HRD on a launch spree in 2017

NEW DELHI: Establishment of national testing and higher education financing agencies, launching of a portal for online courses and a project for web verification of documents kept the HRD ministry busy in 2017 even as it carried a backlog of appointments to this year. While defining of learning outcomes by the NCERT and the massive National Achievement Survey (NAS) for competency based evaluation of school students were the major exercises conducted by the ministry’s school education department in the year gone by, focus also remained on strengthening teacher training in the country.

Introduction of four year B.Ed. integrated programme with multiple pathways, formulation of guideline on strengthening of District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) and amendment of the RTE Act for training of in-service untrained teachers were among the steps taken for teacher education.

The National Centre for School Leadership (NCSL) was established to conceptualise and design the Online Programme on School Leadership and Management using Moodle platform for school principals.

The long pending appointment of UGC chairman was finalised in December, however, there is a backlog of appointments which will run into the next year.

The posts of UGC Vice Chairman, NCERT Joint Director and Vice Chancellors of BHU and Viswa Bharti University are vacant even as the appointment process had been initiated for them.

Launch of DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing), ranking of schools and higher education institutions on basis of cleanliness, automated monitoring system for mid-day meals, Swayam Prabha–an initiative to provide 32 high quality educational channels through DTH, National Academic Depository (NAD) and National Digital Library (NDL) kept the ministry’s calender occupied.

The ministry also rapped by the Supreme Court over scrapping of moderation policy, use of word university by deemed to be varsities and imparting of technical education through distance mode by certain varsities.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) decided to do away with the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) for class X paving way for reintroduction of board exams.

The new National Education Policy (NEP), one of the government’s ambitious projects, is also likely to be delayed with the newly-constituted panel headed by former ISRO chief Kasturirangan not meeting the December deadline and seeking a three-month extension.

The IIT Public Private Partnership Bill and IIM Bill remained among the legislative reforms in the education sector in 2017.

The NCERT also decided to review its textbooks and invited suggestions from various stakeholders and ultimately incorporated the changes on recommendations of the expert panel.

Unfortunate incidents including gruesome murder of a boy in a Gurgaon school and rape of a girl by a peon in a Delhi school sparked off concerns about safety of students in schools prompting the CBSE to issue safety guidelines including conducting psychometric evaluation of teaching and non-teaching staff.

Five new research parks at IIT Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kanpur and IISc Bangalore at a total cost of Rs. 75 crore were approved.

The Uchchtar Avishkar Abhiyan was launched to promote industry specific-need based research besides establishment and operationalisation of six new IITs at Jammu, Bhilai, Goa, Dharwad, Tirupati and Palakkad.

COMMENTSFor improving gender balance in IITs, it was decided to increase female enrolment in BTech programmes from current 8 per cent to 14 per cent in 2018-19, 17 per cent in 2019-20 and 20 per cent in 2020-21 by creating supernumerary seats.