NKC Second Report to Nation
Febuary 2008

NKC Second Report to Nation

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The National Knowledge  Commission (NKC) was constituted on 13th June 2005 as a high level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India. NKC has a designated time-frame of three years: from 2nd October 2005 to 2nd October 2008.
S
am Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has recently released the 2nd annual ‘Report to the Nation’ which was presented to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Report assumes importance in the context of Government’s commitment to the knowledge initiatives in the XIth Plan endorsed recently by the National Development Council.

The Plan places high priority on education as a central instrument for achieving rapid and inclusive growth with specific emphasis on expansion, excellence and equity. This is reflected in the proposed allocation of INR 3,00,000 crore, a five-fold increase over the Xth Plan. The share of education in the total plan will accordingly increase, from 7.7 percent to 20 percent, representing a credible progress towards the target of 6 percent of GDP. NKC believes the education agenda outlined in the XIth Plan is a critical step   towards realising the objective of an equitable society.

The second Report to the Nation includes recommendations on Portals, Health Information Network, Legal Education, Medical Education, Management Education, Open & Distance Education,  Open  Educational Resources, Innovation, Intellectual Property Rights, Legal Framework for Public Funded Research and Traditional Health Systems. Together, in the last two reports, the Commission has covered 20 subjects and outlined about 160 concrete action items. Most of NKC recommendations on Education, Vocational Training, Libraries, Translation, National Knowledge Network, Innovation, IPRs, Traditional Health Systems etc are integrated in the XI Plan and adequately funded.

NKC  recommendations on education

Right to education
NKC has reiterated the need to ensure that a financial provision requiring the central government to provide the bulk of the additional funds needed for realising the Right to Education must be there in the central legislation.  NKC’s recommendation to set up an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE), at an arm’s length from all stakeholders, that would accord degree granting power to universities, is one way to supplement the process of setting up universities through legislation. The regulator would also be responsible for monitoring standards and settling disputes.

Open and distance education & Open educational resources

NKC recommendations on distance education focus on creating a national ICT infrastructure, developing web based common open resources, establishing a credit bank and  providing a national testing service. Regulation of distance education would be performed by a sub committee  under the proposed independent regulatory authority.

Professional education

NKC has recommended that the present regime of regulation in all professional education streams, be replaced by subgroups on different streams under the proposed independent regulator. This would have to be accompanied by independent multiple accreditation agencies that provide reliable ratings. Other measures include allowing  greater autonomy to institutions, reforming the current examination system, developing contemporary curricula that are regularly updated and encouraging research.

Indian Law schools need to orient themselves to meet the growing international dimensions of legal education and of the legal profession. Centres for Advanced Legal Studies and Research (CALSAR), one in each region, have been proposed by NKC to carry out cutting edge research on various aspects of law.

Vocational education and training

NKC’s recommendations focus on increasing the flexibility of vocational education and training (VET), within the mainstream education system. They point to a need for quantifying and monitoring the impact of vocational education.

It is necessary to ensure a robust regulatory and accreditation framework, along with proper certification of vocational education and training. This will allow easier mobility into higher education streams, enhancing the value of such training and providing continuous opportunity for upgradation of these skills.

Libraries
NKC recommendations focus on modernizing the management of libraries to ensure greater community participation; including creating models for public private partnerships in LIS development. Leveraging ICT for various applications such as  cataloguing, digitisation of content, creating e-Journals, etc, is also highlighted.

English language

NKC recommends that the teaching of English as a language should be introduced, along with the first language (either mother tongue or the regional language) of the child, starting from Class I. Further, NKC has also focused on the need to reform the pedagogy of English language teaching and learning, to reduce the disproportionate emphasis on grammar and focus on creating meaningful learning experiences for the child. Given that language learning is contingent on the environment, all available media including audio visual and print should be used to supplement traditional teaching methods.

Translation

NKC recommended setting up a National Translation Mission with a focus on promoting translation activities across the country.

Knowledge network

An important recommendation emerging from NKC is to interconnect all knowledge institutions throughout the country, through an electronic digital broadband network with gigabit capabilities, to encourage sharing of resources and collaborative research.

Portals

NKC has proposed creating national web based portals on certain key sectors including Education. The portal would serve as a single window for information on the given sector for all stakeholders, from students to researchers and practitioners in the field. These portals should be managed by a consortium consisting of representatives from a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that they are not owned by any one organisation, but have a national character. NKC facilitated the setting up of a teachers’ education portal.

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was constituted on 13th June 2005 as a high level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India. NKC has a designated time-frame of three  years: from 2nd October 2005 to 2nd October 2008.

While releasing the first NKC Report to the Nation at the start of the year 2007, the PM emphasised that the Commission “must be involved in ensuring the implementation of their innovative ideas”. The focus of NKC work has therefore been on ensuring that while the Central government designs appropriate strategies supported by financial allocations to implement their recommendations, the Commission engages simultaneously with diverse stakeholders to build up a groundswell of favourable opinion and assist preparation of implementing strategies at the grassroots.

NKC has tried to provide a platform for sharing and debating ideas, a critical requisite for accepting and steering change. NKC is now moving on to the next stage of its work which is formulating Knowledge Initiatives at the State and the District levels to ensure that there is institutional and mental preparedness at the grass root level to absorb the financial outlays of the XIth Plan.

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