Current News - Indian Economy - Education
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.
On 3rd August, 2023, Union Minister for Education and Union Minister for External Affairs have collaboratively inaugurated the Study in India (SII) portal, a dedicated online platform offering comprehensive information about higher education institutions (HEIs) in India.
- Objective: The program's objective is to establish India as a favored study destination renowned for offering affordable and high-quality education in alignment with global standards.
- Centralized Information Hub: The SII portal will serves as a central repository of valuable information concerning higher education institutions (HEIs) in India.
- This platform serves to connect students worldwide with academic opportunities within the country.
- Encompassing Academic Diversity: The portal extensively showcases a wide array of academic programs available within HEIs, encompassing undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs.
- Streamlined Application Process: It facilitates a simplified application process for students aspiring to enroll in multiple institutes or courses of their preference.
- From student registration and visa applications to course selection and receipt of offer letters, the portal provides a streamlined experience for international students seeking quality education in India.
- Criteria for Partnering Institutions: These criteria encompass National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking of 100 or below, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation score of 3.01 or higher, and Institutes of National Importance (INI) status.
- Establishing Premier Education Hub: The initiative aligns with the National Education Policy (NEP) and underscores the aspiration to position India as a premier education hub.
On 29th July, 2023, India’s Prime Minister attended the inauguration of Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Samagam 2023 at Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
- ULLAS Mobile App: The event also witnessed the unveiling of the "Jan Jan Sakshar" motto and logo, along with the introduction of the ULLAS mobile app, coinciding with the third anniversary of NEP 2020.
- The app is useful in leveraging technology to promote universal access to basic literacy.
- The initiative aims to revolutionize education and literacy nationwide by fostering an inclusive and comprehensive environment that caters to individual needs, bridging gaps in essential proficiency and fundamental abilities.
- Objectives of ULLAS: The program focuses on empowering citizens to participate in nation-building by promoting functional literacy, vocational skills, financial literacy, legal literacy, and digital literacy.
- Features of ULLAS Mobile App: The ULLAS mobile application is available on both Android and iOS platforms and serves as a digital gateway to engage students with various educational resources through the DIKSHA portal of NCERT.
- Learners and volunteers can sign up either through self-registration or via surveyors.
- The primary target audience for the program includes citizens over the age of 15 who are unable to attend formal school.
- Volunteer-Driven Approach: The initiative relies on volunteerism, encouraging volunteers to participate as DUTY or Kartavya Bodh towards nation-building.
- Student volunteers will receive credits in school/university and appreciation through certificates, letters of appreciation, felicitation, and other means.
- Promoting Knowledge Sharing: The campaign's new slogan and logo, "ULLAS: Nav Bharat Saksharta Karyakram," symbolize its enthusiasm and dedication to spreading education across the nation.
- The initiative aims to ignite the natural curiosity and drive for continuous education in individuals, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing in Indian communities.
On 5th July 2021, the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education launched National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat).
Vision/Aim of this Mission
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy: The vision of NIPUN Bharat Mission aims at creating an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
- NIPUN Bharat aims to cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years.
- NIPUN Bharat envisages making the experience of learning at the foundational stage Holistic, Integrated, Inclusive, Enjoyable, and Engaging.
- The unique feature is that the goals of the Mission are set in the form of Lakshya Soochi or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
- Although, the overall aim is to achieve the desired learning outcomes by the end of grade 3, however, in order to generate greater awareness among the parents, community, volunteers etc. the Lakshyashas been developed from Balvatika to Grade 3.
- The Laskhyas are based on the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT and international research and ORF studies. For example, a child should be able to read 45to 60 words per minute and at least 60 words per minute correctly by the end of Grade II and III respectively from an age appropriate unknown text with comprehension and clarity.
- The success of NIPUN Bharat will primarily depend on teachers, so, there will be a special emphasis on capacity building of teachers. A special package for foundational literacy and Numeracy under NISHTHA is being developed by NCERT and around 25 lakh teachers teaching at pre-primary to primary grade will be trained this year on FLN.
- NIPUN Bharat will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy and a five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at the National- State- District- Block- School level in all States and UTs, under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.
NEP Mandate & NIPUN
- National Education Policy 2020 has laid down that attaining foundational literacy and numeracy for all children must become an immediate national mission. NIPUN initiative will complement that.