Tag Archives: National Knowledge Commission

Take education to masses through Internet: Pitroda

Your Education is Our World

Lamenting that teachers and institutions were not prepared to handle changes in the education system, former National Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda today advocated the need for taking education to masses through Internet.

He said free accessibility of maximum course material on the Internet is the need of the hour and teachers, institutions and students must be ready to harness Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and learn it.

Addressing a symposium on ‘Open Educational Resources for Network enabled Education’ organised by the IGNOU here, Pitroda said open course ware must be available to all.

“For this purpose at least 100 million broadband connections are required in the next 5 years. Generational changes are required in India and teachers and institutions are not prepared for these changes. Its time to take education to the masses and not to ourselves,” an IGNOU release quoted Pitroda as saying.

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A guide to reforms

Your Education is Our World

BOOK REVIEW

C.T. KURIEN

The book serves as a carefully prepared and annotated agenda note that draws attention to decisions to be taken and actions to be initiated

IN the context of the ongoing discussions in the country about expanding and restructuring higher education, Pawan Agarwal’s book on the subject is a timely contribution. The author was Director in the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development when he started work on the book, and much of the writing was done during his tenure as a Fulbright New Century Scholar of Higher Education in India. He is currently with the Government of West Bengal.

First the context itself (for a discussion of some aspects of the context, see Frontline, July 17, 2009). Many of the contextual discussions on higher education are rooted in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan’s (2007-12) proposals, summed up as “expansion, inclusion and excellence”. Immediately prior to the Eleventh Plan was the Report of the National Knowledge Commission, which also asked for substantial expansion of higher education and suggested ways of achieving it without compromising excellence. More recently, there has been the report of the committee headed by Professor Yash Pal, with accent on regulatory framework.

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Agenda For Reforms 2.0

Your Education is Our World

The education sector in India is in ferment, hit by a storm long waiting to happen. The butterfly that flapped its wings and triggered a cyclone, to borrow a metaphor from chaos theory, was Nasscom’s much-reiterated statement that hardly a fourth of graduating engineers, and an even smaller percentage of other graduates, was of employable quality for IT-BPO jobs. Similar views echoed by other sectors have led to widespread debate. Increased industry-academia interaction, ”finishing schools”, and other efforts were initiated as immediate measures to bridge skill deficits. Some, however, felt that these are but band-aid solutions; instead, radical systemic reform is necessary.

The National Knowledge Commission, though a government-appointed body, has drawn criticism from the establishment for recommending structural changes in the educational system. Suggestions by this writer for creating, on a limited-experiment basis, special education zones with minimal regulation and permitting for-profit corporate educational institutes drew considerable interest, but even greater flak. Now, the Yash Pal committee has made some radical suggestions, including the replacement of UGC, AICTE and other regulatory bodies by a single one: the Higher Education and Research Council. The opposition to this might be greatly muted by the strong support already indicated by HRD minister Kapil Sibal, and equally by the public exposure through CBI raids and action of long-known corruption in AICTE.

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