Policy Matters

Inequity defeats the very purpose of education: Arjun Singh

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The 11th Five Year Plan is very ambitious as far as education is concerned, but it can only deliver with the active cooperation of all the States, India's Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said while inaugurating the the two-day State Ministers Conference on Higher and Technical Education on July 23.

He further added that expansion in itself would not mean much unless accompanied by equity. Without equity the very purpose of education is defeated.

Singh also said there is an unprecedented nine-fold increase in outlays for higher and technical education in the 11th Plan. This would be utilised for setting up 30 Central universities, including 14 new world class universities; 8 new IITs; 7 new IIMs; 5 new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs); 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs); 2 new schools of Planning & Architecture; 1000 new polytechnics, strengthening of 500 existing polytechnics; one time assistance to universities and colleges which do not get qualified under section 12 B for UGC's assistance at present; assisting state governments to establish one college of excellence in each of the 373 districts which have a lower than national average of Gross Enrolment Ratio, a new National Education Mission through ICT; and a National Translation Mission.

'I am happy to share that many of the above institutions will commence their session in the current year itself through temporary campuses,' he added.

The Human Resource minister also informed that there is a proposal in the Plan to introduce reforms, including those in examinations, semester system, grading, credit transfer, regular updating of curricula and syllabi and reforms in the teaching methods. 'We are also in the process of finalising a central scheme for providing interest subsidy on educational loans taken by students belonging to the economically weaker sections for pursuing professional education in India.'

Mr Singh said a National Education Mission through ICT is also being launched, which will provide broadband connectivity in higher education institutions in the country and also make available e-learning material.

Underlining the problem of unrecognised institutions, he said directions have been given to UGC, AICTE and DEC etc. to take effective deterrent action against fake or unauthorised institutions.

Secretary, Higher Education R P Agrawal touched upon the issue of assistance to universities and colleges which are not covered under section 12 B under UGC Act, increasing the expenditure on education by States with a view to increase the share of the state governments in achieving the target of expenditure on education as 6% of GDP and quality and inclusiveness in higher education.

The two-day conference also discussed the mode of operationalising the scheme of 373 degree colleges and incentivising the state governments for setting of new institutions and also advance preparations for implementing new schemes.


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