Reforming Higher Education Landscape in Chhattisgarh Holistically

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From infrastructure to Information Communication Technology (ICT), the Chhattisgarh Government is trying to revamp the higher education landscape of the State in every aspect, says Bhuvanesh Yadav, Joint Secretary, Department of Higher Education and Additional Charge of Mission Director RUSA, in an interview with Susmriti Sahu of Elets News Network (ENN).

What has been done so far to improve the higher education scenario in Chhattisgarh?

Bhuvanesh YadavThere are 206 government colleges and seven universities including private universities. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in the State is around 13 per cent, far behind the national average of GER which is around 22. Certain measures have been taken by the Chhattisgarh Government to equate the GER of the State with that of the national average. The most important of those measures is the implementation of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). RUSA is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013, with an aim to provide strategic funding to eligible higher educational institutions of different states. The scheme focuses on three major aspects: Access to education, equity among children and providing quality education.

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For easy access of higher education to youth of the State, we are coming up with four new universities at Jagdalpur, Bilaspur, Durg and Ambikapur. Under RUSA, grant of Rs 20 crore has been sanctioned for the construction of each new university.

Apart from this, grant of Rs 2 crore for constructing eight classrooms and two toilets has been sanctioned for each of the 54 colleges in the State. It would help the colleges to increase overall intake of students by around 50,000 annually. It will directly lead to the increase in the GER and to provide easy access of education to the students, we are trying to enhance the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education. We have made it compulsory to provide leased lines to the leading colleges at district level. Last year, we have given Wi-Fi Network to around 50 colleges. Few colleges have their own network that has been provided under the scheme of UGC. We are also focusing on providing smart classrooms and virtual classrooms to the colleges as well.

What initiatives have been undertaken by the Chhattisgarh Government to improve the Gross Enrolment Ratio in the State?

We are opening new colleges and starting new courses in the existing colleges to increase the intake of students. We are opening eight classrooms in each of the 54 colleges that will lead to increase in intake of students by 50,000 annually that will automatically lead to improvement in GER.

What are the major challenges in implementing ICT across Chhattisgarh and how those challenges are overcome?

The major challenges that we face include problem of connectivity. We do not have good connectivity. In order to overcome that we are trying to get leased lines for our leading colleges. We are trying to develop icloud also so that students can benefit. Other major initiatives taken up by Chhattisgarh Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh was that the students who are coming to colleges were given computers, laptops and smart tabs. They are using those appliances to watch the sessions recorded by us on important topics by eminent lecturers. We are distributing these accessories in colleges located in remote districts of the State.

We have a shortage of good quality teachers. We are facing around 30 per cent shortage of lecturers. We are trying to recruit new assistant professors and professors. We have recruited around 500 new assistant professors and very soon we are going to recruit 1,000 lecturers through Public Service Commission.

For easy access of higher education to youth of the State, we are coming up with four new universities at Jagdalpur, Bilaspur, Durg and Ambikapur. Under RUSA, grant of Rs 20 crore has been sanctioned for the construction of each new university.

What are the Government’s top three priorities for increasing efficiency and effectiveness of higher education?

We are actually stressing on modifying the curriculum as it is outdated. We have formed a community of vice chancellors to improve the curriculum in accordance with the new scenario and this is in the process. We also want to improve employability amongst the students by introducing certain vocational courses. Chhattisgarh is one of the first States which have started vocational courses. Additionally, we are trying to introduce courses training programmes for students to improve their employability. We have tied up with IITs and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to develop 300 hours course on communication and computer skills. We are also trying to improve employability courses like sales and retail management that students may pursue in addition to their graduation. It will make the students more employable after their graduation.

What is the vision behind implementing ICT in the learning scenario?

If students are taught through audio-visual tools, they pay more attention and tend to remember more and it helps them to relate things in a better way. We are promoting and installing virtual classrooms, smart classrooms and smart libraries containing pre-recorded lectures of important topics from various eminent professors for students to learn effectively. To provide them with extra input, we are trying to focus that every college has a Wi-Fi so that they can search more things about their subjects. We are also planning to distribute them Tablets pre-loaded with the content of certain important topics of the subjects.

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