India News- December 2009

HRD Ministry: NEFC to fund Primary Education

After reviewing and discovering that the implementation of the Act will involve a hefty amount of INR 1.74 lakh crore, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has asked the proposed National Education Finance Corporation (NEFC) to fund school education and has asked the government / local bodies to increase enrolment and develop infrastructure. According to the previous directive, NEFC was to finance only higher education. However, it is only after the HRD minister Kapil Sibal’s orders that funding of Right to Education and school education in general was also included as the mandate for NEFC. INR 32,000 – INR 36,000 crore is the anticipated annual cost of school education,  including the civil works, teachers’ salary, child entitlements and teacher training programmes.

Sibal retorts against banks, who, he feels, treat loans and advances to the education sector in the same manner as that for trade, industry or commerce sectors. Additionally, he believes that the reimbursement period for loans to educational institutions is at par with those for ‘profit’ concerns. The function of NEFC will be to directly sponsor any educational institution recognised under law and finance any government or local body for increasing enrolment and retention. It is also supposed to grant loans and advances to any scheduled public sector bank by way of refinance for establishment, development or promotion of educational institutions.

New Colleges to be setup  in Punjab

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced that 13 new degree colleges would come up in the state by next year at a cost of INR 104 crore. Locations of these colleges would include the educationally backward districts of Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Nawanshahar, Patiala and Sangrur. These locations have been chosen on the recommendations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Badal was presiding over a function to mark the silver jubilee of the Government College, 10 km from state capital Chandigarh. He mentioned that to boost higher and technical education, a central university at Bathinda has already started its academic session. Another world-class central university would be set up in Amritsar in over 700 acres of land. Further the state government had transferred 501 acres of land for setting up the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Ropar, 45 km from Chandigarh. The classes for the IIT have started this year from the building of a government polytechnic.

CAT 2009 to offer 560 more seats

With the increase in probability of getting a seat in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), there is a reason to for increased hope for all the students appearing for the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2009, as there now stands a brighter chance. With new four new IIMs coming up across the nation, CAT this year will offer 560 extra IIM seats to the aspiring management candidates. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) sources reported that the CAT committee was asked to include these additional seats from this year. Presently, India has seven IIMs across different states. Now the cabinet has cleared to set four more in the country in August. The additions to the IIM family are to include Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Rohtak (Haryana). The admission limit of all the new IIMs is set to be 140 seats, which is objected by the directors of some of the existing IIMs, claiming it to be on a higher side for a new institute to manage.

Degree Course in Law introduced by IGNOU in Tamil Nadu

Nagercoil is to see new lawyers and doctors, as the Regional Director of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), B. Sukumar has announced the introduction of a degree course in law and plans to include Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S) as one of the academic programmes. For administrative reasons Kanyakumari district has now come under Thiruvananthapuram and, therefore, the candidates should re-send their application forms to the regional office at Chekkalamukku in Thiruvananthapuram. With more than 5000 registered students, this region includes 43 study centres. With the aim of the region to enroll 2000 students annually, the target is to encourage students to pursue higher education. With the Kanyakumari district also included in the Thiruvananthapuram region, new courses of study will soon be offered to the students in various colleges.

US community college model under exploration

IGNOU and American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) on the campus started dialogues through presentations to evaluate strengths of American model of Community Colleges (CCs) under the aegis of US-India Educational Foundation (USIEF). A two-member team of AACC, headed by Dr. Judith Irwin, Director of International Programmes and Services of the AACC, discussed a slew of novel ideas in the areas of social development through Community Colleges. Of 700 applicants from all parts of the country IGNOU followed a rigorous process of assessment and standardization and registered 50 Community Colleges in July 2009. Vice Chancellor Professor VN Rajasekharan Pillai said over 12,000 students from these colleges will take their first semester examinations in December 2009.

Professor Pillai also assured audience and the distinguished guests to create a ‘single window’ system for clearance of important decisions and recommendations with regard to CCs. Dr. Judith Irwin gave her presentation on behalf of the AACC, whereas four out of the 50 Community Colleges registered with IGNOU submitted their presentations. Enthusiasm was very high even as Dr Judith through a presentation explained in details the American model of Community Colleges. In the US the Community Colleges constitute the largest segment of higher education. These include nearly 1,200 institutions with an enrollment of 11 million students, 6 million of whom are seeking a degree or certificate. According to an estimate, in the US, the Community Colleges ensure 83% of the tertiary education, of which higher education is only a part. Set against the achievements in the USA in India the figure is merely 11%.

Learning centres for Tribals by YCMOU

In an attempt to bring  tribals into the mainstream, the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) will soon be setting up educational centres. In whole, a total of 15 districts have been identified considering the concentration of tribal population for the centres. The state government has requested to provide five acres of land in each district for the said purpose. The university will spend INR 10 crore on each complex which will be equipped with hi-tech facilities sufficient enough to accommodate 100 students. Based on a pilot project near Nasik, one of the largest open universities in India, the YCMOU will be launching the project from next year.

Training will be provided to 1,500 tribal boys and girls initially; who were unable to clear school level exams. The university has drawn a roadmap for the next 20 years which was approved by the chancellor. The university has plans to go online very soon. Additionally, it plans to open foreign languages translation school and a school to conduct social justice for law courses. Speaking about the Nagpur centre, the VC assured that the university will soon set up a permanent centre in the Orange city with state-of-the-art facilities for the students. YCMOU had started its operations in 1989 with just two courses, 15 centres and 3,280 students.

Talent, Innovation inspires Delhi Technological University

Formerly known as the Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), the Delhi Technological University (DTU), recently completed its hundred days of being accorded the university status. It is now all set to root its foundation in its future endeavors. The National Network of Education (NNE), DTU Vice Chancellor Prof. P.B. Sharma discloses some of its immediate agendas, announcing the beginning of new programs including dual degree programs and integrated Master’s programs in areas of relevance to our country in Medical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Bio-informatics, Clean Energy and Environment Technology, New and Smart Materials and Nano-Technology. The Vice Chancellor of the university explained that DTU’s board of management has already given its nod to construct a multi-storey academic block; a teaching block housing ICT enabled lecture theatres and additional hostel facilities for both boys and girls. A finishing school in partnership with the industry and alumni to further boost employability of their graduates is also in the wish list of the VC.

Neemrana Green Campus by NIIT University

Chancellor Karan Singh of eco-friendly NIIT University (NU), formally inaugurated its green campus at Neemrana, spread over 100 acres on the foothills of the Aravali range. The NU officials claim that 95% of the water is recycled and harvested and there is no use of air conditioners in the two academic and hostel blocks. The university is planning to start with programmes such as B.Tech. in computer science and engineering, ICT and biotechnology, while its M.Tech. programmes are to include computer science and engineering, ICT, bioinformatics and educational technology. Its Ph.D. programmes include computer science and engineering, ICT, educational technology and bioinformatics and biotechnology.

The university also appointed Dr. Rajeev Shorey as the first President of the educational establishment. A Ph.D and a Gold Medalist from The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, Dr. Shorey’s research papers on wireless and wired networks have been published in more than 50 international journals and conferences and he has 10 US patents to his credit. Dr. Shorey worked with General Motors India Science Laboratory (ISL), in the Vehicle Communications & Information Management Group, Bangalore,  IBM Research Laboratory, New Delhi, with SASKEN Technologies, Bangalore and the Computer Science Department at the National University of Singapore prior to joining NIIT University. Talking about his new role Dr. Rajeev Shorey remarked, ‘Research as an approach in any discipline is the key to success in today’s complex and fast changing information economy. This is a challenging opportunity for me to ignite the passion for excellence in research and academia in today’s youth.’

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