Within one month after taking over the charge Basavaraj Rayareddi, Minister for Higher Education, Karnataka, is addressing the problems slowdowning the augmentation of the higher education in the State. To speedup the development, the minister has come out with 100 days of action plan for his 20-point agenda. He shared his priorities, including ambitious Master Plan for the development of higher education, in an exclusive interview with T. Radhakrishna of Elets News Network (ENN)
What is the mandate given to you by Karnataka Chief Minister?
I am thankful to our CM for inducting me into his cabinet. I have been given a freehand by the CM to do good work in higher education. I apprised him of my 100 days of action plan for my 20-point agenda in the Department of Higher Education. Out of Rs 85,375-crore annual budget for 2016-17 fiscal, the State has allocated Rs 23,000-crore for the education (primary, secondary, higher education, etc) in Karnataka. The numbers show the commitment of the State Government. The student population is one crore, which is equivalent to 1/6th population of Karnataka.
Kindly share your vision about higher education in Karnataka.
I am aware of the fact that the higher education system in Karnataka is demoralised with inside politics and dishonesty methods. We cannot blame it (on anyone) as everyone is responsible for this. The need of the hour is to strengthen the education system collectively with a clear focus on strengthening accountability, transparency, productivity and efficiency. After taking over the charge as the Minister, I held discussions with all the heads of the department. I felt that there’s a need for streamlining the system for students’ benefit. Accordingly, I have come out with a 20-point agenda, which is being pursued for next 100 days, from August 1, 2016 onwards.
To bring order in the education system, the Department is working on several initiatives.
One, a Uniform Education Act for all 23 State Universities is proposed, for which Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, who is the chancellor of the State-run Universities, has given consent to it. Today, coordination among all the universities has become a major concern as each State University has its own Education Act. With the introduction of new legislation, statutory discipline comes in place for better functioning of the universities.
Two, taking cognisance of the hardships faced by students each year because of delay in announcement of examination results, an order is issued to all State Universities to declare the examination results for UG courses before May 31 and for PG courses before June 30. Failure to adhere to the deadline will result in disciplinary action against the respective vice-chancellors, registrars and examination controllers. An order to this effect was issued by the Department in August and it will come into effect from this academic year. I feel it is the responsibility of the university officials to take everyone into confidence and ensure that they follow the new common calendar of events.
Three, ahead of the imminent division of Bangalore University (BU), a new committee has been constituted headed by Dr S.A. Kori, Executive Director, Karnataka State Higher Education Council, to ease the process of trifurcation. The decision was taken after convening a meeting with representatives of the BU and special officers of the two new universities, set to be carved out of the BU. I acknowledged the significant delay in the process and asked the committee and the two special officers to give an estimate and requirements of the two new universities. I have directed them to ensure that there are no hiccups in the functioning of the three varsities.
Four, to improve basic facilities at higher education institutions, a master plan for the development of higher education in Karnataka is being pursued. The State will seek an assistance of $500 million from the World Bank for this ambitious plan. A survey had already been done in 412 government colleges on basic facilities. The final report will be ready very soon. I felt that the higher education in Karnataka is lacking in quality and quantity despite Bangalore being known as knowledge capital of the country. The required (push) for the sector has not been accorded because of fiscal constraints. In order to overcome this, the master plan is being planned.
The Cabinet Minister’s 20-point agenda includes bringing in a legislation to ensure Uniform Rules and Syllabus for all 23 State-run Universities and also an ambitious US$ 500 million Master Plan for the development of higher education in Karnataka.
New Schools Plans are afoot to open new schools and introduce new courses. Karnataka has expedited the process of operations of IIT, Dharwad by registering 470 acres of land in its name. The Institute is ready for official launch in August by Union Minister for HRD Prakash Javadekar and Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. A total of 120 students have enrolled into the IIT, Dharwad. Out of 120 students, seven are girls and 10 are from Karnataka.
Other proposed institutions include Environmental Research Institute – ERI (at Bellary district); Energy Institute – EI (at Chidradurga district); new IIIT (at Raichur district); and Ban galore School of Economics – BSE (at Bangalore Urban district). Karnataka is gifted with mineral resources. As suggested by the Apex Courts (Supreme Court and High Court of Karnataka) in their judgements that there is need for protecting the environment from the unscientific utilisation of the mineral wealth, the proposed ERI will facilitate the needful knowledge and expertise to tackle the situation. There is a need for establishment of BSE in Bangalore, which was once regarded as capital of Banking Sector with the presence of seven National Banks in the city.
Keeping the growth of Karnataka and its needs in mind, we are planning to commence an Advanced Flying School. We are open to collaborations in this regard. We all know that Kempegowda International Airport is fastest growing airport in India. The Ancillary Industry needs to be given impetus to meet the growing demands of the airport. In this regard, the support of academic and R&D is important. The proposed school will facilitate qualified pilots for the air traffic industry. Similarly, we are planning to commence railway engineering courses in the State. There is a great demand for talent with railway engineering domain knowledge in the State as Karnataka has ongoing projects of laying new railway tracks up to 4,000 km. The demand for new railway tracks is expected to grow further. The introduction of new courses in railway engineering will help the State in providing qualified engineers.
The Department is planning to organise Karnataka State Vice Chancellors’ Summit in September and World Innovation/ Creative Forum in November this year. The objective of the Summit is to ensure quality education for Under Graduate and Post Graduate courses in Karnataka. All Vice Chancellors of 23 State-run universities have been asked to submit their vision documents before the summit. The proposed forum is planned on the lines of World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum. The last edition of the World Innovative/Creative Forum was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Karnataka Chief Minster will be the chief patron, while myself and the Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, will be the patron and co-patron respectively. The forum would be the first step in galvanising the R&D facilities across the State, mobilising the entrepreneurs towards innovation and focusing the higher education institutions across the state towards creativity.
Our degree colleges are facing shortage of faculty (Assistant Professors) and Principals. To fill the gap, the Department is in the process of recruiting 2,160 Assistant Professors and principals for vacant positions. Efforts are also on to address the problems of 14,000 guest lecturers working in the State. The Department is also trying to facelift B.Ed programmes and Science Education for strengthening the quality standards.
What’s your plan about improving quality of infrastructure at the educational institutions?
We are working on improving the quality of infrastructure at all education institutions. With increasing quality standards, many Degree Colleges will get accreditation of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and compliance of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). This has been a continuous process in achieving quality and standards.
|HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS IN KARNATAKA|
What is your view about Karnataka Knowledge Commission recommendations?
The Karnataka Knowledge Commission (KKC), an important constituent of the Government of Karnataka, came into existence in 2008. It aims to enable the development of the vibrant knowledge based society in the State. It is headed by Dr K Kasturirangan, a former member of Rajya Sabha. The members of the Commission are drawn from diverse fields like education, science and technology, agriculture and industry. The Commission is independent of the Government and works with and for the Government in policy making and implementation. The context and development of the state of Karnataka is paramount for the work of the KKC. Presently, the KKC has identified six primary focus areas. Each of these areas has a pivotal role to play in transforming Karnataka into a vibrant knowledge society. These are: Literacy and School Education, Vocational Education, Higher Education, Humanities, Social Sciences, Law and Management, Libraries and Knowledge Networks, and Health Sector. We are committed to the KKC’s recommendations.