Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

In India, education is in the concurrent list, where federal states and the central government share responsibilities. Until recently, legislations in higher education prohibited profit making in the sector. Higher education was defined as a not-for-profit sector.

The UGC under the Department of Higher Education in the MHRD acts as the coordinator as well as prescriber of standards for education in the country.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AISHE Survey

Mains level : Read the attached story

Union Education Minister has announced the release of the report of All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20.

This newscard provides useful data about the state of higher education in India on various parameters. Such data should not be missed while substantiating any point in answer writing.

About AISHE

  • AISHE was established by the Ministry of HRD for conducting an annual web-based survey, thereby portraying the status of higher education in the country.
  • The survey is conducted for all educational institutions in India on many categories like teachers, student enrolment, programs, examination results, education finance, and infrastructure.
  • This survey is used to make informed policy decisions and research for the development of the education sector.
  • This Report provides key performance indicators on the current status of Higher education in the country.

Highlights of the 2019-20 Report

(1) Total Enrolment

(2) Gross Enrolment Ratio

(3) Gender Parity Index (GPI)

  • GPI in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19 indicating an improvement in the relative access to higher education for females of eligible age group compared to males.

(4) Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 

  • TPR in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 26. In 2019-20: Universities: 1,043(2%); Colleges: 42,343(77%) and stand-alone institutions: 11,779(21%).

(5) Enrolment in higher education

  • 38 crore Students enrolled in programs at under-graduate and post-graduate levels.
  • Out of these, nearly 85% of the students (2.85 crore) were enrolled in the six major disciplines such as Humanities, Science, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Medical Science and IT & Computer.

(6) Doctorate pursuance

  • The number of students pursuing PhD in 2019-20 is 2.03 lakh against 1.17 lakh in 2014-15.

(7) Total number of teachers

  • The Total Number of Teachers stands at 15,03,156 comprising of 57.5% male and 42.5% female.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] QS World University Rankings 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QS World University Ranking

Mains level : State of higher education in India

The Prime Minister has congratulated IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and  IISc Bengaluru for top-200 positions in QS World University Rankings 2022.

QS World University Rankings

  • QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • It comprises the global overall and subject rankings (which name the world’s top universities for the study of 51 different subjects and five composite faculty areas).
  • It announces ranking for five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region, and BRICS).

Highlights of the 2022 Report

  • IIT Bombay ranks joint-177 in the world, having fallen five places over the past year.
  • IIT Delhi has become India’s second-best university, having risen from 193 ranks in last year’s ranking to 185 in the latest ranking. It has overtaken IISc Bangalore, which ranks joint-186.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has been ranked the “world’s top research university.
  • The top three institutions globally are — Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Oxford, and Stanford University ranked at number one, two, and three respectively.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

SARTHAQ Plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SARTHAQ

Mains level : Not Much

Union Education Minister has launched ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education (SARTHAQ), the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 implementation plan for school education.

SARTHAQ

  • SARTHAQ keeps in mind the concurrent nature of education and adheres to the spirit of federalism.
  • The plan delineates the roadmap for the implementation of NEP 2020 for the next 10 years.
  • States and Union Territories have been given the flexibility to adapt the plan with “local contextualization”.
  • They have been allowed to modify the plan as per their needs and requirements.

Envisaged outcomes

  • Increase in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), Net Enrolment Ratio (NER), transition rate and retention rate at all levels and reduction in dropouts and out of school children.
  • Access to quality ECCE and Universal Acquisition of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by Grade 3.
  • Improvement in Learning Outcomes at all stages with an emphasis on teaching and learning through mother tongue/local/regional languages in the early years.
  • Integration of vocational education, sports, arts, knowledge of India, 21st-century skills, values of citizenship, awareness of environment conservation, etc. in the curriculum at all stages.
  • Introduction of Experiential learning at all stages and adoption of innovative pedagogies by teachers in classroom transaction.
  • Integration of technology in educational planning and governance and availability of ICT and quality e-content in classrooms.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

How to grow better colleges

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Improving the colleges

The article highlights the important role students can play in improving the quality of colleges and institution in India.

Improving the colleges

  • The global QS ranking is out and India has 12 universities and institutions in the top-100 in particular subjects.
  • We have many colleges offering higher education but typically they are not very good.
  • Today, with a huge number of students going to college, education is tied strongly to career prospects.
  • If studying and thinking harder do not lead to even a decent chance of career improvement, it is natural for most students to lose academic ambition.

Career prospects in various colleges

  • For admission in IIT, many work extremely hard to secure admission, but then lose motivation and drift towards near-certain graduation.
  • IIT admission is a value signal to future employers who do not see much relevance in the actual syllabus.
  • The entry wall is high, the exit wall is low, and the four-year syllabus is an obstacle course between the student and an employer with whom eye contact was made from atop the entry wall itself.
  • Students of varied subjects thus remain uninterested in their core syllabi.
  • Lower-ranked colleges may attract a slightly different mix of employment prospects, some in core areas.
  • In many colleges, both good and bad ones, high grades correlate only loosely with career outcomes. 

Improving the college

  • Very few jobs actually require the highest quality education — the best academic and research jobs.
  • In such a system, it may not be worthwhile or even practical for a mediocre college to unilaterally improve itself.
  • Having improved, it remains to convince society that it deserves to displace the pre-eminent colleges at the top.
  • For lower-ranking colleges to improve itself, its students must first see useful value in a better education.
  • That requires system-wide growth in opportunity.

How to achieve system-wide growth in opportunity

  • Such growth cannot be legislated from above. It must occur organically, from below.
  • There are several stakeholders involved in such transition.
  • 1) At the top are policymakers.
  • Policymakers are trying and have achieved many things.
  • In recent years, however, our demographics have caught up with us.
  • We have more than 650 million people under age 25.
  • No other country is close. We need more than policies.
  • 2) Next is industry. It faces a learning curve for technology.
  • Countries that wish to lead must develop their own technology, even at high cost.
  • Indian industry can often choose between importing slightly older technology from outside or developing things in-house.
  • A slow growth in the latter has begun and may pull our college system upward over time.
  • 3) Our next stakeholders are college teachers.
  • For a college to flourish, it needs many students who compete to enroll.
  • Our entrance exams for good engineering colleges are hard.
  • Our nationally renowned degree colleges which admit based on board marks are frequently forced to set very high cutoffs.
  • The need for more engineering colleges, for many students who are clearly good enough, has led to the creation of several private colleges that teach well in large volumes.
  • Quality of teachers’ is improving.
  • College teachers improve as their employers aim higher, and as their students bring more into the classroom.
  • 4) Finally, we have students. If students demand better instruction, colleges will sooner or later supply it.

Way forward for students

  • Students must aim to relate their learning to society.
  • They must see their learning not as an obstacle course but as an initiation into a process that yields tangible long-term value.
  • Indian society does not merely have people looking for work.
  • It also has work looking for people: Work in food, health, design, manufacturing, transport, safety, garbage, water, energy, farming, and a hundred other things that we can do better.
  • Room for improvement is plentiful, though the market models may not be efficient or mature yet.
  • The walls between our classrooms and our lives must be broken, if our colleges are to flourish.
  • In recent decades, India has also attracted much work from overseas. Growth in that direction may well be sustained.

Consider the question “India has many colleges and institutions offering higher education but few could get the spot in the list of top global institutes. Examine the factors responsible for this. Suggest the measures to deal with this issue.”

Conclusion

Such change, driven by student aspirations, will be organic, bottom-up, and unstoppable.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Clustering educational institutes and research centres

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cluster universitites, NEP 2020

Mains level : NEP 2020

National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) envisions establishing large multidisciplinary universities to promote research directed to solve contemporary national problems, and provides the option of setting up clusters of higher education institutes.

Q. Discuss the salient features of Cluster Universities as propounded by the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP).

What are Education Clusters?

  • This new concept is dedicated to students who want to discover & learn new things regardless of the field/branch/discipline they’re in.
  • Currently, higher educational institutions (HEIs) follow the structure of single-stream education.
  • Generally, what happens is that a student who has taken a major is allowed to study relevant subjects. He/she can’t opt for subjects from other majors.
  • This may restrict students to widen their thinking & learning capability.
  • With the introduction of Cluster University, the single-stream approach of teaching-learning will be ruled out.
  • All the institutions including the ones that are offering professional degrees will be transformed into a rationalized architecture that is popularly being referred to as- multidisciplinary clusters.

What are the Key Benefits of Cluster Universities?

More Space for Student-Teacher Collaboration

  • With HEIs getting merged to form a large unit, there would be more space for better student-teacher collaboration.
  • Students that are genuinely interested in learning a particular course would come together helping faculties to achieve better student learning outcomes.

Inculcating Leadership Qualities in Students

  • Students would be more confident as they pursue their choice of subjects. They would get an open field to polish their skills and also develop new ones.
  • Thus, the process would ultimately lead to the inculcation of leadership qualities in students.

Accelerate Institutional Networking

  • Since the Cluster University concept of the new education policy speaks of merging multidisciplinary HEIs, institutional networking would obviously go uphill.

Fewer Resources & More Expertise

  • Many students would be able to learn under a single entity. It is bound to increase the outcomes with comparatively fewer resources.
  • Such universities would increase faculty strength, both in terms of numbers and diversity of disciplines, and facilitate the conduct of research on real-life problems.

Way forward

  • For moving away from single-discipline institutions to multi-disciplinary universities, clustering is a promising model to achieve a critical mass in a university to invigorate research.
  • Many industry associations have established research centres and more could be encouraged to do.
  • India needs to earnestly pursue this model.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Reform lessons for education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Skill education in India

The article deals with state of the education and its relation with employment in India.

Improving higher education system

  • Improving India’s higher education justice and worker productivity needs the broadening of our education ambition.
  • Our focus on Gross Enrollment Ratio should also be anchored to Employed Learner Ratio -proportion of our 55 crore labour force in formal learning.
  • For enrolling five crore new employed learners, India needs five regulatory changes.

Reflecting on global and domestic education experience

  • Multi-decade structural changes include  organisations that are less hierarchical, lower longevity, shorter employee tenures, higher competition.
  • There is also change in the form of work: capitalism without capital, soft skills valued more than hard skills, 30 per cent working from home etc.
  • There change in the form of education in which Google knows everything, so tacit knowledge is more valuable than codified or embedded knowledge.
  • These shifts are complicated by a new world of politics, third-party financing viability, and fee inflation.

India faces financing failure in skill

  • We have 3.8 crore students in 1,000-plus universities and 50,000-plus colleges.
  • We confront a financing failure in skills:
  • Employers are not willing to pay for training of candidates but a premium for trained candidates.
  • Candidates are not willing to pay for training but for jobs.
  • Financiers are unwilling to lend unless a job is guaranteed, and training institutions can’t fill their classrooms.

Steps need to be taken

  • For many people the income support of learning-while-earning is crucial to raising enrollment.
  • Many students lack employability and workers lack productivity because learning is supply-driven.
  • Learning-by-doing ensures demand-driven learning.
  • The de facto ban on online degree learning with only seven of our 1,000-plus universities licensed for online offerings.
  • That needs to be changed.
  • High regulatory hurdles creates an adverse selection among entrepreneurs running educational institutions.

Five regulatory changes

  • First, modify Part 3 of the UGC Act 1956 and Part 8 of the UGC Act to include skill universities.
  • Second, remove clauses 3(A), 3(B), and clause 5 of UGC ODL and Online Regulations 2020 and replace them with a blanket and automatic approval for all accredited universities to design, develop and deliver their online programmes.
  • Third, modify clause 4(C)(ii) of UGC online regulations 2020 to allow innovation, flexibility, and relevance in an online curriculum as prescribed in Annex 1-(V)-3-i) that allows universities to work closely with industry on their list of courses.
  • Fourth, modify clauses 13(C)(3), 13(C)(5), 13(C)(7), 18(2) of UGC online regulations 2020 to permit universities to create partner ecosystems for world-class online learning services, platforms, and experience.
  • Fifth, introduce Universities in clause 2 of the Apprentices Act 1961 to enable all accredited universities to introduce, administer and scale all aspects of degree apprenticeship programs.
  • These five changes would enable enrolling five crore incremental employed learner.

Conclusion

Reforming education requires thinking horizontally, holistically, and imaginatively. The reforms suggested here should be carried out considering these aspects.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Problem of control and governance of knowledge in a globalised world

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UGC

Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of UGC's criteria in evaluation of research on social sciences and humanities

The article highlights the issues with the criteria applied by the UGC to evaluate the faculty research.

Impact of UGC standardisation on social sciences and humanities research

  • UGC has been the regulatory body responsible for maintaining standards in higher education, while addressing challenges of globalisation.
  • Processes of UGC mandated standardisation have in particular impacted social sciences and humanities research in Indian universities.
  • Over the years, UGC has linked institutional funding to ranking and accreditation systems like NAAC and NIRF.
  • In order to evaluate institutions, these bodies have evolved  criteria, which rank universities based on faculty research measured by citations in global journal databases like SCOPUS.
  • In comparison, importance granted to research outputs like books or other forms is declining.

Issues with the criteria

  • The insistence of publication in journals fails to distinguish between the varied trajectory of disciplines.
  • While in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Management) disciplines, research is often highly objective and quantified.
  • In social sciences and humanities research is subjective, analytical and argumentative.
  • In disciplines like history, sociology, politics, philosophy, psychology and literature, researchers spend years writing books that engage with ideas in complex ways.
  • In devaluing books as authentic forms of research, UGC does major disservice to scholars of social sciences and humanities.
  • Due to emphasis on publication, teachers spend most of their productive time writing articles and getting them published, thereby missing out on quality engagement with pedagogy and research.

Issues with the process of peer review

  • The process of peer review itself is subjective, and depends upon the knowledge, inclination and availability of time of the particular reviewer.
  • It is often quite challenging for scholars to meet peer-review standards of A-listed journals.
  • This has actually required the UGC to expand its own list, ending up including and subsequently deleting a large number of locally published journals.

Issue of inaccessibility

  • Publication of research in paywalled journal databases makes research inaccessible for students as universities continue to cut down library budgets.
  • Students and teachers, access articles through pirated sites like Libgen and Scihub, prone to be shut down at any point of time as evident from the litigations.
  • Clearly, access to knowledge is structurally made inequitable in favour of the elite and/or moneyed institutions and their constituents.

Way forward

  • The above arguments maintain for the possible multiplicity that can emerge as the end-result of research.
  • Interdisciplinary and practice-based research can throw up social and ecological experiments, artworks and performances, and numerous new outcomes yet to be conceived as research outputs.
  • While the UGC hopes to raise the standards to global levels, precarity of employment, longer teaching hours, a dismal student-teacher ratio, lack of sabbaticals, research and travel grants, access to research facilities and office space, adversely impact the research potential of teachers.
  • Regulating research needs to be replaced with facilitating research, allowing minds to think and gestate.
  • Regulations without facilitation will merely bureaucratise the governance of knowledge without generating any pathbreaking insights.

Conclusion

The UGC needs to widen its criteria which values publication of a book as much as a research paper in the mandated journal to widen the research in social sciences and humanities.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Issues with NEP’s regulatory architecture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEP 2020

Mains level : Paper 2- Regulation of higher education through single regulator

The article deals with the idea of single regulator for higher education in the country and the challenges it could fece.

Recommendations for regulation of higher education

  • Regulatory bodies came up in response to the rapid growth of private participation since the 1980s.
  • Due to multiplicity of regulatory bodies in higher education, nearly all advisory panels appointed since 2005 have been asked for a single regulator.
  • National Knowledge Commission (NKC) concluded in 2007 that the plethora of agencies attempting to control entry, operation, intake, price, size, output and exit had rendered the regulation of higher education ineffectual.
  • The NKC recommended the setting up of an overarching Independent Regulatory Authority in Higher Education (IRAHE).
  • A major concern of the Yash Pal Committee constituted in 2009 was compartmentalisation of academia.
  • To promote such a dialogue, the Yash Pal committee recommended the creation of an apex body called the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER).
  • TSR Subramanian committee in 2016 proposed an Act for setting up an Indian Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) to subsume all existing regulatory bodies in higher education.
  • The draft national policy presented by the Kasturirangan Committee in 2019 proposed a National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) as a common regulatory regime for entire higher education sector.
  • The draft NEP 2020 proposed a Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA) to coordinate, direct and address inter-institutional overlaps and conflicts.

The regulatory regime under NEP 2020

  • NEP 2020 has now a single regulator for all higher education barring medical and law education.
  • It envisages an overarching Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), with four independent verticals comprising the National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), the National Accreditation Council (NAC), the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) and the General Education Council (GEC).
  •  The University Grants Commission (UGC) is to become HEGC while the other regulatory bodies will become professional standard setters.

Fragmented regulation of medical education to continue

  • NEP-2020 provides for separate regulation for medical education.
  • But it envisions healthcare education as an inter-disciplinary system.[Allopathic student to have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, Yoga etc and vice-versa]
  • Multiple regulators in health education include the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) and continuation of the Dental Council of India (DCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and the Indian Nursing Council (INC),
  • Thus, making medical education inter-disciplinary would be difficult due to multiple regulators.

Lessons from the governance of medical education

  • The above example demonstrate the difficulty in designing a single regulatory framework to take care of the domain-specific needs of even within healthcare education.
  • But if accepted as a principle, it has the potential to delay, if not derail, the idea of a single regulator.
  • And should that actually happen, the idea of reining in the regulators might mean abandoning the idea of regulation of regulators.

Issues with the single regulator proposed in NEP 2020

  • The regulatory architecture proposed in the NEP is far too monolithic for a system of higher education serving a geographically, culturally and politically diverse country like ours.
  • Even in the matter of privatisation, there is enormous diversity of players and practices.
  • Historically too, private participation in the running of colleges has not followed a single pattern.
  • To imagine that a uniform structure called Board of Governors can serve all different kinds of institutions across the country is flawed.
  • Such a vision calls for better appreciation of what exists, no matter how worrisome a condition it is in.

Consider the question “What are the challenges in the regulation of higher education in the country? What are the concerns with the idea of single regulator for the regualtion of higher education in country?”

Conclusion

Before proceeding with the single regulator, the government need to pay attention to the issue of diversity in various aspects in the country.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Scheduled Castes Post-matric Scholarship Plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Welfare schemes for various vulnerable sections of population

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved changes to the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes (SCs), including a new funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and States.

Note:

Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.

To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law:

1) Non-discrimination among equals, and

2) Affirmative action to equalize the unequal

About the Scholarship

  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and implemented through State Government and UT administration.
  • Under the scheme, the government provides financial assistance to students from SCs for higher education at post-matriculation and post-senior-secondary stages, which means Class XI onwards.
  • It can be availed by those, whose household incomes are less than Rs 2.5 lakh annually.

What are the new changes?

  • States would carry out verification of the students’ eligibility and caste status and collect their Aadhaar and bank account details.
  • Transfer of financial assistance to the students under the scheme shall be on DBT [direct benefit transfer] mode, and preferably using the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System.
  • Starting from 2021-22, the Central share [60%] in the scheme would be released on DBT mode directly into the bank accounts of the students as per a fixed time schedule.

Why such changes now?

  • The changes were aimed at enabling four crore students to access higher education over the next five years.
  • Switching from the existing “committed liability” formula, the new funding pattern would increase the Centre’s involvement in the scheme.

Benefits of the scheme

  • The changes approved by the Cabinet were aimed at enrolling the poorest students, ensuring timely payments, and maintaining accountability.
  • An estimated 1.36 crore students who would otherwise drop out after Class 10 would be brought into the higher education system under the scheme in five years.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

‘Myths of Online Education’ Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2-

The Azim Premji University has published the report titled “Myths of Online Education”, on the efficacy and accessibility of e-learning.

We have studied the Impacts of COVID-19 on Education. https://www.civilsdaily.com/burning-issue-education-in-times-of-covid-19/
This report provides decent data about the woes of online education and is easy to remember.

About the study

  • The study was undertaken in five States across 26 districts and covered 1,522 schools. More than 80,000 students study in these government schools.
  • It examined the experience of children and teachers with online education.

Highlights of the study

  • More than 60% of the respondents who are enrolled in government schools could not access online education.
  • Children with disabilities in fact found it more difficult to participate in online sessions.
  • 90% of the teachers who work with children with disabilities found their students unable to participate online.
  • Almost 70% of the parents surveyed were of the opinion that online classes were not effective and did not help in their child’s learnings.
  • 90% of parents of government school students surveyed were willing to send their children back to school.
  • The survey also revealed that around 75% of the teachers spent, on an average, less than an hour a day on online classes for any grade.

Online classes are less effective

  • Teachers as well as students their expressed frustration with online classes.
  • More than 80% surveyed said they were unable to maintain emotional connect with students during online classes, while 90% of teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible.
  • Another hurdle that teachers found during the online classes was the one-way communication, which made it difficult for them to gauge whether students understood what was being taught.
  • Teachers also reported that they were ill-prepared for online learning platforms.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Equity in education matters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Equity in education and impact of digital education on it

Fairness and inclusiveness are two important aspects of education system. Growing shift toward digital education in India has implications for these two aspects. The article suggests ways to make the education system fair and inclusive.

Knowledge economy in India

  • The new National Education Policy (NEP) as well as other factors have lately brightened up education landscape in India..
  • The rise of education technology (ed-tech) incorporating VR, AR, ‘gamification’, 3D immersive learning, etc, is contributing to the knowledge economy’s potential for large market size, calling for requisite policy support.

Barriers to equity in education

  • The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) defines two dimensions of equity in education.
  • First is “fairness”, which means ensuring that personal and social circumstances do not prevent students from achieving their academic potential.
  • The second is “inclusion”, which means setting a basic minimum standard for education that is shared by all students regardless of their background.
  • The barriers that make equity difficult to foster in India are varied and complex.

Loss of learning during Covid pandemic

  • The latest Annual State of Education Report (ASER) reveals that 20% of rural students lacked textbooks.
  • Only one in ten students had access to online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Survey provides a glimpse into the levels of learning loss that students in rural India, particularly in states like Bihar, West Bengal, UP, and Rajasthan, are suffering, resulting in sharp digital divides in education.
  • Unless remedied with urgency, the digital split may disrupt learning, and jeopardise our hard-won gains resulting in large scale school drop-outs, particularly of adolescent girls.

How to remove barriers to equity?

  • To remove these barriers we need to look at several aspects like monetary resources, academic standards, academic content and support.
  • Apart from inequality in internet access and access to devices, even the quality of connection and related services and subscription fees exacerbate the digital divide.
  • For education to be availed as a social good, access at an affordable cost and reasonable quality is a precondition.
  • The availability of content in vernacular languages is yet another issue.
  • In digital education along with demand-side issues, supply-side issues need fixing, such as training of teachers in ICT, new learning devices and handling the evolved curriculum.
  • Teachers and academic institutions need to ensure that the content they are using is lucid, appropriate, fact-based and relevant.
  • Access to education loans from banks and financial institutions are a great support in the cause of education, particularly higher education.
  • Education is on the Concurrent List. A cooperative and collaborative spirit will thus be critical to realise the goals.
  • The Centre has a task well cut for building consensus on NEP2020.

Consider the question “Fainess and inclusiveness are two important dimensions of equity that should be pursued by any education system. However, push towards digital educations threatens these two dimensions of the education system in India. Comment” 

Conclusion

With strong corporate commitment, states’ support, backed by strong policy push and intent by the Centre, and value addition by other stakeholders, the roadblocks on the path of equity and inclusiveness in education, though daunting, could be addressed.


Source-

https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/equity-in-education-matters/2121998/

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

The NEP 2020 must look beyond just data science and AI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEP 2020

Mains level : Paper 2- NEP 2020's focus on mathematical and computational thinking

The article deals with the issues with the emphasis on the coding instead of understanding the basic algorithmic process.

Issues with focusing on coding in NEP 2020

  • The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) envisages putting greater emphasis on mathematical and computational thinking throughout the school years.
  • The framing in the NEP appears to put it at the same level of distinction as the more instrumental ‘coding’, and almost as a mere tool towards the utilitarian goals of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science.
  • An overemphasis on learning the nitty-gritty of specific programming languages prematurely — even from middle school — may distract from focusing on the development of algorithmic creativity.

What is coding?

Coding is basically the computer language used to develop apps, websites, and software. Without it, we’d have none of the most popular technology we’ve come to rely on such as Facebook, our smartphones, the browser we choose to view our favorite blogs, or even the blogs themselves. It all runs on code.

About computation and algorithms

  • Algorithmics is the abstract process of arriving at a post-condition through a sequential process of state changes.
  • It is among the earliest human intellectual endeavours that has become imperative for almost all organised thinking.
  • All early learning of counting and arithmetic is method-based, and hence algorithmic in nature, and all calculations involve computational processes encoded in algorithms.
  • The core algorithmic ideas of modern AI and machine learning are based on some seminal algorithmic ideas of Newton and Gauss, which date back a few hundred years.
  • Though the form of expressions of algorithms — the coding — have been different, the fundamental principles of classical algorithm design have remained invariant.

Algorithms in modern world

  • In the modern world, the use of algorithmic ideas is not limited only to computations with numbers, or even to digitisation, communication or AI and data science.
  • They play a crucial role in modelling and expressing ideas in diverse areas of human thinking, including the basic sciences of biology, physics and chemistry, all branches of engineering, in understanding disease spread, in modelling social interactions and social graphs, in transportation networks, supply chains, commerce, banking and other business processes, and even in economic and political strategies and design of social processes.
  • Hence, learning algorithmic thinking early in the education process is indeed crucial.

So, how coding is different from arithmetics?

  • Coding is merely the act of encoding an algorithmic method in a particular programming language which provides an interface.
  • AS computational process can be invoked in a modern digital computer.
  • Thus, it is less fundamental.
  • While coding certainly can provide excellent opportunities for experimentation with algorithmic ideas, they are not central or indispensable to algorithmic thinking.
  • After all, coding is merely one vehicle to achieve experiential learning of a computational process.

Way forward

  • Instead of focusing on the intricacies of specific programming languages, it is more important at an early stage of education to develop an understanding of the basic algorithmic processes behind manipulating geometric figures.
  • Indeed, this is a common outcome of the overly utilitarian skills training-based approaches evidenced throughout the country.

Conclusion

The NEP guideline of introducing algorithmic thinking early is a welcome step, it must be ensured that it does not degenerate and get bogged down with mundane coding tricks at a budding stage in the education process.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Issues with E-learning in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Online education and issues with it

Pandemic has forced learning to the online mode. But there are several concerns with the online leaning. The article discusses the same.

Providing learning opportunity in pandemic

  • The main thrust of providing learning opportunities while schools are shut is online teaching.
  • There are several sets of guidelines and plans issues by the government, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for this purpose.
  • The Internet space is teeming with learning schemes, teaching videos, sites and portals for learning opportunities.

3 issues with online learning

1) Increasing inequality

  • Calamities, be they natural or man-made, affect the underprivileged the hardest,  COVID-19 is no exception.
  •  The COVID-19 shutdown has affected opportunity for the poor even harder than their counterparts from well-to-do sections of society.
  • The government began plans for students with no online access only by the end of August.
  • But online or digital education is available is for students with only online access.
  • Thus, digital India may become even more unequal and divided than it already is.

2) Pedagogical issues leading to bad quality education

  • The quality of online teaching-learning leaves much to be desired.
  • Listening to lectures on the mobile phone, copying from the board where the teacher is writing, frequent disconnections can hardly and organically connect the child’s present understanding with the logically organised bodies of human knowledge.
  • The secondary students are in a better position still because of their relative independence in learning and possible self-discipline.
  • The beginners in the lower primary can get nothing at all from this mode of teaching.

3)  An unwarranted thrust on online education, post-COVID-19

  • All reliable studies seem to indicate that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the classroom helps in already well-functioning systems, and either has no benefits or negative impact in poorly performing systems.
  • That does not indicate much hope from IT in our education system.
  • Transformation of schools in the current understanding of pedagogy, suitability of learning material and quality of learning provided through IT will further devastate the already inadequate system of school education in the country.
  • Of course, IT can be used in a balanced manner where it can help; but it should not be seen as a silver bullet to remedy all ills in the education system.

Importance of institutional environment

  • The institutional environment plays an important role online teaching.
  • Even when the institutions function sub-optimally, students themselves create an environment that supports their growth morally, socially and intellectually in conversations and interactions with each other.
  • The online mode of teaching completely forecloses this opportunity.

Conclusion

Our democracy and public education system should try to address the issues raised here while promoting the online mode of education.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Crisis in education in rural India and NEP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2-National Education Policy

The article analyses the missing focus on the rural youth in the National Education Policy 2020 and its implications.

Education in rural India and NEP

  • Poor quality education marks and mars the lives of rural citizens.
  • The NEP fails to address the growing school differentiation in which government schools are now primarily attended by children of disadvantaged castes and Adivasi groups.
  • The mushrooming of private schools caters to the aspirations of the more advantaged castes and classes.
  • The NEP overlooks the complexity of contemporary rural India, which is marked by a sharp deceleration of its economy, extant forms of distress, and widespread poverty.
  • Rural candidates are finding it increasingly difficult to gain entry into professional education.
  • The lack of fit between their degrees and the job market means that several lakhs of them find themselves both “unemployable” and unemployed.

What the NEP misses

  • NEP overlooks the general adverse integration of the rural into the larger macroeconomy and into poor quality mass higher education.
  • The report calls for the “establishment of large, multi-discipline universities and colleges” and places emphasis on online and distance learning (ODL).
  • However, correspondence courses and distance education degrees have become a source of revenue generation for universities.
  • The possibility of forging and promoting environmental studies for local ecological restoration and conservation are missing.
  • Emphasis on local health and healing traditions from the vast repertoire of medical knowledge is missing.
  • Vernacular architectural traditions and craftsmanship to use local resources find no mention at all in the NEP.

Neoliberal ideas in NEP

  • The NEP moots the possibility of establishing “Special Education Zones” in disadvantaged areas and in “aspirational districts”.
  • But the report provides no details as to how such SEZs will function and who will be the beneficiaries of such institutions.

Conclusion

The NEP fails to cater to the needs of rural India’s marginalised majority, who in so many ways are rendered into being subjects rather than citizens.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Economics of education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Financial challenges education sector faces in India

The article delineates the challenges academic institutions in India faces in the wake of Covid disruption and suggests some measures to deal with the challenges.

Context

Disruption in the wake of pandemic raised the spectre of educational institutions shuttering their doors completely or taking unprecedented steps that have invariably affected jobs and livelihoods.

Economics of the academics

  • Economics has always been a part of academics; it is only in the present circumstances that it has become all the more apparent.
  • Management in private institutions, is going to meet demands on the one hand and availability of resources on the other.
  • One may call this new phenomenon “acadonomics”.
  • “Acadonomics” would imply a careful allocation of resources keeping in mind the transient nature of the issue of how long it is going to take to come back to the steady state of affairs that it once was.
  • ‘Acadonomics’ will also involve seeing the economics of moving on to an online mode of the teaching-learning process.

Comparison with the West

  • The academic choices are not the same for all countries across the world.
  • In the United States the elite private and state subsidised universities have endowments that can be used for a range of academic activities.
  • Top 10 of the U.S. have a cushion of anywhere between $10 billion to $40 billion.
  • By contrast, private academic institutions in India do not have any such buffers.
  • None of the institutions in India possesses big corpuses from alumni or industry.
  • Their survival, for the most part, is on the annual income that comes from tuition and the assortment of other fees collected.

Private education in India

  • Private institutions in India are hardly in a position to meet an eventuality such as COVID-19.
  •  In an educational set-up in India, nothing can be reduced — the norms cannot be lowered nor can the infrastructure be dismantled.
  •  For the most part, the fixed and operational costs remain the same, and infrastructure once created cannot be shrunk.
  • The downside to self-financed institutions is that in the time of the pandemic and loss of jobs, students plead inability to pay the requisite fee.
  • Which places additional burden on the management which feels already stretched because of existing commitments.

Dual mode of learning and issues

  • 1) Cost for persisting with a dual mode of the teaching-learning process is going to be quite prohibitive for the next few years.
  • The scaling of operations that would include the dual modes of online and offline is going to be expensive.
  • 2) The online teaching mode brings with it increased costs of IT infrastructure such as network bandwidth, servers, cloud resources and software licensing fees.
  • 3) Online teaching means new hiring in the IT sector and increased costs due to engagements with Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, and other online platforms.
  • 4) Online teaching means setting up multiple studios and educational technology centres which translate into investments in high technology.
  • 5) Creation of virtual laboratories across all domains of studies and examination centres, etc. would add to the woes in terms of already depleted finances.
  • 6) Additional funds have to be allocated to train faculty for online teaching.

Way forward

  • The Centre and State governments should provide soft loans to students to stay with the educational course.
  • Students looking at online instruction would be disinclined to pay the same fee charged for offline instruction.
  • It would seem prudent for the government and regulatory bodies to not interfere in the fee structure, and, for the future, even consider a measure of higher degree of financial autonomy.
  • It is high time institutions in India are allowed to create coffers or corpuses for a rainy day.
  • Educational institutions could come to be treated like any other corporate body, with an allowable small margin of profit.

Consider the question “What are the challenges faced by the education system in the aftermath of the pandemic. Suggest ways to mitigate the impact.”

Conclusion

‘Acadonomics’ of the future will not only decide the fate of the academic sector in India but also its quality, ranking, research, innovation potential and its collective impact on our country’s economy.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Issues with the graded autonomy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues with autonomy and graded autonomy

The article analyses the issues the graded with the graded autonomy to the Higher Education Institutes.

Background

  • NEP 2020 provided for phasing out of the system of affiliated colleges and the grant of greater autonomy in academic, administrative and financial matters to premium colleges.

Concerns with the autonomy

  • The move has raised concerns about the politico-bureaucratic interference in the internal functioning of universities.
  • It has also raised concerns about the substantial burden on universities which have to regulate admissions, set curricula and conduct examinations for a large number of undergraduate colleges.
  • Concerns have long existed about over-centralisation, due to constraints imposed on the potential for premium affiliated colleges to innovate and evolve.
  • These apprehensions about the autonomy came to be used by successive governments to build a case for the model of graded autonomy.

The push towards graded autonomy

  • Successive governments have pushed through measures that have largely allowed for greater penetration of private capital in higher education.
  • Recommendations of recent education commissions have promoted the unequal structure of funding for higher education.
  • Under this, hierarchy in higher education was created: Central government-funded universities, provincial Central government-funded universities, regional universities and colleges funded by State governments, etc.
  • The National Knowledge Commission (2005) stated that good undergraduate colleges are constrained by their affiliated status… the problem is particularly acute for undergraduate colleges which are subjected to the ‘convoy problem’ as they are forced to move at the speed of the slowest.
  • In turn, the dominant policy discourse vocally propagates “graded autonomy” for better performing Higher Educational Institutions.
  • Under which academic excellence can be supported through a grant of special funds and allowing greater power to such institutions.
  • This basis has been gradually enforced with the UGC in 2018 granting public-funded universities the right to apply for autonomy based on whether they are ranked among top 500 of reputed world rankings or have National Assessment and Accreditation (NAAC) scores above 3.26.

NEP 2020: Centralisation and autonomy

  • NEP 2020  is a combination of enhanced centralising features and specific features of autonomy.
  • Deeper centralisation is indicative in the constitution of the government nominated umbrella institution, Higher Education Council of India (HECI); Board of Governors, the National Education Commission etc.

Concerns

  • The model of graded autonomy will encourage hierarchy that exists between different colleges within a public-funded university, and between different universities across the country.
  • While the best colleges gain the autonomy to bring in their own rules and regulations, affiliated colleges with lower rankings and less than 3,000 students face the threat of mergers and even closure.
  • A shrinking of the number of public-funded colleges will only further push out marginalised sections.
  • Autonomy could lead to more inaccessibility as the independent rules and regulations of autonomous colleges and universities shall curtail transparent admission procedures.
  • Graded autonomy can be expected to trigger a massive spurt in expensive self-financed courses as premium colleges, which will lead to exclusion.

Conclusion “Examine the issues with the autonomy of Higher Education Institutes in the NEP 2020.”

Conclusion

More than deliverance, autonomy represents the via media for greater privatisation and enhanced hierarchization in higher education.

Sources: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/privatisation-via-graded-autonomy/article32396753.ece

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ARIIA 2020

Mains level : Not Much

The Vice-President has released the Atal ranking ‘ARIIA 2020’.

Note the indicators on which the ARIIA ranking is based.  Also try this PYQ:

Q. Which one of the following is not a sub-index of the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’? (CSP 2019)

(a) Maintenance of law and order

(b) Paying taxes

(c) Registering property

(d) Dealing with construction permits

Highlights of the ARIIA 2020

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has topped the ARIIA 2020 under the ‘Best Centrally Funded Institution’ category.
  • Last year too, the institute emerged as the top innovative institution in the country.
  • IIT Bombay and Delhi have secured the second and third spots, respectively.

About ARIIA

  • ARIIA is an initiative of erstwhile Ministry of HRD, implemented by AICTE and Ministry’s Innovation Cell.
  • It systematically ranks all major higher educational institutions and universities in India on indicators related to “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development” amongst students and faculties.
  • ARIIA 2020 will have six categories which also includes special category for women only higher educational institutions to encourage women and bringing gender parity in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • The other five categories are 1) Centrally Funded Institutions 2) State-funded universities 3) State-funded autonomous institutions 4) Private/Deemed Universities and 5) Private Institutions.

Major Indicators for consideration

  • Budget & Funding Support.
  • Infrastructure & Facilities.
  • Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
  • Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
  • Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
  • Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
  • Innovation in Governance of the Institution.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Education Policy and current status of education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- National Education Policy

The article contrasts the targets set in the National Education Polity with the present state of education in the country.

Key recommendations

  • Redesigning the school curriculum to accommodate early childhood care and education.
  • Ensuring universal access to education.
  • Increasing gross enrolment in higher education to 50% by 2035.
  • Improving research in higher education institutes by setting up a Research Foundation.

Let’s take stock of the current situation on the above-suggested parameters.

1) Universal Access to Education

  • Despite the Right to Education Act-2009 retaining children remains a challenge for the schooling system.
  • As of 2015-16, Gross Enrolment Ratio was 56.2% at senior secondary level as compared to 99.2% at primary level.
  • Data for all groups indicates a decline in GER as we move from primary to senior secondary for all groups.
  • This decline is particularly high in case of Scheduled Tribes.

NEP 2020 recommendations

  • The NEP recommends strengthening of existing schemes and policies which are targeted for such socio-economically disadvantaged groups.
  • Further, it recommends setting up special education zones in areas with a significant proportion of such disadvantaged groups.
  • A gender inclusion fund should also be setup to assist female and transgender students in getting access to education.

2) GER to 50% in higher education

  • The NEP aims to increase the GER in higher education to 50% by 2035.  
  • As of 2018-19, the GER in higher education in the country stood at 26.3%.
  • The annual growth rate of GER in higher education in the last few years has been around 2%.

NEP 2020 recommendations

  • The NEP recommends increasing capacity of existing higher education institutes by restructuring and expanding existing institutes.
  • It recommends that all institutes should aim to be large multidisciplinary institutes, and there should be one such institution in or near every district by 2030.
  • Further, institutions should have the option to run open distance learning and online programmes to improve access to higher education.

3) Restructuring of Higher Education Institutes

  • The NEP notes that the higher education ecosystem in the country is severely fragmented.
  • At present, there is complex nomenclature of higher education institutes (HEIs) in the country such as ‘deemed to be university’, ‘affiliating university’, ‘affiliating technical university’, ‘unitary university’.
  • These shall be replaced simply by ‘university’.

NEP 2020 recommendations

  • The NEP recommends that all HEIs should be restructured into three categories:
  • 1)  research universities focusing equally on research and teaching.
  • 2)  teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching.
  • 3) degree-granting colleges primarily focused on undergraduate teaching.
  •  All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial.

4) National research foundation to boost research

  • The NEP states that investment on research and innovation in India, at only 0.69% of GDP, lags behind several other countries.
  • The total investment on R&D in India as a proportion of GDP has been stagnant at around 0.7% of GDP.
  • Of which 58% of expenditure was by government, and the remaining 42% was by private industry.

NEP 2020 recommendation

  • To boost research, the NEP recommends setting up an independent National Research Foundation (NRF).
  • The Foundation will act as a liaison between researchers and relevant branches of government as well as industry.
  • Specialised institutions which currently fund research, such as the Department of Science and Technology, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, will continue to fund independent projects.
  • The Foundation will collaborate with such agencies to avoid duplication.

5) Digital Education

  • The NEP states that alternative modes of quality education should be developed when in-person education is not possible.
  • But let’s look into the accessibility of such mode.
  • As of 2017-18, only 4.4% of rural households have access to a computer (excludes smartphones).
  • Nearly 15% have access to internet facility.  Amongst urban households, 42% have access to the internet.

NEP 2020 recommendations

  • Several interventions are recommended-
  • (i) developing two-way audio and video interfaces for holding online classes.
  • (ii) use of other channels such as television, radio, mass media in multiple languages to ensure the reach of digital content where digital infrastructure is lacking.

6) Increasing public spending on education to 6% of GDP

  • Public spending of 6% of GDP was first made by the National Policy on Education 1968 and reiterated by the 1986 Policy.
  • NEP 2020 reaffirms the recommendation of increasing public spending on education to 6% of GDP.
  •  In 2017-18, the public spending on education-includes spending by centre and states-was budgeted at 4.43% of GDP.
  •  In 2020-21, states in India have allocated 15.7% of their budgeted expenditure towards education.
  • States such as Delhi, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra have allocated more than 18% of their expenditure on Education for the year 2020-21.
  • On the other hand, Telangana (7.4%), Andhra Pradesh (12.1%) and Punjab (12.3%) lack in spending on education, as compared to the average of states.

Consider the question “Examine the provision with regard to increasing research in the country in the National Education Policy 2020.”

Conclusion

The National Education Policy is an ambitious document with the potential to transform. What is required is the zeal to implement and assess the progress by analysing the outcomes.


Source-

https://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/national-education-policy-recommendations-and-current-scenario

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HEFA

Mains level : Higher education infra development

The JNU has got approval for a fund from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) for the construction of new infrastructure.

Try this PYQ:

What is the aim of the programme ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’? (CSP 2017)

(a) Achieving 100% literacy by promoting collaboration between voluntary organizations and government’s education system and local communities.

(b) Connecting institutions of higher education with local communities to address development challenges through appropriate technologies.

(c) Strengthening India’s scientific research institutions in order to make India a scientific and technological power.

(d) Developing human capital by allocating special funds for health care and education of rural and urban poor, and organizing skill development programmes and vocational training for them.

About HEFA

  • HEFA is a joint venture company of Canara Bank and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • It provides financial assistance for the creation of educational infrastructure and R&D in India’s premier educational institutions.
  • All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions will be eligible to join as members of the HEFA.
  • For joining as members, the educational institution must agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals for a period of 10 years to the HEFA.

Funding pattern of HEFA

  • HEFA will have an authorized capital of 2,000 crore rupees and the government equity would be 1,000 crore
  • It also mobilizes CSR funds from Corporates/PSUs which will, in turn, be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on a grant basis.
  • The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the ‘internal accruals’ of the institutions earned through the fee receipts, research earnings etc.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Understanding text and context of National Education Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues in National Education Policy

The article critically examines the various aspects of the National Education Policy 2020 and the issue of flexibility and exams has been analysed closely.

Context of scepticism

  • The New Education Policy is a forward-looking framework for transforming Indian education.
  • But the past record on implementation of polity raises the concern that the New Education Policy should not turn out to be just “another document”.
  • Also, the emphasis in the document on critical thinking and free inquiry is entirely well placed.
  • But universities are being intimidated into political and cultural conformity.
  • The document lays down objectives; the strategy has yet to come.

Walking the tightrope

  • On the language issue it prefers the long-standing recommendation of primary education in the mother tongue.
  • But does not categorically recommend curb English.
  • On the basic architecture of delivery, policy does not show an inclination towards public or private education both in school and higher education.

School education: Most promising part

  • The policy focus on early child development, learning outcomes, different forms of assessment, holistic education, and,  recognises the centrality of teacher and teacher education.
  • The document recognises that “the very highest priority of the education system will be to achieve universal foundational numeracy and literacy.”
  • The suggestions for school education are ambitious, centred on the students, cater to their pedagogical diversity, and take on board the world of knowledge as it is now emerging.

Multidisciplinary education

  • The document mentions the word multidisciplinary a bit too much, without explicating what it means.
  • One way of thinking about this is not in terms of multiple subjects.
  • It is reorienting education from disciplinary content to modes of inquiry that allow students to access a wide variety of disciplines.

Two concerns

1) Flexibility issue

  • Under the policy, students might need different exit options.
  • But it is unclear if the diploma or early exit options all be made available within a single institution, or different institutions.
  • If it is within single institutions, this will be a disaster.
  • Because structuring a curriculum for a classroom that has both one-year diploma and four-year degree students takes away from the identity of the institution.
  • There is also a risk that without adequate financial support, the exercising of exit options will be determined by the financial circumstances of the student.
  • The flexibility offered through multidisciplinary education is against the principle that different institutions have a different characters and strengths.
  • A healthy education system will comprise of a diversity of institutions, not a forced multi-disciplinarity.

2) Issue of exams conundrum

  • The document rightly emphasises that focus needs to shift from exams to learning. But it contradicts itself.
  • Exams are burdon because of competition and cost in terms of opportunities.
  • So the answer to the exam conundrum lies in the structure of opportunity.
  • This will require a less unequal society both in terms of access to quality institutions.
  • Exams are also necessary because in a low trust system people want objective measures of commensuration.
  • So the policy reintroduces exams back into the picture by recommending a national aptitude test.
  • But the idea that this will reduce coaching is wishful thinking, as all the evidence from the US and China is showing.

Consider the question “The National Education Policy 2020 moves away from rigidity and offers flexibility in many ways. In light of this examine the flexible dimensions offered in the policy and issues with it.”

Conclusion

The policy is commendable for focussing on the right questions. But the hope is that with this our education policy can be transformed into a treat, not another trick.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Education Policy needs scrutiny

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Provisions in the National Education Policy

Mains level : Paper 2- National Education Policy

National Education Policy, while comprehensive in its approach misses out on some crucial issues. These issues are discussed here.

Following are the issues with the National Education Policy-

1) Implications for SEDGs

  •  Implications of the policy for SEDGs-Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups-needs to be considered.
  • The term “caste” is absent from the document apart from a fleeting reference to Scheduled Castes.
  • Also absent is any mention of reservation in academic institutions, whether for students, teachers, or other employees.
  • Reservation is the bare minimum required in terms of affirmative action in the highly differentiated socio-economic milieu in which we exist.

2) Education in tribal areas

  • There is the passing reference to educational institutions in tribal areas, designated as ashramshalas.
  • While there are sections of the document that describe ways in which SEDGs are supposed to gain access to higher education institutions, there is no time-frame that is specified.
  • In a situation of growing privatisation how these policies will be implemented is a matter of concern.

3) Multi-disciplinarity misses some disciplines

  • Multi-disciplinarity is an attractive and flexible proposition, allowing learners to experiment with a variety of options.
  • While the list of the disciplines in which multi-disciplinary approach is allowed is unexceptionable, it is worth flagging what is missed out.
  • Fields of studies such as Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Dalit Studies, Studies of Discrimination and Exclusion, Environmental Studies and Development Studies are missing.
  • Many of these have engaged with multi-disciplinarity/inter-disciplinarity in exciting and disturbing ways, bringing to the fore issues of diversity, difference and identity.

4) Problem of autonomy

  • While the documents mention autonomy and choice in the document, but there are limits.
  • For instance, the selection of vocational subjects in middle school is described as a fun choice.
  • At the same time, it is to be exercised “as decided by States and local communities and as mapped by local skilling needs”.
  • National Testing Agency, will be a centralised agency to conduct exams will be against the autonomy proposed in the policy.
  • HEIs will now be run by a Board of Governors backed by legislative changes where required.
  •  Further centralisation is envisaged through the setting up of “the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).

5) Depriving the HEI democratic functioning

  • Several universities and HEIs have evolved and sustained democratic mechanisms, including academic and executive councils.
  • What has made them vibrant institutions is the presence of faculty and students, elected, as well as on the basis of seniority and rotation.
  • Abandoning them will deprive members of HEIs of an opportunity to engage with the challenges of democratic functioning.

6) No mention of Fundamental Rights

  • Several values are identified as constitutional and there is an occasional mention of fundamental duties.
  • But there is no mention of fundamental rights.

Consider the question “Examine the provision for governance of education in the National Education Policy. Also, examine the issues with the policy.”

Conclusion

The Education Policy has many novel ideas with the potential to transform the education system in the country, however, the issues discussed here highlights the need to revisit it, before it is actually implemented.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Overview of National Education Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Education Policy 2020

Mains level : Paper 2- Proposals in Education Policy 2020

The Education Policy 2020 comes with many changes in education in the country. Key aspects of the policy are discussed in the article.

Context

  •  National Education Policy 2020 is the fourth major policy initiative in education since Independence.
  • The last one was undertaken a good 34 years ago and modified in 1992.
  • NEP 2020 seeks to address the entire gamut of education from preschool to doctoral studies.

Challenges India faces in education

  • Lack of resources and capacity.
  • Dozens of mother tongues, a link language that despite being the global language of choice is alien to most.
  • A persistent mismatch between the knowledge and skills imparted and the jobs available.

Follwing are the key aspects of the policy-

1) 5+3+3+4 Model

  • A 5+3+3+4 model recognises the primacy of the formative years from ages 3 to 8 in shaping the child’s future.
  • It also recognises the importance of learning in the child’s mother tongue till at least Class 5.
  • As picking up languages is easy between ages 3 and 8, children will learn English and mother tongue together.
  • Multilingual felicity could become the USP of the educated Indian.
  • The policy envisages 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.

2) Flexibility in choosing subjects and vocational education

  • Another key aspect of new policy is the breaking of the compartments of arts, commerce and science streams in high school.
  • Policy also aims at introducing vocational courses with internship.
  • The ‘blue-collarisation’ of vocations in our society is also a hurdle to be overcome.
  • NEP 2020 proposes a multi-disciplinary higher education framework with portable credits.
  • An ambitious GER of 50% in higher education is envisaged by 2035.
  • At the apex will be Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, where research will be supported by a new National Research Foundation.

3) Question of regualtion

  • NEP 2020 aims to free our schools, colleges and universities from periodic “inspections” and place them on the path of self-assessment and voluntary declaration.
  • Transparency, maintaining quality standards and a favourable public perception will become a goal for the institutions.
  • This will lead to all-round improvement in their standard.
  • A single, lean body with four verticals for standards-setting, funding, accreditation and regulation is proposed to provide “light but tight” oversight.

4) Addressing deprivation

  • Inequality and challenges faced by the disadvantaged and disabled have been considered in NEP.
  • The NEP lays particular emphasis on providing adequate support to ensure that no child is deprived of education, and every challenged child is provided the special support she needs.

5) Ancient knowledge

  • The long-neglected ancient Indian languages and Indic knowledge systems are also identified for immediate attention.

Resource challenge

  •  An ambitious target of public spending on education at 6% of GDP has been set.
  • This is certainly a tall order, given the current tax-to-GDP ratio and competing claims on the national exchequer by other key sectors.
  •  If public and political will can be mustered, resources will find their way from both public and private sources.

Consider the question “What are the measures proposed in the Education Policy 2020 for higher education.”

Conclusion

Resources are never the main roadblock to success in education. NEP 2020 provides the ingredients and the right recipe. What we make of it depends entirely on us.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Highlights of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Education Policy

Mains level : Need for imbibing competitiveness in Indian education system

The Union Cabinet has approved the National Education Policy 2020, making way for large scale, transformational reforms in both school and higher education sectors.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are the key features of the National Education Policy, 2020? Discuss how it will facilitate the universalization of education in India.

School Education   

  • New Policy aims for universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 % Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030.
  • NEP 2020 will bring 2 crores out of school children back into the mainstream through the open schooling system.
  • The current 10+2 system to be replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.
  • This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under the school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for the development of mental faculties of a child.
  • The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.
  • Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools; Vocational Education to start  from Class 6 with Internships
  • Teaching up to at least Grade 5 to be in mother tongue/ regional language. No language will be imposed on any student.
  • Assessment reforms with 360-degree Holistic Progress Card, tracking Student Progress for achieving Learning Outcomes
  • A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT.
  • By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree.

Higher Education

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50 % by 2035;  3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education.
  • The policy envisages broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate Program with flexible curricula, creative combinations of subjects, integration of vocational education and multiple entries and exit points with appropriate certification.
  • Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate  Transfer of Credits
  • Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
  • Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have four independent verticals  – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard-setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,  and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation.
  • Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
  • Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
  • Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College or a constituent college of a university.

Others

  • An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
  • NEP 2020 emphasizes setting up of Gender Inclusion Fund, Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups
  • New Policy promotes Multilingualism in both schools and higher education. National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation to be set up
  • The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

HRD Ministry to be renamed as ‘Education Ministry’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HRD Ministry revamp, National Education Policy 2020

Mains level : National Education Policy 2020

The Union Cabinet has approved the renaming of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to the Ministry of Education to more clearly define its work and focus.

Before reading this newscard, try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

Q.The Ninth Schedule was introduced in the Constitution of India during the Prime Ministership of:

(a) Jawaharlal Nehru

(b) Lal Bahadur Shastri

(c) Indira Gandhi

(d) Morarji Desai

A flip-back

  • With the renaming, the Ministry got back the name that it had started out with after Independence, but which was changed 35 years ago when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister.

Who were some of India’s early Education Ministers?

  • The Ministry which was focussed on education from the primary classes to the level of the university was headed by some of the stalwarts of Indian politics in its early years.
  • For more than a decade after Independence, the Ministry was led by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
  • He was followed by Kalulal Shrimali and the eminent jurist M C Chagla, with the poet-educationist Humayun Kabir holding the portfolio for a short while in between.
  • Later Education Ministers of India included Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, who went on to become President.
  • The last Education Minister of India was KC Pant, who served in the post in 1984-85, after which the name of the Ministry was changed.

Under what circumstances did the Ministry of Education become HRD?

  • Upon becoming PM in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi, who had surrounded himself with a new crop of advisers, showed restlessness for change and innovation in a number of areas.
  • He accepted a suggestion that all departments related to education should be brought under one roof.
  • There was some opposition from academic circles who complained that the country no longer had a Department with ‘education’ in its name. Some newspapers wrote editorials criticizing the change of name.
  • But the decision had been made, and subsequently, in 1986, the government cleared a new education policy – the second in the country’s history, and one that was to survive until now.

Under HRD roof

  • On September 26, 1985, the Ministry of Education was renamed as the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and P V Narasimha Rao was appointed Minister.
  • Related Departments such as those of Culture and Youth & Sports were brought under the Ministry of HRD, and Ministers of State were appointed.
  • Even the Department of Women and Child Development – which became a separate Ministry with effect from January 30, 2006 – was a Department under the Union HRD Ministry.

Were changes made in the Ministry even afterwards?

  • Yes, changes were made from time to time. After Atal Bihari Vajpayee became PM in 1998, the government decided to separate the Department of Culture from the Ministry of HRD.
  • In October 1999, a new Ministry of Culture came into being, with the late Ananth Kumar in charge.
  • The Department of Youth too was separated from the Ministry of HRD, and Ananth Kumar was given charge of this new Ministry as well.
  • With these decisions of the Vajpayee government, the HRD Ministry remained ‘HRD’ only in name – for all practical purposes, it was back to being a ministry for education.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] INDSAT exam under ‘Study in India’ Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IndSAT

Mains level : Study in India Program

The Ministry of HRD conducted the first-ever Indian Scholastic Assessment (IND-SAT) Test 2020 under its ‘Study in India’ programme.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The INDSAT recently seen in news is a:

a) Free-to-air educational TV channels for school education

b) A satellite for educational purposes

c) IMD weather forecasting system

d) Online examination for foreign students in India

INDSAT Exam

  • The Indian Scholastic Assessment or IND-SAT is a standardized online proctored test for students seeking scholarships with Study in India (SII).
  • This exam is to gauge the capability and tenacity of students applying to study in India.
  • The scores will serve as a criterion to shortlist the meritorious students for the allocation of scholarships for undergraduate as well as postgraduate programmes under ‘Study in India’ programme.
  • The exam is conducted in the proctored internet mode by the National Testing Agency.

What makes it special?

  • Nearly five thousand candidates from Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sri-Lanka, Kenya, Zambia, Indonesia and Mauritius appeared for the exam.

About Study in India

  • The Study in India is a programme of MHRD under which foreign students come to study in 116 select higher education institutions in India for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
  • The selection of the students is based on their merit in class 12 / school-leaving exam.
  • About top 2000 students are given scholarships, while some others are given fee discounts by the institutions.

 

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Transforming higher education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues with higher education

The issues of quality of higher education explain the lack of employability of Indian youth. This article examines the issue and suggests the approach to deal with the issue.

Three learning outcomes

  • The first is to provide knowledge in the relevant discipline to the students.
  • Second, imparting students with the skills needed for their jobs/enterprises.
  • Third, students are expected to play a constructive role in shaping the society and the world at large, the values and ideals of a modern, progressive society.
  • The teaching-learning process is expected to mould their character accordingly.

Issues with the education system

  • Apart from a handful of institutions in the technology, management and liberal arts streams a vast majority of other students just meander through college and acquire a degree.
  • There is a huge gulf between the curriculum taught in the colleges and actual job requirements.
  • It is common to hear even the brightest of students mention that they learnt more on the job than through their curriculum in college.

Focus more on training

  • If most of the students learn so much on the job, it raises several questions.
  • Why should we bestow so much importance on a syllabus?
  • And why do we take such massive efforts to evaluate students’ knowledge of that syllabus through exams?
  • What we can do is completely re-evaluate the syllabus frequently considering the changing needs of the time.
  • We can have substantive industrial internships while retaining only a very basic outline of essential concepts.
  • The evaluation too can be a mix of regular assignments, performance in the internship.

Consider the question “The lack of employability in the youth of India could be a huge hurdle in India’s aim to reap the benefits of demographic dividend. Examine the reasons for and suggest the measures to deal with the issue.”

Conclusion

The higher education sector has multiple stakeholders and multiple vested interests. In normal times, maintaining the status quo or implementing incremental and marginal reforms was all one could hope for. The pandemic has opened the doors for ushering in massive, bold and transformational reforms. As John Lewis said, “If not now, then when?”

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Centralisation in decision making in education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Centralisation in Education

The article tracks the evolution of the India education system after Independence. While the decentralisation and active encouragement underscores the initial years, recent trends shows a growing emphasis on centralisation.

How Government support contributed to rise of educational institutions

  • In the initial decades after Independence, the government was conscious of various social, economic and financial challenges.
  • So, the government strongly supported universities, encouraging them to further develop an academic .
  • The IITs and IIM along with institutions of academic excellence like the IISc, Indian Statistical Institute, and JNU emerged as model institutions.
  • The institutional and academic autonomy offered was central to their emerging as premier institutions.
  • Other universities revised curricula and set about the task of reforming the university as a space for healthy academic engagement.

Rise of decentralisation in collective decision making

  • The above changes were marked by the growing importance of various large representative institutional bodies.
  • For example, institutional bodies like faculty committees, committees of courses, board of studies, university senates, academic councils and executive councils grew in importance.
  • These bodies oversaw the administrative and academic functioning of the university and ensured collective decision-making.
  • Debate over ideological positions, scholarly beliefs shaped the process of nation-building in independent India.

Policy changes and its impact (2005-15)

  • The constitution of the National Knowledge Commission and privatisation of education undermined the deliberative and independent character of these institutions of higher education.
  • Administrative and academic decisions were imposed from above.
  • Discussions within various academic bodies were discouraged.
  • The imposition of the semester system and a four-year undergraduate programme in many public and private universities were hallmarks of this new era of bureaucratic centralisation.
  • The academic achievements of scholars from Indian universities were undermined.
  • Those in positions of authority within the universities were encouraged to undermine academic bodies and limit their role.

New government intervention after 2015

  • Futher changes were introduced starting from 2015.
  • Choice Based Credit System was introduced and there were renewed attempts to privatise higher education linked to an emphasis on rankings.
  • The government started to look into minute details pertaining to academic curricula, the teaching-learning process and the parameters that governed academic research within the university.

Centralisation in Covid-19 pandemic

  • The centralisation trend intensified with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Central government and the University Grants Commission have imposed themselves on the daily functioning of all higher educational institutions.
  • This represents a new government-oriented bureaucratic centralisation.
  • Decisions about the conclusion of academic term, the modalities for evaluation and the conduct of the teaching-learning process have become exclusive government prerogatives.
  • The various academic bodies that had original jurisdiction over these matters have been made redundant.
  • How and whether examinations are to be conducted has become an issue of contention between State and Central governments.

Consider the question “Centralisation of the decision making instead of at institutional level in educational institutions and universities lies at many woes of the higher education in India. Comment.”

Conclusion

The time has come for institutions of higher education in India to recover their lost voice and restore the fertile academic space where ideas are discussed and debated rather than suppressed and dismissed.

Original article:

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-lost-voice-of-the-indian-university/article32105945.ece

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Online education in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MOOC

Mains level : Paper 2- Adopting online mode for education amid pandemic

What are the benefits of Online Learning in distress situations?

  • In pandemic situation like today’s, where due to nationwide lockdown, all schools, colleges, universities were shut down, online learning comes as a savior to students and provided them with an opportunity to continue learning even while at home.
  • There was anxiety, particularly about the graduating batches of students, lest the ongoing session should be declared a ‘zero semester’. There were attempts from individual teachers to keep their students engaged. A few universities made arrangements for teachers to hold their classes virtually through video conferencing services such as Zoom. These are well-meaning attempts to keep the core educational processes going through this period.
  • Many private and government colleges in the country had been conducting online classes. Very small aperture terminals (VSATs) are still used by top Business schools in the country to create a closed user group (CUGs), which offers online classes globally. However, COVID-19 has hastened
  • Online education, a result of the digital world has brought a lot to the learning table at all levels of education, beginning from preschool up to higher level institutions. The move to remote learning has been enabled by several online tech stacks such as Google Classroom, Blackboard, Big Blue Button, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, all of which play an important role in this transformation.
  • With the development of ICT in education, online video-based micro-courses, e-books, simulations, models, graphics, animations, quizzes, games, and e-notes are making learning more accessible, engaging, and contextualized.
  • To ensure that learning never stops, the online education sector, and mobile networks have become the preferred platform. Teachers are preparing lessons using distance learning tools, and parents are learning new teaching techniques at home. Providing aid are the entrepreneurs offering online learning apps like BYJU’s, Adda24x7, Duolingo, Khan Academy, Witkali and several others.
  • Universities like World University of Design, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Amity, IP University, Lovely Professional University and Mumbai University are offering online classes across different subjects.
  • Schools in 165 countries around the world have closed due to the Corona virus outbreak, according to UNESCO. And, according to the International Telecommunication Union(ITU), more than 1.5 billion school children around the world are using online education, following the global lockdown.
  • Online learning is not for everyone. Schools located in remote areas of the country with limited availability of electricity and internet is making restricted use of WhatsApp to stay connected with their classrooms.

    3.) Less intimidating

    Many students in classroom environments aren’t comfortable speaking in public. In an online environment, it can be much easier to share thoughts with others

    5.) Focus on ideas

    With an estimated 93 percent of communication being non-verbal, online students don’t have to worry about body language interfering with their message. While body language can be effective sometimes, academics are more about ideas, and online education eliminates physical judgments that can cloud rational discussion.

    5.) Focus on ideas

    With an estimated 93 percent of communication being non-verbal, online students don’t have to worry about body language interfering with their message. While body language can be effective sometimes, academics are more about ideas, and online education eliminates physical judgments that can cloud rational discussion.

    8.) Cost

    Although the cost of an online course can be as much or more than a traditional course, students can save money by avoiding many fees typical of campus-based education, including lab fees, commuting costs, parking, hostels, etc. Imagine living in Dhule but going to college in Mumbai.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

MOOC can’t be the substitute for learning in the classroom

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MOOC

Mains level : Paper 2- Adoption of MOOC and issues with it.

Massive open online courses (MOOC) could not be panacea for the problems education faces. It can’t be the replacement for the learning in the classrooms. This article highlights the issues with adoption of MOOC and why it can’t be the replacement for learning in the classrooms.

UGC circular to adopt MOOC

  • In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Grants Commission had issued a circular to universities.
  • Through this circular, it encouraged them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters.
  • But the move poses a great danger.
  • But why it’s danger? Because it is also being seen as an instrument to achieve the country’s target Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.
  • GER in higher education is envisioned to be 30% by 2021; it was 25.8% in 2017–18.

Issues with MOOC and what classrooms offers

  • MOOC-based e-learning platforms tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning.
  • This misses the point that teaching and learning are skills that are always in the making.
  • The teacher is after all “an intellectual midwife” who facilitates in the birth of students’ ideas and insights through engaging in critical dialogue.
  • In a conducive classroom environment, this role is often switched and the student plays intellectual midwife to the teacher’s ideas.
  • Moving to a MOOC-based degree system would rob young teachers and students of these essential lessons in teaching and learning from each other.
  • Policymakers behind the SWAYAM platform have left out courses in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, agriculture, and physiotherapy on the grounds that they involve laboratory and practical work.
  • This move makes sense.
  • But it seems to suggest that the pure sciences, the arts, the social sciences, and humanities curricula are largely lecture- and theory-based, and, therefore, readily adaptable to the online platform.
  • Nothing can be farther from such a misconception.
  • Implicit in every curriculum is the tacit assumption that the classroom is a laboratory for hands-on testing of ideas, opinions, interpretations, and counterarguments.
  • A diverse and inclusive classroom is the best litmus test for any theory or insight.
  • Multidisciplinarity happens more through serendipity — when learners across disciplines bump into each other and engage in conversations.
  • Classroom and campus spaces offer the potential for solidarity in the face of discrimination, social anxiety, and stage fear, paving the way for a proliferation of voluntary associations that lie outside the realm of family, economy, and state.
  • In the absence of this physical space, teaching and learning would give way to mere content and its consumption.
  • Without a shared space to discuss and contest ideas, learning dilutes to just gathering more information.
  • This could also dilute norms of evaluation, whereby a “good lecture” might mean merely a lecture which “streams seamlessly, without buffering”. 

Online mode: add more value to the classroom education

  • One could think of greater value-sensitive and socially just architectures and technologies that further foster classroom engagement.
  • It also makes it accessible for students of various disabilities and challenges, thereby adding more value to the existing meaning of education.
  • But public education modelled on social distancing is a functional reduction and dilution of the meaning of education.
  • It could add value only as an addendum to the classroom. 

Consider the question “Examine the issues with wide adoption of the MOOC to address the problems education  sector in India faces.”

Conclusion

Such platforms must be seen only as stop-gap variants that help us get by under lockdown situations and complement classroom lectures.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Sahakar Mitra Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sahakar Mitra Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Ministry for Agriculture has launched Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP).

Note: Article 19 states that the Right to form co-operative societies is a Fundamental Right and DPSP Article 43-B provides for the promotion of co-operative societies.

Sahakar Mitra Scheme

  • The scheme is an initiative by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the cooperative sector development finance organization.
  • It aims to help cooperative institutions access innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns will gain experience of working in the field to be self-reliant.
  • The scheme is expected to assist cooperative institutions to access new and innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns gain experience of working in the field giving the confidence to be self-reliant.
  • Professional graduates in disciplines such as Agriculture and allied areas, IT etc. will be eligible for an internship.
  • Professionals who are pursuing or have completed their MBA degrees in Agri-business, Cooperation, Finance, International Trade, Forestry, Rural Development, Project Management etc. will also be eligible.
  • Each intern will get financial support over a 4 months internship period.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ‘India Rankings 2020’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIRF

Mains level : Not Much

The National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking list has been released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

Practice question for mains:

Q. What is NIRF? Discuss the parameters and methodology used in the ranking. Also, discuss its key features and limitations.

About NIRF

  • The NIRF is a methodology adopted by the Ministry of HRD to rank institutions of higher education in India.
  • The Framework was approved and on 29 September 2015.
  • There are separate rankings for different types of institutions depending on their areas of operation like universities and colleges, engineering institutions, management institutions, pharmacy institutions and architecture institutions.
  • The ranking framework evaluates institutions on five broad generic groups of parameters, i.e. Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR), Research and Professional Practice (RP), Graduation Outcomes (GO), Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) and Perception (PR).

Why need such rankings?

  • Rankings help universities to improve their performance on various ranking parameters and identify gaps in research and areas of improvement.
  • The ranking is necessary for transparency and healthy competition.

Highlights of the 2020 rankings

  • IIT Madras retains 1st Position in Overall Ranking as well as in Engineering,
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru tops the University list.
  • IIM Ahmedabad tops in Management Category and AIIMS occupies the top slot in Medical category for a third consecutive year.
  • Miranda College retains 1st position amongst colleges for a third consecutive year.
  • Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, Delhi secures 1st position in “Dental” category, dental institutions included for the first time in India Rankings 2020.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Nature Index, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nature Index

Mains level : NA

India has ranked twelfth, globally in science research output as per the recently-released Nature Index table 2020. The top five positions have gone to the United States of America, China, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan.

Note: This nature index has nothing to do with nature conservation. It has only mentioned the rankings of research institutes in natural and physical sciences.

What is the Nature Index?

  • The Nature Index is a database of author affiliation information collated from research articles published in an independently selected group of 82 high-quality science journals.
  • It serves as an indicator of high-quality research in the Natural and Physical Sciences.
  • The database is compiled by Nature Research, a division of the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature that publishes academic journals.
  • The index provides a close to the real-time proxy of high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, national and regional level.

India’s achievements

  • Globally the top-rated Indian institutions in this list are CSIR, a group of 39 institutions at the 160th position and IISc Bangalore at the 184th
  • Three of the autonomous institutions of the DST have found their place among the top 30 Indian Institutions.
  • Keeping out CSIR, which is a cluster of institutions, IACS Kolkata is among the top three institutions in quality Chemistry Research in India.
  • NCASR Banglore ranks 4th among academic institutions in life sciences, 10th in Chemistry and Physical Sciences, 10th among Indian academic institutions, and 469th in the global ranking.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Need for re-orientation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Improving the standard and status of State universities and problems faced by them?

Context

State universities will have to deliver more to the State where they are located

Status of the state universities in India

  • Significance of state universities: Out of about a thousand higher education institutions (HEIs) that are authorised to award degrees in India, about 400 are state public universities.
    • These state universities produce over 90% of our graduates (including those from the colleges affiliated to them) and contribute to about one-third of the research publications from this country.
  • Poor quality: That their quality and performance is poor in most cases is accepted as a given today.
    • It is evidenced by their poor performance in institutional rankings,
    • the poor employment status of their students,
    • rather poor quality of their publications,
    • negligible presence in national-level policy/decision-making bodies,
    • poor track record in receiving national awards and recognition, poor share in research funding and so on.
  • Stated reasons for poor performance– Commonly stated reasons for these observations include government/political interference in the management of the university, lack of autonomy, poor governance structures, corruption, poor quality of teachers, outdated curricula, plagiarism, poor infrastructure and facilities, overcrowding, evils of the “affiliation” system and poor linkages with alumni and industry.
    • Symptoms of the problem: While many of these observations are no doubt valid, they appear to be only the symptoms and consequences of some deeper malaise and not the underlying cause.

Core causative factors for the poor state of state universities

  • Lack of support: State universities are not supported the way Central universities are supported by the Central government as well as given patronage by the section of society.
    • It is as though State-level players do not have much stake in the stability and performance of the State university system.
    • What could be the reason for lack of support? One reason why State-level players do not feel compelled to back the State university system more strongly could be that the latter does not commit itself to anything that may be of particular interest and value to the State where the university is located.
  • What could be the solution? In order to receive much more funding and support from the State system then, State universities would have to commit to delivering lots more to the State and its people where they are located.
    • New vision and programmes: They must come up with a new vision and programmes specifically addressing the needs of the State, its industry, economy and society, and on the basis of it make the State-level players commit to providing full ownership and support to them.

Conclusion

The initiative to start a larger dialogue on the future of our State universities would have to be taken primarily by the academic community of these institutions.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level : Various initiaitves for rural transformation

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development has informed Lok Sabha about the progress of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA).

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 is the upgraded version of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 1.0.
  • The scheme is extended to all educational institutes; however, under UBA 2.0 Participating institutes are selected based on the fulfilment of certain criteria.

About UBA

  • It is a flagship programme of the Ministry of HRD, which aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with a set of at least 5 villages so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base.
  • It is a significant initiative where all Higher Learning Institutes have been involved for participation in development activities, particularly in rural areas.
  • It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors.
  • Currently under the scheme UBA, 13072 villages have been adopted by 2474 Institutes.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

World University Rankings by Subject 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : State of higher education in India

 

 

Indian higher-education institutes have improved their performance on the global stage, with a greater number getting ranked in the top-100 programs, according to the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Major findings of the report

  • IIT Bombay (44), IIT Delhi (47), IIT Kharagpur (86), IIT Madras (88) and IIT Kanpur (96) found place in top 100 of this category.
  • In the Natural Sciences category, three Indian institutions made it to the top 200: IIT-Bombay at 108th rank closely followed by the IISc, Bangalore at the 111th position, while IIT-Madras scraped in at the 195th rank.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University remained the country’s top institution in the Arts and Humanities category, with a global ranking of 162, followed at a distance by Delhi University at 231.
  • Delhi University topped the Social Sciences and Management category, with a global ranking of 160, followed by IIT-Delhi at 183.
  • There are no Indian institutions in the world’s top 200 when it comes to Life Sciences and Medicine.
  • The top institution in the country is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which had a global ranking of 231.
  • Other top subjects included physics & astronomy with 18 Indian institutes, biological sciences (16), electrical engineering (15), chemical engineering (14) and mechanical engineering (14).
  • MIT, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge has secured top three positions in the Engineering and Technology category.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

A disconnected pedagogy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Aligning national curriculum with the needs of the market and society.

Context

The gap between jobs, needs and knowledge, and the absence of role models, could be turning India’s demographic dividend into a nightmare.

National curriculum and problems with it

  • What is in our national curriculum? It is a fixed set of topics prescribed in all subjects — from physics to geography, and engineering to planning.
    • And it is taught in English at our elite MHRD institutions.
  • Designed by professionals: It has not been designed by politicians but by our elite professors and bureaucrats: It is what they believe the nation really needs to know.
  • Issue of imposition: It is imposed on ordinary students and parents through competitive exams and on colleges and universities through various central regulatory agencies, most egregiously, through the UGC-NET, an objective-type multiple-choice (!) exam that decides who is fit to be a college teacher.

Issues with the engineering curriculum

  • Doesn’t address the regional needs: We already know that the national engineering curriculum fails miserably in meeting regional needs.
    • No regional variation accounted for: Engineering for Himachal Pradesh needs to be different from that in Maharashtra or Kerala.
  • Not in sync with the demands of the industry: It must address the needs of core industries, local enterprises, the provisioning of basic amenities such as water and energy.
    • None of this is in our national curricula or practised at the IITs.
    • Moreover, there is no mechanism for engineering colleges to work with their communities.

Issue with the social science curriculum

  • No interdisciplinary courses: Let us look at the UGC-NET curricula, which is largely what is taught in our elite institutions.
    • At the BA level, it is divided into several disciplines — for instance, political science, sociology and economics.
    • This is unfortunate since much of life in India is interdisciplinary.
    • As a result, many activities such as preparing the balance sheet for a farmer, or analysing public transport needs, and development concerns such as drinking water or even city governance, are given a miss.
  • Example of economics curriculum: The UGC-NET curricula in economics has 10 units, the very last unit is Indian Economics. Unit 8 is on Growth and Development Economics, where the student must know Keynes, Marx, Kaldor, and others.
    • There are various mathematical models, for example, the IS-LM macroeconomic model, whose validity in the Indian scenario is questionable.
    • Absence of important sectors: The study of sectors such as small enterprises or basic economic services such as transportation is absent. The District Economic Survey, an important document prepared regularly by every state for each district, is not even mentioned.

Sociology curriculum and issues involved

  • Absence of certain important items: There is no preamble nor a list of textbooks or case studies.
    • Under “Social Institutions”, we have a list of timeless words such as culture, marriage, family and kinship.
    • Peasant occurs two times, but there is no farmer. Here is a sample question: “Who uses the phrase ‘fetishism of commodities’ while analysing social conditions?” followed by four names.
  • No mention of important data: There is also no mention of important data sets such as the census or developmental programmes including MGNREGA in either curriculum.

Conclusion

  • National curricula divorced from the community: The training at our elite institutions, and consequently, in the national curricula, is not to empower ordinary students to probe their lived reality. Or to contribute professionally and constructively to the development problems around us. Rather, it is to perpetuate a peculiar intellectualism which is divorced from the community in which these institutions are embedded.
  • Need to rethink the one-nation-one curriculum: One-nation-one-curriculum certainly has some advantages in enabling mobility of some jobs, especially in the national bureaucracy and a multinational economy.
    • Cost to the developmental needs: But one-nation-one-curriculum comes at the cost of the developmental needs of the states and the emergence of good jobs there.
  • Turning demographic dividend into a nightmare: The above-stated asymmetry is behind the aspirational dysfunction in higher education. It is this disconnect between jobs, needs and knowledge and the absence of role models, which is slowly turning our demographic dividend into a nightmare on the streets.

 

 

 

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Teaching the teacher

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Need to reform the teacher education system in India.

Context

Our teacher education system must be aligned with global standards.

Learning crisis and teacher vacancies in India

  • Teacher education as a status check on schooling education: Comparable to the role of a thermometer in diagnosing fever, an assessment of the quality of teacher education can be a status check on the schooling system.
    • Teachers remain at the heart of the issue, and translating schooling into learning is a critical challenge.
  • The gravity of learning crisis: The learning crisis is evident in the fact that almost half of the children in grade 5 in rural India cannot solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem,
    • While 67 per cent of children in grade 8 in public schools score less than 50 per cent in competency-based assessments in mathematics.
  • Teacher vacancies: India is dealing with a scenario of significant teacher vacancies, which are to the tune of almost 60-70 per cent in some states.
  • In fact, there are over one lakh single-teacher schools present across the country.
  • Excess teachers produced by TEIs: On the other hand, there are 17,000-odd Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) that are responsible for preparing teachers through programmes such as the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed), and Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed).
    • 19 lakh teachers every year: Taking their sanctioned intake into account, at full operation, these TEIs could generate over 19 lakh freshly trained teachers every year as against the estimated annual requirement of 3 lakh teachers.
    • To put things in perspective, currently, there are about 94 lakh teachers across all schools in India.
    • Every year, the teacher education system could, therefore, be producing one-fifth of the total number of school teachers.

The quality aspect of the teachers

  • Poor quality teachers: Not only are these TEIs generating a surplus supply of teachers, but they are also producing poor-quality teachers.
  • Pass percentage in eligibility test below 25%: Besides it being reflected in the dismal state of learning across schools, the pass-percentage in central teacher eligibility tests that stipulate eligibility for appointments as teachers has not exceeded 25 per cent in recent years.
    • This begs a pertinent question — how did we get here?

What are the reasons for such problems?

  • The answers lie in:  The inadequacies of planning, regulation, policy and organisational structures.
  • The role and issues in NCTE: The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and its four regional committees (north, south, east and west), established by statute, are responsible for teacher education in India.
    • Toothless in terms of powers: The Act assigns disproportionate power to the regional committees which grant programme affiliation while the Council has been rendered toothless.
  • Proliferation of sus-standard TEIs: Perverted incentives, widespread corruption and commercialisation have resulted in a massive proliferation of sub-standard TEIs.
    • In fact, while most of these TEIs are financially unviable, some function out of tiny rooms with duplicate addresses, and a few could even be selling degrees at a fixed price.
    • No system to ensure the entry of meritorious: These institutes function in isolation from the rest of the higher education system, and there is no system to assess and accredit them. Consequently, there is no systemic sieve to ensure the entry of only motivated and meritorious individuals into the teacher education space.
  • Disparity regional spread of TEIs: A more granular look reveals disparities across regions and programmes offered.
    • One-third in UP: Almost one-third of the TEIs are concentrated in Uttar Pradesh.
    • In fact, Ghazipur, a district in UP with a population of around one lakh, has a whopping 300 TEIs.
    • Approximately half of the total TEIs are in the northern region with Rajasthan having the second-largest number of institutes.
  • Poor planning: While there are about 17 recognised teacher education programmes, a majority of TEIs offer only B.Ed and D.El.Ed programmes.
    • This reinforces the point of poor planning as the country is actually facing a shortage of subject teachers in secondary schools and teacher-educators for whom a Master of Education (M.Ed) degree is a requisite (offered in less than 10 per cent of the TEIs).
  • Outdated curriculum: Adding to the mix of challenges is an outdated teacher preparation curriculum framework that was last updated over a decade ago.
  • Regulation by multiple agencies: On the governance front, multiple agencies have oversight on teacher education.

Way forward

  • Collect the credible data: Any reform initiative must be built on credible data.
    • No data available: To date, there is no accurate real-time database of the number and details of teacher education institutes, students enrolled and programmes offered.
    • How the data can be helpful? Such data could be used to create a comprehensive plan for the sector, devising the optimal number of TEIs, their regional spread and programme-wise intake.
    • One cannot but underscore the significance of proper planning. The teachers will concur.
  • Develop the system of assessment and accreditation: An accurate system of assessment and accreditation must be developed to ensure high-quality teacher education.
    • The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC), responsible for quality-standards in higher education, has only covered 30 per cent of all institutes since its establishment back in 1994.
    • Given the extensive landscape of the teacher education sector alone and current capacity constraints, it is necessary that multiple accreditation agencies be empanelled.
    • A common accreditation framework should be designed through a consultative process including all relevant stakeholders to facilitate its wider acceptability.
    • A transparent and credible system of accreditation could form the bedrock for weeding out substandard TEIs and propelling quality improvements in the rest.
  • The curriculum of global quality: Core determinant of quality is the curriculum which must be regularly revamped and revised to ensure that our teacher education system is aligned to global standards.
    • Ideally, given that teacher education requires a good mix of curricular inputs and good-quality pedagogy, experts are rightly advocating for a shift towards integrated four-year subject-specific programmes to be housed in multidisciplinary colleges and universities.
    • In the first phase, these may be initiated in select central and state universities.
    • Potential to outsource teachers: This could also potentially serve as an avenue for India to outsource its surplus high-quality teachers to over 70 countries that face a teacher shortage.
  • Administrative will and execution: Finally, reforms must be driven by administrative will and executed through a well-established governance mechanism, clearly establishing ownership and accountability for set work streams across multiple agencies.
    • The draft National Education Policy presents a ray of hope.
    • Its vision to restore integrity and credibility to the teacher education system needs to be translated into effective action.

Conclusion

India is estimated to have the largest workforce within the next decade. This means that a population bulge is on the cusp of entering the higher education ecosystem now. The pressing need of the hour is to focus on providing the best quality teacher education to those who aspire to build the future of this country.

 

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WEFFI

Mains level : Need for internationalization of Indian education system

 

 

India has jumped five ranks in the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019.

About WEFFI

  • The report is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit. The report and index were commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.
  • The index ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.
  • The report analyses the education system from the perspective of skill-based education “in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as digital and technical skills.”

Global scenario

  • Among the world’s largest economies, the US, UK, France and Russia all fell back in the index, while China, India and Indonesia took steps forward.
  • Finland was at the apex of the index, with strengths across each category followed by Sweden.

India’s performance

  • India ranked 35th on the overall index in 2019 with a total score of 53, based on three categories – policy environment, teaching environment and overall socio-economic environment.
  • India scored 56.3 in policy environment falling from a 61.5 score in 2018.
  • India’s score of 52.2 in the teaching environment category and 50.1 in the socio-economic environment category increased significantly from 32.2 and 33.3 in 2018 respectively.
  • Earlier, India ranked 40th with an overall score of 41.2 across categories in 2018.

What made India progress?

  • The report attributed India’s growth to the new education policy introduced by the government.
  • India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Union Budget 2020, had highlighted a
  • The New Education Policy announced in this year budget under ‘Aspirational India’ will focus on “greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.
  • The policy will focus further on skill-based education.

Various shortcomings highlighted

  • The 2018 WEFFI report had highlighted the shortcomings in India’s education system emphasizing upon its inability to utilise the opportunity of internationalizing its higher education system.
  • A decentralized education system is another shortcoming of India’s education policy according to the 2019 report.
  • Well-intentioned policy goals relating to future skills development often do not get filtered downward, a hazard in economies such as the US and India that have large, decentralized education systems, the report said.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GTCI 2020

Mains level : Unemployment in India

What is the news: The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) was recently published.

Performance Analysis

  • India has climbed eight places to 72nd rank in the GTCI which was topped by Switzerland, the US and Singapore.
  • Sweden (4th), Denmark (5th), the Netherlands (6th), Finland (7th), Luxembourg (8th), Norway (9th) and Australia (10th) complete the top 10 league table.
  • In the BRICS grouping, China was ranked 42nd, Russia (48th), South Africa (70th) and Brazil at 80th position.
  • This year’s GTCI report explores how the development of AI is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

About the GTCI report

  • It was started in 2013 and is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent, their ability to grow, attract and retain talent.
  • Theme for 2020 was ‘Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence’. It explores how the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.
  • Inequality: The report noted that the gap between high income, talent-rich nations and the rest of the world is widening. More than half of the population in the developing world lack basic digital skills.
  • About GTCI Report: It is launched by INSEAD, a partner and sponsor of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Davos, Switzerland recently.
  • INSEAD is one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools with locations all over the world and alliances with top institutions.
  • The report, which measures countries based on six pillars:
  1. enable
  2. attract
  3. grow
  4. retain talent
  5. vocation and technical skills
  6. global knowledge skills

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

SATCOM technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EDUNET

Mains level : Applications of SATCOM

The Rajasthan government has started using satellite communication technology in a big way to enhance the learning outcome in educational institutions and generate awareness about social welfare schemes while giving priority to the five aspirational districts selected by NITI Aayog in the State.

SATCOM

Rajasthan has taken an initiative to provide the facility of receive only terminals (ROT) and satellite interactive terminals (SIT) for getting the services of subject experts in the government schools and colleges and propagate various schemes in the remote areas with no Internet connectivity.

What are ROT and SIT?

  • Satellite Interactive Terminal (SIT) is one of the six selected user networks used by CEC-UGC.
  • It is operating independently with their user terminals anywhere in the main land of India.
  • It has one main teaching end along with remote SITs and ROTs.
  • At present, there are over hundred SITs and ROTs under CEC EDUSAT network, installed at various colleges, and Universities across the country.

Back2Basics

EDUSAT

  • EDUSAT is the first Indian Satellite built exclusively for serving the educational sector. It was launched in September 2004 by the ISRO.
  • The satellite based distance education system enables virtual classrooms at rural and remote locations across the country.
  • Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) has started two-way audio-video communication through EDUSAT network from 5th September 2005.
  • ISRO set up a nationwide multi-user educational network in its EDUSAT national Ku – band.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Explained: How Indian govt set up IITs with help from several countries

  • Recently a German student at IIT Madras was asked to leave the country “immediately”, days after he attended protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC.
  • As it happens, IIT Madras was established with the help of West German technical expertise more than six decades ago.
  • Apart from Madras, the Bombay, Kanpur, and Delhi IITs were also founded with assistance derived from foreign collaborations.

Why did India decide to rope in foreign countries for setting up IITs, and which countries helped?

  • The idea of developing modern engineering education took shape after British rule ended.
  • Then PM Jawaharlal Nehru implemented the blueprint with the first IIT, established at Kharagpur in the eastern part of India in July 1951.
  • Nehru wanted Indian engineering schools to be among the best in the world, so he enlisted some of the leading higher education institutions of the West to develop them.
  • Seeking external technical and financial help was also inevitable as national resources were inadequate for the task.
  • Help from different countries also meant a diversified engineering and technical education system would result.
  • Politically, such an amalgamation fit with Nehru’s vision of nonalignment with any superpower.

The First IIT

  • The first IIT at Kharagpur in West Bengal established in 1951 drew faculty members from the US, UK, Ireland, France, USSR, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Poland.

IIT Bombay – USSR

  • For the second IIT at Bombay, the UNESCO arranged the donation of equipment and technical expertise from the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries in 1956.
  • The institute has received substantial assistance in the form of equipment and expert services from the USSR through the UNESCO from 1956 to 1973.
  • Under the bilateral agreement of 1965, the Government of USSR provided additional assistance to supplement the Aid Programme already received by the institute through UNESCO.

IIT Madras – West Germany

  • The third IIT was set up in 1959 after the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) offered assistance to set up the institute during PM Nehru’s visit to the country in 1956.
  • Subsequently, an Indo-German agreement was signed at Bonn in 1959 which provided for the services of German professors and training facilities for Indian faculty members and the supply of scientific and technical equipment.

IIT Kanpur – USA

  • Established in 1959, this IIT was developed under collaboration with American researchers as part of the Kanpur Indo-American Programme.
  • During the period 1962-72, the Institute received technical assistance under KIAP from a consortium of nine leading Institutions of USA.
  • Under the program, faculty members from these Institutions assisted the Institute in the setting up of the academic programs and development of laboratories for instruction as well as research.

IIT Delhi – UK

  • This was the fifth IIT, established in 1961.
  • The GoI negotiated with the British Government for collaboration in setting up an Institute of Technology at Delhi.
  • The British Government agreed in principle to such a collaboration, but were inclined initially to start in a modest way.
  • It was therefore agreed that a College of Engineering & Technology should be established at Delhi with their assistance.
  • Later H.R.H. Prince Philips, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to India, laid the foundation stone of the College at Hauz Khas on January 28, 1959.

Back2Basics

Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)

  • The IITs are autonomous public institutes of higher education governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961.
  • This act has declared them as institutions of national importance and lays down their powers, duties, and framework for governance.
  • Each IIT is autonomous, linked to the others through a common council (IIT Council), which oversees their administration.
  • The Minister of Human Resource Development is the ex officio Chairperson of the IIT Council.
  • The resident of India is the most powerful person in the organizational structure of Indian Institutes of Technology, being the ex officio Visitor and having residual powers.
  • In the 2019 QS World University Ranking, IIT Bombay ranked highest at 162, followed by IIT Delhi (172), IIT Madras (264), IIT Kanpur (283), IIT Kharagpur (295), IIT Roorkee (381) and IIT Guwahati (472).

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] EChO Network

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EChO Network

Mains level : Need for inter-disciplinary approach

EChO network to catalyze cross-disciplinary leadership in India has been recently launched.

EChO Network

  • It is a national program to provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India with the specific focus of increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment has been launched.
  • The purpose of this Network is to bring all those together to share knowledge and synergize efforts under the umbrella of science.
  • It aims to train a new generation of educators and students who can identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner to tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.

Whose initiative?

The initiative has drawn in partners from Government, industry and academia, with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India steering the program under the guidance of Prof. Shannon Olsson, Director, EChO Network.

Significance

  • India faces unprecedented threats to its human environmental and ecosystems, solving which requires a confluence of India’s strong technological expertise and knowledge of the natural world itself.
  • EChO Network would develop a national network to catalyse a new generation of Indians who can synthesize interdisciplinary concepts and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.
  • With no precedent for such a network anywhere in the world, EChO Network establishes a new platform to change how science is embedded in our modern society.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[oped of the day] The many structural flaws in India’s higher education system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Institutions of Eminence

Mains level : Higher Education quality in India

Context

The furore surrounding fee hikes at the Jawaharlal Nehru University has spurred deeper questions about the quality of university education. 

Higher Education

    • India’s higher education system is structurally flawed and underfunded.
    • This crisis will affect innovation and human capital, the two pillars of labour productivity and GDP growth.
    • It will hurt India’s largest demographic of its potential.

Fault Lines

    • A surge in women’s enrolment does not necessarily imply better outcomes. 
    • ‘India Skills Report’ suggests that only 47% of Indian graduates are employable.
    • India has startlingly low faculty figures.

Faculty shortage

    • Faculty vacancies at government institutions are at 50% on average. 
    • A Deloitte gathering of 63 Deans of top-tier institutions revealed that 80% listed lack of quality faculty as their biggest concern. 
    • The problem lies in increased demand and stagnant supply. 
    • The number of institutions has surged in India since the 2000s, while the number of students doing PhD has remained constant. 
    • There are over a 1,00,000 India-born PhDs in universities around the world. They are kept away by paltry salaries and poor funding. 
    • China attracted Chinese-origin PhDs back home with dollar salaries and monetary incentives for published research. 
    • Tsinghua University is designed on the Western model of teaching and research and is even ahead of MIT in terms of published papers.

The problem of Indian universities

    • Indian universities separate research and teaching activities, depriving students of exposure to cutting-edge ideas. 
    • Monetary incentives for academia are practically non-existent.
    • Indian R&D expenditure at 0.62% of GDP is one of the lowest in emerging economies. 
    • Indian universities rank low in both research and teaching. 
    • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, at rank 155, was our highest in the Scimago Institutions Rankings (SIR) for research. 6 Chinese institutes figured in the top 50.

Macroeconomic impact

    • These flaws could affect macroeconomic indicators such as labour productivity, determined by innovation and human capital. 
    • The workers of tomorrow need to transition to the formal, non-agricultural sector, with higher education credentials.
    • An increase in research could lead to more innovation in the economy. It might drive up labour productivity. 
    • The Draft National Education Policy (DNEP) proposed ambitious reforms. It aims to double education spending to 6% of GDP and close the research-teaching divide in higher education. 
    • It is coupled with an ‘Institutions of Eminence’ programme started in 2018 that gave increased funding to some research universities. 

Challenges

    • The dramatic increases may not be politically feasible.
    • The implementation of such reforms may go the path of previous NEPs — watered down and eventually shelved.

Way ahead

    • The government needs to ensure that higher education’s role in innovation and human capital is not ignored. 
    • The reforms must be pushed through and must lead to legislation that will fund research-based universities. 
    • Only this can bring a culture of discovery and accountability to India’s higher education institutions.

Back2Basics

Institutions of Eminence

Institution of Eminence Scheme

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

PISA test

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PISA test

Mains level : Significance of PISA examination


Students of Chandigarh’s government schools gears up to represent India in the Programme for International Student Assessment test in 2021.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

  • The PISA is a study done to produce comparable data on education policy and outcomes across countries.
  • It is initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries,
  • The study, which began in the year 2000, conducts a test evaluating 15-year-olds in member and non-member countries to assess the quality and inclusivity of school systems in these countries.
  • The PISA test is held every three years and the next test will be held in 2021, in which students from government schools in Chandigarh will represent India.

Who sets the test?

  • The test is set by educational experts from across the world.
  • Until now, experts from more than eighty countries have contributed towards framing the test questions, mostly from countries that have already participated in the test.

What does the test entail?

  • Unlike conventional tests and exams, the PISA test does not assess students on their memory, but attempts to evaluate whether students can apply the knowledge they have gained through primary and secondary education.
  • Apart from subjects like math, reading comprehension and science; since 2015 the test also includes an optional section on innovative subjects such as collaborative problem-solving and financial literacy.
  • Further, it evaluates whether students can solve mathematical problems or explain phenomena through scientific thinking or interpretation of text.
  • The test is taken in the language of instruction that the students are familiar with.

Who gives the test?

  • There is no hard and fast rule on who can apply to take the test and who cannot. Countries usually volunteer to take the test.
  • In case, making all 15-year-olds in the country take the test is not feasible, regions are identified within the country where the test can be conducted.
  • Within the region, individual schools are chosen which are approved by the PISA governing board and evaluated using stringent criteria. These schools represent the country’s education system.

What is the aim of the test?

  • The aim of the test is not to rank the countries which volunteer to participate in the evaluation, but to give a comprehensive analysis of how education systems are working in terms of preparing its students for higher education and subsequent employment.
  • After collecting results from across the world, experts translate these results into data points which are evaluated to score the countries.
  • If a country scores well, it suggests that not only does it has an effective education system but an inclusive one, in which students from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds perform equally well.
  • Further, the test evaluates whether the education system in these countries teach students adequate social and community skills, which will enable the students to excel holistically as a member of the workforce.
  • OECD also hopes that the test will allow countries to learn from each other about effective education policies and improve their own systems, using others as examples.

How has India performed in the PISA test?

  • India has participated in the PISA test only once before, in 2009.
  • In this round of PISA, where students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu sat for the test, India ranked 72nd out of 73 countries, outranking only Kyrgistan.
  • Since then, India has strayed away from the test until now, for students from Chandigarh will be sitting for the test in 2021.
  • Approximately 1.75 lakh students from government schools in Chandigarh, along with 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas and 3,000 Kendra Vidyalayas will take the three-hour long PISA test in 2021.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

QS World University Rankings for Asia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QS World University Rankings for Asia

Mains level : State of higher education in India


In the latest QS World University Rankings for Asia, 96 Indian institutions rank among 550 for the continent.

About the rankings

  • QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • It was previously known as Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings.

Toppers

  • The National University of Singapore is ranked Asia’s best for the second consecutive year.
  • It is followed by Nanyang Technological University, which has risen from 3rd to 2nd; and the University of Hong Kong.

India’s performance

  • The best performing institution from India is IIT Bombay, which drops one place to 34th position. It is followed by IIT Delhi at 43rd place and IIT Madras at 50th.
  • IIT Bombay is the best Indian university in the ‘Academic Reputation’ indicator, which utilises the insights of over 94,000 academics regarding university quality.
  • It ranks 32nd in Asia in this dimension. IIT Delhi (34th) and the University of Delhi (50th) are next.
  • In the ‘Employer Reputation’ indicator, which utilises the insights of over 44,000 employers regarding the quality of a university’s graduates, IIT Bombay ranks 21st in Asia.
  • There are four other Indian universities among the top 50 (IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, University of Delhi and IIT Kharagpur).
  • India dominates the ‘Staff with PhD’ indicator with seven institutions achieving the perfect 100.00 score and raking No. 1 tied in this metric. All seven are IITs — Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Patna, and Ropar.
  • In the research indicators, India boasts five universities among the top 50 in the ‘Citations per Paper’ metric, and six among the top 50 in the ‘Papers per Faculty’ metric.

Comparison with China

  • Only Mainland China is more represented than India, with 118 featured universities.
  • While Mainland China has four in the top 10 this year, India does not yet have a university among the top 30.
  • The 96 Indian universities featured in the rankings include eight among the top 100, and 31 among the top 250. Of these 31, 18 dropped compared to last year, 12 gained ground and one remained stable.
  • Of the 96 Indian universities ranked, 20 are brand-new entries.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Kartavya Portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kartavya Portal

Mains level : Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan

Union HRD Minister has launched the kartavya.ugc.ac.in portal on the occasion of ‘Constitution Day’ as a part of countrywide year long Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan.

Kartavya Portal

  • The portal will be used primarily for holding monthly essay competitions for students as well as other activities like quizzes, debates, poster making etc pertaining to Nagrik Kartavya Paalan Abhiyan.
  • This will make them aware that rights are automatically realized when we follow our duties religiously.
  • This principle will help the students to channelize their talents and capabilities in the right direction which will help them realize their mission with ease.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

IMD World Talent Ranking Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : HRD in India

India has slipped 6 places to 59th rank on a global annual list of 63 countries, according to the latest edition of IMD World Talent Ranking, which was topped by Switzerland.

IMD World Talent Ranking

  • The ranking is based on the performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.
  • Switzerland retained its title as the world’s top talent hub, while Europe lead the way in fostering the best conditions for competitiveness in a skills-scarce global economy.
  • Denmark was placed second and Sweden, was in the third place.
  • The Top 10 was completed by Austria (4th), Luxembourg (5th), Norway (6th), Iceland (7th), Finland (8th), the Netherlands (9th) and Singapore (10th).
  • The countries at the top of the rankings share strong levels of investment in education and a high quality of life.

India’s low performance

  • India ranked low due to low quality of life and expenditure on education.
  • India is also lagging behind fellow BRICs countries – China ranked 42nd on the list, Russia (47th) and South Africa (50th).
  • India also witnessed one of the sharpest declines among Asian economies owing to low quality of life, negative impact of brain drain, and the low priority of its economy on attracting and retaining talents.

Other Asian neighbours

  • Meanwhile, China ranked in the lower half of the index. China (42nd) fell 3 places due to low ranking on government expenditure per student, cost of living index and exposure to particle pollution.
  • In Asia, Singapore, along with Hong Kong SAR (15th) and Taiwan (20th) lead in terms of talent competitiveness due to the readiness of talent pool.
  • Singapore rose from 13th to 10th position compared to last year, Hong Kong SAR from 18th to 15th, and Taiwan from 27th to 20th.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

QS India Ranking 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QS India Ranking 2020

Mains level : State of higher education in India

  • The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) India Rankings 2020 was recently released.

Top institutions in India

About QS Rankings

  • The British higher education analysts QS has ranked the higher education institutions in India on the basis eight parameters which have different weightage.
  • The eight parameters with their weightage are academic reputation (30%), employer reputation (20%), faculty student ratio (20%), staff with PhD (10%), Papers per faculty (10%), citation per paper (5%), international faculty (2.5%) and international students (2.5%).
  • This is the second time QS has published separate ranking for top institutions in India.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[oped of the day] Let’s use cognitive science insights for better learning

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Teaching and education methods based on neuroscience

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

Insights about how the human brain gathers and stores information have been accumulating for over a hundred years. But there’s a gap in mainstream education: good pedagogical practice—applying cognitive science has often taken a back-seat to convenience, scale and tradition. 

Better learning – redesign of existing education systems

    • We learn best in about 10-minute chunks
      • This is related to the way we form short-term memories in the brain. 
      • If learning exceeds that time, the mind begins to wander.
      • Lectures need to be extremely short to be effective. 
      • Recorded lectures, enabling viewers to pause, rewind or speed up a video, offer personalization, where students can learn at their own pace.
      • Learning through regular in-person lectures does not offer this flexibility.
    • Testing effect – When a learner is tested frequently about the material that she has just learnt, learning is better
      • For example, a learner who is given weaker cues for the test, and therefore struggles more to recall material, will learn better.
    • Spaced practice – Testing is best when spaced out over weeks or months.
      • This flies in the face of a prevalent approach of mass practice, in which a student might address a number of problems at the end of a chapter in a short span of time. 
      • This applies not just to academic learning, but also to sports and motor driving.
    • Fourth, content is best absorbed when topics are interspaced with one another.
      • A common practice in education is to take up topics in blocks: multiplication one day, say, followed by division a week later. 
      • Research points to the benefits of interleaving practice. 
    • Fill in the blankNovices have fewer predefined schema to digest new information. They suffer from high cognitive load because the working memory available is limited.
    • Tactile experience – in which a student physically feels angular momentum, or gestures to capture a phenomenon, have been shown to result in better learning than if the learning is purely abstract. 
    • Prototyping technologies such as 3D printing, Lego Mindstorms, the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, App Inventor, and even the programming language Python, enable hands-on learning. 
    • Project-based learning, problem-based learning, and task-oriented learning are all techniques that give students more agency and purpose. 
    • Techniques such as game-based learning can lead a student through a series of tasks and create an environment where learning occurs naturally. An example is World Without Oil, an alternate reality game that leads players through a post-oil world, forcing them to think about the implications of an oil shock.

Conclusion

We know far more about how we learn today than we did some decades ago. Yet, we are not applying these insights to education. Modern schools and universities must adopt newer pedagogical models and break away from centuries-old norms.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Ramanujan Prize

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramanujan Prize

Mains level : Not Much


  • The SASTRA Ramanujan prize for 2019 will be awarded to mathematician Adam Harper, Assistant Professor with the University of Warwick, England.

Ramanujan prize

  • Every year, this prize is awarded by SASTRA University on its campus near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, on Ramanujan’s birth anniversary, December 22.
  • The prize carries a citation and an award of $10,000 and is conferred annually on mathematicians from across the world who are less than 32 years of age, working in an area influenced by the genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • The age limit is 32 years to commemorate the fact that Srinivasa Ramanujan accomplished a phenomenal body of work in this short span.
  • The Award has gained global repute ever since it was instituted in 2005 and today is easily amongst the top five awards of this type for mathematics.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Inequality of another kind

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala Judgment

Mains level : Expanded scope of Art. 21

Context     

  • Recently, in Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court declared the right to Internet access as a fundamental right forming a part of the right to privacy and the right to education under Article 21.
  • While this is a welcome move, it is important to recognise the right to Internet access as an independent right.

Digital inequality

  • Inequality is a concept that underpins most interventions focussed on social justice and development.
  • It resembles the mythological serpent Hydra in Greek mythology — as the state attempts to deal with one aspect of inequality, many new aspects keep coming up.
  • In recent times, several government and private sector services have become digital. Some of them are only available online.
  • This leads to a new kind of inequality, digital inequality, where social and economic backwardness is exacerbated due to information poverty, lack of infrastructure, and lack of digital literacy.

Indian case

  • According to the Deloitte report, ‘Digital India: Unlocking the Trillion Dollar Opportunity’, in mid-2016, digital literacy in India was less than 10%.
  • We are moving to a global economy where knowledge of digital processes will transform the way in which people work, collaborate, consume information, and entertain themselves.
  • This has been acknowledged in the SDGs as well as by the Indian government and has led to the Digital India mission.

Benefits of Digital Equality

  • Offering services online has cost and efficiency benefits for the government and also allows citizens to bypass lower-level government bureaucracy.
  • However, in the absence of Internet access and digital literacy enabling that access, there will be further exclusion of large parts of the population, exacerbating the already existing digital divide.

The economics behind

  • Moving governance and service delivery online without the requisite progress in Internet access and digital literacy also does not make economic sense.
  • For instance, Common Service Centres, which operate in rural and remote locations, are physical facilities which help in delivering digital government services and informing communities about government initiatives.
  • While the state may be saving resources by moving services online, it also has to spend resources since a large chunk of citizens cannot access these services.
  • The government has acknowledged this and has initiated certain measures in this regard.
  • The Bharat Net programme, aiming to have an optical fibre network in all gram panchayats, is to act as the infrastructural backbone for having Internet access all across the country.

The importance of digital literacy

  • Internet access and digital literacy have implications beyond access to government services.
  • Digital literacy allows people to access information and services, collaborate, and navigate socio-cultural networks.
  • In fact, the definition of literacy today must include the ability to access and act upon resources and information found online.

What’s so special with the recent judgement?

  • The Kerala HC judgment acknowledges the role of the right to access Internet in accessing other fundamental rights.
  • It is imperative that the right to Internet access and digital literacy be recognised as a right in itself.
  • In this framework the state would have-
  1. a positive obligation to create infrastructure for a minimum standard and quality of Internet access as well as capacity-building measures which would allow all citizens to be digitally literate and
  2. a negative obligation prohibiting it from engaging in conduct that impedes, obstructs or violates such a right.

Expanded scope

  • A right to Internet access would also further provisions given under Articles 38(2) [minimising inequalities in income] and 39 [right to an adequate means of livelihood] of the Constitution.
  • It has now become settled judicial practice to read fundamental rights along with DPSP with a view to defining the scope and ambit of the former.

For an ‘information society’

  • Unequal access to the Internet creates and reproduces socio-economic exclusions.
  • It is important to recognise the right to Internet access and digital literacy to alleviate this situation, and allow citizens increased access to information, services, and the creation of better livelihood opportunities.

Conclusion

  • The courts have always interpreted Article 21 as a broad spectrum of rights considered incidental and/or integral to the right to life.
  • Recognising this right will also make it easier to demand accountability from the state, as well as encourage the legislature and the executive to take a more proactive role in furthering this right.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AISHE, Various terms mentioned

Mains level : Key highlights of the survey

  • Union HRD Ministry has released the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19.
  • AISHE 2018-19 findings are based on the responses from 962 universities, 38,179 colleges and 9,190 standalone institutions.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE)

  • To portray the status of higher education in the country, Ministry of HRD has endeavored to conduct an annual web-based All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) since 2010-11.
  • The survey covers all the Institutions in the country engaged in higher education.
  • Data is being collected on several parameters such as teachers, student enrolment, programmes, examination results, education finance, and infrastructure.
  • Indicators of educational development such as Institution Density, Gross Enrolment Ratio, Pupil-teacher ratio, Gender Parity Index, Per Student Expenditure will also be calculated from the data collected through AISHE.

Highlights of the survey

Fall in professional education pursuance

  • The government defines professional education as higher education programmes that are meant for students to acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies for a specific profession or a class of occupations.
  • Student’s enrolment in B.Tech and M.Tech programmes has seen a dramatic fall.
  • This has led to an overall dip in enrolment in professional courses, which has hit a four-year low.
  • Since the academic year 2015-16, the number of students pursuing professional courses at the undergraduate level has decreased by 7,21,506 (roughly 9%).
  • Enrolment in PG professional programmes dropped by almost 32%, from 18,07,646 in 2015-16 to 12,36,404 in 2018-19.

Fall in enrolment

  • The drastic dip comes at a time when student enrolment in higher education is at an all-time high.
  • According to the survey, total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 3.74 crore, as opposed to 3.66 crore the year before.
  • The waning popularity of professional degrees seems to have renewed interest in academics.

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)

  • GER is a statistical measure for determining the number of students enrolled in UG, PG and research-level studies within the country and expressed as a percentage of the population in the 18-23 years age group.
  • According to AISHE 2018-19, the present GER in higher education is 26.3%, up from 25.8% in 2017-18.

Gender Parity on rise

  • Gender Parity Index (GPI), the female: male ratio in higher education measures progress towards gender equity.
  • Out of the total 3.74 crore students in higher education in 2018-19, 1.92 crore are men, and 1.82 crore are women.
  • The GPI has increased over the last five years, from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1 in 2018-19.

Humanities is more popular

  • The highest number of students are enrolled in Arts courses.
  • The total number of students enrolled in Arts courses are 93.49 lakh, of which 46.96% are male and 53.03% are female.
  • Science is the second major stream with 47.13 lakh students, of which 49% are male and 51% are female.
  • Commerce is the third major stream with 40.3 lakh students enrolled. The share of male students enrolled in Commerce is 51.2%, whereas female enrolment is 48.8%,” the survey states.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] NEAT Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NEAT Scheme

Mains level : Applications of AI in HRD

  • Ministry of HRD has announced a new PPP Scheme, National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) for using technology for better learning outcomes in Higher Education.

NEAT Scheme

  • MHRD proposes to launch and operationalize NEAT in early November 2019.
  • The objective is to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customised as per the requirements of the learner.
  • This requires development of technologies in Adaptive Learning to address the diversity of learners.
  • There are a number of start-up companies developing this and MHRD would like to recognise such efforts and bring them under a common platform so that learners can access it easily.
  • Educating the youth is a National effort and MHRD proposes to create a National Alliance with such technology developing EdTech Companies through a PPP model.

 Role of MoHRD

  • MHRD would act as a facilitator to ensure that the solutions are freely available to a large number of economically backward students.
  • MHRD would create and maintain a National NEAT platform that would provide one-stop access to these technological solutions.
  • EdTech companies would be responsible for developing solutions and manage registration of learners through the NEAT portal. They would be free to charge fees as per their policy.
  • As their contribution towards the National cause, they would have to offer free coupons to the extent of 25% of the total registrations for their solution through NEAT portal.
  • MHRD would distribute the free coupons for learning to the most socially/economically backward students.

Implementation

  • AICTE would be the implementing agency for NEAT programme.
  • The scheme shall be administered under the guidance of an Apex Committee constituted by MHRD.
  • Independent Expert Committees would be constituted for evaluating and selecting the EdTech solutions.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Jeevan Kaushal Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jeevan Kaushal Programme

Mains level : Importance of life skills

Jeevan Kaushal Programme

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched a “life skills” (Jeevan Kaushal) programme in the curriculum for under-graduate courses across the country.
  • The new programme, which for 8 credit points, can be accommodated in any semester and is aimed at inculcating emotional and intellectual competencies in students develop verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • The programme will comprise four courses – communication, professional, leadership and universal human values and skills.
  • The programme will focus on team work, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • It will be effective tools in helping students develop practical knowledge that helps them when they start their careers and become responsible citizens.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

World University Rankings 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : State of higher education in India


  • The World University Rankings was recently released by the UK-based Times Higher Education.
  • Oxford University continues to lead the rankings table followed by California Institute of Technology and University of Cambridge. Stanford University and MIT complete the top five table.

No Indian university this year

  • For the first time since 2012, no Indian institution featured among the top 300.
  • The country’s best performing institution, IISc-Bangalore, slipped 50 places from the 251-300 ranking cohort into the 301-350 bracket.
  • The dip was on account of a significant fall in its citation impact score offsetting improvements in research environment, teaching environment and industry income.

Why India slipped?

  • The best Indian institutions are generally characterized by relatively strong scores for teaching environment and industry income.
  • But they perform poorly when it comes to international outlook in comparison to both regional and international counterparts.

No mean downgrade

  • Even as India dropped out of the top 300, it increased its representation in the rankings from 49 universities last year to 56 this time.
  • As a result, India holds on to its place as the fifth most-represented nation in the world and the third most-represented in Asia (behind Japan and mainland China).
  • It has eight more universities than Germany, which is sixth in the country ranking, but 25 fewer than China.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Institution of Eminence Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the scheme

Mains level : Outreach of the scheme

Status granted to new institutions

  • The HRD Ministry has awarded the status of Institute of Eminence to the IIT-Madras, the IIT-Kharagpur, Delhi University, Benares Hindu University and the University of Hyderabad.
  • Four private universities — the Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Jamia Hamdard University and the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology — were issued Letters of Intent to grant them the status.
  • The new greenfield Bharti Institute, a project of Satya Bharti Foundation, has also been issued the letter.

Significance

  • These institutions will not be subject to UGC inspections, and are free to set their own courses and curriculum, fee structure and merit-based admission systems.
  • Each university will be required to sign a MoU with the Ministry, laying out its plan to achieve the objective of becoming a world-class institution.
  • They will have complete academic, administrative and financial autonomy.
  • The public institutions on the list will then be eligible for a government grant of ₹1,000 crore.

Back2Basics

Institutions of Eminence scheme

  • This scheme under the Union HRD ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  • The selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  • Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

What will be the benefit for such institutions?

  1. It will ensure complete autonomy to the selected institutions and facilitate them to grow more rapidly
  2. They will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education
  3. To achieve the top world ranking, these Institutions shall be provided with
  • greater autonomy  to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students
  • to recruit foreign faculty up to 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses up to 20% of its programmes
  • to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC
  • free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction
  • the flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree
  • complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] NISHTHA Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NISHTHA

Mains level : About the initiative


  • Union HRD Ministry has launched the National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level- NISHTHA.

About NISHTHA

  • NISHTHA stands for National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement.
  • It is the largest teachers’ training programme of its kind in the world.
  • The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
  • The initiative is first of its kind wherein standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs.
  • However, States and UTs can contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.
  • A Mobile App and Learning Management System (LMS) based on MOODLE (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) have been developed by NCERT.
  • LMS will be used for registration of Resource Persons and Teachers, dissemination of resources, training gap and impact analysis, monitoring, mentoring and measuring the progress online.

Training program

  • The Minister informed that the training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs.
  • They will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Kendriya Vidyalaya (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), CBSE and NGOs.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

e-Rozgar Samachar launched to spread awareness about job opportunities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ministry and details of the magazine

Mains level : Nothing much

The e-version of Rozgar Samachar has been launched by the Minister of Information & Broadcasting.

Objectives

  1. Make aspirants aware of job opportunities in government sector including public sector enterprises
  2. Provide information and guidance about admission and career opportunities in various streams through career-oriented articles
  3. Meet the emerging challenge of young readers switching to electronic modes of communication

Background

  1. Rozgar Samachar is the corresponding version of Employment News
  2. Employment News is the flagship weekly job journal from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  3. It was launched in 1976 with a view to providing information on employment opportunities to the unemployed and underemployed youth of the country
  4. The job journal provides information related to job vacancies, job oriented training programs, admission notices related to job oriented exams of :
    1. Ministries/Departments/Offices/Organizations/Autonomous bodies/ Societies/ PSUs of the Central Government, State Government, and UT Administrations
    2. Nationalised banks/ RRBs /UPSC/SSC/ Constitutional and Statutory bodies
    3. Central/State Governments Universities/ Colleges/Institutes recognized by the UGC/AICTE
  5. It also provides editorial content on socio-economic issues and career guidance that helps youth in broadening their horizons

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

‘Paramarsh’ Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme

Mains level : Nothing Much

CONTEXT

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” launched Paramarsh’ – a University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

Aim of Scheme

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said the scheme will be a paradigm shift in the concept of mentoring of institution by another well performing institution to upgrade their academic performance and enable them to get accredited by focusing in the area of curricular aspects, teaching-learning & evaluation, research, innovation, institutional values & practices etc.

The scheme is expected to have a major impact in addressing a national challenge of improving the quality of Higher Education in India.

Hub and Spoke Model

  • The Minister informed that the Scheme will be operationalized through a “Hub & Spoke” model wherein the Mentor Institution, called the “Hub” is centralized and will have the responsibility of guiding the Mentee institution through the secondary branches the “Spoke” through the services provided to the mentee for self improvement.
  • This allows a centralized control over operational efficiency, resource utilization to attain overall development of the mentee institution.

Mentee Institutions

  • He further informed that scheme will lead to enhancement of overall quality of the Mentee Institutions and enhance its profile as a result of improved quality of research, teaching and learning methodologies.
  • Mentee Institution will also have increased exposure and speedier adaptation to best practices. “Paramarsh” scheme will also facilitate sharing of knowledge, information and opportunities for research collaboration and faculty development in Mentee Institutions.

Conclusion

This “Paramarsh” scheme will target 1000 Higher Education Institutions for mentoring with a specific focus on quality as enumerated in the UGC “Quality Mandate”. Mentor-Mentee relationship will not only benefit both the institutions but also provide quality education to the 3.6 crore students who are enrolling to Indian Higher Education system at present.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the bill, President's assent

Mains level : Particulars of the Bill

  • The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.
  • The Bill will now be sent for President’s assent.

About the Bill

  • The Bill replaces the “The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019”.
  • The new bill considers the University/College as one unit restoring earlier reservation system based on 200 point roster.
  • No longer will ‘Department/Subject’ be treated as one unit.
  • This decision will:
  1. Allow up of more than 7000 existing vacancies in Central Educational Institutions and pave the way for filling up 3 lakh vacancies in the Government (Central and State) Educational institutions by direct recruitment in Teacher’s Cadre.
  2. Ensure compliance of the Constitutional Provisions of Articles 14, 16 and 21.
  3. Ensure full representation of the Scheduled Castes/ the Scheduled Tribes, the socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections in direct recruitment in teachers’ cadres.
  • This decision is also expected to improve the teaching standards in the higher educational institutions by attracting all eligible talented candidates belonging SCs/STs/SEBCs/EWS.
  • It will also ensure providing of 10% reservation to EWS.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : STRIDE Scheme

Mains level : Trans-disciplinary Research in India

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a new scheme – ‘Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy’ (STRIDE).

STRIDE Scheme

  • STRIDE will provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant.
  • It shall support research capacity building as well as basic, applied and transformational action research that can contribute to national prioritiers with focus on inclusive human development.
  • It shall support creation, development and integration of new ideas, concepts and practices for public good and strengthening civil society.
  • It will strengthen research culture and innovation in colleges and Universities and help students and faculty to contribute towards India’s developing economy with help of collaborative research.

 A move for Trans-disciplinary research

  • Trans-disciplinary research is a team effort of investigators from different disciplines to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological innovations that integrates and transcends beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem.
  • Trans-disciplinary research goes beyond mere production of knowledge and extends to the practical use of the knowledge outside academic endeavour.
  • In essence, it takes into consideration the societal impact of knowledge enunciating as what should be the main aim of research.
  • It creates unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives and solve problems by going beyond the boundaries of disciplines to involve various stakeholders.
  • Trans-disciplinary research generates knowledge through use of multi and inter-disciplinary concepts and integrates new theories among science and society.

Objectives

  • To identify young talent, strengthen research culture, build capacity, and promote innovation and support trans-disciplinary research for India’s developing economy and national development.
  • To fund multi institutional network high-impact research projects in humanities and human sciences.

Components of the Scheme

Component-1

  • It will endeavour to identify the motivated young talents with research and innovation aptitude in universities and colleges.
  • It will provide research capacity building in diverse disciplines by mentoring, nurturing and supporting young talents to innovate pragmatic solutions for local, regional, national and global problems.
  • This component is open to all disciplines for grant upto 1 crore.

Component-2

  • It will be mainly to enhance problem solving skills with help of social innovation and action research to improve wellbeing of people and contribute for India’s developing economy.
  • Collaborations between universities, government, voluntary organizations and industries is encouraged under this scheme.
  • This component is open to all disciplines for grant upto 50 lakh – 1 crore.

Component-3

  • It will fund high impact research projects in the identified thrust areas inhumanities and human sciences through national network of eminent scientists from leading institutions.
  • Disciplines eligible for funding under this component include: Philosophy, History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Psychology, Liberal Arts, Linguistics, Indian Languages and Culture, Indian Knowledge Systems, Law, Education, Journalism, Mass Communication, Commerce, Management, Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • Grant available for this component is upto 1 crore for one HEI and upto 5 crores for multi institutional network.
  • To encourage high quality high impact research in humanities, there is a provision to identify experts and invite them to develop a proposal.
  • UGC is also proposing to provide a grant of Rs 2 lakh for developing proposals.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EQUIP Programme

Mains level : Promoting India as a global study destination

  • The HRD Ministry has finalized and released a five-year vision plan named Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) .
  • This has been done in accordance with the decision of the PM for finalizing a five-year vision plan for each Ministry.

Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)

  • The Expert Groups drawn from senior academicians, administrators and industrialists, have suggested more than 50 initiatives that would transform the higher education sector completely.
  • The Groups have set the following goals for higher education sector:
  1. Double the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education and resolve the geographically and socially skewed access to higher education institutions in India
  2. Upgrade the quality of education to global standards
  3. Position at least 50 Indian institutions among the top-1000 global universities
  4. Introduce governance reforms in higher education for well-administered campuses
  5. Accreditation of all institutions as an   assurance of quality
  6. Promote Research & Innovation ecosystems for positioning India in the Top-3 countries in the world in matters of knowledge creation
  7. Double the employability of the students passing out of higher education
  8. Harness education technology for expanding the reach and improving pedagogy
  9. Promote India as a global study destination
  10. Achieve a quantum increase in investment in higher education

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] A policy to regulate coaching centres

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Need for regulating country's proxy education system

Context

The ever growing industry

  • In May, a deadly fire at a coaching centre in Surat snuffed out 22 young lives.
  • The rate of suicides in Kota, where many students converge to prepare for entrance exams, remains high.
  • And yet, the coaching industry is rapidly growing.
  • Data from the NSSO’s 71st round reveal that more than a quarter of Indian students (a stupendous 7.1 crore) take private coaching.
  • Around 12% of a family’s expenses go towards private coaching, across rich and poor families alike.

What purpose do coaching institutions serve in society?

  • Various coaching centre can be attributed to enhance human capital. They serve the same purpose where schools and colleges lag.
  • But if they don’t, then they are imposing a huge emotional cost to society. They crush creativity.
  • In most cases, they only help a student to swiftly secure marks in some entrance exam, which is widely understood to be a sign of merit. This is a questionable connection.
  • To signal merit, exams are only one criterion, and not necessarily the best one.
  • So, coaching institutions exist to help people achieve only one idea of merit. This is a small benefit.
  • Confining students in classrooms and making them study subjects they often hate destroys their natural talent.
  • Hence, the social cost of these institutions outweighs their benefit by far. The industry needs a re-look.

Unregulated spaces in the industry

  • Economic theories suggest that when markets fail, governments need to be brought in.
  • Market failure may occur because of the presence of externalities or asymmetry in information.
  • Governments are also important because they act to coordinate moral norms.
  • On all these counts, coaching institutions emerge as the proverbial villains.
  • Hidden behind legislations meant for tiny shops (Shops and Establishment Act) as ‘other’ business, they run an empire of evening incarcerations that arrest creative freedom.

Hampering social capital

  • The coaching giants draw an entire generation of young minds and systematically erode their imagination.
  • They ignite psychological disorders in students, undermine mainstream education, impose huge opportunity costs to students, charge an exorbitant fee which is often untaxed, and yet remain unaccountable.
  • Several court cases on breach of promise of refund are underway.
  • The social costs are exacerbated by the absolute disregard for the well being of students, who are shoved into tiny rooms with little ventilation, let alone a fire exit.
  • Society bears the burden — only for the sake of finding out who is marginally better than the other in cramming for some exam.

Yet few are selling a valueless idea

  • Barring a few exceptions, coaching institutions sell a valued but costly idea.
  • Only those enterprises which have less value themselves play with the law.
  • To blame the systemic flaws in the implementation of safety laws and to blame corruption in the government is to normalize the lack of integrity in the entrepreneur who decided to violate the law.
  • To harp on lapses by the government is to turn a blind eye towards what kind of ethics we are drawing out of our enterprises, particularly those which purport to provide ‘education’.
  • Coaching institutions, of course, are not necessarily ethical entities. Most of them do not add to the value of education.

A common plight: No more knee-jerk reactions

  • The building in Surat had an illegally constructed terrace.
  • It had a wooden staircase that got burnt, thus disabling any possibility of escape.
  • It had no fire safety equipment, nor any compliance or inspection certificate.
  • The response of the State government was to shut down all coaching institutions in Gujarat until fire inspections were completed.
  • This was a typical knee-jerk reaction.

Need for a rational strategy

  • With such patterns of violating the laws, these inspections will only serve a tick-mark purpose.
  • Although government measures are more emotional than rational, they have achieved the purpose of drawing our attention to coaching centres.
  • In the last six months, three fire incidents have involved coaching institutions in Gujarat.

Way Forward

  • While the reason for the growth of coaching institutions is the entrance exam culture of India, what is urgently required is a policy on regulating them.
  • Some States have already passed laws to regulate the coaching industry — centres have to register with the government and meet certain basic criteria.
  • Existing State laws, however, do not evince a consistent rationale that could aid in framing national regulations.
  • There is also the Private Coaching Centres Regulatory Board Bill, 2016 in discussion.
  • While the discourse being triggered is a welcome step, it is now important to ensure regulations that emerge are agile, forward-looking and empowering.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

National Mission on Natural Language Translation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Mission on Natural Language Translation, PMSTIAC

Mains level : Need for Natural Language Translation


  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT will soon place before the Union Cabinet a proposal for Natural Language.

National Mission on Natural Language Translation

  • It aims to make science and technology accessible to all by facilitating access to teaching and researching material bilingually — in English and in one’s native Indian language.
  • It is one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
  • To overcome the language barrier, the government planned to set up an ecosystem which involved the Central and State agencies and start-ups.
  • To achieve this, the government plans to leverage a combination of machine translation and human translation.
  • The govt. is looking at speech-to-speech machine translation as well as text-to-text machine translation for this additional to human translation.

Implementation

  • The IT ministry is the lead agency for implementation of the mission along with the Ministry of HRD and Department of Science and Technology.

Two pronged strategy

  • Translation activities can also help generate employment for educated unemployed.
  • The mission would help not just students but also teachers, authors, publishers, translation software developers and general readers.

About PM-STIAC

  • The PM-STIAC is an overarching body that identifies challenges in certain areas of science and technology.
  • It then creates a road map to deal with these challenges and presents the recommendations to the Prime Minister.
  • Besides natural language translation, other missions identified by the body includes Quantum Frontier, AI, National Bio-diversity mission, electric vehicles, BioScience for Human Health and deep ocean exploration.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Equip Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EQUIP Project

Mains level : Promoting quality education in India


EQUIP Project

  • Equip stands for Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme.
  • The Ministry of HRD plans to launch this ambitious ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education over the next five years.
  • The Centre would mobilise money from the marketplace through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).
  • The joint venture between the HRD Ministry and Canara Bank, set up in 2017, has been tasked with raising ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022.

Objectives of the project

The committees have drafted strategy to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities:

  • improve the gross enrolment ratio;
  • improve teaching and learning processes;
  • build educational infrastructure;
  • improve the quality of research and innovation;
  • use technology and online learning tools; and
  • work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing.

A news NEP

  • This is being described as the implementation plan for the National Education Policy — a 2014 poll promise from the NDA.
  • The last NEP was released in 1986, with a revision in 1992.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report 2019 was recently published.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index

  • Launched in 2013, the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  • The report, which covers 125 economies and 114 cities, is based on research conducted by in partnership with The Adecco Group and Tata Communications.
  • It aims to advance the current debate around entrepreneurial talent, providing practical tools and approaches to leverage the full potential of individuals and teams as an engine and a basis for innovation, growth, and ultimately competitiveness.

Performance worldwide

  • In the 2019 GTCI, six Asia-Pacific countries rank in the top 30: Singapore takes the lead in the region (2nd globally), followed by New Zealand (11th), Australia (12th), Japan (22nd), Malaysia (27th) and South Korea (30th).
  • Top-ranking countries share several characteristics; including having talent growth and management as a central priority, openness to entrepreneurial talent, open socio-economic policies as well as strong and vibrant ecosystems around innovation.
  • Singapore continues to occupy the top spot in Asia Pacific. It is the highest-ranked country in three of the six pillars – Enable, Attract, and Global Knowledge Skills.
  • It is also one of the strongest performers with respect to the pillar on Vocational and Technical Skills. However, it ranks low in Retain, signifying its relative weakness in retaining talent.

India’s Performance

  • India remains the laggard in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) region.
  • It was ranked 80 even as Singapore retained its leading position in the Asia-Pacific region for the sixth consecutive year.
  • It performs better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent, primarily by virtue of the possibilities for Lifelong Learning and Access to Growth Opportunities.
  • An above-average Business and Labour Landscape and Employability raise the scores of the pillars related to Enable and Vocational and Technical Skills that are otherwise hampered by the remaining sub-pillars, the report said.

Challenges to India

  • Notwithstanding the scope for improvement across the board, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to Attract and Retain talent.
  • Above all, there is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness —in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Where are the education reforms?

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level: Need for reforms in India’s tertiary education sector


NEWS

CONTEXT

From the Central Advisory Board of Education (in 2005) to industry (the 2003 Ambani-Birla report on education) and the NITI Aayog (in 2017), many have argued for granting greater autonomy to higher education institutes and universities, especially the top-rung ones.

Government’s reluctance in relinquishing the control

  • The IIM example should serve as a strong example of the government’s reluctance to give up control.
  • Though the government passed the IIM Act in 2017 to give the premier management education institutions unprecedented autonomy, it never freed them of the shackle of reservations.
  • the government last year reportedly wanted to amend the 2017 Act to force the IIMs to implement virtual fee caps—ironically, “without flouting the autonomous spirit of the IIM Act”.
  • this was despite the IIM Act itself having provisions placing reasonable restrictions on the IIMs’ use of surplus revenue.
  • government also wanted the IIMs to increase their intake, which, surely would have come at the cost of student-quality that is maintained through the rigorous admission procedure.
  • when it should be funding the creation of more IIM-like institutions, it would rather have the existing institutions dilute their standards.

Non-implementation of educational reforms

  • The New Education Policy—that is expected to outline the overall reforms vision for the education sector—is now stale business.
  • Two committees have submitted reports, and yet none have seen the light of day.
  • Similarly, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), that was supposed to replace the inefficient UGC regime, is nowhere on the horizon.
  • The government had announced the Diksha initiative to facilitate the training of untrained school teachers; but, as an analysis of Budget numbers over the years, published in IndiaSpend, pointed out recently, the allocation for teachers’ training is a fraction of what it was a few years ago.
  • The Higher Education Funding Agency, that was supposed to finance infrastructure development—from an overall corpus of `1 lakh crore—at “all educational institutions under higher education, school education and institutions under ministry of health which is referred by the concerned ministry” under RISE 2022 had managed to approve projects worth only `10,000 crore by November last year, and that too only exclusively to top-billed institutions.

Way Forward

Our goal to be a world power, the resolving and restructuring of higher education is must, then only we will be able to harness the human potential and resources of nation to the fullest and channelize it for the growth of the
nation.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Cultural Heritage Youth Leadership Programme (CHYLP)

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICHR

Mains level: Better governance and management of historical research


News

Cultural Heritage Youth Leadership Programme

  1. Nodal Agency: Ministry of Culture
  2. The scheme CHYLP  aims to enrich awareness of Indian culture and heritage amongst the youth in order to promote, understand and develop fondness for India’s rich cultural heritage, with a view to develop appropriate leadership qualities amongst youth.
  3. The focus of the programme was is on less privileged children residing in backward areas by interacting with them in vernacular languages for their better understanding.
  4. The programme was given to Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), an autonomous organization working under the purview of Ministry of Culture.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

UGC defers decision to grant tag to more Institutes of Eminence

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Institute of Eminence tag

Mains level: Impact of having the tag


News

  1. The University Grants Commission has deferred its decision on granting the Institute of Eminence tag to more educational institutions.
  2. The expert committee has recommended more than the mandated number that the scheme allowed.

Background

  1. In July, the HRD Ministry hass granted the Institution of Eminence status to three public and three private educational institutions in India after the empowered expert committee recommended 11 names.
  2. The six institutions included the Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up.
  3. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names, taking the total list to 30.
  4. Now the empowered expert committee has recommended 30 names – 15 in each category.

What hinders granting more institutions?

  1. It was not just a question of naming the institutions, but also granting public institutions Rs 1,000 crore in special funds.
  2. The committee had not put its list of names in any preferential order or ranking.

About Institute of Eminence Scheme

[Burning Issue] Institute of Excellence Debate

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] ICAR launches National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICAR, NAHEP, READY Scheme

Mains level: Better governance and management of agricultural education


News

National Agricultural Higher Education Project

  1. The ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  2. This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50 basis.
  3. The objective of the NAHEP for India is to support participating agricultural universities and ICAR in providing more relevant and higher quality education to Agricultural University students.
  4. In addition, a four year degree in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Forestry has been declared a professional degree.

READY Yojana

  1. In order to promote the participation of students in agricultural business, Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) scheme is being run.
  2. Under this, practical experience of agriculture and entrepreneurship is provided to undergraduate students.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

India ranks 80th on Global Talent Competitive Index 2019

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GTCI

Mains level: Not Much


News

  • Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for 2019 was recently released.

About GTCI

  1. Launched for the first time in 2013, the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  2. It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.
  3. The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 68 variables such as ease of ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.

India’s Progress

  1. At 80th rank, India moves up one position on the Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2019, according to a report.
  2. According to the report, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent.
  3. There is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.
  4. China emerged as the best performer among the BRICS countries, with an overall position of 45th.
  5. However, India performed better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent and access to growth opportunities.

Global Performance

  1. Switzerland followed by Singapore, the US, Norway and Denmark were in the top five on the list.
  2. In the top ten of talent competitiveness ranking, only two non-European countries can be seen: Singapore and the USA.
  3. This underlines that Europe remains a talent powerhouse, but also that countries with great universities and a strong education sector are best at attracting talents.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Why MCQ isn’t an option

Note4students

Mains Paper 2:  Governance| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: The newscard discusses impact of introducing MCQ based examination is in every domain, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The growing legitimisation of the MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) pattern of exams for all sorts of entrance tests, particularly in the field of liberal arts and social sciences, indicates the poverty of pedagogic imagination that seems to have inflicted a team of techno-managers and academic bureaucrats.

Background

  • The JJNU will be adopting the online MCQ mode for conducting entrance examinations for all its academic programmes, based on the recommendations by a committee formed to study the feasibility of conducting the entrance test online.
  • The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), however, raised objections about the online mode for conducting entrance examinations saying that the JNU administration’s decision to convert the present robust system of written examination for BA, MA and MPhil-PhD which is conducted in various centres around the country in physical form into online mode defies any logic and reason.

Issues

  1. First, thinking all disciplines, be it English literature or mathematics, on the same scale, love for mindless standardization has been reduced into a set of “objective” postulates, or “puzzles” with only one “correct” answer thereby deteriorating the status of the liberal arts and social sciences. and destroy thinking and creative imagination.
  2. Second, tend to see knowledge as the acquisition of mere “facts”, free from “ideological” aberrations or “subjective” prejudices.
  3. And third, with the hallucination of “mathematical precision”, feeling that creative articulation is dangerous or equivalent to madness because everything has to be fitted into the standardised/dominant formula or theorem.
  4. The idea of having a question to which there is only one correct answer is problematic, Manufacturing one-dimensional consciousness — a mind incapable of living with plurality, ambiguities and unresolved paradoxes.
  5. It has done severe damage to the culture of learning. The fetish of 99 per cent marks in the board exams is killing the creative faculty of schoolchildren. With rote learning, they have mastered the technique of reducing everything into a set of bullet points depending on the marks allotted to a question.
  6. Teachers, too have lost their agency. Even for selecting M.Phil/Ph.D candidates they have been asked to rely on the MCQ pattern of entrance test.
  7. The idea of complete objective examination defeats the comprehensive evaluation policy of the subjective paper which looks into the holistic requirements in student for MA and MPhil-PhD which covers both the knowledge potential and writing skills.
  8. As teachers are not supposed to think or evolve our unique modes of selection and evaluation. Only formulate “objective” questions, and specialise ourselves in generating an MCQ bank.

The case for multiple choice questions

  1. Despite his reservations, there is merit in multiple choice questions for two reasons – they guarantee objectivity in marking, he feels, and when the number of candidates is large, relieves teachers of the responsibility of checking. They have eliminated “the space for bias”.
  2. The responsibility of maintaining the sanctity of the evaluation process in terms of preservation of the answer sheets that undergo a subjective evaluation is also a challenge.
  3. It argued that the reform and outsourcing the conduct of the test to another party, will “minimise man hour losses to the university” and be eco-friendly.

Way Forward

  1. Tests would not reward rote-learning if there were a few short answer questions and the multiple-choice ones were more carefully designed.
  2. It is possible to set good multiple-choice questions if the paper-setters spend a bit more time making them more confusing or indirect.

Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

No new Engineering Colleges from 2020

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mohan Reddy Committee Recommendations

Mains level: State of technical education in country and measures required to improve it


News

  • A government committee, headed by IIT-Hyderabad chairman B V R Mohan Reddy has advised the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to stop setting up new colleges from 2020 and review the creation of new capacity every two years after that.

Mohan Reddy Committee Recommendations

  1. The panel in its report has suggested that no additional seats should be approved in traditional engineering areas such as mechanical, electrical, civil and electronics.
  2. It suggested that institutes should be encouraged to convert current capacity in traditional disciplines to emerging new technologies.
  3. This recommendation has been justified on the ground that current capacity utilization in traditional disciplines is just 40% as opposed to 60% seat occupancy in branches such as computer science, aerospace engineering and mechatronics.
  4. The committee has urged the AICTE to introduce UG engineering programmes exclusively for artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, data sciences, cybersecurity and 3D printing and design.
  5. As for approving additional seats in existing institutions, the committee has suggested that the AICTE should only give approvals based on the capacity utilization of concerned institute.

Why such move?

  1. A study in Dec. 2017 has found there were no takers for 51 per cent of the 15.5 lakh B.E/B.Tech seats in 3,291 engineering colleges in 2016-17.
  2. The investigation found glaring gaps in regulation, including alleged corruption; poor infrastructure, labs and faculty; non-existent linkages with industry; and absence of a technical ecosystem to nurture the classroom.
  3. All this, it found, accounted for low employability of graduates.
  4. A few weeks later, the AICTE had announced its decision to reduce the intake in courses with poor admissions by half from the academic year 2018-19, a move aimed at addressing the mismatch.
  5. Following this, the total number of B.Tech and M.Tech seats this year, across all AICTE-approved institutes, dropped by 1.67 lakh – the sharpest fall in five years and almost double of what was witnessed in 2017-18.
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