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Findings of the Parliament panel on Education

Published: 28th Sep, 2023

Context

Recently, the panel on education has presented a report in Lok Sabha during the Special Session of Parliament.

About the Report:

  • The 31-member panel discussed on the issues such as;
    • the rigid separation of disciplines,
    • limited access to higher education in socio-economically disadvantaged areas,
    • lack of higher education institutes (HEIs) that teach in local languages,
    • the limited number of faculty,
    • lack of institutional autonomy,
    • lesser emphasis on research,
    • ineffective regulatory system and
    • Low standards of undergraduate education.
  • The panel highlighted that by 2030, every district in the country should have at least one multidisciplinary HEI and that the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education, including vocational education, should be increased from 26.3% in 2018 to 50% by 2035.

Key Observations of the Report:

  • The report looked at the salient features of the NEP’s implementation in the higher education sector and the progress made so far.
  • The panel met representatives of various State governments, Union Ministries, higher education institutions and other stakeholders to prepare the report.
  • The report noted that of the 1,043 universities functioning in the country, 70% are under the State Act and that 94% of students are in State or private institutions with just 6% of students in Central higher educational institutions, stressing the importance of States in providing higher education.

Recommendations of the Report:

  • The Parliamentary panel has called for “comprehensive awareness campaigns and infrastructural development” in the country’s remote areas and urban slums to improve access to education in marginalised communities in line with the National Education Policy (NEP).
  • It has recommended for;
    • Assessment of the technological infrastructure in higher education institutions,
    • Proper involvement of the student community.
  • For Stakeholder’s benefits:
    • Training of teachers who work in communities;
    • Scholarship and financial support;
    • Community engagement, besides collaboration and partnership with NGOs and civil society organisations.
  • Monitoring Group: The committee recommended for setting up of a “monitoring group” to assess the readiness of the higher education sphere.
    • Drawing experts from all stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current technological infrastructure in higher education institutions across the country identify gaps.
    • It also asked to suggest solutions to bridge any issue relating to technological gaps, investment in digital infrastructure, faculty training and development, learning resources, tech integration, etc.
  • Technological Intervention: It further recommended “adoption of modern cloud-based technologies” to create a more “efficient, transparent, and student-centric ecosystem” in higher education institutions.
  • Consultation for ‘MEME’ option: Proper involvement of the student community, incorporation of their feedback and suggestions towards the changes proposed in NEP will help institutions in orienting students faster and in a more effective way which will be helpful in creating institutional mechanisms to handle student’s queries on issues such as Academic Bank of Credits (ABC), Multiple Entry and Exit system (MEME).

MEME System:

The National Education Policy (NEP) suggests implementing a multiple entry and multiple exit (MEME) system in higher education.

  • This system in education is a flexible approach that allows students to enter and exit academic programs at various points, rather than following a linear and fixed path.
  • Funding to be provided: It also mentioned, Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) to diversify its sources of funding, and consider;
    • Reducing the rates of interest;
    • Expediting the process of engagement of “Professor of Practice” as envisaged in the NEP; and
    • Budgetary and infrastructure support to set up R&D cells in different higher educational institutions.

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