Current Affairs - Education
On 4TH Dec, Education Minister presented a bill in the Lok Sabha, proposing the establishment of "Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University" in Telangana, aiming to address regional aspirations and educational needs.
- Regional Aspirations and Long-Term Impact: The bill's statement and objects emphasize that the proposed university will not only meet immediate educational needs but also cater to regional aspirations, serving the people of Telangana for years to come.
- Objectives of the Proposed University: The envisaged institution aims to enhance access and quality of higher education in Telangana.
- It will also play a pivotal role in fostering higher education and research, particularly focusing on tribal art, culture, customs, and technological advancements.
- Focus on Tribal Education: The bill underscores the central tribal university's role in bringing attention to tribal education.
- It will operate similarly to other central universities, conducting various educational and research activities.
- Obligation under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014: The establishment of a central tribal university in Telangana is a mandatory provision outlined in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
- Central Universities Act, 2009 Framework: The proposed institution aligns with the Central Universities Act, 2009, which serves the purpose of establishing and incorporating universities for teaching and research across different states.
Recently, a high-level committee established by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to revise the social sciences curriculum for schools has recommended replacing the name 'India' with 'Bharat' in school textbooks.
- This suggestion has sparked controversy and raised concerns among opposition politicians. However, the NCERT clarified that the panel's recommendations have not been approved yet, and it's too early to comment on the matter.
- Committee Chair: The committee, led by C.I. Issac, a retired history professorsubmitted a report to NCERT earlier this year.
- The panel, in a unanimous recommendation, proposed that the country's name should be referred to as 'Bharat' rather than 'India' in all school textbooks, from primary to high school levels.
- Additional Recommendations: The committee also suggested that textbooks should allocate equal space to all dynasties that ruled India, rather than focusing solely on one or two dynasties.
- Furthermore, they recommended the inclusion of new discoveries in the syllabus, whether historical or archaeological, to enhance the curriculum.
- NCERT's Response: NCERT emphasized that the syllabus development process is still ongoing, and it's premature to comment on the proposed name change.
- They indicated that various Curricular Area Groups of domain experts are working on developing the new syllabus and textbooks.
Historical Background of "Bharat" & "India"
Origins of the Names
- The words "India" and its variants, like "Hind" in Arabic, originated from outsiders referring to the land south and east of the Indus or Sindhu River.
- During Afghan and Mughal rule, the term "Hindustan" was used for the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent.
- European colonial powers, particularly the British, used "India" to describe both the northern region and the entire subcontinent.
Indian Renaissance and Nationalism
- The Indian Renaissance contributed to the idea that the Indian subcontinent constituted a single nation.
- Some believed that using a name given by outsiders was unacceptable and preferred the term "Bharat" and its variations in different languages.
- The Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, expressed concerns over using the name "India" for the newly independent nation. They advocated for "India" to be associated with Hindu-majority regions, while Muslim-majority areas would be recognized as Pakistan.
Syncretic Word - "Hind"
- Figures like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose proposed the term "Hind" as a syncretic word acceptable to people of different faiths.
- "Hind" remains in use today, with expressions like "Jai Hind" reflecting its significance.
Balancing "Bharat" and "India"
- Adoption of the Constitution: The Indian Constitution was originally adopted in English, establishing its historical and legal importance.
- Publication of a Hindi Translation: A Hindi translation of the Constitution was published in 1950, signed by members of the Constituent Assembly.
- Official Status of Both Versions: Both English and Hindi versions of the Constitution hold official status within the Indian legal framework, emphasizing access in both official languages.
- The 58th Amendment in 1987 addressed the use of Hindi and English in official documents and legal proceedings.
- It granted the President the power to publish the official text of the Constitution in Hindi for use in legal proceedings.
- Article 1(1) defines the name of the country. In English, it states "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States," while the Hindi version gives prominence to "Bharat.":
- Official publications like the "Gazette of India" in English and "Bharat ka Rajpatra" in Hindi follow this naming convention.
- Use of "India" Internationally: India consistently uses "India" in international and multilateral forums for practicality and standardization in global diplomacy and communication.
- Recent Example with Greece: The "India-Greece Joint Statement" highlights the use of "India" in official bilateral relations.
- Dual-Language Approach: India follows a dual-language approach in official documents and diplomatic contexts to reflect its linguistic diversity.
- Modern Usage: "Jai Hind" and "Jai Bharat" coexist in contemporary India, acknowledging its diverse historical and cultural heritage. Both expressions are used in major speeches, underlining the nation's rich tapestry.
On 17th October, 2023, Union Education Minister introduced the 'Apna Chandrayaan Programme' on October 17.
- This initiative aims to engage and educate school students about India's Chandrayaan mission through a dedicated web portal.
- Resource Variety: The program offers a wide range of educational materials, including interactive elements like coloring books, online quizzes, and jigsaw puzzles. These materials have been thoughtfully created by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
- Chandrayaan-3 Modules: The program features ten distinct modules that focus on Chandrayaan-3. These modules cover various aspects of the moon mission, encompassing scientific, technological, and social dimensions.
- Educational Goals: The primary objective of these interactive educational materials and specialized modules is to foster scientific curiosity, encourage problem-solving skills, and inspire creativity among school students.
- The Ministry of Education is committed to achieving these educational objectives, emphasizing the importance of nurturing an interest in science and technology among the younger generation.
- Chandrayaan-3 Maha Quiz: In addition to the 'Apna Chandrayaan Programme,' the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a directive to educational institutions to launch the Chandrayaan-3 Maha Quiz registration process.
- Engagement and Awareness: The quiz aims to engage and create awareness about India's achievements in space exploration. It also seeks to inspire students to explore the field of space initiatives.
Recently, the Ministry of Education issued instructions to all states, urging them to commence the implementation of the Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR) and obtain parental consent for enrolment.
- APAAR: The Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR) is being referred to as the 'One Nation, One Student ID,' and it functions as an Education Ecosystem Registry, often called an 'EduLocker.'
- The National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) had previously announced its plans to create a comprehensive educational ecosystem registry, encompassing students, educators, and educational institutions.
- The Role of NETF: The NETF, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education, was established under the National Education Policy 2020 to address gaps and emphasize technology-based educational interventions, including setting content and technology standards and guidelines for online teaching and learning.
- APAAR will provide each student, from pre-primary to higher education, with a unique identification number, in addition to the existing Aadhaar ID.
- Benefits of 'One Nation, One ID': APAAR, or EduLocker, will serve as a lifelong student ID for tracking academic progress, exam results, learning achievements, and co-curricular accomplishments such as Olympiad rankings or specialized skill training.
- Students moving from one school to another will experience greater convenience when seeking admission in any part of the country.
- Enrolment Process: Schools will be responsible for the enrolment process, requiring parental consent. Parents can also withdraw their consent at any time.
- Data collected on students will be stored in a centralized District Information for Education portal and will only be shared with relevant government agencies when necessary.
- Challenges and Concerns with APAAR: Concerns have arisen due to ongoing worries about data security related to Aadhaar and past data breaches.
- Some school authorities are worried about the additional administrative burden APAAR registration may impose, particularly when Aadhaar verification for students is already optional.
On 5th September, 2023, Union Minister for Education and Skill Development inaugurated the Malaviya Mission - Teachers Training Programme, aimed at enhancing the quality of education through tailored training programs for teachers.
- Capacity Building for Faculty: The program aims to enhance the capacity of faculty members in higher educational institutions.
- Wide Impact: The program aims to capacitate 15 lakh teachers in higher educational institutions through 111 Malaviya Mission centres nationwide.
- Future-Ready Educators: The minister highlighted the program's goal of preparing educators for the future while instilling a deeper understanding of Indian values.
- Mapping to Credit Framework: Capacity building will be integrated into the credit framework to enable career progression for educators.
- Comprehensive Curriculum: The two-week online program will cover eight themes, including Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education, Indian Knowledge Systems, Academic Leadership, and Information and Communication Technology.
- Dedicated Portal: UGC has established a dedicated portal for faculty members to register for capacity-building programs.
Recently, it was announced that the National eGovernance Division (NeGD) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is set to integrate Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) into its existing Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) platform.
- DIKSHA: DIKSHA, under the Ministry of Education, provides e-content for schools via an online portal and a mobile application. It also has embedded assistive technologies for learners with visual or hearing impairments. However, DIKSHA is a static content repository.
- NCERT's Request: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has sought the MeitY’s expertise in facilitating PAL for DIKSHA.
- How PAL Works: In an example of how PAL works, if a student of Class 9 is learning the Pythagoras theorem and makes a calculation mistake, the AI learning system flags it and loops the student back to a basic video of how to make the calculation.
- Challenges in Implementing PAL: Building PAL is a massive exercise. Content from across subjects will have to be categorized and different chunks will have to be tagged. New content may also have to be created.
- PAL initially focuses on challenging subjects like Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics for Classes 9 to 12.
- State-Level Experiments: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh have experimented with PAL in their schools, with varying results and challenges.
- Budget constraints have been a significant obstacle in implementing PAL.
- Future Integration: NeGD plans to assess the market for edtech companies to help launch PAL and possibly integrate it with DIKSHA 2.0.
- MeitY is considering the introduction of voice commands in DIKSHA 2.0 as part of AI-enabled learning.
On 4th September, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and Meta, forged a three-year partnership aimed at democratizing digital skills, enhancing talent pools, and fostering connectivity among students, youth, and micro-entrepreneurs nationwide.
- Partnership Overview: Meta has signed three Letters of Intent (LoI) with key educational bodies, including the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
- The collaboration, titled 'Education to Entrepreneurship: Empowering a Generation of Students, Educators, and Entrepreneurs,' aims to provide digital marketing skills training to 500,000 budding and existing entrepreneurs across India.
- Training will be delivered through Meta platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, in seven regional languages.
- Government's Perspective: The program connects various segments of society, including students, youth, the workforce, and micro-entrepreneurs, with cutting-edge technologies.
- Meta's Previous Initiatives: Earlier this year, Meta introduced the Creators of Metaverse program in collaboration with AICTE, focusing on augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence training.
- The program aims to empower 100,000 students and 20,000 educators in these emerging technologies.
Recently, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) achieved the esteemed status of a deemed university, as announced by Union Education Minister during the commemoration of NCERT's 63rd foundation day in the national capital.
- Integration of Bal Bhavans and Bal Vatika: Union Minister advocated the amalgamation of Bal Bhavans and Bal Vatika with NCERT. This initiative aims to provide comprehensive education to children, fostering their holistic development.
- Background on NCERT: NCERT, established in 1961 under the Society Act, plays a pivotal role in advising and assisting the government in matters related to school education.
- Deemed-to-be-University Status: The Central government, following the UGC's recommendation, has the authority to designate an Institution of Higher Education (other than universities) excelling in a specific field of study as an 'Institution Deemed to be University.'
- Such institutions receive academic recognition and privileges akin to universities.
- Expanded Academic Horizons for NCERT: With the newly conferred deemed university status, NCERT will have the authority to offer its own undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral degree programs.
Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) released the draft UGC (Recognition and Grant of Equivalence to Qualifications obtained from Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2023.
- Expansion of Foreign Universities in India: Several foreign universities are in the process of establishing campuses in India's GIFT city, while Indian universities are partnering with foreign institutions for joint degree programs.
- NEP's Vision for Higher Education: The Ministry of Education's 2020 National Education Policy (NEP) aims to transform India into a global education hub by offering high-quality education at affordable costs and attracting more international students.
- Transparent Equivalency Framework: The framework mandates that qualifications must be obtained through in-person instruction, not online or distance learning, and includes criteria like credit requirements and minimum duration.
- Streamlined Path for Collaborative Programs: Indian students earning qualifications through collaborative arrangements between Indian and foreign institutions will have a smoother process without needing equivalence applications.
- Validity for Employment and Education: Equivalence certificates issued by the UGC will be valid for employment, further education, and various other purposes.
Several States, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, are among the 14 States and Union Territories that have not yet signed a crucial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union Education Ministry, which mandates the implementation of the National Education Policy.
- Objective of the MOU: This MoU is a prerequisite for accessing funds amounting to nearly Rs. 13,000 crore over the next three years under the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA), the flagship scheme for State-run higher education.
- The PM-USHA scheme aims to enhance the quality of higher education in State Universities through various means, including curriculum enhancements, teacher training, infrastructure development, and employability improvements.
- Signing of Agreement: The MoU signifies the States' willingness to participate in PM-USHA and supports its effective implementation.
Significance of PM-USHA Scheme
- Upgraded Education: The PM-USHA scheme, an upgraded version of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA 1 and 2), aims to enhance access, equity, and excellence in State higher education using central funding.
- Balancing Flexibility and Integration: PM-USHA builds on the vision of the earlier Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) by streamlining components and granting more flexibility to States/UTs for tailored activities.
- Empowering States with District Focus: The scheme allows States and UTs to prioritize specific districts based on indicators like enrolment ratios, gender parity, and population proportions of marginalized groups. This district-focused approach enables targeted interventions to meet the diverse needs of each State or UT.
- Equity, Access, and Inclusion: PM-USHA places a strong emphasis on promoting equity and gender inclusion within the higher education system.
- Inclusivity: It strives to provide ample opportunities for marginalized groups, including women, minorities, SCs/STs/OBCs, and individuals with disabilities.
- Raise Enrolment: By fostering inclusivity, the scheme aims to augment the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.
- Enhancing Teaching and Learning Quality: The scheme aims to enhance the quality of teaching and learning processes by facilitating upgrades to both physical and digital infrastructure within educational institutions.
- Furthermore, it supports the transformation of single-stream higher education institutions (HEIs) into multi-stream institutions, thereby diversifying academic offerings.
- Accreditation of Institutions: PM-USHA underscores the significance of accreditation in driving institutions to uphold and elevate educational standards.
- Quality Improvement:By promoting accreditation, the scheme seeks to cultivate a sense of trust, confidence, and accountability among the public regarding the quality of education provided by these institutions.
- Integration of ICT-based Digital Infrastructure: Recognizing the pivotal role of technology, PM-USHA emphasizes the importance of ICT-based digital infrastructure.
- Accessibility: This infrastructure aids in overcoming language barriers between educators and students, facilitates the establishment of digital libraries, encourages language learning, and introduces Open Distance Learning (ODL) programs to enhance educational access.
- Fostering Employability through Multidisciplinary Approaches: PM-USHA underscores the importance of collaboration between academia and industry to drive innovation and career growth.
- Collaboration: By encouraging Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to establish links with the industry and the job market, the scheme aims to enhance skills, promote innovations, and bolster overall employability prospects.
Challenges in Implementing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Commitments to NEP Guidelines: The scheme mandates the formal agreement between States and the Department of Higher Education through a MoU, outlining adherence to NEP-related directives such as the National Credit Framework and Choice Based Credit System for Four Year Undergraduate Programme.
- Concerns over Funding Allocation and NEP Reforms: States have highlighted that the PM-USHA budget requires States to bear 40% of the expenses, and no additional funds have been allocated for National Education Policy (NEP) reforms.
- Comprehensive NEP Reforms through MoU: The MoU stipulates that States must undertake a comprehensive range of reforms detailed in the NEP, encompassing administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance aspects.
- Debate Over Centralization and Policy Consensus: Demands for the restoration of education to the State List from the Concurrent List reflect apprehensions about centralization and the lack of consensus during the policy's execution.
- States' Varied Responses and Independent Policies: Several States, citing opposition and concerns about NEP 2020, have expressed dissent, leading some to draft their own independent State Education Policies as an alternative approach.
- Entry and Exit Options Impact on Dropout Rates: The PM-USHA scheme introduces the requirement of multiple entry and exit options in degree programs, a development that has sparked worries about a potential rise in higher education dropout rates.
- Challenges of a Four-Year Undergraduate Program: The emphasis on a four-year undergraduate program has raised accessibility and affordability concerns, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged students.