The Hindu Editorial Notes or Summary
QUESTION: “Education development since independence in India and the quality of most higher education institutions in India is abysmal.” Critically examine this statement.
Topic– THE LOST VOICE OF THE INDIAN UNIVERSITY
- Indian Universities and Higher Education
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As per some experts the university administration in India has now been completely transitioned from academicians and professors to the education minister and bureaucracy.
HIGHER EDUCATION IN INDIA :
- India’s higher education system is the world’s third-largest in terms of students, next to China and the United States.
- India’s Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of Universities/University level Institutions & Colleges since independence.
- In the prestigious Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2020, only three Indian Universities- IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IISc (Bangalore)- have been included in the top 200 institutes.
Recent Initiatives Taken by the Government :
- Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) has been recently launched:
- This is a five-year vision plan to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education over the next five years (2019-2024).
- Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022
- Qualitatively upgrade the research and academic infrastructure in India to global best standards by 2022.
- UGC’s Learning Outcome-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF)
- LOCF guidelines, issued by UGC in 2018
- Graded Autonomy to Universities & Colleges: 3-tiered graded autonomy regulatory system has been initiated, with the categorization based on accreditation scores. Category I and Category II universities will have significant autonomy to conduct examinations, prescribe evaluation systems and even announce results
- Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN): The programme seeks to invite distinguished academicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, experts from premier institutions from across the world, to teach in the higher educational institutions in India.
- All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE): The main objectives of the survey are to- identify & capture all the institutions of higher learning in the country; and collect the data from all the higher education institutions on various aspects of higher education.
- National Institutional Ranking Framework was developed in 2015.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
- In the 19th and 20th centuries, Indian universities emerged as institutions where a privileged generation of colonial subjects trained to serve the colonial regime and further Western political ideals.
- Some graduates went on to serve the colonial state, while others contributed to the nationalist movement.
- In the 20th century, the growth of nationalism, liberal education and the process of de-colonialisation offered universities with an opportunity to revise the curriculum and to define new goals.
- Right after independence, focus was on nation-building.
- The IITs and IIMs along with other distinctly envisioned institutions of academic excellence like the Indian Institute of Science, Indian Statistical Institute, and Jawaharlal Nehru University emerged as model institutions that defined the new academic ethos and the vigour of the modern Indian nation.
- Other universities in India also took the lead, revised curricula and set about the task of reforming the university as a space for healthy academic engagement.
- These changes were marked by the growing importance of various large representative institutional bodies like faculty committees, committees of courses, board of studies, university senates, academic councils and executive councils.
Government support contributed to rise of educational institutions ;
- In the initial decades after Independence, the government was conscious of various social, economic and financial challenges.
- So, the government strongly supported universities, encouraging them to further develop an academic .
- The institutional and academic autonomy offered was central to their emerging as premier institutions.
- Other universities revised curricula and set about the task of reforming the university as a space for healthy academic engagement.
Rise of decentralisation in collective decision making :
- The above changes were marked by the growing importance of various large representative institutional bodies.
- For example, institutional bodies like faculty committees, committees of courses, board of studies, university senates, academic councils and executive councils grew in importance.
- These bodies oversaw the administrative and academic functioning of the university and ensured collective decision-making.
- Debate over ideological positions, scholarly beliefs shaped the process of nation-building in independent India.
Policy changes and its impact (2005-15)
- The constitution of the National Knowledge Commission and privatisation of education undermined the deliberative and independent character of these institutions of higher education.
- Administrative and academic decisions were imposed from above.
- Discussions within various academic bodies were discouraged.
- The imposition of the semester system and a four-year undergraduate programme in many public and private universities were hallmarks of this new era of bureaucratic centralisation.
- The academic achievements of scholars from Indian universities were undermined.
- Those in positions of authority within the universities were encouraged to undermine academic bodies and limit their role.
New government intervention after 2015 :
- Futher changes were introduced starting from 2015.
- Choice Based Credit System was introduced and there were renewed attempts to privatise higher education linked to an emphasis on rankings.
- The government started to look into minute details pertaining to academic curricula, the teaching-learning process and the parameters that governed academic research within the university.
CENTRALISATION IN COVID-19 PANDEMIC :
- The centralisation trend intensified with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Central government and the University Grants Commission have imposed themselves on the daily functioning of all higher educational institutions.
- This represents a new government-oriented bureaucratic centralisation.
- Decisions about the conclusion of academic term, the modalities for evaluation and the conduct of the teaching-learning process have become exclusive government prerogatives.
- The various academic bodies that had original jurisdiction over these matters have been made redundant.
- How and whether examinations are to be conducted has become an issue of contention between State and Central governments.
About UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION (UGC) :
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) came into existence on 28th December, 1953 and became a statutory organization of the Government of India by an Act of Parliament in 1956, for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in university education.
- The head office of the UGC is located in New Delhi.
PROBLEMS IN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION :
TEACHING QUALITY :
- National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in its assessment report pointed out that 68% of institutions in India are of middle or poor quality. Recruitment of undergraduates as teachers, ad-hoc appointments and low pay scale, inadequate teacher training are all factors that have caused a deterioration in the quality of education.
- As a result, nearly three-fourth the number of graduates remain unemployable.
- Nearly 35% of professor posts and 46% of assistant professor posts out of total sanctioned strength remain vacant across the country.
- India barely spends 2.5% of its budgetary allocations on education. This is far below the required amount needed to upgrade the infrastructure at public institutes.
- Privatization and Regulation : Withdrawal of public sector has left the space open for private institutions that have turned education into a flourishing business. Most of the teachers in private colleges are underpaid and over-worked.
- Curriculum : There is a wide gap between industry requirements and curriculum taught at colleges. This also renders graduates unemployable lacking in specific skill-sets.
- Presence of foreign educational Institutions: Multiplicity of regulatory bodies and regulatory standards have prevented foreign educational institutions from opening campuses in the country. As a result curricular and pedagogy lacks competitiveness.
- Autonomy : fees structure and curriculum has further deterred new institutions from opening campuses.
- Academic research : India has barely 119 researchers per million of the population .
- The time has come for institutions of higher education in India to recover their lost voice and restore the fertile academic space where ideas are discussed and debated rather than suppressed and dismissed.
- At a time when global politics is undergoing a systemic transformation and being infused with new ideas, institutions of higher education, which ought to be fertile intellectual spaces that can inform and shape society, are increasingly being undermined in India.
QUESTION: Define measures taken by the government of India to create a conducive ecosystem for the differently-abled community .
Topic- FOR EQUAL TREATMENT
- Disabled section as SC/STs and their rights
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Supreme Court in a recent judgment extended the relaxation norms for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes towards the Disables.
- The decision was based on a PIL filed by Mr. Aryan Raj against a Punjab and Haryana High Court order in which the HC upheld the Chandigarh college decision of not extending the same admission relaxations for SC/ST towards the disables.
- Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
- An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
- An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
- A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
- As per Census 2011, in India, out of the total population of 121 crore, about 2.68 Cr persons are ‘Disabled’ (2.21% of the total population)
- Out of 2.68 crore, 1.5 crore are males and 1.18 crore are females
- Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas
Vulnerability of disabled section:
- Disables have been an under-privileged and under-represented section of society.
- They have abysmally low literacy and employment rates as well as the general population which calls for non application of same qualifying criteria for disables and general candidates.
SC JUDGEMENT :
- It called for applying the same qualification standards to Disables as for SC/ST in cases of education and public employment.
- It referred to the 2012 case of Anamol Bhandari V. Delhi Technological University wherein the HC held that disables suffer from social backwardness and hence are entitled to the same benefits as SC/STs.
- The court instructed for drafting new courses keeping in mind the needs of intellectually disabled persons.
CONSTITUTIONAL PR RELATED TO DIFFERENTLY-ABLED PERSONS:
- Article 15(1) of the Constitution enjoins on the Government not to discriminate against any citizen of India (including disabled) on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
- Article 15 (2) states that no citizen (including the disabled) shall be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition on any of the above grounds in the matter of their access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, and places of public entertainment, etc.
- Article 17: No person including the disabled irrespective of his belonging can be treated as untouchable. It would be an offense punishable in accordance with law as provided.
- Every person has his/her life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and it includes Disabled too.
- Article 41 of DPSP – The State shall make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement.
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016:
- It replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
- It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
- Disabilities covered: The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21.
Rights and entitlements:
- Reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4 %), reservation in the allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment), etc.
- Every child with a benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
- The Act provides for the grant of guardianship by District Court under which there will be a joint decision making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.
- Broad-based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy-making bodies at the Central and State level.
- Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle pending cases.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS JUDGEMENT:
- The Supreme Court has recognised the difficulties faced by the disabled in accessing education or employment, regardless of their social status.
- There is the issue of low literacy and employment rates among persons with disabilities.
- The judgment could help alleviate some of the difficulties faced by this section through this affirmative action.
- According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) survey, the overall percentage of persons with disabilities in the population is around 2.2 percent.
ISSUES AND CHALLENGES :
- A large number of disabilities are preventable, including those arising from medical issues during birth, maternal conditions, malnutrition, as well as accidents and injuries.
- The education system is not inclusive. Inclusion of children with mild to moderate disabilities in regular schools has remained a major challenge.
- Even though many disabled adults are capable of productive work, disabled adults have far lower employment rates than the general population.
- Accessibility: Physical accessibility in buildings, transportation, access to services etc still remain a major challenge.
- Differently-abled people face discrimination in everyday life. People suffering from mental illness or mental retardation face the worst stigma and are subject to severe social exclusion.
- Inadequate data and statistics: The lack of rigorous and comparable data and statics further hinders inclusion of persons.
- Poor implementation of policies and schemes hinders the inclusion of disabled persons. Though various acts and schemes have been laid down with an aim to empower the disabled, their enforcement face many challenges.
- The move will help in improving socio-economic situation of disables and better realisation of objectives of Right of Persons with Disabilities act, 2016.
- There should be awareness campaigns to educate and aware people about different kinds of disability
- Disabled adults need to be empowered with employable skills
- The private sector needs to be encouraged to employ them.
- Better measurement of disability
- State-wise strategies on education for children with special needs need to be devised.
- There should be proper teacher training to address the needs of differently-abled children and facilitate their inclusion in regular schools
- Safety measures like road safety, safety in residential areas, public transport system etc, should be taken .