CHAPTER IX: Summary of Recommendations –Evolution of the National Policy on Education 2016
From ancient times, Indian thinkers and society have recognised the value of education. The Guru-Shisya Paramparais one of the earliest examples of knowledge sharing between the teacher and the student. Indian philosophers, scientists and litterateurs have made seminal contribution to the world of learning and knowledge.
India’s literacy rate at the time of Independence was just 12%. In the seven decades after independence, India has achieved much. There is now a primary schooling facility in almost every village and the gross enrolment ratio is more than hundred percent. Likewise there has been rapid expansion of secondary and higher education. The education infrastructure has also improved significantly. There has been remarkable improvement in the enrolment of girls, their retention rates, and performance at all levels of education. The literacy rate of India, as per the 2011 census, was 74%.
There are however serious concerns about the quality of education at all levels. Surveys conducted by government and private agencies show that students are not achieving the expected levels of learning. In higher education the country does not have any representation in the top 200 universities of the world. Teacher vacancies and teacher absenteeism continue to plague government schools where dropout rates are also high. There is corruption in appointments and transfers of teachers as well as the conduct of examinations; and in according recognition and approval to educational institutions. There is proliferation of high-cost coaching classes and degree shops. Around 65% of India’s population today is less than 35 years old. It is imperative that they are provided better quality education, creation of avenues for their gainful employment; and not doing so will have serious repercussions.
The focus of the New National Policy on Education is on improving the quality of education and restoring the credibility of the education system.
Fortunately, India is on the cusp of a major change. Every village is expected to be digitally connected in the next three years. The education sector can greatly benefit by the use of ICT, which now needs to be harnessed for optimal benefits.
It is critical to recognise the teacher as the key driver of change in the education system. The teacher will have to play a major role in the transformation of the education system. There is an urgent need to focus on improving the quality of teacher education and training, and attract better talent to the teaching profession. In an increasingly digital world, the teacher will have to play the role of a guide and a facilitator.
Education has been given comparatively low priority by both the Central and State governments, judged by the budgetary support provided thus far. This must change if anything of significant value is to be achieved. The New NPE seeks to create conditions to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment; and promote transparency in the management of education.
This is the simple message of the National Policy on Education
9.2 Broad Objectives of the National Policy on Education (NPE) 2016
The core objective of this Policy is to provide information, knowledge, skills, and values; also to instil social attitudes which enable a student to become a good human being, a proud citizen and contribute to the development of the country. Besides imparting quality education the policy seeks to emphasize the need to foster an interest in India’s history, culture and traditions, a respect for all religions and acceptance for the diversity that exists in India. Through education, the policy tries to create an understanding of the need to promote social cohesion and national integration which are essential for the country’s progress. In the new technology-driven environment ever more students will become conversant with the tools of modern communication and technology; the Policy recognises the immense opportunities for using these to promote education at every level.
The main objective of the New National Policy on Education is to harness the full potential of a young, vibrant population and equip it to contribute meaningfully to India’s development.
9.3 Inculcation of Values through Education
The relevance of value education assumes critical importance in the contemporary scenario where unfortunately the consequences of exploitation and intolerance are increasingly being witnessed. Differences arising from caste and religion, social and economic disparities are leading to incidents of violence as means to resolve perceived injustice and discrimination, seriously affecting the cohesion of society.
Value inculcation is essential to promote equity, social justice, tolerance and national integration. Truth (Satya), Righteous Conduct (Dharma), Peace (Shanti), Love (Prem) and Non-Violence (Ahimsa) are the core universal values which provide the foundation for a value-based education system. Value education has to be made an integral part of education at all levels. Teachers, parents and community leaders have to play a major role in instilling good values among students.
Schools must develop in students, qualities like regularity and punctuality, cleanliness, good conduct, consideration for the elderly and respect for women. The process of education should inculcate a spirit of hard work and entrepreneurship, a respect for human rights and compassion for the disadvantaged sections of society. Every student should be made aware not only of his/her fundamental rights, but also of fundamental duties, laid down by the Constitution. The National Policy on Education should enable students to become responsible citizens of India in a globalized world.
9.4 Challenges for the New National Policy on Education
The education policies of 1968 and 86/92 provided a roadmap for the development of the education sector in the country. These resulted in initiatives which greatly improved access to education to most of the population. The mid-day meal program has improved attendance and the nutritional levels of students coming from disadvantaged communities. The strategy of setting up of Ashram Shalas has enabled the tribal population in remote areas to have the benefit of education. A large number of schools and institutions of higher education, both in the public and private sector have in parallel led to the creation of an articulate, well informed and technologically savvy middle class, laying the base to propel India to high rates of economic growth.
Despite many gains, the Indian education system faces several problems, denting its credibility. The main factors include:
(i) Absence of minimum standards in the provision of schooling facilities, processes and student outcomes, and equity in educational opportunities;
(ii) Lack of professionalization in educational planning and management;
(iii) Absence of requisite disaggregated data, particularly at sub-national and institutional levels for evidence-based management of education;
(iv) Lack of competent and committed teachers, resulting in poor quality of education;
(v) Substandard quality of teacher education and training;
(vi) A curriculum which encourages rote-based learning;
(vii) Malpractices in the examination system;
(viii) Neglect of skill and vocational education, overemphasis on acquiring dead-end qualifications which do not lead to employment;
(ix) Failure to make ICT as functionally integral to the management of pedagogy of education;
(x) Mushroom growth of private coaching classes and degree shops;
(xi) Corruption and politicisation of education management at all levels;
(xii) Mediocre status of a majority of higher education institutions; and
(xiii) The pursuit of degrees and qualifications at any cost.
The New Education Policy has addressed all these challenges.
9.5 Governance in Education
Appointment of unqualified and low paid contractual teachers militates against quality of teaching and learning. The system of appointment and transfer of teachers is generally not merit-based or transparent. Teachers are engaged in several non-education related government programs which adversely affect their classroom performance. There are malpractices in the conduct of examinations, and in grant of approval and recognition to institutions. Government schools and colleges have lost their credibility due to which parents have increasingly begun to move to private institutions to seek education for their wards. There is a proliferation of tuition and coaching classes. The cost of private education has spiraled due to donations and capitation fees becoming the norm. Political patronage and interference have become endemic, hampering education reforms as well as the efficient and transparent management of the education system. ICT in education is yet to penetrate the system to improve educational governance, including aspects relating to teaching-learning, assessment and accountability. Most children fail to acquire the minimum levels of skills, knowledge, values and attitudes to make them productive citizens of India. A large proportion of university and college graduates are simply not found employable. Quality of education needs sharp upgradation across the board.
The New National Policy on Education has made detailed recommendations to improve governance in the education system, aimed at enhancement of the quality of education
(a) ICT as a Tool for Improving Quality of Education
Computers were first introduced in schools during the 8th five year plan (1993 to 1998.) Since then thousands of computers have been provided in government schools. The thrust has been essentially on familiarising students with the use of computers and teaching basic operations. Most schools do not have an Internet facility and the deployment of IT as an educational tool has not been attempted to any appreciable extent. As a result, the immense potential of ICT as an aid to education has not been realized.
ICT must be made an integral part of school education. Courses on the use of ICT as an aid for enhancing the teaching-learning process should be made a part of the curricula of Teachers Training Colleges. Unless teachers are themselves comfortable using computers and the Internet, they will find it difficult to use it as an aid to teaching, or to guide students. Teachers have to gradually become facilitators and encourage self-learning by students so that their natural curiosity receives impetus. Internet has removed all barriers to learning and made knowledge easily available. Education can no longer be confined to textbooks; and the examination system has to be revamped to test knowledge and understanding, and not the ability to regurgitate by rote. ICT can no longer be treated as a school subject; it has to become a part of the learning process.
ICT needs to be harnessed and adapted to Indian conditions to meet diverse objectives – covering many fields where meaningful experimentation has already taken place as also in some new areas, which include the following:
(i) IT as aid to the teacher in the classroom;
(ii) IT to aid in remedial education.
(iii) IT for use in training of teachers.
(iv) IT for adult literacy.
(v) IT modules as learning tools in higher education.
(vi) IT as a governance tool.
In higher education, access to lectures and course material, and interaction with top education institutions in the world through virtual classrooms, online tutorials and tests present immense possibilities for participatory learning and global networking.
(b) ICT for Education Data Management
District Information System for Education (DISE) is more than 20 years old and has been responsible for the collection and collation of data concerning all aspects of school education, including enrolment, attendance, dropout rates, teacher availability and infrastructure facilities. It is a tool for planning and development of the school sector. Although the system has improved over the years, there remain serious concerns about the timeliness of data collection, its accuracy and reliability. If DISE has to be an effective information, monitoring and management tool, it is imperative to enhance the reliability and timeliness of its database.
As a part of Digital India initiative, 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats will be connected through fiber-glass broadband, with a local Wi-Fi hotspot for exchange of data. It should then be possible to bring electronic connectivity to every school, howsoever remote. Preparations need to start immediately to use this opportunity. To enable this, the training of teachers and headmasters/Principals in data collection and transmission using the new digital highway needs to commence without loss of time. The facilities at NUEPA, which is the focal point for national data compilation and dissemination, need strengthening with adequate specialised manpower and computing facilities. A few progressive states have made effective use of ICT for school management and have successfully managed monitoring of attendance, student performance, and teacher absenteeism. Collection of online data and its intelligent use can become a powerful tool for school management.
It is seen that although DISE collects voluminous data, it does not alert the states and the Ministry of HRD about positive as well as negative trends that are developing. The new policy expects that DISE should become a conduit for sharing trend analysis which calls for mid-term correctives and interventions. The developments that take place in certain parts, or countrywide, need to be highlighted in a timely manner to policy-makers, which include the state education departments. Annual trend analysis will build public awareness about developments that are taking place and present an early opportunity for intervention.
(c) Constitution of a Standing Education Commission
The span of activities covered in the education sector is vast; apart from the Central and State governments, the stakeholders include numerous institutions, parents, teachers and students. In a climate of rising aspirations, the developments in the education sector require exceptional attention on a continuous basis. The problems faced by the education sector are complex and necessitate independent, considered and mature responses. The Ministry of HRD requires the assistance of a high-qualitythink tank in the form of a Standing Education Commission to study emerging challenges, evaluate and interpret policies and programmes, and provide information and guidance to the Ministry from time to time. The Commission should prepare a National State of Education Report once in two years. The Commission should comprise of a limited number of experts and persons of eminence with special knowledge and experience of the education sector in India, supported by a small secretariat.
(d) Need to Restrict Political and Other Distractions on University and College Campuses
Agitations, disturbances, gheraos and other disruptive movements are being increasingly witnessed on campuses with potential to interfere with normal academic activities. As a result of this, examinations often get delayed or postponed. These disturbances are generally caused by a small section of politically active students and work to the detriment of the majority of serious students. The Constitution provides every citizen the right to form groups or associations. Every right has a corresponding duty to ensure that it shall not adversely affect the interests of others.
Universities and colleges are temples of learning and some self-imposed restriction should be in place to ensure that the primary work of the universities is conducted without hindrance. Educational institutions should not be allowed to become political arenas to settle national rivalries. It is essential to find the right balance between free speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution, with the needs of various sections of society, consistent with the primary purpose for which the universities have been established to enable the pursuit of education.
(e) Election on Campuses
On the basis of the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee (2005) the Supreme Court accepted the need for restricting those activities of student unions which could potentially disrupt academic activities of the universities. The issue of the desirability of non-recognition of student groups that are explicitly based on caste and religion needs to be revisited urgently. The overall interest of the bulk of students who attend academic institutions to study must be protected by those that are vested with the authority to administer the universities.
(f) Restriction of the Period of Stay of Students on Campuses
Most of the disruptive activities on the campus are led by students who remain enrolled for many more years than normally required to pursue the course of study for which they have enrolled. The main interest of such students is not to pursue learning but to use the hostel and fellowship facilities to follow a political agenda. There should be a national debate on the need for students to necessarily achieve the minimum benchmarks for scholastic progress to prevent the misuse of educational facilities established at public expense.
g) Creation of an All India Education Service
The education sector in India employs nearly 1 crore persons. This sector also has maximum public contact. The attention given to management of the sector is not commensurate with the seminal role it plays in the nation’s development. Many states have their own education service but even senior State cadre officers rarely rise to policy-making positions. There are limited opportunities for promotion in the State cadre, and movement across other sectors is rare. The education sector needs professionals with qualities of leadership and credibility to tackle complex management issues.
The earlier policies of 1968 and 86/92 had recommended creation of an All India Education Service. This matter can no longer be delayed. An Indian Education Service (IES) should be established as an all India service with officers being on permanent settlement to the state governments but with the cadre controlling authority vesting with the Ministry of HRD. Persons from IES would progressively occupy higher level policy posts at the Centre and in the States; the services of IES officers could also be loaned to universities and other national and state-level education institutions. It is proposed that recruitment to IES should be done through UPSC.
While it may take some time to set up such a service, there should be, as an interim step, a one-time special recruitment by UPSC from among the existing educational cadres in various states to improve management competence in education sector. This will need concurrence of the States.
(h) Dealing with Litigation
There are thousands of court cases at the Centre and especially in the States, mostly concerning service conditions of teachers, and also arising out of administrative decisions of the Centre or the State as the case may be. The reasons for such large number of court cases are generally due to non-observance of procedures, lack of transparency, arbitrary decisions and an indifference towards redressal of genuine grievances. Officials working in the Education Departments have to spend a lot of time addressing court matters, often resulting in neglect of other important issues concerning their department. Senior officers have to frequently appear personally before the courts on contempt charges. The situation needs review to see what remedial procedures and alternate institutional arrangements could be taken up.
There is need, particularly in the states, to establish separate Education Tribunals, mainly to deal with service related matters, as also follow up of miscellaneous administrative decisions. These bodies, to be headed by a retired High Court Judge or District Judge, with membership of retired experienced officerscould function as the focal point for early disposal of service and other disputes. The Tribunals, with a time-bound approach to settlement of each dispute, should have the power to follow summary procedures to expedite the disposal of cases.
Depending on the volume and nature of pendency of service and other related cases concerning the MHRD and its agencies, in the CAT and in other legal fora , it should be considered whether it will be useful to have Administrative Tribunals attached to the MHRD at the Centre and regions, to deal with litigation with a time-bound approach following summary procedures.
9.6 Need for Special Academic and Other Support to Children from Socially and Economically Weaker Sections
In recent decades, access to education has improved sharply, particularly to those from rural areas. However, there is a significant handicap suffered by students coming from socially or economically weaker segments relating to inequality in learning opportunity, often related to sociological and circumstantial factors not sufficiently understood or commented upon or accounted for in the normal course. There are critical stages in the ‘learning’ periods of such disadvantaged children, when they need a helping hand to guide them, with extra coaching or advisory facility, to enable them to get full benefit of their educational opportunities, in many cases to tide over difficult periods of their education. In general, such children need assistance particularly at three stages during their education – (a) in the period of primary schooling where it is important to learn the basics of ‘language’ and ‘arithmetic’; (b) in early class 11 phase, where the courses become tougher, and classroom environment competitive; and (c) in the early periods in technical courses, particularly for those who did their schooling in their mother tongue or regional language, to acclimatize them to the circumstances and conditions of urbanized learning centres.
A well thought out programme needs to be evolved, based on local resources, conditions and circumstances, to render a helping hand to such students during the critical periods. This would be in addition to the other recommendations made by the Policy to upgrade the processes of learning, across the education system.
9.7 Public Expenditure on Education
The NEPs of 1968 and 86/92 had both recommended 6% of GDP as the norm for the national outlay on education. The actual expenditure on education has remained consistently below this level. In recent years it has hovered around 3.5%. Most OECD countries spend more than 6%, and many progressive countries have managed to cross the 6% benchmark.
There is an urgent need to increase the outlay and expenditure on education to meet new challenges in the education sector, such as the appointment of additional teachers in accordance with the RTE norms, introduction of pre- primary education, strengthening teacher education and use of ICT in educational institutions.
The outlay on education should be raised to at least 6% of GDP without further loss of time. There can be no better investment than in the future of India’s children.
9.8 School Education
There were 15 lakh schools in the country with an enrolment of 26 crore (DISE 2014-15). Nearly 33% of schools have less than 50 students and 54% less than hundred. The preponderance of small schools not only affects the quality of teaching and learning but also makes school education inequitable and expensive in terms of per-pupil expenditure. Such schools are neither academically not financially viable.
The National Policy on Education seeks to shift the focus of development of school education from physical expansion to consolidation of the existing school system. Schools with low enrolment and inadequate infrastructure should be, wherever possible converted to composite schools. Mergers will lead to the provision of better infrastructure, teacher availability and efficient re-deployment. It will be feasible then to position full-time Principals. Consolidation will help improve the availability of computer and science laboratories and provide better facilities for sports and extra-curricular activities. MHRD and the States should together evolve common guidelines for merger and consolidation, without diluting the spirit of easy access laid down by the RTE Act.
It is important to have minimum acceptable standards in school education across all levels in terms of provisions and student outcomes.
9.9 Teacher Management
The teacher is the pivot around whom the children’s education revolves; it is rightly said that an education system is as good as its teachers. There are more than 80 lakh teachers in the elementary schools and more than 20 lakh in the secondary and higher secondary schools in the country. There are serious issues concerning teacher management. These include teacher shortages, absenteeism, corruption in recruitment and transfers and absence of an effective machinery to redress their genuine grievances. A large number of government schools do not have full-time headmasters/Principals. The lack of effective leadership has contributed to indiscipline among teachers leading to declining academic standards. Keeping in mind the larger interest of improving the quality of education, the Policy underscores the need for devising mechanisms to achieve the following:
(i) The Centre and State should jointly formulate transparent and merit based norms and guidelines for recruitment of teachers, principals and other academic cadres.
(ii) The recruitment of teachers and other academic cadres would only be done through Independent Teacher Recruitment Commissions which should be set up with transparent, merit-based norms for selection. For elementary schools recruitment should be done at district level.
(iii) All positions of headmasters and principals should be immediately created and filled up as per RTE norms or other standards. Leadership training for headmasters and principals should be compulsory.
(iv) Norms need to be developed for fair and equitable deployment of teachers, across regions and between rural/urban areas in a State. The vacancy position of teachers and headmasters for each block should be placed in public domain. Shorter tenure and other incentives should be offered for posting in tribal and remote areas.
(v) Every state will be encouraged to publicise the norms and criteria for transfers. The process of transfers would be made open and transparent, and in the event of exceptions being made the reasons would be disclosed for public information.
Teacher absenteeism, teacher vacancies and lack of teacher accountability have destroyed the credibility of the public sector school education system. These issues can be resolved only with strong political consensus without which all efforts would be ineffective. There is urgent need to vest disciplinary powers to the School Management Committees (SMC’s) and the school principals to deal with absenteeism and indiscipline. They can be assisted through technological measures by recording attendance using mobile phones, biometric devices, until online maintenance of data becomes the norm.
Using ICT, structures should be created to integrate student outcomes and relate them to teacher performance – this should be the predominant criterion for making teachers accountable for their performance, after controlling for school quality and demographics. The reward and punishment structure of teachers needs also to be closely linked to continuous assessment of student performance and teacher evaluation.
9.10 Teacher Education, Deployment and Professional Development
The key to improvement in quality of education is to have better qualified, better trained, better motivated and more accountable teachers. The poor quality of School education is a direct result of poor quality of teacher education and teacher training. Teacher education programs, both at the graduate and diploma level are of indifferent quality. Reforms have been neglected for far too long. The main issues facing teacher education are:
(i) Teaching is not the preferred choice when it comes to career options. Students with better scores prefer engineering, medical, management and technology courses. Even those who join humanities courses, do not prefer the teaching profession. Those who do not get admission in any of these courses join B.Ed. as a last resort.
(ii) There has been a proliferation of substandard institutions offering B.Ed. and other diploma courses in teachers’ education. State governments and NCTE were partners in approving such institutions, most of which were nothing better than degree shops.
(iii) The quality of most B.Ed. and diploma programs is far from satisfactory. A one-year programme of teachers’ education does not cover either the subject content or pedagogy adequately. These courses have been mainly theoretical with little attention to practical training.
(iv) For many years the entry level for diploma programs was 10th pass and these teachers were expected to teach classes up to 7th or 8th standard. It is only recently that RTE has prescribed graduation as the minimum qualification for new teachers of upper primary classes.
(v) NCTE has recently prescribed minimum course of two years for B. Ed which would result in government schools getting better quality teachers in future. Until then the system will have to depend on inadequately qualified or trained teachers.
The introduction of a four-year post senior secondary, integrated BA/B.Sc., B.Ed. courses in all States will greatly improve the quality of teacher education. The student will then make an affirmative career choice in favour of teaching; the course will be strong in subject content and the student will get adequate time for practical training to acquire pedagogical skills. The States should gradually convert the existing two-year B.Ed. Program to a four-year integrated course, supported by an offer of preferential employment to such graduates.
In the long run a five-year integrated course after class X for elementary school teachers and another five-year course after XII for higher secondary teachers should be introduced. An advance one-year diploma course for secondary teachers should also be introduced to enable them to teach higher secondary classes.
For hilly, tribal and remote areas, alternative models of pre-service training need to be explored. DIETs, in these areas should run five-year course after standard 8th or three year-courses after the 10th exclusively for girls, with full financial support and job assurance. This will address the problem of teacher shortages which are endemic in such areas.
There should be minimum eligibility condition with 50% marks at graduate level for entry to existing B Ed courses. Teacher Entrance Tests (TET) should be made compulsory for recruitment of all teachers. The Centre and states should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.
For existing teachers compulsory training every five years should be the norm.
The learning outcomes of each class should be laid down and evaluated through periodic internal and external assessments. Teachers should be held accountable for failure to achieve learning outcomes within the prescribed time frame.
Compulsory licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools should be made mandatory, with provision for renewal every 10 years based on independent external testing.
Poor quality of teaching is partially attributable to the SCERTs and DIETs, which lack the required competence and capability. There are a large number of vacancies in these two organisations which have not been filled up for years. These positions should be filled immediately to strengthen the institutions and build capacity.
At present the DIETs do not have an independent cadre. A separate cadre for teacher trainers is to be established in every state. Ideally, teacher trainers should have the same qualifications and pay scales as college lecturers. The minimum teaching experience should also be prescribed for such teacher trainers.
In addition to SCERT and DIETs, B.Ed. colleges having good academic record as well as the university departments of education should be utilised for in-service training of teachers.
In many States teachers’ unions have taken keen interest in improving quality of education. In such cases, teachers unions and associations should be encouraged to accept academic responsibility and contribute to the development of curriculum and textbooks.
9.11 ICT for School Management
A few states have started using IT-based applications for monitoring the performance of schools and student achievements. The data generated through these applications have enabled the states to increase enrolment, and enable teachers to spend more time in the classroom by reducing their paperwork. Online maintenance of all records pertaining to a child from the time of admission until the time of the school leaving certificate needs to be made mandatory; without this the tracking of students and teachers will not be achieved.
IT-based applications must be used extensively for monitoring teacher and student attendance, achievements of learning levels, performance evaluation of teachers and for administrative functions like maintenance of records and accounts. A program for moving to the exclusive use of IT applications for School Management should be drawn up by the education departments of the states on priority. Experience and expertise of the states that have already implemented IT-based school administration should be used to save time.
The data generated by ICT based management system can be voluminous and has to be used intelligently. Exception reports can draw attention of authorities to schools whose performance is below average, for taking remedial action. These reports also provide information about better performing schools and good practices which can be used gainfully by other schools. Such reporting systems could become a powerful tool for improving school management and school performance.
9.12 School Governance and Management
A school is generally a small unit managed by headmaster in accordance with the guidelines and instructions received from District Education Officer. In the present system, there is very little initiative expected at school level, and yet some schools perform better than others because of the leadership provided by the Principal or headmaster. Such leaders motivate teachers, inspire students and seek cooperation of parents and community to improve the academic level and infrastructure of their schools. Studies have established that school systems with greater local decision making authority and accountability have better learning outcomes.
There are many vacancies of headmasters and principals which should be filled up within a short time frame. A separate cadre of principals and headmasters should be created. The selection of headmaster should be on merit and aptitude from among teachers with at least five years of teaching experience. Selected candidates should be required to undergo two-month vacation training in leadership and schools management. The Principal should be held responsible for improvement of the school’s academic performance and achievement of prescribed learning levels, assessed through external and internal evaluation. School principals should be given disciplinary control over teachers, greater administrative authority and academic freedom.
A school-led governance system with an appropriate framework of autonomy with accountability needs to be put in place to enable the school system to respond to changing circumstances, and to initiate remedial action where required. Towards this end, schools need to be evaluated, both internally and externally, based on an accepted framework of standards to measure school quality, and help to develop the professional competency of the school management, the school head and teachers, in a manner which contributes to autonomy, self-appraisal and performance.
9.13 Pre-School Education
Pre-primary education has been a neglected area in the education sector. Government schools do not provide pre-primary education as schools generally start only from class I. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program was intended to provide early childhood education but this has not happened in practice.
Pre-Primary schools have proliferated in the private sector and are located mostly in the urban and peri-urban areas. One of the reasons parents prefer private schools, is the availability of pre-primary sections.
It is universally accepted that early childhood up to the age of six, is a period of remarkable brain development when the foundations for cumulative lifelong learning are laid. Children in the age group of 3 to 5 show intense and lively curiosity and experiment with objects found in the surrounding environment. An education program specially geared to this age group needs to be formulated for all children.
Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years should be declared as a right and a programme for it implemented immediately.
All children in the age group 4-5 should now be eligible to be covered for pre-school education; the system needs to be adapted, improved and expanded to cater to all children in this age group – in other words, it is the right of the child in the age group 4-5 to receive pre-school education.
A new education component should be introduced in the Anganwadi practices, to ensure that pre-school children are exposed to elementary education, with a carefully structured curriculum. This element will be blended with the procedures of the WCD, which will continue to be the operating Ministry to implement the ICDS programme, which should now additionally have a well-designed pre-school component. Appropriate funding from the Centre and the States will be required to enable the above to be rolled out. In a limited time span, the strategy should be expanded rapidly to cover all children of the 4-5 age groups to become an integral part of the programme. Ideally the Anganwadi should be located in the premises of the local primary school or immediately adjacent.
At present ICDS Anganwadis are not adequately equipped to provide pre-primary education. The following measures are needed
(i) NCERT should formulate curricular framework for pre-primary education, which should be more on the lines of a play school, crèche and activity centre.
(ii) SCERTs should conduct intensive training for Anganwadi workers to enable them to deliver the education component.
(iii) SCERTs should conduct pre-service training programs for new Anganwadiworkers to orient them appropriately.
(iv) SCERTs should prepare the learning material for children in the age-group of4-5 to be used in Anganwadis.
(v) SMCs should be associated in ensuring that all children above 3 years attend Anganwadis.
(vi) The health and nutrition component for Anganwadiswill continue as before, but minimum prescribed hours should be spent every day on the education component
(vii) Appropriate funding to meet the additional responsibilities and the costs thereof need to be provided.
Issues relating to coordination between the two Ministries and equally with the State Governments and their field machineries will need to be addressed.
In rural areas, ideally the Anganwadi should be located in the same premises as the primary school or the larger school complex in the village; this will facilitate utilization of common facilities, including playground etc.; in addition the child will become familiar with the school premises which will assist the process of acclimatisation to school surroundings.
In due course, all Government primary schools should have facilities for pre-primary education. For this, it will be ideal if all Anganwadis gradually get located either in the school premises, or as close to the school as possible. State Governments will have to prepare cadres of pre-primary teachers, and create necessary facilities for their pre and in service training. The transition from Anganwadi to pre-primary school should be gradual and seamless, and it should be left to each State to determine the time frame for achieving it.
9.14 Vocational Education and Training
One of the major concerns of the School education system is that it does not prepare a student for employment even after 12 years of schooling. A separate vocational stream was introduced as a part of 10+2, but it failed to attract students. India has a young population which will need to be provided education and skills to gain employment and contribute to development. While the main thrust for skill development will come from the newly created Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, School education should also play an important role in providing vocational and skill education.
National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy 2015 has envisioned integration of 25% of the schools with skill development programmes by 2022 across the country. Schemes for imparting skill training to secondary school students have been introduced in many states and the RMSA. The responses to these initiatives are still not very encouraging as vocational education is still perceived to be inferior. The schools where these programs are offered to do not have the requisite workshops, trainers and industry linkages to impart high quality skill education.
Vocational education must be mainstreamed. Towards this end, the following measures are to be introduced:
(i) The ongoing initiative of a MHRD in implementing National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) compliant skills program in the secondary and higher secondary schools through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) approved Training Providers (TPs) needs to be scaled up. Courses based on local economic resources and scope for entrepreneurship have to be drawn up on a location specific basis
(ii) The schools which have adequateland and infrastructure will be utilised to set up formal vocational skill centres, in partnership with NSDC Training Providers offering programs that suit the needs of industry. Such centres will operate post school hours to avoid any disruption of normal academic work. The program is offered in these centres should meet the requirements of NSQF and may be supported by government-sponsored skill development schemes such as the Prime Minister Kaushal VikashYojana (PMKVY) and others.
(iii) All skill development courses conducted through such initiatives will be formally certified under NSQF and through Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) so that the trainees can acquire recognised qualifications and also upgrade these in the future.
(iv) Vocational education subjects (the ones offered in ITI’s) may also be offered in some schools from class VIII onwards, as a formal stream along with science, maths and other subjects, leading to certification by the respective boards of education.
(v) Vocational skills qualifications acquired through the ITI’s (NCVT courses) may be given a certificate of equivalence to class X or XII as the case may be, after the student completes the essential bridge course to address gaps that may remain.
(vi) An organised intervention for counselling the students on career options is to be designed and introduced in the schools to create awareness about the prospects available after acquiring vocational skills.
The above measures would enable the students, who acquire vocational skills, to be formally certified by the Boards of Education, and thus provide an opportunity to pursue higher academic programmes while allowing them to use the skills they have acquired for wage/self-employment. This will result in better integration, careers/academic progression and acceptability of vocational skills program by students and parents. It is expected that once vocational education leads to employment and entrepreneurship, its status and social acceptability will also improve.
9.15 No Detention Policy
The RTE Act 2009 provides that “no child shall be required to pass any board examination till completion of elementary education.” As a consequence of the No Detention Policy, no child can be held back or expelled from school until the end of class VIII, when he attends the age of 14 years.
After taking into account the views of a vast cross-section of state representatives from the education sector as well as public representatives, parents and teachers, it has been concluded that the no detention policy must be continued for young children until completion of class V when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, the system of detention shall be restored subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove his capability to move to a higher class.
Based on CCE as well as an end of term examination, the weak students should be identified and provided remedial teaching at the end of the school day or during the holidays for which new arrangements will be created within the school system. Remedial teaching may be conducted by school teachers or even by volunteers after school hours. The student should thereafter be assessed and tested on his knowledge and understanding of the course material. If he fails to clear the bar, the process should be repeated, focusing specifically on areas where he is deficient. Should he again fail to clear the examination he should be either detained in the same class or given other alternative opportunities of pursuing different options, including the vocational stream. This will require a suitable amendment in section 30(I) of the RTE Act.
It should be explored whether advances in technology can help slow learners to make up for lost ground.
9.16 Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections and Disadvantaged Groups
The RTE Act has provided that all private and unaided schools should compulsorily admit at the entry level at least 25% children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. The cost of educating such children is borne by the government according to the prescribed norms. This provision has been questioned by many sponsors and management of these schools. There was reluctance on the part of many States to implement this provision till forced to do so by judicial intervention. There have been procedural problems regarding modalities of admission and reimbursement of cost.
Minority (religious and linguistic) schools have been exempted from the above provision of the RTI Act; even aided minority schools are not required to implement it.
Keeping in view judicial pronouncements on the subject and its objectives, the provisions of section 12 (1) (c), which deals with the right of children to free and compulsory education will be continued as it is the best way of promoting a common school system and for enhancing social equality. The Supreme Court has upheld the legality of this provision.
It has been noticed that even now there is resistance and an unspoken disregard of the provisions of the RTE Act. It is commendable that at least some States have made serious efforts operationalise the provisions of Section12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act. The policy reiterates the need for all states to implement the provisions without further delay. It is the bounden duty and legal obligation of all States to implement this provision in letter and spirit.
The states are also expected to fulfil their responsibility to bear the costs incurred by the private schools and this must be looked into without delay.
The issue of extension of Clause 12 (1) (C) of RTE Act to minority institutions needs a review. The larger national obligations to meet the rights of economic weaker sections should extend to all institutions including minority (religious and linguistic) institutions. The legal status-quo may need to be changed in this regard.
9.17 Need to Amend the RTE Act, 2009
The RTE Act needs to be amended to provide, in addition to infrastructure requirements, norms for learning outcomes which directly affect quality of education.
Infrastructure norms for recognition of private schools should also be applied to Government schools. There should be no discrimination between private and Government schools in the applicability of norms, and punitive action should be ensured for not adhering to them.
States should be given flexibility to determine their own norms for infrastructure requirements consistent with local conditions, so long as they are not significantly different from those prescribed in the RTE Act. One set of norms cannot be applied uniformly to a large and diverse country like India.
Local norms should be evolved for ‘alternate schools’, adopted to local conditions as appropriate.
9.18 Language Policy
The Three Language Formula (TLF) was formulated by the government of India in consultation with the State governments and enunciated in the National Education Policy Resolution 1968. It has been a part of the education policy of the country right from 1968 and continued through in the policy of 86/92. Under the TLF every child is expected to learn three languages, namely, the mother tongue, Hindi and English. In Hindi speaking states children are to be taught Hindi, English and one modern Indian language. There are deviations in the implementation of TLF in many states and the policy was observed more in the breach than as a rule.
Language being a highly emotive issue, no prescription will satisfy all. Maximum flexibility needs to be given to state governments and local authorities in determining the choice of languages to be taught in the schools. With the passage of time, the states have responded to local aspirations and preferences voiced by parents who would like their children to possess language and communication skills that can facilitate intra-state, intraregional as well as global mobility.
Educationists are in agreement that school education is most effective when provided in mother tongue. India has hundreds of languages and dialects and obviously no system can manage to provide education in everyone's mother tongue. It also needs to be recognized that there is a growing demand for learning English language among all sections of people, and the TLF also provided for English as one of the languages for Hindi and non-Hindi speaking States; and the Constitution (Art 351) provides for development of Hindi.
It is desirable that school education should be provided through the medium of mother tongue or regional language, at least till Class V. The choice of the second (at the primary level) and third language (at the secondary level) should be left to individual states and local authorities to decide, keeping in view the provisions of the Constitution.
9.19 Sports and Physical Education
Significant stress needs to be given to sports and physical education as part of the schooling process. Many private schools, both in urban and rural areas, have no provision whatever for such facilities. The importance of physical development of children is not given the attention it vitally needs. School authorities in states need to bring renewed focus on this aspect. It is time to make a specific, non-divertible budget for sports facilities in government schools, as also in private schools
Yoga is an art from ancient India, which the whole world is increasingly adopting for healthy development of the body and the mind. The United Nations has recently declared an annual International Yoga Day, recognizing its potential vital role in nurturing the body and the spirit. Every school, both public and private, should be encouraged to bring Yoga in as part of the schooling process, and facilitate every child to learn the basics of Yoga. Particularly in urban schools, where there is shortage of playground facilities, Yoga can play a significant part in the development of a young student.
9.20 Adult Education and Literacy
Eradication of illiteracy has been a major concern since independence. Several programs have been undertaken as a result of which the overall literacy rate in the country improved from 12% at the time of independence to 74% according to the Census 2011. Despite this, India still has the highest number (300 million) of illiterate persons in the world. Unfortunately, the adult literacy programs have lost their momentum particularly in the last few years.
A sense of urgency is needed to address this challenge. Achieving this can be accelerated by:
(i) Reaffirming government’s commitment to basic literacy and providing an opportunity for continuing education and lifelong learning for all illiterate persons above the age of 15 years.
(ii) Providing a seamless transition from basic literacy to continuing education so that the gains that have been made are not lost.
(iii) Involving youth and women’s organisations and in particular the Self Help Groups to participate in the programs
Well-defined geographical area should be taken up on priority by NGOs, Government, Schools/Colleges/educational institutions, etc. in districts with low literacy attainments, particularly among women.
It is necessary to establish equivalency with formal education programs by making the content and curriculum for adult education comparable to the level of competency acquired by lower primary level students.
(i) Reinstating the State Resource Centres (SRC’s) and Jan Shikshan Sansthans to be managed by reputed Foundations, Trusts and NGOs if they have the inclination and the wherewithal to accept the responsibility at least at some locations.
(ii) Instituting awards for the best innovations in promoting adult literacy on the lines of the National and State awards for teachers, sports.
9.21 Curriculum Renewal and Examination Reforms
Reforms to curriculum need to relate to the emerging aspirations and national needs that include social cohesion, religious amity and national integration.
There is need to reduce curriculum load and avoidable emphasis on rote learning – the focus has to be on making learning joyful, creative, participatory, and stimulate and encourage the child to think.
Left to market forces, it has been well established that private coaching increases disparities between classes of students; the relatively well-off segments of the student population can benefit through supplementary coaching, whereas the educationally and socially backward classes generally cannot afford supplementary coaching classes. The prime requirement is to improve formal teaching standards in schools, and also create structures for assisting children in school to keep up with the median levels of each class, through special support measures.
Teachers and students should have access to multiple sources of knowledge rather than only the prescribed text book. Examinations should be designed to test wider awareness, understanding and comprehension, and not merely ability to reproduce text book script. Curriculum should be broad based and aim for overall development of students in an increasingly technology driven environment.
The main objective of the school education system, as it has evolved in the last few decades is to prepare students for the board examinations. The process of examination itself is beset with corruption and malpractices. Papers are leaked, copying is rampant and examiners compromised. While efforts have been made in some states to conduct examinations in a fair and transparent manner, the overall situation is far from satisfactory, lacks credibility and is a blot on our entire education system.
Reform of the examination process needs to be put on the national agenda to restore confidence in the system. The new approach will include:
(i) A complete overhaul of examination system which primarily tests only rote memory. Memory and recall are an integral part of learning but the focus of teaching should be more on understanding than on reproducing from the text. The examination systems need to be designed to test understanding rather than being able to obtain marks by regurgitating only what is in the textbooks.
(ii) The performance of a student should not be judged only by results of the board examinations. Credit should be given to performance in periodic tests and quality of assignments and classroom participation by students. The process of continuous evaluation should be transparent and the results should be shared with students and parents.
(iii) After every public examination, an open access website should display the criteria of evaluation and performance analysis.
(iv) Instances of students scoring 90% and more in board exams and performing poorly in subsequent entrance tests for technical and other courses raises doubts about the credibility of paper setting as well as the board’s evaluation.
(v) Many boards also follow the practice of granting grace marks to artificially inflate the pass percentage. This practice should be discontinued.
(vi) Instead of following the traditional system of awarding marks and grades which has been discontinued by many countries, the alternative method of using scaled scores and percentiles should be introduced, as these adjust for the varying difficulty of questions, and provide results across students, nationwide.
(vii) On-demand board exams should be introduced to offer flexibility and reduce year end stress of students and parents. A National Level Test open to every student who has completed class XII from any School Board should be designed. It should make the successful candidates eligible for admission to various courses without appearing in a number of entrance tests. Even if the specific area-oriented aptitude tests are essential, the number of aspirants could be regulated.
(viii) Assessment capacities in CBSE and State Examinations Boards need to be strengthened. Teachers and educators need to be trained in developing appropriate questions for evaluating learning capability and performance.
Board examinations serve a useful purpose and should be strengthened. The process of examination needs to be transparent and objective, placing due emphasis on analysis, understanding and cogent writing skills, in lieu of the existing emphasis on rote memory and ability to reproduce text books.
9.22 Restructuring Class X Examination
India is a large country. There are wide variations in the quality of education facilities, competence of teachers and social background of students. It is unreasonable to expect that all students should demonstrate the same level of competence in each subject in order to reach the next level of education.
Failure rate among students in Board Examinations is generally high. It is well documented that much of the higher failure and dropout rates can be attributed to poor performance in two subjects — Mathematics and Science. Various Education Commissions have suggested that some subjects can be offered at a higher and lower level, permitting students to choose the level at which they wish to write Class X Board Examination. For example, a student who does not expect to study Mathematics further may choose the basic (lower) level, while another may choose the advanced (higher) level.
Class X Board Examination in Mathematics and Science should be in 2 levels: Part A at higher level and Part B at a lower level. Students who wish to complete their studies at Class X need, by choice, to appear in Part B only.
While the syllabus for all students will be the same, the examinations in Mathematics and Science subjects in Part B would be of a lower level than examinations for Part A. Students should have the freedom to exercise their choice and there should be no compulsion on them to select either of the options. Students who opt for Part B need to keep in mind that their eligibility to pursue future courses incorporating higher mathematics and science could get limited.
9.23 Education of Tribal Children
The tribal populations are spread across many states; in many eastern states they constitute majority of the population of the area. There are more than 700 notified scheduled Tribes in the country. Within this group, infant mortality rate is high and women’s health indicators are poor. The literacy rate among tribal populations is much lower thanin the rest of the country. Even though enrolment has improved dropout rates among tribal children are high.
Education of the tribal children has suffered because of non-availability of teachers to work in tribal areas, which are often remote and lack facilities. Language of communication has also been problem for non-tribal teachers working in tribal areas. In view of this, school education is provided in most tribal areas through residential schools (Ashramshalas). Tribal students are provided scholarships, which not only covers tuition fees but also hostel charges and allowance for books. In spite of all the efforts made by Central and State Governments, the state of tribal education is far from satisfactory. In order to improve access and quality of education, greater responsibility should devolve on government departments directly responsible for education. Tribal Departments do not have the requisite domain knowledge or expertise.
However, the decision to give full responsibility to the education departments should be taken with caution, as a lot depends on local factors.
In Ashram schools, in many remote pockets, the teachers also live on campus. It will be useful to link a nearby well-functioning integrated higher secondary school/Kendriya/Navodaya Vidyalaya or any other full-fledged secondary school to provide regular operational, advisory, mentoring advice.
It is necessary to give special attention to skill education in tribal areas. Ample opportunities for skill education need to be created in tribal areas. Since most tribal schools are residential, it will not be difficult, wherever infrastructure is available, to start skill courses after regular school time. NSDC and its associates are running some very successful skill programs in the heart of some tribal areas. Skill education should become a part of tribal education.
It is the experience of many states that tribal children find it difficult to understand regional language which is the medium of instruction. To overcome this difficulty while the medium should be the regional language in the initial grades, classroom transactions should be through local dialects. Non-tribal teachers need to be trained and provided requisite teaching material in local dialects. More efforts are required to promote science and teacher education in tribal areas. The school timings in tribal areas should be made flexible to suit local needs.
9.24 Education of Children with Special Needs
There are thousands of physically and mentally challenged children who do not get the full benefit of education because of social neglect, and absence of support systems in the home and inadequacy of sufficient facilities particularly in schools in smaller towns and villages. The MHRD had introduced a program for Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) to provide educational opportunities to such children. IEDC was later amalgamated into the DPEP and SSA programs. The scheme which is under implementation in some states includes provision of special teachers, preschool training, counselling of parents and allowances for books, stationery, uniforms and transport. The coverage under the scheme has remained limited.
There is no specific program to address the problem of learning disabilities. Responding to children with special needs is a challenge as every child is unique. Fortunately, if detected early and provided remedial therapy, children can overcome many of the incapacities to learn and assimilate with other children.
Education of children with special needs has not received adequate attention and resources that it requires. This needs to be addressed at the earliest.
The ongoing centrally sponsored schemes for children with special needs should continue but their coverage and funding needs to be augmented.
An independent board may be set up under the State Education Act or through a suitable mechanism to oversee the implementation of schemes for children with special needs.
There is a local need to constitute a part-time sub-committee of experts comprising child and clinical psychologists drawn from the nearest medical college. Any school or District Education Officer could refer a case to this committee where a third-party assessment or advice is needed.
The same forum could advise on the provision of special training/orientation to teachers so that they are equipped to handle children with special needs.
An organisational structure for managing this segment of children at the district level should be incorporated in the State Education Acts with the regulations explaining the process to be followed for identifying and providing for children with special needs.
For addressing the problem of learning disabilities, every school needs trained teachers to identify children with learning disability, and have access to experts. This will need investment in research and training. Government of India should take the lead in devising a long term plan to address the problem of learning disabilities among children and make available necessary resources.
9.25 Protection of the Rights of the Child
Child protection goes beyond personal safety of children. Precisely because a child has no voice there is a need to view situations from the child rights point of view. That will only happen if the right kind of environment which shows receptivity to child rights and child protection is in place.
To start with every Principal and teacher needs to be made aware of the provisions of the Act and what constitutes a violation of a child’s rights. Principals must be encouraged to set a personal example by showing zero tolerance for any untoward incident involving a child’s rights and enjoined to take pro-active interest in protecting the rights of every student in the school.
9.26 Academic Counselling and Aptitude Testing
Counselling is an important part of school education. Unfortunately, most government and many private schools do not have counsellors, mainly due to lack of resources. Counsellors can help identify children with special needs; they can assist slow learners and underachievers to realise their full potential, or opt for vocational skill-based programs according to their aptitude and interest. Counsellors can guide secondary and higher secondary students about employment opportunities on completion of schooling.
Counsellors play a useful role and are required when students need to discuss confidential problems relating to adolescence, family discord or physical or mental stress. Every school must have access to the services of a professional counsellor to help a range of students. The necessary resources to fill this gap need to be allocated.
9.27 Mid-Day Meal Scheme
The Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) under which students of elementary schools are provided hot cooked meals has been in operation for many years. In addition to supplementing nutrition, the program has promoted social equality and helped break caste and class barriers among schoolchildren. In spite of occasional complaints regarding quality of food served, the MDM scheme has been popular and successful.
The MDM program should now be extended to cover students of secondary schools. This is necessary as levels of malnutrition and anaemia continue to be high among adolescents.
Teachers should not be burdened with the task of supervising cooking and serving mid-day meals. Some states have engaged the services of reputed community organisations to provide the mid-day meals cooked in centralised kitchens and distributed in the schools. This experience should be studied and replicated if found satisfactory. Whether this strategy is used or the cooking is done in the school itself, the objective of supplying a cooked, balanced meal to the children is underscored.
9.28 School Children and Public Health
Good education is possible only when the child is in good health. It is a matter of concern that a very large number of children suffer from malnutrition. The incidence of anaemia among girls is unacceptably high. Preventive, diagnostic strategies and basic treatment for common problems can substantially improve children’s learning capabilities and reduce dropout rates. Currently available modern technology can be used to roll out a relatively inexpensive and effective preventive/diagnostic system.
The implementation of the school health component, which is generally administered by the health departments, needs close monitoring. The State Education Department ought to draw up a roster for check-ups and see that the schedule is followed with regularity.
It would be desirable to roll-out a national programme of regular and periodical health checks to all school children, using ‘Digital India’ connectivity, through well-equipped mobile vans, which can undertake basic diagnostics, with real-time connectivity to banks of doctors. The MHRD may have school health check-ups included as a specific area of educational policy, issue guidelines for implementation, encouraging states to use various methods, including CSR for this purpose. The aim should be that every school in the country should be covered in a relatively short period of time.
9.29 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas NVS) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGVBs)
The record, performance and reputation of KVs, JNVs and KGBV indicate that Government schools can also provide quality education, even while fulfilling a social objective and operating within the constraints of a bureaucratic system. The reasons for success of these institutions need to be studied by independent experts, and the results should be made available to State Governments to help them improve their own Government schools. The objective for all Government schools should be to aim to reach the average quality of a Kendriya or Navodaya Vidyalaya.
Subject to budgetary constraints, KVs, JNV and KGBV programmes need to be expanded wherever possible, with priority being given to relatively educationally backward areas.
9.30 Higher Education
(a) Quality Issues in Higher Education
India has one of the largest systems of higher education in the country, with more than 700 universities, 37,000 colleges and an enrolment of more than 3 crore students. The quality of many universities and colleges and the standard of education they provide are far from satisfactory. While there are some institutions like the IITs, IIMs and a few others that have established a reputation as institutions of high quality, there are a large number of institutions which are mediocre, and some are no better than ‘teaching shops’. The majority of higher education institutions fall in between these two extremes.
Many private universities and colleges operate under political patronage and take advantage of the prevailing lax or corrupt regulatory environment. These institutions vary widely in terms of infrastructure, library and laboratory facilities, quality of teachers and student engagement.
b) Teacher Availability
(i) In order to improve the quality of teachers in higher education, UGC had introduced in 1989, the National Eligibility Test (NET) for prospective teachers in higher education. State Governments also conduct their own State Eligibility Tests (SET). On an average 3 lakh candidates appear for each NET examination but the success rate is reported to be low, which is a poor reflection on the quality of post graduate teaching.
(ii) The quality of research conducted in most universities is unsatisfactory. Since possessing a Ph.D. has virtually become a necessity for faculty recruitment, a large number of institutions have sprung up offering poor quality Ph.D. on a commercial basis.
In some states, in government colleges, teachers are transferable like government staff. Most teachers do not prefer to work in smaller towns and rural areas and spend a lot of time and energy seeking transfers. The process of transfer is opaque and often driven by political influence. Because of frequent transfers, teachers in government colleges rarely develop an institutional attachment, which is essential for improving the quality of education.
(c) Appointment of Vice-Chancellors
The efficient management of a university depends very largely on the professional standing and administrative acumen of the Vice-Chancellor. The appointment of Vice-Chancellors is usually done after a Search Committee (the membership of which is usually detailed in the statute governing the University) identifies suitable persons. The appointing authority makes the selection after following the process prescribed. Often, the selection of the Vice-Chancellor is pre-determined and the selection committee acquiesces by recommending the names as suggested.
The present system of appointing Vice-Chancellors has become prone to manipulation, which militates against the appointment of competent persons as VC with vision and leadership. Many Vice-Chancellors are known to be political appointees and quite willing to accommodate pressures and outside influence in the management of universities.
It is imperative that the selection of Vice-Chancellor should be done on merit. Appointment of the Vice-Chancellor on the basis of academic merit will ensure that the VC has credibility in the eyes of the faculty and students. Several committees in the past have made recommendations for making the process of selection of VCs transparent and objective. It is high time that these are implemented in letter and spirit.
The above is possible only if the process of appoint of VCs is depoliticized. This needs national consensus. Central and State Governments have to come together and agree on a common agenda for appointing persons of academic eminence and leadership qualities as VCs. Unless this is done, there is little hope of improving the education standard and management efficiency of our universities.
(d) Ensuring Quality in Higher Education
The process of according recognition of higher education institutions, both general and technical, needs considerable revamping. Accreditation is an effective system for assessing the quality of higher education institutions. Accreditation validates and provides assurance that the quality of education provided by the institutions is of satisfactory standard. Assessment and accreditation enhances the reputation and acceptability of the institution and the value of the degrees conferred by it. At present accreditation is not compulsory for all higher education institutions. It is required only for receiving grants from the UGC. According to the latest information available, 140 universities got themselves accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) but only 32% were rated as ‘A’ grade or above. Of the 2780 colleges accredited by NAAC, only 9% were graded ‘A’ or above. Most universities have been rated average. Quality and excellence in colleges clearly leaves much to be desired. A credible system of accreditation covering all institutions of higher education needs to be instituted.
Many private universities and colleges, professional and otherwise, flourish under the patronage of influential people backed by money power with little interest in education, taking advantage of a lax or corrupt regulatory environment. The proliferation of privately run ‘teaching shops’ and so-called non-profit institutions, ill-equipped and operating with unqualified staff, is a disturbing development and needs to be urgently addressed. It is necessary to weed them out through a process of accreditation for which transparent benchmarks have to be applied.
While higher education institutions are proliferating there is neither a structured system nor adequate commitment to provide quality teachers to meet the increasing demand for higher education. A manpower needs study must be undertaken every five years at the central and state levels to determine the need for faculty positions in institutions of higher education. Vacancies and recruitment schedule needs be forecast well in advance. Appointment to faculty positions should only be made after the applicants have cleared the NET and SET examinations followed by a rigorous merit based selection, preferably through the Public Service Commission or an independent body. Privately run colleges would also need to recruit teaching faculty from those who have cleared the NET/SET examination.
There is a need to ensure that competent and motivated teachers enter the profession. Innovative options have to be offered to talented students at the class 12 stage from amongst, say the top performers (depending upon projected manpower requirements for teaching specific subjects at the college and university level). They could be offered admission in a 5-year integrated course leading to specialisation in specific subject areas and include an emphasis on developing teaching and research skills. Selected candidates should receive full scholarship from public funds.
A large number of teaching positions are lying vacant, especially in state universities and affiliated colleges. The reasons for faculty posts remaining vacant are several. First, there is reluctance on the part of some states to fill posts on a regular basis with the aim of saving the outgo on salaries of full-time faculty. Second, the recruitment process, through the Public Service Commissions, is often time-consuming. The process of recruitment also gets delayed due to litigation. The practice of appointing ad-hoc and part-time faculty impacts adversely on the quality of teaching and research and should be discouraged.
For most undergraduate programmes, it should not be necessary to insist upon the faculty needing to possess doctorate qualification. Instead, it should be mandatory for such teachers to attend training programmes in teaching and communication skills, and to gain high proficiency in the use of ICT.
Budgetary allocations should be increased and facilities for carrying out high quality research improved to encourage and incentivise serious researchers.
To the extent possible, teachers should be recruited and attached to particular institutions, rather than be part of an organised service where they are subject to frequent transfers. This will help in developing institutional attachment and commitment.
The process of selection and appointment of Vice-Chancellor should be depoliticised and done purely on merit.
At present, accreditation is mandatory only for general stream higher education institutions receiving grants-in-aid from the UGC. Accreditation should be made mandatory for all institutions of higher education, including technical education, medicine and agriculture, both in public and private sectors.
9.31 Role of State in the Management of Higher Educational Institutions
(a) State/Central Universities
Most of the older universities were created by law either by the Centre or the States. Though technically these universities are autonomous, in actual practice the intervention by governments is extensive. There is a need to remove such interventions and to give freedom to universities to focus on improving their academic performance through their own initiative.
Most of the older universities are affiliating universities, some universities having hundreds of colleges affiliated to them. NEP 1986/92 had recommended greater autonomy to colleges as a result of which some colleges have been granted autonomous status, but by and large universities continue to be burdened with administrative and academic responsibilities of affiliated colleges, not allowing them to concentrate fully on teaching and research.
(b) Private Universities
In recent years, many states have allowed private universities to be established. These universities are non-affiliating and are largely free from state control in management. However, these universities continue to come under the purview of UGC and AICTE. Serious complaints of corruption have been voiced about the manner in which the approvals and recognitions are accorded to higher education institutions.
Complaints about lack of transparency in the management of private universities and colleges are continually voiced. High capitation fees are charged for admissions in engineering and medical courses where the demand has exceeded the supply of seats. In many States fees in private colleges are determined by Government and kept artificially low with a tacit understanding that the institutions can make up the deficit through donations and capitation fees.
The present system encourages non-transparent financial management of private higher education institutions, indirectly supporting parallel economy operations. The system does not have any built-in levers to upgrade quality, keep a check on sub-standard institutions and curb exploitation of hapless students.
9.32 The Contours of Reform in Higher Education
Major reforms are required to confront the issues listed above. Firstly, full academic freedom needs to be given to universities to fix their curriculum, create new courses based on demand and contemporary relevance. Secondly, the finances of the education institutions should become open and transparent. The state will have to sponsor through loans and scholarships a substantial number of admissions in each institution, for which a fair and open methodology for selection needs to be adopted. Private institutions should be allowed to charge fees which would enable them to meet their legitimate expenses.
As part of the accreditation process, each institution should be evaluated at least once in five years. There should be different criteria of evaluation for different categories of institutions. Within each category, an institution will be ranked on a scale of I to VII. VII representing the highest and I the lowest in the category. Those in the top two of the scale should be given full operational autonomy in all academic and administrative matters; those in category VI would be provided incentives, guidance and advice to move to category VII. Those on the bottom of the scale in category I would be put on notice for immediate closure. Those in category II would be given a warning that they are under close watch, and could be considered for closure unless they move up the scale. The institutions in the categories in between would be generally assisted and advised to improve their standing.
Every institution would have to periodically place, on a dedicated website, details of the number of teachers and their qualifications; examination results; placements; and a report on academic and extra-curricular activities, as well as other relevant information relating to the institution.
ICT applications should be used extensively to monitor performance of higher education institutions. As a part of the Digital India programme, database should be created to monitor the performance of teachers and students. For long term planning purposes longitudinal surveys in the higher education sector are needed which would provide a database for further policy and programmatic interventions in higher education.
The effective and timely implementation of the above reforms would require a comprehensive new legislative framework. At present, the management and regulation of higher education institutions is the responsibility of national level regulators like UGC, AICTE, NCTE, NAAC, NBA, etc., each one having been created under a separate Act. The new law will lay down norms and standards for regulations, accreditation and evaluation of higher education institutions. The underlying principle would be to extend assistance, guidance and mentorship to institutions to improve themselves; to provide full academic and management autonomy to institutions which are in the highest category in the scale; and finally, to weed out institutions, which are on the lowest rung of the scale.
It is envisaged that a National Higher Education Promotion and Management Act, to cover the present and future needs of the higher education sector, will be enacted.
The burden of affiliating universities to exercise academic and administrative oversight of affiliated colleges should be reduced. No university should have more than 100 affiliated colleges and universities which have more than 100 affiliated colleges should be split for achieving better academic oversight and management efficiency.
9.33 Need to Revamp the Regulatory Regime in Higher Education
The system of Higher Education is in crisis. There are more than 40,000 institutions, most of them of average or indifferent quality. Only about 20% of graduates from these institutions have been found to be employable. Private institutions have proliferated and many of them are of sub-standard quality. High capitation fees are charged for admission to engineering and medical courses. Corruption is common for getting approvals and recognitions. Political patronage and influence is all pervasive.
The regulatory regime for higher education should have the capacity, sensitivity, objectivity and discrimination to deal with different categories of institutions of different quality. While the best institutions need to be left alone to develop and flourish according to their potential, most of the institutions have to be regulated to achieve improvement as per prescribed norms. Institutions at the bottom of the pile need to be ruthlessly weeded out.
The present evaluation methods are input-based rather than realistically based on output or potential outputs. The present accreditation system has to be revamped and quality institutions have to be given greater freedom including being able to fix student fees and faculty salaries to attract the best talent.
The payment of capitation fees and rent-seeking from students is rampant – for some specialized courses the amounts mentioned as capitation fee are very high. The prevailing situation often forces the potentially good institutions to back off because they do not succumb to unethical practices. It is ironical that the checks and verifications which are expected to counter malpractices are militating against the few good quality institutions which shun the capitation route. The Policy therefore underscores an alternative approach which encourages autonomy to good institutions, and threatens the inefficient and unscrupulous with closure. The mechanisms to be adopted include accreditation, rating and ranking of institutions and declaration of findings on a regularly updated and accessible website.
The new regulatory regime needs to be flexible and nuanced. These issues are elaborated elsewhere.
9.34 Research and Innovation in Indian Universities
Although India’s overall share of research publications in the world has risen in the past decade, the quality of research has not made a significant mark. Barring a few pockets of excellence like IITs, IIMs and a few top Universities and institutions, the system is marked by mediocrity. Research minded students and faculty prefer to go abroad as they do not find the research climate in our institutions conducive. It is estimated that nearly 3 lakh students go abroad every year to study in the world’s best universities, spending more than $10 billion, which is twice the allocation for Union budget in higher education. Favourable conditions need to be created in the country to promote high quality research.
Over the next decade at least 100 new centres for excellence, in the field of higher education both in public and private sector need to be established. If this is successfully accomplished, it will pave the way for high quality research and innovation to be undertaken. A regulatory regime which can oversee and encourage the establishment of such institutions of excellence needs to be put in place.
Based on a commitment from the private philanthropists/ foundations and Trusts full freedom is to be given to establish such Centres of Excellence. A minimum investment of say Rs. 1000 crore each in the first five years accompanied by a broad plan of action to set up one such centre should be met with the promise of grant of full autonomy in deciding the choice of subjects, location, pedagogy, recruitment of faculty from India or abroad as well as freedom to fix tuition fees – with the proviso that over a 5-year period the new venture will be subject to careful scrutiny by the official accreditation/evaluation agency. At that time the institution needs to figure in the highest quality bracket available, failing which the approval of its status as a Centre of Excellence will be withdrawn. This will help garner resources for higher education, attract good faculty and drive the institution to make a name for itself by fostering research, nurturing originality and starting a climate of healthy competition.
A Council for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE) would be established to create policies to foster the establishment of Centres for Excellence, both in the public and private sectors. Identified existing institutions, both private and public, based on evaluation, can be brought under the umbrella of this Council. The guiding principle would be to nurture excellence and to create a climate that builds trust, grants autonomy in management and gives the Centres freedom to adopt their own curriculum, set patterns of teaching and pursue collaborative research.
For India to find a respectable place in the field of research and innovation, the induction of faculty and their promotion procedures must be transparent, rigorous and designed to promote intellectual and academic excellence. The Academic Promotion Index (API) must be replaced by more scientific procedures of assessing the quality of contributions which should not be confined only to the number of publications and on attendance in seminars, but with reference to their quality and impact. A Task Force with membership of experts and scholars should be appointed to study recruitment, promotion and retention procedures, which are followed by internationally renowned universities and institutions. This body should redefine recruitment and promotion practices for faculty in institutions of higher education.
Existence of vacant posts leads to deterioration in institutional climate and must not be permitted under any conditions. This is a pre-requisite for quality improvement in higher education and each University has a responsibility to oversee that all vacant positions are filled with regular appointments.
9.35 Recognition, Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was established in 1994 for evaluation of quality of institutions of higher education. Accreditation is not mandatory for such institutions except for the purpose of getting grants from UGC. Of the 40,000 higher education institutions in the country only 15% have so far been accredited by NAAC. The National Board of Accreditation established by AICTE undertakes periodic evaluation of technical institutions primarily to evaluate whether the institutes meet the initial requirements of functioning. There are concerns about the many qualitative and procedural gaps in the process of accreditation.
The capacity of existing accreditation agencies is inadequate to carry out, with reasonable efficiency, the task of accrediting all institutions in a time bound manner. The need for revamping the system of accreditation is now urgent.
Hitherto, the concept of accreditation and quality evaluation was essentially to consider eligibility for grants of different kinds. There is need to reorient the approach to accreditation, as one involving assessment of quality of the institution to bring public awareness of the position of each institution in relation to its intrinsic quality and potential. Such an approach will determine the relative position of each institution in the hierarchy of higher education institutions of that category on a country-wide basis and provide a degree of choice to the student in identifying the preferred institution.
The following shall be the new approach to accreditation:
(i) Every higher education institution shall be accredited.
(ii) The overall process of accreditation shall be governed by a National Accreditation Board (NAB) subsuming NAAC and NBA, which will provide oversight, define methodology, undertake research on accreditation and set standards. This Board will licence accreditation agencies based on norms to be prescribed by the NAB.
(iii) The actual accreditation of institutions will be processed by a number of licensed/approved agencies, preferably non-profit organisations, or falling under Section 8 of the Companies Act, which have adequate expertise in evaluating quality and assessing the attributes of a higher education institution. The policy shall foster creation of such agencies to meet the fast growing need for qualified accrediting agencies.
(iv) NAB will encourage universities to offer suitable courses and training programmes for accreditation personnel.
(v) In the overall framework of accreditation, NAB will lay down separate standards of accreditation depending on the type of institution and level of development. All institutions may not be assessed in the same manner; the institution may choose categories in which it could be placed – for example as a large university, a technical college, or a general degree college. Likewise categories can be created relating to pure research institutions, or mainly teaching institutions etc. There should be an overarching management board, the National Accreditation Board, which will oversee the entire process, set standards and define guidelines, as also license (preferably non-profit) agencies in adequate number who will undertake the actual accreditation process.
(vi) Each institution shall be placed within its category in a rank of I to VII, category VII being the highest, and I being the lowest. Institutions placed in I and II shall be given a notice to take all measures to improve their ranking to category III within a period of three years failing which they will face de-recognition. On the upper end of the scale, VII represents the best in class; the institution in this bracket would have autonomy in all respects, including faculty payments, fee structure, collaborations, etc., subject to these institutions providing a certain number of seats for meritorious students from specified sections that will be supported by scholarships by Centre/State governments.
(vii) Each institution shall be evaluated at least once in five years. Its category and placement therein shall be available to the general public through a dedicated website of the NAB.
(viii) Each institution would establish an Internal Quality Assurance mechanism, as broadly defined by the NAB; each affiliating university would also have such a mechanism, which will monitor on continuing basis quality issues within the university as well as in the affiliated institutions.
(ix) A key challenge is to ensure that the accrediting agencies perform their task with enormous understanding of the academic ethos and with honesty. This should be carefully fostered by the NAB. The NAB shall keep a close watch on the accrediting agencies to ensure that they perform their task with diligence, sincerity and integrity.
The results of the evaluation of each institution will be available to the general public on a continuing basis, through a dedicated website, to enable students and other stakeholders to make educated choices.
9.36 International Linkages in Higher Education
Nearly 3 lakhs students from India travel outside their country to pursue higher education. The migration of some of our best students can be reduced and more foreign students attracted to India, if conditions are created such that Indian institutions and research facilities are of international repute. Selected foreign universities, from the top 200 in the world, should be encouraged to establish their presence India through collaboration with Indian universities. It should be made possible for a foreign university to be in position to offer its own degree to the Indian students studying in India, such that these degrees should be valid also in the country of origin.
Encouragement should be given to ‘high quality’ foreign universities and educational institutions to collaborate with Indian partners, and establish an Indian presence. Appropriate enabling legislation, as required, may be enacted. The opportunity should be used to ‘globalize’ Indian higher education without compromising the basic tenets of access, equity and quality of education.
9.37 Need for a National Higher Education Promotion and Management Act
The existing major national institutions in the Education sector were set up at different times, with individual mandates as envisioned at the time of their formation. Some were established through Acts of Parliament, while others were through executive orders. With the passage of time, with new developments in the Higher Education sector there is a need to review their mandate keeping the emerging trends that are seen as also to update the existing legislation, and make it more relevant to current and future needs.
A Higher Education Management Act needs to be enacted which will constitute the legal framework, to confer the authority to promote, manage and stimulate the higher education sector, backed by a national mandate. Following the new proposed enactment it is presumed that the separate legislations governing individual agencies would lapse and the new legal regime would assign fresh roles and obligations on the existing bodies, redefine their roles and nomenclature, and facilitate coordination and cooperation between them for their optimal contribution to the sector. Until that happens the existing agencies would continue to perform their present roles, and whatever interim reforms are immediately required would be introduced.
State Governments and Universities will have to play a critical role in regulating higher education institutions within their jurisdictions. It is proposed that recognition of all new universities and colleges, strictly in accordance with standards set by the new legislation, will be done by an autonomous statutory Council of Higher Education to be set up by each State. Approval of new courses will be within the competence of the concerned University. The Council will arrange to monitor periodically the academic standards of universities and colleges in consultation with approved accrediting agencies. All the decisions of the Council should be in full public domain to create confidence and credibility in the system.
9.38 Creation of a National Education Fund
The UGC currently distributes 35,000 fellowships worth about Rs.1050 crores each year. Fellowships are also awarded by other ministries like Agriculture, Defence and Science &Technology of Government of India. It is estimated that around 40-50 thousand fellowships are available every year in the country.
With the objective of encouraging merit and promoting equity, a National Fellowship Fund, primarily designed to support the tuition fees, learning material and living expenses for about 10 lakh students every year should be created. The scholarships from this fund should be made available to students belonging to the economically weaker sections, specifically those below the poverty line.
A separate national talent scholarship scheme to be administered after class 12 should be set up for meritorious students of all categories selected through a national level examination to be linked with this scheme.
A corpus of funds should be generated, partly funded by government, and partly through contribution from the private and corporate sectors, with appropriate tax and other concessions as incentives; as well as opening the fund for contribution from alumni of various institutions that have benefited in their careers through free or supported education in the past.
9.39 Entrance Examinations to Professional Courses
Overtime, with the vast expansion of professional education institutions in engineering, management, medical and other fields, the number of entrance examinations to these courses has multiplied manifold. While examinations like JEE, etc. address the issue of admission to the best institutions, most states and educational institutions have resorted to a multiplicity of entrance tests, often placing much stress and pressure on the students aspiring for admission. There is clear need to rationalize the system of entrance examinations to professional courses. A note needs to be taken of the recent decision of the Supreme Court to have national common admission tests for medical institutions in the country.
There is need for one unified national level examination for admission to each type of specified professional course, carefully designed, giving the facility to the applicant to prepare for it and apply at his own convenience, to advance his opportunity for admission to any institution across the country. For students from each state where the institution located, either the benchmark performance in the state board, or a state level examination meant for local aspirants needs to be created. Thus the aspiring student need not have to prepare for a large number of examinations, with different standards and norms, and local variants. The reform process should take into account and provide for entrance through a unified national examination for each type of professional course or a state-level similar examination. There is need to rationalize the entrance examination scenario, in the overall interest of the development of professional courses in the country.
9.40 Open and Distance Learning – Dual Mode and Promotion of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
At present open and distances learning in the country is provided mainly by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and some State Open Universities. In recent years MOOCs have been introduced in some universities abroad to extend the reach of higher education but the results have not been uniformly encouraging. A beginning has also been made to offer MOOC in India. A major challenge to open distance learning is to create a framework for assessment and award of credits, which would enable its degree and diplomas to be treated on par with conventional degrees and diplomas.
Open Direct Learning through dual mode universities and through MOOCs should be accorded appropriate priority because of India’s existing and latent strength in terms of IT capability and interest evinced by leading Universities and Institutions in promoting ODL education.
Under the aegis of the proposed Higher Education Act (proposed elsewhere in the policy), a suitable ‘Regulator’ with adequate powers, will need to be established.
The demand for ODL/MOOCs will rise in future, though it is not certain which technologies will find favour from learners; the developments in this field need to be watched carefully. It is desirable that an appropriate regulatory regime should be in place as soon as possible.
9.41 Reforms in Medical Education
There are at present more than 400 medical colleges in the country. Nearly half of them are in the Government sector. The average annual growth in under-graduate in medical seats is around 5% and for post-graduate 2%. Even this growth is not evenly spread, most of it concentrated in southern and western states. More public investment is needed for starting medical colleges in deficient regions. The private sector needs to be encouraged to set up medical colleges for which incentives, including minimum requirement of land, need to be considered.
There have been complaints about the corruption and malpractices in the grant of recognition and approval to new medical colleges by Medical Council of India (MCI). The MCI has elected representatives who have shown more interest in feathering their constituencies than looking after the interest of medical education. The quality of medical education has suffered due to political and financial vested interests in MCI.
The existing framework of medical education needs significant restructuring. Entrenched interests of different kinds should be kept away from the functions of inspection, verification and standard-setting, as well as approval for opening new institutions.
9.42 Reforms in Agriculture Education
Even though about 52% of labour and 80% of rural population in India is dependent on agriculture, agriculture and allied subjects like livestock, forestry and fishery, form a negligible part of school curriculum and syllabus. There is an urgent need to bring agriculture and rural India in the main stream of our education system.
There are 63 agriculture universities in the country, functioning under the overall supervision of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR). ICAR and agricultural universities have made notable contribution to India’s growth in agricultural production. Indian agriculture is beset by problems of frequent droughts, sub-optimal use of agricultural facilities and lack of adequate post-harvest facilities. A review of agriculture education is needed to re-orient and revamp it to make it relevant to the current needs.9.38There is a need to bring agriculture and rural India in the mainstream of our educational system, to familiarise the system with rural/agricultural issues, even though this may not be a compulsory subject in the school curriculum. At high school level, students could be exposed to subjects like soil health, balanced use of fertilisers, water conservation, and importance of seeds in agriculture and pest control, as an optional subject. NCERT need also to look into this aspect of curriculum reform.
An independent review or critical assessment of the ICAR/National Research Institutions may be conducted to highlight the specific reforms that need to be undertaken in the quality of research and information dissemination by the national institutions.
The State Agricultural Universities need to update their curriculum and pedagogy, to enable them to address the needs of their students. A review needs to be undertaken of the State Agricultural Universities to reorient and revamp them to become relevant to meet current needs. The State Universities also need to pioneer new concepts, using Digital India to spread agricultural information and knowledge to the farming community through digital applications and innovative avenues.
9.43 Reforming and Strengthening National Level Institutions
(a) All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)
The All India Council of Technical Education was set up in 1987 to regulate technical education and institutions. There was proliferation of technical institutions, mainly in the private sector, in the last three decades to meet the increasing demand for engineering and related courses. There have been complaints about corruption and malpractices in the grant of approval and recognition to these institutions many of which do not have adequate academic or physical infrastructure and offer poor quality of education. Government of India had appointed a Committee under the chairmanship of M.K. Kaw to examine the role and functions of AICTE, which submitted its report in 2015.
It has been recommended in another part of the report that the mandates of UGC, AICTE and NCTE, regulators in the higher education sector, set up under different laws, should be reviewed in the light of the proposed National Higher Education Promotion and Management Act.
In the process of the rapid expansion of the technical education sector in the past two decades, the AICTE has largely failed to act as a Regulator to fulfil its mandated regulatory responsibilities.
Pending the enactment of the National Higher Education Promotion and Management Act, administrative reforms suggested by the Kaw Committee may be given effect to, to the extent feasible and desirable, pending regular arrangements in the wake of the proposed higher education law.
(b) National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)
National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was established in 1961 to advice on all aspects of school education and teacher education. NCERT is widely known for its work on text-books, curriculum and pedagogy, which has earned it a unique reputation among the education community. NCERT was the pioneer in introducing Four Year Integrated B.Ed. programmes and has assisted State Governments in strengthening vocational education and integration of developments in educational technology in teaching learning processes.
The rapid expansion of school education and its deteriorating quality, the proliferation of tuition and coaching classes and widespread malpractices in conduct of examinations has makes it necessary for NCERT to reorient itself.
NCERT needs to focus sharply on increasing the quality of school education; in particular to move to transformation of the curriculum and pedagogy away from rote learning to promote a spirit of enquiry and understanding. For this, NCERT will have to redesign its text books in a manner that teachers become facilitators and co-investigators and encourage self and peer learning.
Successive National Education Policies have referred to progressive transformation of the curriculum and pedagogy away from rote learning, to encourage greater involvement of the thinking faculties of the students in the learning process, and to promote a spirit of inquiry. The school curricula do not as yet adequately reflect changes in this direction. This important core function of the NCERT has to be given greater relevance, applicability and intensity of application.
The regional institutes of NCERT also need to be strengthened to provide support in training, research, innovations and teaching learning material development to SCERTs and other institutions in the state. The RIEs have an important role in observing and conceptualising excellent initiatives and helping other states to adopt them. They should be encouraged to look for best practices and disseminate them for which suitable expertise should be provided.
NCERT has a major role to play in the transformation in the Indian school education scene; it needs to be strengthened in terms of faculty and resources; reorient itself by restoring emphasis on research and innovation.
(c) National University of Educational Planning and Administration
The origins of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) go back to 1962, when it was established as a research centre for educational planners. For many years it was known as National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), until it became a Deemed to be University in 2006. NUEPA is the premier institution for providing in-service training in educational planning and administration and also for undertaking research in these subjects. It provides technical support and advisory services to Centre and State Governments.
Like every other organisation attached to the MHRD there should be peer-reviews and periodical external reviews of the work of NUEPA. A clear re-orientation of its research agenda to reflect actual issues on the ground needs to be undertaken without delay.
The central data compilation consolidation system needs to be significantly upgraded; a decision needs to be taken whether NUEPA is the correct agency in which to locate this activity.
The establishment of a Central Bureau of Educational Intelligence with high quality statistical expertise and management information system should be considered as an alternative to provide the requisite focus to this area.
(d) University Grants Commission (UGC)
University Grants Commission (UGC) was established in 1986 for the regulation of university and institutions of higher education. Its functions include recognition of institutions, approval of curriculum, permission to start courses, disbursement of grants and management of scholarship programmes. Over the years, UGC has issued a number of regulations for ensuring quality of higher education in the country but has not been able to implement these regulations effectively. There have been complaints about corruption and malpractices in the grant of recognition and approval to institutions by UGC. The credibility of UGC has been seriously dented by approvals given to a large number of colleges and deemed to be universities of dubious quality.
An expert committee recently has examined thoroughly the past, present and future role of UGC, and its report is under examination by the Ministry. It is understood that the report had concluded that the UGC does not have the adequate number of personnel of requisite quality to be an effective regulatory force in the higher education sector. When the new overarching higher education management law is enacted, the UGC Act should be allowed to lapse.
A separate mechanism for disbursement of fellowships needs to be set up. The UGC could be revamped, made considerably leaner and thinner, and could be the nodal point for administration of the proposed National Higher Education Fellowship Programme, without any other promotional or regulatory function.
9.44 Open and Distance Learning
(a) Indira Gandhi National open University
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was set-up in 1985 for the promotion of distance education systems and for coordination and determination of standards in such systems. IGNOU presently offers more than 200 academic programmes with annual intake of more than 7 lakh learners. IGNOU has held many States to start State Open Universities. It has played an important role in popularising distance education in the country and maintaining high standards.
There has been no independent evaluation of the work of IGNOU since its establishment and recommends that such an exercise be undertaken at an early date.
IGNOU should now be given the position of the designated National University in the field of distance education; and allowed the autonomy and the space to set its own standards, and be a pacemaker in this fast growing area. There is a collateral responsibility devolving on IGNOU to maintain the highest possible standards.
IGNOU should be authorised to offer online programmes in different fields including teacher education, agriculture and law, subject to the condition that they ensure scrupulous conformity with the standards set in this regard by the relevant designated Regulatory Agency.
IGNOU, like every university of high quality, should have its own strong internal quality cell, to ensure conformity to high standards.
(b) National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)
National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), established in 1989 has emerged as one of the largest open schools in the world, covering 30 lakh learners through 6,000 centres. It offers an opportunity for pursuing education to those who for a variety of reasons are not able to attend formal schools. While the role of NIOS has been fairly clear in the area of school education, it now needs to redefine itself to address the large potential demand for vocational education, in collaboration with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.
The NIOS is now departmentally managed, which is not the ideal management structure. As the entire field of distance education in the school sector is looked at, and as the management of the same reviewed, the issues of management/monitoring/oversight of NIOS need to be addressed appropriately.
(c) Need for Credible Examination and Certification at Class X and XII
At present Central and State Boards of Education conduct examination for class X and XII. There are wide variations in the quality and value of certificates provided by different boards. There is a felt need for a credible and reliable national examination at class X and class XII for following categories of students:
(i) School dropouts;
(ii) Students who opted for vocational stream but would like to move back to main academic stream;
(iii) Those who wish to study abroad and need certification of acceptable quality achievement by foreign institutions of higher education;
(iv) To establish minimum eligibility for 10 lakh new fellowships recommended elsewhere in the report.
An appropriately upgraded NIOS, or another suitable designated agency, should be the nodal agency for conducting the national level examinations for class X and XII. Class XII examinations may be the first one to get establish followed as soon as possible thereafter, by class X examination.
(d) Regulatory Issues in Distance Learning
There is need to take note of the current experiments in distance education, undertaken by public and private institutions, and restructure the institutional mechanisms, to cater to the potentially burgeoning demand.
It is expected that there will be a rapid expansion of distance learning in the coming years. There are now many private players also in this field. For many years IGNOU was the regulator for distance learning. While IGNOU and NIOS may be the premier agencies for open distance learning, there is a need to establish an appropriate regulatory authority to keep track of developments in this field, to provide the legal framework for any government intervention and also to provide support, encouragement and mentorship to healthy private initiatives in this field.
In view of the likelihood of rapid expansion of distance learning using various platforms, it is urgently required to create two Regulators, one for higher education and the other for school education, to keep a close watch on the developments, support new initiatives by the government and by private players, and in general to promote, support and regulate this growing field
NIOS or any other designated agency should create two new national level examinations systems to certify Class X and Class XII equivalent achievement, which should be credible, reliable and seen as definitive. These systems will cater to different kinds of needs not so far addressed by the normal education system, and can be used by different varieties of end users.
The proposal for 10 lakh new fellowships for higher education mentioned elsewhere could use this Class XII examination as the benchmark for selection of candidates, with appropriate classifications. It is also proposed that the Class XII examination system may be created as soon as possible, with the Class X examination to follow.
9.45 The Way Forward
India today has one of the largest systems of education in terms of number of institutions, teachers and students. An enormous infrastructure exists. Decades of insufficient focus, lack of adequate attention and mismanagement have seriously eroded the quality of our education system. While access has sharply increased, inequalities persist. Deficiencies and shortcomings have now to be treated as opportunities; the country now needs to invest on its strength, i.e. its children.
The process of regeneration can only start if the capacity to improve standards and the zeal to engage teachers and students become the guiding ethos of those responsible for providing education. The recognition for the need to bridge the educational divide and include every aspiring learner is the guiding spirit of the New National Policy on Education. Regeneration of India’s education is anchored in that belief.
The New National Policy on Education has tried to address these deficiencies and challenges, along with the need to sharply increase the quality of Indian education, across the board. It offers a framework for change, make education modern with optimal use of technology, without compromising on India’s traditions and heritage.