Quick round up of Indian education scene in 2011


The year 2011 was marked by many events, especially in the education sector in India. 2011 witnessed the effort made by the minister for Human Resource and Development, Kapil Sibal to introduce legislations on reforms in higher education becoming futile as it was not cleared by the parliament. He had also tried to bring about reforms in examinations. Other important events in the education sector are the introduction of Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet and the increase in tuition fees in the Indian Institute of Technology’s.

Different bills aimed at education failed to be cleared in the house

It is indeed a year where important bills on education in the country were not cleared in the parliament. The education tribunal bill and the foreign education provider’s bill were the important ones which could not be cleared in the parliament. The minister had to come across some embarrassing situations in the House when both the members from his party and the opposition either objected to some of the provisions in the bill or raised the issue of conflict of interest.

The minister had put serious effort in bringing a general agreement on introducing a single national entrance test for various engineering courses in different engineering colleges across the country. Mean while the observations made by the former environment minister Jairam Ramesh on the quality of faculty in various Indian Institute of Technology’s and Indian Institute of Management’s have added to the level of embarrassment.

Sibal however observed that it is not the problem with the faculty but it is due to the ecosystem in which such institutions exist.

The increase in cut off marks in different institutions

Another happening in the year 2011 was the 100 per cent marks as cut off for selection in Delhi University. This has exposed the problem of huge gap between demand and supply of seats in leading institutions in the country. Sri Ram College of Commerce has in the last year set record marks as cut off limit in the case of admission for undergraduate course in commerce.  The minister had called this as an irrational move by the institutions. The central government had directed the Delhi University to implement the 27% reservation for OBC students, both in words and action.

The first central university to become minority institution

In February 2011, Jamia Milia Islamia University was recognized as a minority institution by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. It is the first among the central universities to be recognized as a minority institution, and now can reserve up to 50 percent seats for Muslims.

Increase in budget allocation for education sector

In the budgetary allocation during the fiscal year, the education sector received an increase of 24 per cent in the fund allocation. The Rs. 52,057 crore funds allocated was an attempt to drive forward important programmes such as universalizing secondary education and increasing enrollment ratio in higher education.

Surveys to measure the quality of education

There were many surveys conducted in the education sector to understand the quality of education and the access to education in India. The results of the surveys presented a mixed trend which was often confusing.

On one side the survey conducted by Pratham had observed that about 35 per cent of the students in the 1st grade could not identify numbers from 1 to 9. While the report published by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) had observed that there was improvement in the primary education as a result of the introduction of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme. Giving importance to improving quality of education in the country, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had announced in his Independence Day speech that the government has decided to appoint a commission to bring forward recommendations to improve quality of education.

The launch of Aakash

As a part of the government’s effort to increase the reach of education in the country with the help of information technology, the ministry for HRD has launched the world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash. It was launched in October 2011 for a price of Rs. 1,200, which is a subsidized price for the students in India. The buildup that created during the launch was beyond any standard; with the minister later commenting that the tablet had created a buzz across the world and that many countries has expressed interest to have it for their students.

Fee hike in IITs

The year 2011 was marked with another important decision by the IIT council to increase the tuition in the IITs across the country. The fee was fixed as Rs. 200000 per year for students who are not from the backward sections of the population, from 2013. The minister said that the additional money will not be collected from the students until they secure job, even if it takes 10 years.

It was also recommended by the council that a common entrance test should be conducted for engineering admission across the country including IITs, government engineering colleges and private engineering colleges from 2013. According to the T Ramaswami Committee, which carried out studies into the matter, the common entrance test would be designed in such a way that the 12th grade marks will be given weightage along with an aptitude test.

Minimum marks for each subject

The IITs has announced that students need to secure a minimum percentage of marks in each subject in the entrance test, which they say will help the students to prepare for the entrance test.

The IIMs too decided to share information on admission between them and publish separate admission criteria in their websites, as there are many vacant seats in the new IIMs.

Different initiatives

The government has given permission to some important moves such as setting up of National Commission of Higher Education and Research and introducing public private partnership for setting up model schools across the country.

The year had witnessed increase in number of collaboration with foreign universities and also the first Indo-US higher education summit being hosted in the United States in October.



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