The right syllabus PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 February 2017 00:00
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Sarthak's edit 


The 10% jump in allocation for the sector aside, Budget 2017 holds great promise for education, especially higher education, because of the reforms path it charts. The move to create a National Testing Agency (NTA) that will be responsible for carrying out various central level entrance tests will relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), as finance minister Arun Jaitley noted in his Budget speech, of the burden of having to juggle both regulating affiliated schools and conducting four major entrance tests—the JEE MAINS for engineering, NEET-UG for medical, UGC-NET for entry-level teaching jobs in universities & colleges and UGC-funded research fellowships, and CTET for school-level teaching jobs. A Group of Secretaries (GoS) had recommended in its recently submitted report that other national-level entrance/qualifying exams such as CAT, GATE, etc, too be conducted by the NTA. Doing this would leave the respective administrators of these exams—the IIMs in the case of CAT and the IISc and the IITs in the case of GATE—free to concentrate on academic matters.

However, the bigger reform proposed has to be overhauling the UGC framework and give top-billed varsities and institutions “greater academic and administrative autonomy”. With top-rung varsities and higher education institutes no longer yoked to an overbearing regulator that dictated everything from syllabus to teachers’ recruitment, etc, they will be free to introduce courses that match well with market needs. While the problem with the UGC framework has been that it held back good institutions, it is also that it has failed to ensure quality in many of the institutes it has approved over the years. Indeed, the panel headed by Hari Gautam, a former UGC chairperson himself, had noted that it “has side-stepped its function of being a sentinel of excellence … and embraced the relatively easier function of funding education”. The TSR Subramanian committee had even recommended that the UGC Act, from which the regulator draws its powers, be allowed to lapse, noting that it had failed to ensure quality and that there were “widespread irregularities” in its grant of approval of institutions and courses. Though it is not clear yet what the final shape of this reform will be, if the government adopts the GoS’s recommendations to have a “graded regulation regime”—it had talked of self-reporting and external peer review only for institutions given top level accreditation by NAAC—it will have given a huge boost to the sector. The government’s proposal to give top-ranked colleges autonomous status, too, is a step in the right direction.




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