In this section, we will provide you with all the relevant information on the education sector of India.
Kerala row and beyond: Governor’s role in state, central universities
What is the news?
Kerala Governor has written a letter to the Kerala Chief Minister expressing his desire to step down as Chancellor, alleging political interference in the universities.
What is the role of Governor in State Universities?
The governor of the state is the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state. As the chancellor, he presides over the university convocation and also appoints the Vice-Chancellor.
But the Governor’s exact power as the Chancellor are laid out in the statutes that govern the universities under a particular state government.
For example: In Kerala, the Governor’s official portal states that as Chancellor, he acts independently of the Council of Ministers and takes his own decisions on all University matters.
On the other hand, the website of Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan states that the Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government.
What about Central universities?
Under the Central Universities Act, 2009, the President of India shall be the Visitor of a central university.
With their role limited to presiding over convocations, Chancellors in central universities are appointed by the President in his capacity as Visitor.
The VCs too are appointed by the Visitor from panels of names picked by search and selection committees formed by the Union government.
The President, as the Visitor, also has the right to authorise inspections of academic and non-academic aspects of the universities and also to institute inquiries.
Source: This post is based on the article “Kerala row and beyond: Governor’s role in state, central universities” published in Indian Express on 13th Dec 2021.
NITI Aayog and Bharti Foundation announce the launch of ‘Convoke 2021-22’
What is the news?
NITI Aayog in partnership with Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, has launched Convoke 2021-22.
What is Convoke?
CONVOKE is a National Research Symposium for Teachers and Heads of Schools.
Aim: To address challenges in imparting education and strengthening its quality with special focus on all teachers, educationists, heads of schools across India.
Through this platform, School Teachers/ Heads/Principals of Government Schools and teachers from Bharti Foundation network will be encouraged to use research-based solutions through scientific approach. It would showcase their efforts taken at the grass-root level in improving learning outcomes.
What is the significance of this initiative?
Firstly, the initiative will promote the suggestions of the National Education Policy 2020 on recognizing novel approaches to teaching that improve learning outcomes in their classrooms.
Secondly, it will help in creating a culture of using research-based pedagogy to improve learning outcomes in school education.
Thirdly, Teachers over the years have been coming up with innovative solution to help support students and even more during lockdown. Through Convoke they’ll be able to share their micro research papers. The shortlisted Research Papers will be presented during ‘National Research Symposium’ scheduled in January, 2022.
Source: This post is based on the article “NITI Aayog and Bharti Foundation announce the launch of Convoke 2021-22” published in PIB on 10th Dec 2021.
Parliament passes National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021
What is the news?
Parliament has passed the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
About National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021
The Bill seeks to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.
Aim: To accord the status of ‘institute of national importance’ to six more institutes of pharmaceutical education and research, and also set up an advisory council for them.
|Note: An Institution of National Importance refers to an autonomous institute established under an Act, with the power to hold examinations, grant degrees, diplomas and other academic distinctions or titles. These institutes of national importance also receive funding from the central government.|
What are the key features of the bill?
New institutions of national importance: The Bill declares six additional National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as Institutions of National Importance. These institutes are located in: (i) Ahmedabad, (ii) Hajipur, (iii) Hyderabad, (iv) Kolkata, (v) Guwahati, and (vi) Raebareli.
Establishment of the Council: The Bill provides for a Council to coordinate the activities among the institutes under the Bill to ensure development of pharmaceutical education and research and maintenance of standards. The council will be chaired by the Minister having administrative control of pharmaceuticals.
Source: This post is based on the article “Parliament passes National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021” published in AIR on 10th Dec 2021.
Make the mental well beings of teacher a priority
News: Pandemic has impacted the lives of all in one way or another. Teachers are also not an exception in this.
What are the issues faced by the teachers due to the pandemic?
Security: Teachers who teach in low-fee private schools often have low salaries, poor working conditions and no systemic protection.
|Read more: The decline of the Budget school|
Constant monitoring: New type of “bullying” is faced by the teachers who work in medium-range, urban private schools. They are in constant ‘watch’ of parents who pointed out even the tiniest mistakes, including variety in pronunciation in online classes.
They are also under constant pressure to submit records of efforts made to keep learning ‘alive’.
Media reports: During the pandemic, media reporting of teachers drew salary without any work, affecting the self-image and self-respect of teachers.
Deployment in other activities: Under COVID-19 duty, they are deployed in undertaking door-to-door COVID-19 survey, distributing immunity booster tablets, disciplining queues outside liquor shops and other activities, led them to a sense of ‘loss of identity.
Cut off with children: Many teachers got stressed because of total cut-off from contact with children during the initial months and during and after the second wave.
|Also read: “The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges”|
How to improve the mental well-being of teachers?
Supportive environment: Space should be created for teachers where they can easily discuss their stress and other issues.
Teacher Training: Regular teacher training should be conducted for their mental health, well-being, and management.
Objective Recognition Programme: It should be focused on the small achievements of teachers. It should also help in building an environment focused on improving the strengths of teachers.
|Read more: Naomi Osaka Episode and Mental health in India – Explained, pointwise|
What should be the way forward?
To create an environment where our children feel secure, safe, and protected with professionally well-trained teachers, then there is a need to take care of the mental health of our educators as a priority.
Source: This post is based on the article “Make the mental well beings of teacher a priority” published in The Hindu on 11th December 2021.
Challenges in NIRF: Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method
News: Ranking of state-run Higher Education Institutes (HEI) with centrally funded institutes (CFI) like IIT’s under the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) is not a good step.
What is National Institution Ranking Framework?
|Read here: National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)|
Why it is not a good step to rank both state-run HEI and CFI altogether?
Allocation of financial resources: According to a study, there are 184 CFI, to which the Government of India allocates its financial resources. While, in comparison, State public universities didn’t receive adequate financial resources. This is after the fact, that out of total school enrolment, the number of graduates is largest in the state public universities.
No level playing field: State-run HEI often struggles with the resources. Also, no cost-benefit analysis of State versus centrally funded HEI was done by any agency on economic indicators like return on investment government made into them.
Parameters: State-run HEI is also lagging among the different parameters on which NIRF ranked. These parameters are:
1) Adequate faculty strength, Learning and resources: This is because of continuous retirement, and low recruitment, which further weakened the student-teacher ratio.
2) Research and Professional Practice: Laboratories of State-run HEI are often lacking in modernized infrastructure and also not meeting the market demand.
Also, in spite of more share of Ph.D. students (29.8%) in State-Run HEI in comparison with institutes of National Importance(23.2%), central universities(13.6%), fewer funds have been received by them.
Emerging Technologies: State HEIs are struggling to embrace emerging technologies involving artificial intelligence, machine learning etc, while CFI has this facility.
So, NIRF should plan an appropriate mechanism to rate the output and the performance of institutes in light of their constraints and the resources available to them.
Source: This post is based on the article “Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method” published in The Hindu on 4th December 2021.
Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students
News: On the recommendations of the Kothari Commission, the first National Education Policy was released in 1968. The government has again introduced the National Education Policy 2020, which aims to transform the basic architecture culture and approach of Indian education.
|Also read: National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Implementation Plan for School Education|
How can the National Education Policy address the learning challenges post covid?
First, NEP’s comprehensive and systematic response to tackle problems of basic literacy and numeracy can help students overcome challenges created by the covid pandemic. With proper on-the-ground implementation and policies commitment to transforming the care and education of children, use can be made of the ‘Foundational stages’.
Second, As envisaged by the national curriculum framework, there is a need to re-configure and cut down the syllabus to the essentials to meet the learning goals and recover the learning loss. This will help to move children away from rote learning.
Third, there is a need to completely redesign the approach to education in 9 to 12 classes, including how board examinations are conducted.
Fourth, school complexes should be restructured for better outcomes. They should be transformed into communities of schools, teachers and learners. This should be taken up urgently by the states.
Fifth, NEP’s thrust to empower teachers and grant autonomy to institutions will enable institutions to be adaptive and flexible.
Source: This post is based on the article “Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students” published in Livemint on 2nd December 2021.
Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticism
What is the News?
University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to central universities to take appropriate measures for conducting the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses from the 2022-23 academic session.
What is the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET)?
CUCET was launched in the year 2010 to conduct Common Entrance Test for Central Universities.
Currently, 12 central universities hold CUCET with the assistance of the National Testing Agency(NTA).
What are the changes that will be made now?
From the 2022-23 academic session, a common entrance test is likely to be conducted by the National Testing Agency(NTA) across all central universities in India for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
This marks a departure from the current predominant pattern of screening based on class 12 marks.
The test will cover sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, and is likely to be held at least twice every year.
However, the test does not have under its ambit engineering and medical courses that are offered by some of the central universities.
What is the rationale behind a Common Entrance Test?
The National Education Policy,2020 envisages that a common entrance will test the conceptual understanding and ability to apply knowledge, and will aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams.
Moreover, this decision of a common entrance test for all universities comes at a time when unrealistic cutoffs for admission to premier institutions like Delhi University have underlined the need for alternatives. The UGC hopes that CUCET will create a level playing field.
What is the criticism against this decision?
Common entrance tests will not be an improvement to unrealistic cutoffs. This is because children come from very different socio-economic backgrounds and to expect them to sit together and tackle a centrally-set paper will not be fair.
Source: This post is based on the article “Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticism” published in Indian Express on 1st December 2021.
Remote education was inaccessible to most children, says survey
What is the News?
According to a survey conducted by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, a think tank focusing on digital policy, remote education was inaccessible to most children in India.
What is remote learning?
Remote learning is where the student and the educator, or information source, are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment. Information is passed on through technology such as discussion boards, video conferencing and online assessments.
About the survey
The survey covered a nationally representative sample of 7,000 households. Only Kerala was excluded, due to high COVID-19 cases.
What are the key findings of the survey?
Access to Remote Education: Only 20% of school-age children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic. Among them, only half participated in live online lessons.
Dropped out of School: Around 38% of households said at least one child had dropped out of school due to COVID-19.
Access to the Internet: Around 64% of all households with enrolled school-age children had internet access, while the remaining 36% did not have access to the internet.
Among children aged 5-18 years, the survey found that 80% of those who were enrolled in schools prior to the pandemic did not receive any educational services at all during school closure.
Source: This post is based on the article “Remote education was inaccessible to most children, says survey” published in The Hindu on 13th November 2021.
National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country, with enthusiastic participation of schools and students
What is the News?
National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country. As per initial, nearly 96 percent of schools and 92 percent of the targeted sampled children participated in the survey.
What is the National Achievement Survey?
National Achievement Survey(NAS) is a nationally representative large-scale survey of students’ learning undertaken by the Ministry of Education.
Purpose of the survey: To provide structured feedback on student learning levels at District, State, and national levels. These inputs are used for policy planning and designing pedagogical interventions to improve quality and ensure equity in learning.
Which classes were covered? The survey covered students of Class 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th standard. It covered government, government-aided and private schools.
The survey is conducted every three years. The survey was last conducted in 2017 and was scheduled to take place in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, it was postponed.
Who designed the framework for the survey? National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)
Who conducted the survey? Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
Subjects assessed under the survey: The survey was conducted in Language, Mathematics & Environmental Studies for class 3 & 5; Language, Mathematics, Science & Social Science for class 8 and Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and English for class 10. The test was conducted in 22 different mediums of instructions.
Besides student achievement tests, pupil questionnaires, teachers questionnaires and school questionnaires were also obtained to understand the various settings and perspectives of students, teachers and schools.
Significance of the Survey
The survey will enable states and UTs to identify gaps in learning outcomes and take remedial steps.
It will also help in the capacity building for teachers and officials involved in the delivery of education in the country.
Source: This post is based on the following articles:
- “National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country, with enthusiastic participation of schools and students” published in PIB on 12th November 2021.
- “Govt. to assess learning gaps via nationwide test” published in The Hindu on 12th November 2021.
School students to prepare projects on lives of gallantry award winners under ‘Veer Gatha’ initiative
What is the News?
The Government of India has launched the Veer Gatha Initiative.
What is the Veer Gatha Initiative?
Under the initiative, school students across the country will prepare projects in the form of poems, paintings, essays or multimedia presentations on the lives of gallantry award winners.
Aim of the Project
The aim of the project is to make school students aware of the gallantry award winners and to honour the acts of bravery and sacrifice of India’s brave hearts. The initiative also aims to celebrate the valiance and courage of armed force officers and personnel.
Ministries Involved: Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Defence
Eligibility: Students of Class 3rd to 12th can participate in the initiative.
After preparation, the projects will be first vetted by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) following which a committee will be appointed by the Ministry of Education. The committee will pick 25 best entries at the national level, which will get awards on the coming Republic Day.
Source: This post is based on the article “School students to prepare projects on lives of gallantry award winners under ‘Veer Gatha’ initiative” published in “Indian Express” on 21st October 2021.
The decline of the Budget school
Synopsis: The private budget school ecosystem is collapsing, which is a threat to millions of children who rely on it.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is visible in almost all the sectors, and the schools are no exception to it. Today, most private budget schools are facing the problem of financial crunch and are on the verge of lapse owing to shut down and transfer of students from schools.
What are the problems faced by the parents?
The pandemic has caused financial instability in many homes. With the frequent lockdowns and the slowdown of the economy, they are struggling to pay their children’s fees to private institutions. Apart from the fees, there are other expenses like books, internet and school uniforms, which most of the families are unable to afford in the pandemic period. So the parents have no choice but to transfer their students to government schools.
|Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise|
What are the problems faced by the private budget schools?
Fall in the strength of students: There has been seen a decrease in enrollment of students during and after the pandemic. This led to problems of paying the staff, school building rent and other expenses. Some student entrepreneur claims that approx tens of thousands of private schools are either shut down or on the verge of closure.
Death Incidents: There are also many instances of private school promoters and teachers are committing suicide. With the people lost their jobs and reduction in salary led to less admission of students in schools. Budget schools already running on the minimum fee. So, they found it difficult to pay salaries to staff. According to the National Independent School Alliance, private schools are facing an annual loss of 77,000 crores in the aftermath of the corona pandemic.
Mismatch: With a cut in teachers’ pay rates and fewer teachers in schools, their workloads have been increased. Also, there is a mismatch in the teacher-student ratio. Even the low-budget schools are struggling to provide digital solutions to students owing to the lack of resources. The only digital medium they are using is Whatsapp.
|Read more: Blended model of learning – Explained in detail|
What should the government do?
Government should treat private budget schools as MSME. They should be given concession or relaxations should be provided on loan repayment. Also, it should focus on covering the learning loss of students.
Source: This post is based on the article “the decline of the Budget school” published in Livemint on 20th October 2021.
Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment
Synopsis: At this critical juncture in the history of humanity, we must now re-imagine education as a tool that can play a transformative role in mitigating climate change. Education can become an active agent in catalysing climate mitigation and adaptation in line with the global agreements.
In the lead up to CoP-26, more countries have been committing themselves to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes using regulation and policy to improve energy efficiency, develop alternative energy sources, reduce overall energy consumption and minimize wastage.
Education, as a tool to further climate change, has still been untapped though.
|Must Read: Shaping India’s green future|
How education can play a transformative role wrt climate change?
Promoting universal values: Universal values such as global citizenry and sustainable development must be incorporated into mainstream, foundational and formative years of study. This will help students become self-directed, raise self-awareness, enable a cultural transformation, and change the mind-sets and lifestyles of future global citizens.
This is why young leaders like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai are inspiring millions of young people around the world to make societies smarter, greener and more inclusive and resilient.
More investment and better quality of expenditure in education to scale up learning, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized groups including girls and women is the best strategy to support sustainable development. The more well-educated people there are in a country, the better the capacity and agility of that country to prevent or mitigate future hazards.
Education can be more responsive in producing experts, innovators, and leaders with the skills to tackle climate change and other related development challenges. Such challenges include converting waste to energy, increasing food production and minimizing food waste to feed the growing population sustainably, transitioning to clean energy and transport and creating and preparing for green jobs.
How govts and global institutions are striving to impart Climate change education?
There are already good examples of climate change education led by some governments.
Italy: it requires all students to take more than 33 hours of climate change classes each year in higher secondary education.
Philippines; The Department of Education has committed to intensify climate literacy and support climate action in schools.
The Republic of Korea: it has started a project to transform schools into green campuses that will showcase education programs for environmental protection and use eco-friendly energy.
The Paris Agreement: it calls for its signatories to undertake educational and public awareness campaigns on climate change and ensure public participation in programmes to achieve its targets.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB): it launched the Climate Change Fund in 2008 and has since actively pursued ways to mainstream climate change issues in education. The bank is supporting clean energy in several education projects including preparing graduates with green skills.
What more needs to be done?
Developing the climate change education system will require comprehensive cooperation between central and local governments, schools, universities, communities, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.
This collaboration is critical to develop education policies that will prepare and engage students in sustainable development through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects.
The international community, multinational corporations and international NGOs are equally critical in harmonizing and providing this support.
Source: This post is based on the article “Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment” published in Livemint on 19th October 2021.
NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised
Synopsis: The recent move of the Tamil Nadu government to bypass the NEET exam requires careful analysis of the issues surrounding the NEET.
The government of India cleared the way for making NEET a common entrance examination for all medical colleges across India. This was opposed by many states including Tamil Nadu.
What steps have been taken by Tamil Nadu?
The government of Tamil Nadu appointed a committee under Justice AK Rajan. The committee found that NEET is biased towards the pattern of the CBSE syllabus.
Based on the recommendations, the government of Tamil Nadu passed a law that provided that NEET is not the only means through which admission can be secured in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The bill, however, has not yet received the President’s assent.
|Read more: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise|
What are the challenges created by NEET?
The first challenge is the inequality of participation. NEET assumes that all students have the same social-economic background and are equally placed. This is what political philosopher and Nancy Fraser called “parity of participation“.
According to him, maldistribution of resources is an impediment to parity of participation. With regard to NEET, socio-economic inequalities and the absence of objective conditions are unfair because they hinder the parity of participation.
Secondly, it crushes what sociologist Arjun Appadurai called “capacity to aspire” of Marginalised students. The report stated that coaching institutes create an impression that these exams cannot be cleared without repeated coaching sessions. Given the price and cost of these coaches, they remain out of reach for a majority of the students.
|Read more: Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET|
What can be the solution?
National Education Policy ,2020 provides some initiatives which can solve the problem. It focuses on multi-lingual learning. It also focuses on educating in the mother tongue as that is regarded as the best medium to learn any subject or concept.
There is also a need to restructure the focus of NEET such that it can encompass the varied school curriculum and regional languages. The methodology should be innovative and should not require repeated coaching.
All the steps taken together can solve the challenges related to NEET and also help realize the vision of national education policy.
Source: This post is based on the article “NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised” published in the Indian Express on 16th October 2021.
Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks
Synopsis: The social issues in India are not just societal problems, but also ingrained deepens our educational system.
Recently National Medical Commission has issued an advisory to all medical universities and colleges. It asked them to bring changes in the teaching methods and opt methods that are not derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community.
What is the discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ in the medical profession?
The medical profession mostly treats homosexuality as an illness. This plays a significant role in the stigmatization of non-heterosexual identities. Madras High Court in its recent judgement also raised concerns as it tells “queerphobia continues to be rampant in medical education”
|Read more: Madras High Court guidelines for mainstreaming LGBTIQA+ community|
The medical curriculum describes lesbians as “mental degenerates” and force them to conversion therapy. There are various medical practices that continue to try to alter various sexual orientations instead of recognizing them as a normal variant of human sexuality. According to American Psychiatric Association, these kinds of treatments are unethical as they can cause depression and self-destructing behavior.
|Read more: Need to ban the Conversion therapy of the LGBTQIA+ community|
What needs to be done?
Our medical institutions still propagate the age-old band practices like the two-finger virginity test. So, change needs to be brought not just in the curriculum but in the mindset.
Source: This post is based on the article”Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks” published in the Times of India on 16th October 2021.
Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices
What is the news?
The report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21“, released by the Union Ministry of Education talks about the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.
What are the key findings of the report?
The report shows that 40% to 70% of school-going children in seven large states do not have access to digital devices. These states are– Assam (44.24%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Bihar (58.09%), Gujarat (40%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Madhya Pradesh (70%) and Uttarakhand (41.17%).
In absolute numbers, prepared on the basis of surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices.
The digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to the adequate availability of smartphones and television sets.
Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%.
What is the significance of the report?
Report once again spotlights the grim reality of differential access to education, made starker by the pandemic-induced disruption and the consequential digital divide.
The official figures also validate the concerns expressed by non-profits working in the education sector.
The report also highlights the interventions at various levels to bridge the divide, but those interventions did not emphasise enough on the need to scale up the efforts.
What are the challenges associated with the report?
There are questionable claims like that of Rajasthan that it does not have students without digital access.
The true picture remains incomplete in the absence of data from states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Source: This post is based on the article “Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 08 October 2021.
The pandemic is a reminder of education being a public good
Synopsis: Indian school education system faces various challenges like large vacancies of teachers, vulnerable private schools, etc. The government must act to improve the public school education system.
The recent UNESCO report State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”, highlighted various challenges associated with school education in India.
|Click here to know more about the State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”|
What are the challenges associated with Teachers and their performance?
Vacancies skewed towards states: The UNESCO report highlighted that India’s school system is facing an acute shortage of teachers. According to the UNESCO report, the bulk of the vacancies are in rural schools. But these shortages are skewed towards states with relatively fast-growing populations. For example, Uttar Pradesh, with a shortage of 3,30,000 teachers, Bihar 2,20,000 and West Bengal 1,10,000.
This implies that a large cohort of India’s future workforce will be insufficiently educated at a time when technological transitions in both services and manufacturing demand a high minimum standard of education.
Teachers and their non-teaching activities: Teachers are involved in several non-teaching activities too such as coordinating midday meals, registering children for Aadhaar, election duty and vaccination drives.
Interstate differences in recruitment and transfer of teachers: Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand see rules of recruitment being changed year to year, suggesting political influences, while Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have “a systematic, technology-based, transparent system of recruitment, employment and transfer”.
Further, the spread of teacher eligibility tests is helping to improve standards, but these tests only do subject testing, not teaching practice of individuals.
What are the lessons learned from the pandemic on school education?
The pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of private schools. Not all private schools are bad. Many are of good quality and are truly bothered about the education and welfare of their students. But an overwhelmingly large proportion of private schools are run only for commercial purposes.
For example, running a private school is a business in India. During the past 18 months, they have done nothing to engage children. But they have always demanded fees.
On the other hand, many government schoolteachers have often reached homes and communities to teach students. So, these schools have lost all trust and a few have even collapsed. This has boosted enrolment in the government (public) school system.
|Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise|
What needs to be done to improve school education?
There is no substitute for an equitable, strong and vibrant public education system. So, the energy in the public-school system with this rising enrolment must be effectively harnessed.
India now needs to incentivise smart young people to take up the teaching profession and train them well. Apart from that, India also needs to upskill the existing teachers.
Source: This post is based on the following articles
- “Teacher, you learn too: Filling school vacancies is essential. So is doing this professionally rather than politically“ published in Times of India on 6th October 2021.
- “The pandemic is a reminder of education being a public good“ published in Livemint on 7th October 2021.
- “Learning disabilities“ published in Business Standard on 7th October 2021.
India’s school system faces acute shortage of teachers, says UNESCO report
What is the news?
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently released its 2021 State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”.
About the State of the Education Report (SOER) for India
It is an annual flagship report of UNESCO New Delhi. So far, two editions have been released in the past and this is the third edition of the State of Education Report.
The UNESCO analysed two data sets for the preparation of the report. These are the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+) 2018-19 round and the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2018-19.
What are the key findings of the State of the Education Report (SOER) 2021?
Lack of teachers: The data suggests that the teaching cadre is generally young, with over 65% of teachers aged less than 44 years. But, in about 15 years, 27% of the current workforce will need to be replaced. The workforce has a deficit of over 1 million teachers (at current student strength).
Apart from that, almost, 69% of teachers in India are working without job contracts in private schools.
Poor student-teacher ratio: The overall number of teachers (around 9.5 million) looks perfect to maintain a good pupil-teacher ratio. But there is a segmental disparity. For instance, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) at senior secondary schools is 47:1 as against 26:1 of the overall school system.
Prevalence of single-teacher institutions: At the national level, 7% of schools are single-teacher schools, the percentage is far higher in several states. Around 10% to 15% of schools in several states were single-teacher institutions.
Prevalence of under-qualified teachers: 7.7% of teachers in pre-primary, 4.6% at the primary level and 3.3% upper-primary are under-qualified.
Women make half of the teacher workforce: Half of India’s 9.43 million school teachers are women. In some states and union territories (UTs) over 70% of teachers are women. These include Chandigarh (82%), Delhi (74%), Kerala (78%), Punjab (75%) and Tamil Nadu (75%).
Low retention rates: Overall retention is 74.6% for elementary education and 59.6% for secondary education in 2019-20.
Low access to the Internet: Access to the internet in schools is 19% all over India – only 14% in rural areas compared to 42% in urban areas.
Technological challenges: The use of technology in education has exposed a range of issues – lack of devices and Internet bandwidth for a significant proportion of students, lack of preparedness of teachers in the use of technology, and lack of resources in Indian languages.
What are the key recommendations of the SOER report?
The report recommended the following things,
a) Improve the terms of employment of teachers in both public and private schools.
b) Increase the number of teachers and improve working conditions in North-Eastern states, rural areas and ‘aspirational districts.
c) Increase the number of physical education, music, art, vocational education, early childhood and special education teachers.
d) Build teachers career pathways and provide meaningful ICT training to teachers.
Source: This post is based on the following articles
- “India’s school system faces acute shortage of teachers, says Unesco report” published in Livemint on 6th October 2021.
- “Only 19% schools have access to internet: UNESCO report” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2021.
Terms to know:
NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India
Synopsis: Recently released NIRF ranking showcased its limitation in comparison to other global rankings.
Ministry of Education has released National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2021. Various lacunas are visible in the structuring of this ranking, which makes the ranking impactless.
|Read more: Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings|
What are the different ranking institutes worldwide?
There are at least 20 global ranking agencies that measure quality on various parameters.
The Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University: It maintains European and worldwide rankings of the top 500 universities based on the number and impact of Web of Science-indexed publications per year.
QS World University Ranking: It is published annually since 2004. In 2009, QS even launched the QS Asian University Rankings in partnership with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in South Korea.
Ranking of Rankings: It is launched in 2017. It aggregates the results of five global rankings, combining them to form a single rank. It uses THE World University Ranking (22.5%), QS World University Ranking (22.5%), US News Best Global University (22.5%), Academic Ranking of World Universities (22.5%), and Reuters World Top 100 Innovative Universities (10%).
What are the issues associated with NIRF rankings?
Parameters: Present NIRF ranking missed the important parameters which need to be included in the list. For example, the ranking doesn’t include the financial health and size of the institution as a criterion. It also doesn’t include financial benefits accrued to the stakeholders, especially the students.
One size fits all approach: There is huge diversity in our education system. Universities are ranging in various levels like research-based, language-based, innovation-based technology social science institutes, etc. The boundary conditions in which they operate are also very different. But, the NIRF is making the same mistake that the global ranking system was once accused of i.e to rank all the universities on the same level.
Disengagement: Disconnect is clearly visible between the ranking and accreditation. Several universities have earned a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) A Grade but figure poorly in the ranking system. NIRF should take into consideration both things.
Our Accreditation and ranking approach is not up to the mark. India can adopt the model of the USA i.e accreditation and Quality Assurance (QA). In it, stakeholders are allowed to sue the universities if they are not able to deliver what they claim. A Bill to introduce such accountability was introduced in 2011, but it never saw the light of day.
|Read more: Higher education in India & QS World University Rankings- Explained, pointwise|
What is the way forward?
There are two main factors that differentiate us from the global ranking systems are our lack of international faculty and students and the inadequacy of our research to connect with the industry. International students/faculty will come to India if they will see some quality in our institutions. Similarly, Industry connect will happen only when the research translates into improved or new processes and products
For this to happen, NIRF should bring top experts not only from India but from outside also in its core committees.
Source: This post is based on the article “NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2021.
NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit
Synopsis: The policy of a single test needs to be reviewed to attain the lofty goals of the New Education Policy.
Recently, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to dispense with the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET). This bill is passed based on the recommendation of the high-level committee led by retired judge AK Rajan.
How NEET evolved?
NEET is a unique system of admission, as no admission in medicine is possible in India without clearing NEET. The idea of common tests found some support in the judgment of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation (2002).
|Read more: Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET|
NEET was notified by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2010. But in 2013, in the Christian Medical College Vellore Association vs Union of India case, the court struck down NEET. The court held that, the NEET as being pro-rich, for pro-coaching centres, and anti-student and one which would lower the standards of medical education.
The Parliament amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and inserted Section 10D to empower the MCI to conduct NEET. Later, in 2016, in the review petition of the case, the Supreme Court ordered the conduct of NEET from 2016 itself. The court did not accept the government of India’s requests to permit State governments to conduct their tests at least in 2016.
NEET and minority institutions
In 2020, the court upheld NEET even in respect of minority institutions. Article 30 gives the minority institutions the right to admit students of their choice. The court held that the rights available under Article 30 are not violated by the introduction of NEET.
|Read more: NEET applies to minority colleges: SC|
What are the issues associated with Judicial observation on NEET?
The Supreme Court considered just the legality of NEET, but it overlooked the real impact of NEET on underprivileged candidates and minority institutions. This is clear from the following reasons,
Does not test the quality: NEET does not test qualities that a doctor must possess such as compassion, empathy and passion to serve humanity.
Against equality: Under NEET, unequal (Students from different backgrounds) are treated as equals (one test for all). This violates the equality mentioned in Article 14. As Article 14 demands, likes are to be treated alike, not unlikes are to be treated alike.
|Read other reasons: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise|
Merit requires fair competition and equality of opportunity. But, the NEET does not satisfy the requirements of Merit. So, the central government should review the policy of a single test so that the actual realisation of the New Education Policy — of equity, inclusion and access — will happen in India.
Source: This post is based on the article “NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.