures that nobody else can claim the share of the benefits by impersonation or any other means.
- The recent incident has proved that having a Unique Identification Number (UIN) is no guarantee against being robbed of scholarships, pensions, and other welfare entitlements.
How DBT funds are being misappropriated?
- Bank officials and school staff steal user IDs and passwords to divert benefits from schools that never applied for any grant.
- Middlemen compel parents to forego a big share of their children’s dues.
- Institutions overstate records to apply for scholarship funds.
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There is a need to find effective solutions to strengthen DBT schemes so that social welfare funds and subsidies will reach the intended beneficiaries.
New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) : Complete Analysis
Context: The National Education Policy 2020 underestimates the problem of settling the three systems of education in India.
More on news:
- For education to fulfil its social role, it must respond to the specific setting in which the young are growing up. India has sufficient experience of attempts made from the national level to influence systemic realities on the ground.
Examine the evolution of centre-state relations in the field of education?
- There is a huge history of strong recommendations made by national commissions and of provincial resistance.
- States had their own social worlds to deal with, and they often preferred to carry on with the ways they became familiar with in colonial days.
- A prime example is the continuation of intermediate or junior colleges in several States more than half a century after the Kothari Commission gave its much-acclaimed report.
- The Constitution, in its original draft, treated the States as the apt sphere for dealing with education.
- Central Advisory Board of Education: One hundred years ago, the Central Advisory Board of Education was created to co-ordinate regional responses to common issues.
- The ‘recommended’ character of this administrative device meant that the Board served mainly as a discussion forum.
- India chose to have a Ministry of Education at the Centre and its role was to clear aims and standards, or to pave the road to nation-building and development.
- After independence, a more substantial scope of the Centre’s activities in education emerged in the shape of advanced institutions in professional fields and schools specifically meant for the children of civil servants transferrable across India.
- Such institutions received higher investment than the States could afford.
- The same was for national-level resource institutions which guided policy and encouraged new practices.
- When the national policy was drafted, it stressed on national concerns and viewpoint without referring to provincial practices that directed strong divergence.
- Private sector had begun to push both public policy and popular perceptions of education. The force of this push can be measured from the difference between the 1986 policy and its own action programme published six years later.
- The rapidly expanding and globalising urban middle class had already begun to split from the public system, posing the question of why education cannot be sold if there are willing buyers.
Discuss the various systems of education in India.
- Central System:
- There is a Central system, running an exam board that has an all-India reach through affiliation with English-medium private schools catering to regional elites.
- The Central system also includes advanced professional institutes and universities that have access to greater per capita funding than what their counterparts run by the States can afford.
- State system:
- The second system which also features provincial secondary boards affiliating schools teaching in State languages.
- Private system:
- The third system is based on purely private investment. Internationally accredited school boards and globally connected private universities are part of this.
- An attempt was made under the Right to Education (RTE) Act to bridge the gap between the first two systems. The RTE is a parliamentary law, providing a set of standards for elementary education and a call to private schools to provide for social justice via the quota route.
- Coordination among the three systems has proved unmanageable, even in purely functional terms.
- We need a systemic vision: both for recovery from institutional decay and for future progress.
- Gradations of failure will have to be determined first and their causes studied before remedial steps are planned.
Context: Need of an education system that encourages children to question and learn.
What are the problems with our current examination system?
- The cut-throat nature of our examination system celebrates the success of a few and creates unhealthy competition.
- This leads to an excessive amount of stress in children who are physiologically, psychologically and emotionally not ready to handle it.
- There is a wealth of information and insight about a student’s potential and ability that cannot be captured in a report card.
- Exams in India focus on grades rather than on what is learnt. This is also why students choose careers in domains where they have scored well in, rather than fields that they are interested in.
How will NEP 2020 help in holistic learning?
- The New Education Policy 2020 places emphasis on holistic and collective learning rather than having one main exam determines a student’s fate.
- Students are to be evaluated based on their performance in different classes, the first two years of primary school are to be test-free from 2021.
- Report cards will no longer include the class and level rankings at both primary and secondary levels.
- Board exams will cover a range of subjects and test only core concepts. Students can take exams on two occasions during an academic year.
- In order to track students’ progress throughout their school years, exams will be conducted in classes III, V, and VIII and a common national exam will be introduced for students applying to the 60-odd universities in the country.
- This will regulate how universities are run and will also “set higher standards and build rigour into the education system”.
- Such changes will help create a holistic learning environment that is safe, supportive, and provide opportunities to learn and excel in non-academic as well as academic domains.
What are the requirements for successful implementation of NEP?
- Extraordinary efforts in the training and professional development of teachers.
- The implementation of technology-based solutions and processes that can supplement teacher training and bring in scalable, sustainable and measurable change.
- The primary motive of school education should be to impart knowledge, values, and skills that will help develop necessary life skills to be successful.
- With successful private and public collaboration, the NEP’s visions for early childhood to higher education, professional education to vocational education, and teacher training to professional education can be realised.
National Forensic Science University Bill 2020
National Forensic Science University Bill 2020
News: The Lok Sabha has passed National Forensic Science University Bill 2020, Rastriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 and Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020.
National Forensic Science University Bill, 2020: It establishes National Forensic Science University as an institute of national importance.
- The proposed university would facilitate and promote studies and research and help achieve excellence in the field of forensic science along with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas.
Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020: It seeks to provide for the establishment of the Rashtriya Raksha University, Gujarat.
- Key objectives of the University:
- providing dynamic and high standards of learning and research,
- providing a working environment dedicated to advancing research, education and training in the domain of policing.
|Additional Information: Bilateral netting: It refers to offsetting the claims arising from dealings between two parties to determine the net amount payable or receivable from one party to the other|
Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020: It seeks to provide a legal framework for bilateral netting of qualified financial contracts which are over the counter derivatives contracts.