The year 2015 will be recorded as a landmark year in education sector in many respects. One of the major achievements which Ministry of Human Resource Development accomplished during the year includes achievement of 100% target of completion of construction of separate toilets for boys and girls in schools under Swachch Vidyalaya Abhiyan within one year of the announcement made by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on August 15, 2014. The year will also be known for technical advancement made by the Ministry by laying emphasis on ICT leading to launch of a number of initiatives like e pathshala, Saransh, Shala Siddhi, Shaala Darpan, availability of NCERT books on mobile app etc.
The year also saw the Government of India’s sincere efforts towards bringing out a New Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regard to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry. New Education Policy is being framed after a gap of 23 years.
For the first time, the Government of India is embarking on a time-bound grassroots consultative process, which will enable the Ministry of Human Resource Development to reach out to individuals across the country through over 2.75 lakh direct consultations while also taking input from citizens online.
The year will also be remembered because of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore cracking the top 100 in world University ranking as per Times High Education ranking for 2015-16 and IIT, Delhi also figuring in the top 200 list of QS. It has sent a strong message to other Indian Technical Institutes to better their performance in the key areas of academics research and faculty enrichment. A glimpse of major achievements and initiatives of the Department of Higher Education and the Department of School Education & Literacy is given as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF SCHOOL EDUCATION & LITERACY
A number of flagship schemes were launched by the Department of School Education and Literacy in the current year.
Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat: It is a sub-programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan launched in August, 2014 with special focus on improving language development and to create interest in mathematics. The two tracks of Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat are: Early reading and writing with comprehension (ERWC) and Early mathematics (EM). An amount of Rs. 456 crore was allocated for this sub-programme in the year 2014-15 and a provision of Rs. 525.00 crore has been made for 2015-16.
As a follow up to the foundational programme, in 2015-16 a programme called the National Reading Initiative was launched to develop and promote the habit of reading among students in elementary schools, thereby extending the programme up to class 8. States were provided token funds to plan and implement innovative activities to promote reading. States have designed specific interventions targeting children in classes 1 and 2 to improve learning outcomes. There are a variety of focussed programmes being currently implemented across the country.
Children With Special Needs: With the active support by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, over 25 lakh children with special needs have been enrolled in elementary education. In order to equip teachers to facilitate classroom transaction and teaching learning of children with special needs, material on curricular adaptations for inclusive classrooms has been developed by NCERT. This material in the form of two handbooks has been developed for teachers both at the primary and upper primary level. All teachers across the country are being oriented in practising such classroom adaptations through teacher training. Till 30th September under SSA 1.58 lakh teachers have been trained on NCERT material.
Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan: The RMSA guidelines provide for augmenting secondary school infrastructure through construction of additional class rooms, laboratories, toilet blocks, drinking water, libraries etc. Till date 10513 new schools have been approved under the scheme. The RMSA Scheme has been revised to subsume the schemes of ICT @schools, Vocationalisation of Secondary Education, Inclusive Education for Disabled at Secondary Stage, and Girls Hostels from the financial year 2014-15. The Integrated RMSA scheme extends the benefit to aided Secondary schools (excluding infrastructure support and teachers and staff salaries) for quality interventions.
The Teacher Education Bureau is focusing on the following main components for improving the quality of teacher education:
- National Curriculum Framework of Teacher Education (NCFTE- 2009): The National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) has prepared the National Curriculum Framework of Teacher Education (NCFTE 2009). This framework has been prepared in the background of the NCF, 2005 and the principles laid down in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
- In-STEP: Capacity Building Program of Teacher Educators: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and USAID have formulated the In-STEP programme (India Support to Teacher Education Program) under which 110 teacher educators from the Eastern and North Eastern part of the country have undergone a three month fellowship at Arizona State University with the clear purpose of understanding issues related to teacher education.
In addition, the TESS-India is another programme for Teacher Educators with collaboration between Department for International Development (DFID) and Ministry of HRD with UK’s Open University as the implementing agency.
- The Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE) puts emphasis on monitoring of the process and outcome parameters in respect of each level of institution, and for the purpose a comprehensive monitoring mechanism has been developed thereof. Joint Review Mission is a part of this monitoring mechanism. Joint Review Missions consisting of experts in Teacher Education have been sent to 21 States from the year 2012-13 till 2014-15 to ensure effective implementation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Teacher Education.
New Activities/Initiatives under CSSTE Scheme:
- Enhanced use of E-Governance in Teacher Education by National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) for better regulation of the sector.
- Accreditation for Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) by National Council for Teacher Education for better management and improved quality of teacher education.
iii. Mapping of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) by NCTE to identify the gap areas for effective future planning.
Digital Gender Atlas for Advancing Girls’ Education in India: It was launched on 8th March 2015. The tool will help identify low performing geographic pockets for girls, particularly from marginalised groups.
Udaan: This Scheme is dedicated to the development of girl child education, so as to promote the admission of girl students. It seeks to enhance the enrolment of girl students in prestigious technical education institutions through incentives & academic support.
“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme, launched on January 20, 2015 has ushered in to encourage education among girl children. The programme is a joint initiative of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Saransh: The CBSE Board has launched an on-line facility titled ‘Saransh’ for affiliated & CBSE schools on 2nd November, 2014. It helps the schools to look at their performance at an aggregate level and at the level of each student. It is an online self-review tool for schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). It allows schools to identify areas of improvement in students, teachers & curriculum and take necessary measures to implement change. It also provides schools with a view of overall and individual student’s performance in academic & extra-curricular activities. Current Statistics about Saransh as on December 4th 2015:
- Number of schools on board – 16298
- Number of parents on board – 911
- Number of hits on saransh.nic.in – 515268
- Number of hits on saransh.nic.in in last 24 hours-18432
- Number of downloads of Saransh app-5877
- Rating of Saransh Mobile app – 4.5 out of 5.
Curriculum for yoga from classes vi to x was released on the occasion of International Yoga Day in June 2015.
Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan was launched on 9th July 2015. This programme is directed towards creating interest among school going students from classes I to XII in sciences. Model labs would be created all over the country for this purpose. The key activities under this programme include mentoring of elementary and secondary schools by Institutions of higher Education; forming Maths and Science clubs for children at school and professional development of teachers in order to make teaching of Maths and Science interesting for students. The activities/components of RAA are funded under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.
National Conference on ICT in School Education – The Conference was held on 7th November 2015. During the Conference, e-Pathshala, Saaransh, and National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation Framework (Shala Siddhi) were launched. All these are web portal/ mobile app. These apps promise to make learning more interesting, school bags lighter and books available on the go.
The first phase of “Shaala Darpan Project” to cover all the 1099 Kendriya Vidyalayas was launched in June 2015. This programme will be made available as a mobile app which will keep the parents informed of their ward’s progress in schools.
The National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation (NPSSE) –Shaala siddhi: In a step towards comprehensive school evaluation as central to improving quality of school education in India, National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation has been initiated by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), under the aegis of Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The School Standards and Evaluation Framework (SSEF) has been developed as an instrument for evaluating school performance. This will enable the school to evaluate its performance against the well-defined criteria in a focused and strategic manner.
E-pathshala: As a part of the Digital India Campaign, the Ministry of HRD has launched ‘e-pathshala’ which is a single point repository of e-resources containing, NCERT text-books and various other learning resources. CBSE prescribes textbooks published by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for classes IX to XII. For classes I to VIII, CBSE although approves syllabus as per pattern of syllabus given by NCERT, it does not prescribe any textbooks for these classes. The National Curriculum Framework, 2005 (NCF) stipulates that region specific books take care of the local context, culture and resources and therefore different books for different regions better relate to the daily lives of the local students.
Mid Day Meal Scheme: The IVR (Interactive Voice Response System) to monitor the daily implementation of Mid Day Meal scheme was showcased this year during the National Conference on ICT in School Education. There are two recent interventions viz Tithi Bhojan and Social Audit designed to attract community participation and channelize it for enrichment of Mid Day Meal Scheme. The Central Government has requested the States to consider the concept of Tithi Bhojan for mid day meals in a suitable manner, to encourage local community participation the programme. Social Audit, another intervention under this Scheme means is a process in which people collectively monitor and evaluate the planning and implementation of the Scheme. It is viewed as an ongoing process of public vigilance. Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab have completed Social Audit. Social Audit is under progress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The Central Government notified ‘Mid Day Meal Rules, 2015’ on September 30th, 2015. The Rules inter alia provide for temporary utilization of other funds available with the school for MDM in case school exhausts MDM funds for any reason; Food Security Allowance to be paid to beneficiaries in case of non-supply of meals for specified reasons; and monthly testing of meals on a random basis by accredited Labs to check its quality. These rules and their effective compliance by implementing agencies in the States will ensure better regularity in serving mid day meals in schools. In the year 2015-16 children covered under the scheme are 9.60 crores; food grain allocated is 27.74 lakh MTs; projected demand is 11067.18 crores; budget estimates is 9236.40 crores and up to first quarter of 2015-16 budget released is 6301.41 crores.
Kala Utsav: A unique initiative of the Government of India was launched with the theme of `Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. It provides an opportunity to learn about the art, culture and language of various States and UTs of the country at one place. About 1400 students from across the country participated in this cultural programme. Teachers, parents and members of jury were also a part of this unique programme.
Kala Utsav started with the vision & support of Hon’ble PM on 4th September when he inaugurated its website. Kala Utsav seeks to enhance the life skills of the participants and prepare them as ambassadors of Indian culture besides integrating art in education.
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION
A number of schemes related to Department of Higher Education were also launched during the year.
IMPRINT INDIA was released on 5th November 2015. It is a Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten technology domains relevant to India. IMPRINT INDIA aims at direct research in the premier institutions into areas of social relevance. Under this, 10 domains have been identified which could substantially impact the living standards of the rural areas: (1) Health care technology, (2) Energy security, (3) Rural urban housing design, (4) Nano technology, (5) Water/river system, (6) Advanced materials, (7) Computer science and ICT, (8) Manufacturing technology, (9) Advanced security and (10) Environment/climate change. The research in each of these areas is being coordinated by one IIT. http://imprint-india.org/.
Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN), was launched asan initiative to attract the best foreignacademics to Indian Universities of Excellence. The programme has been launched to facilitate the partnership between Higher Education Institutions of India and other foreign universities. Under this (352) courses are being offered by foreign faculty from 38 Countries. The cost of the travel and honorarium ranging from $8,000 – $12,000 is being met from the scheme funds. These courses are being looked at as a starting point of long-term research collaboration between Indian Institutions and the other Global institutions; and therefore signal a major chapter in the higher education system.
National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has been launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on 29th September 2015. The ranking framework evaluates each higher education institution on 5 broad parameters namely teaching/learning resources, research, graduation outcomes, outreach/inclusive nature and the public perception. The Ranks will be declared on the first Monday of April every year. An independent body is being proposed to undertake this work based on objective and verifiable criteria.
So far, 2500 institutions covering engineering, management, pharma, architecture and universities have registered for participation in the ranking and are submitting data. Participation in the NIRF would help the Indian educational institutions participate in the world rankings with greater confidence.
Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), is a Web portal where Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs) will be available on all kinds of subjects. SWAYAM is the Indian electronic e-education platform which proposes to offer courses from the high school stage to Post-Graduate stage in an interactive electronic platform. The IT platform for SWAYAM is going to be built and is expected to be operationalized by 31st March 2016 with a capacity to host nearly 2,000 courses. This would provide the best quality education to more than three crore students across the country. The system would allow 10 lakh students using the system concurrently. Once it becomes operational, students from the backward rural areas can access teaching from the best institutes in the country electronically, thereby, raising the overall standards of higher education in the country. SWAYAM-MOOCs project is intended to address the needs of school level 9-12 to Under Graduate and Post Graduate students, covering all disciplines.
Launch of the Credit framework for Skills and Education as per the National Skills Qualification framework paving the way for certification of skills through the formal system and allowing for multiple exits and entrance into the education system with scope for vertical and lateral mobility. The CBCS will enable students to take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses and acquire more than the required credits, and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Approval by UGC of the Guidelines for Choice Based Credit Framework, provides for more choices for students to opt for employable courses through a system of flexible credits for foundational, elective and core courses. The status of CBCS is as follows:
- All 39 Central Universities are implementing the CBCS system from 2015‐16.
- Major State Universities like Madras University, Chennai, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli, Osmania University, Hyderabad, University of Bombay, Mumbai, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, M.S. University of Baroda, Vadodara Lucknow University, Lucknow, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and Gauhati University, Guwahati are also going to implement CBCS from the next academic session.
Saksham scholarship scheme: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is implementingSaksham scholarship scheme to provide support to differently abled students to pursue technical education.
Launch of the Know Your College portal is to provide informed decision making opportunity for students along with complete availability of all e-learning resources. A portal called Know Your College (KYC) has been started in which the data declared by all the educational institutions is being placed in a public portal and also made available through a mobile application so that the stakeholders can verify the same. It will also work as one stop shop for all educational resources. More than 40000 higher educational institutions are already mapped under the KYC.
Under Campus Connect programme, all the Central Universities in the country are going to be connected through WIFI network at a cost of approximately Rs.320 crores. Under this, all the classrooms, libraries, laboratories, hostels and places frequented by the students would be connected through a secured WIFI hotspots providing access to the educational and information resources to the students on 24×7 basis. This project will be implemented by ERNET and is expected to be completed by June 2016.
Promoting Start-ups: 37 new start-up parks/research parks would be set up this year with the coordination of Dept of Science and Technology (fund sharing on 50:50 basis) covering all the IITs, NITs and some IIITs/Central Universities. These would incubate the start-ups and hand-hold them till they reach the stage of commercialization, normally for a period of five years. IIT Madras Research Park has already become fully functional (it is ready for inauguration by the Prime Minister).
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan was launched for connecting higher education and society to enable technology and its use for development of rural areas. Under this all technical and higher education institutions have been asked to adopt five villages each; identify technology gaps and prepare plans for innovations that could substantially increase the incomes and growth in the rural areas.
Ucchtar Aavishkar Abhiyaan : For promotion of innovation, All the IITs have been encouraged to work with the industry to identify areas where innovation is required and come up with solutions that could be brought up to the commercialization level. For this purpose, it is proposed to launch a scheme Ucchtar Aavishkar Abhiyan by investing Rs. 250 crores every year on identified projects proposed by IITs and NITs. Participation of industry in part-funding the project would be mandatory
Engineering skills to unemployed youth: An initiative as a part of the PMKVY is being launched to encourage all the 10,000 technical institutions (engineering and polytechnic) to provide engineering skills (through part-time courses of 6 to 8 months duration) to at least 100 unemployed youth using their infrastructure after college-hours. The training costs would be met by the central government and the placement of the trained youth is the responsibility of the institution. This is expected to provide high quality skilled persons required for the Make in India campaign.
Comprehensive Language Policy: An Expert Committee on Language was constituted on 29.12.2014 for preparation of Comprehensive Language Policy for the country and it met four times so far.
Matribhasha Diwas: Matribhasha Diwas was celebrated on 21.2.2015 to sensitize people about the need of greater use of mother tongues and other Indian Languages for development and progress of the Nation. Hon’ble HRM has inaugurated the programme at Chennai organized by CIIL, Mysore.
On the International front too, addressing The Leaders’ Forum on an official visit to UNESCO Headquarters at Paris on 17th November this year the Minister of Human Resource Development Smt Smriti Irani reaffirmed India’s commitment to the ideals of UNESCO and to furthering its role and activities. In this context, she recalled the words of Mahatma Gandhi when in 1947 he had expressed the deep Indian interest in the efforts of UNESCO to “secure peace through educational and cultural activities”.
Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers: During the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers at the Bahamas from 22-26 June, 2015, the Ministry of Human Resource offered the following: to set up the Malviya Commonwealth Chair for Cross Border Teacher Education which will focus on issues pertaining to curriculum development, pedagogy, student assessment, pre-service and in-service teacher training and capacity development; Commonwealth Consortium for Research which can function in collaboration with the Commonwealth Education hub and provide cross funding for research projects which member nations deem appropriate; Strengthening of public institutions to bring about qualitative improvements in education at all levels; Providing e-Learning platform, SWAYAM to host e-courseware developed by Commonwealth of Learning; and Posting of digitized materials of Commonwealth countries on its soon to be established national e-Library.
Finally, the above flagship programmes, new schemes and innovations of the Ministry of HRD prove beyond doubt that it is playing a significant role in building strong foundations in education. While the Department of School Education & Literacy has its eye set on the universlization of Education and making better citizens out of the country’s young brigade, the Department of Higher Education is engaged in establishing world class institutes of learning and providing ample opportunities for research and skill development to ensure that we create the world’s largest workforce.