Archive for August 31, 2013

More students opt For Higher Education, but Even More Drop Out: says Survey….!

 Higher education continues to be a mixed bag in the country. A countrywide education survey has found that the rate of attendance in the 20-24 age group (corresponding to graduation and above) has recorded the highest rates of growth in several decades. However, worryingly, the dropout rate has also kept pace.

The survey carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 2009-10 was released this month. It looked into employment and educational trends in India.

Compared to the 1991-2000 period, the past decade (2001-10) saw attendance rates for the higher age group increase by 71% for boys and 110% for girls in rural areas. In urban areas, the growth was 40% for boys and 45% for girls. Although the rise in percentage terms is a marked improvement over previous decades, the data shows that the picture remains dismal at the ground level. In 2009-10, the attendance rates were just 19% for boys and 8% for girls in rural areas; in urban areas, the corresponding figures were 33% and 24%, respectively. This state of higher education compares badly with those in the 5-14 age group, where 87% of boys and 84% of girls were attending school in rural areas, and 91% of all boys and girls in urban areas.

Various measures like mid-day meals, new curricula and better facilities have drawn children to schools, said eminent scientist Yashpal, former chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC). However, in higher education, complex socio-economic conditions skew the growth rate in favour of female students. While economic pressures motivate young men to opt out of education at the earliest possible level in order to start earning, young women are increasingly pursuing higher education as it helps in marriage prospects and potential future employment. An earlier NSSO study had shown that women, despite higher education levels are still not becoming part of the workforce.

“At the higher education level, we need to do away with rigidity, allow more freedom and innovation, and link the courses to life. Resources need to be pumped in on priority basis,” asserted Professor Yashpal, while explaining the persistent high dropout rates at higher levels. Prof Yashpal had headed a high-level committee on ‘renovation and rejuvenation’ of higher education which submitted a detailed report in 2009. Its battery of suggestions included increased funding for higher education and stricter regulation of private entities. The government is yet to act on the report.

While current attendance rates indicate a positive trend for the future, existing educational levels of people 15 years old and above continue to be dismal. The traditional picture of educational levels—like a pyramid with a very wide base (of illiterates) tapering to a sharp point (of graduates)—is changing at the bottom but not much at the top. The proportion of those who are illiterate or have studied just up to primary levels is going down but beyond that the pyramid continues to be sharply pointed.

In urban areas, about 15% of males and 11% of females are graduates or above. This is much higher than the rural areas where only 3.7% of males and a mere 1.6% of females have gone up to graduation or beyond. This is despite an explosion of private higher education institutions including universities in recent years.

What is even more alarming is that in 10 years between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, the graduate and above segment of the urban population declined by 5% among males although it increased by 10% among females.

In the rural areas, the pent-up demand for education is still driving educational levels higher. The proportion of graduates and above went up by 78% among females but only 12% in males.

‘SFIs Not Refunding Fees to Exiting Students’

The Admission Committee for Professional Courses (ACPC) has received more than 500 complaints alleging malpractice by self-financed colleges in admissions. These complaints were received from seven architecture, 32 engineering colleges and one other college.

“Of the 500 complaints, the maximum – 56 – are against Changa College. We have asked these colleges to settle all the 500 complaints by August 31 or face action which would include heavy fines,” said M N Patel, member-secretary, ACPC. He further said that there is also provision for penal action against the erring colleges.

According to sources, a meeting of the chairman and principals of these colleges was held at ACPC office at LD Engineering. Officials said that these colleges had either refused to refund fees or declined to return original mark-sheets after candidates who had secured admission in government colleges.

The problem began after the fourth round of admissions in which students were granted admission to higher branches of engineering in government colleges. Earlier, the ACPC was given permission to hold a special round to fill seats which had fallen vacant after the third round.

After three rounds of admissions, most students had submitted their original documents and paid fees in full to the self-financed colleges. However, when a large number of students asked for refunds after they were granted admission in government colleges in the fourth round, the self-financed colleges made an attempt to retain these students by withholding refund of fees or documents. The rules stipulate that self-financed colleges have to return fees and documents.

In another development, the ACPC has once again asked Dharmsinh Desai University (DDU) to admit all the 81 students in post-graduate engineering. These students were earlier denied admission by the university. DDU had refused to admit students in its grant-in-aid postgraduate engineering college. The university said that it had written to the state government to cancel its grant-in-aid status and grant it the self-financed status. The government has not taken a decision yet. The DDU has also moved court but the court has not given any stay in the matter.

22 Lakh Children without Basic Education: Tharoor!

Nearly 22 lakh children in the country are yet to receive elementary education and it is the responsibility of state governments to bring them to schools, minister of state for HRD Shashi Tharoor said on Thursday.

“We are definitely anxious to catch the remaining 22 lakh children in our country who still are not in school. These are mainly tribal children, children of migrant workers and the begging children. These are students we need to catch and take them to the school,” Tharoor said.

He was speaking at the launch of the Right to Education (RTE) anthem video. HRD minister M M Pallam Raju and Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akthar were also present on the occasion.

“It is the responsibility of the state governments to look out for them. Even if a migrant worker’s child is in a place where the language is not of his family or the state, the child should acquire basic literacy. It is the responsibility of the state to get him into the school and not of the family,” Tharoor said.

The lyrics of the RTE anthem has been written by lyricist Javed Akhtar while the song has been sung by noted singers Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan.

The video also features Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. The video will be dubbed in English and 15 regional languages to generate awareness among the stakeholders for implementation of the RTE.

“The RTE came into existence in 2010 and since then it has showed remarkable success,” said Raju. “The anthem and the video will help spread the message of RTE.”

Under the RTE, it is obligatory on government and local authorities to provide elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age group.

IITs Restart Preparation Courses to Fill up Quota Seats…!

Hamstrung by the lack of qualified candidates to fill up the mandatory quota seats, the Indian Institutes of Technology have not only lowered the cut-offs for the reserved category students but also restarted the year-long preparatory courses. But not all campuses will run these courses. This year, the IITs have decided to take turns to run the bridge programme.

For the first time, some of the IITs have outsourced the preparatory course to their counterparts in other tech schools. For instance, IIT-Roorkee is holding these classes for not just their students but also those of IIT-Delhi and IIT-Mandi. IIT-Madras is conducting ‘prep classes’ as they are known, for its candidates and those of IIT-Bombay, IIT-Hyderabad and IIT-Gandhinagar. Apart from running the course for its candidates, IIT-Kharagpur is also training students of IIT-Patna and IIT-Bhubaneshwar.

Preparatory courses are special coaching classes for reserved category students who fail to make the grade despite a substantial lowering of the cut-off marks. These students are taken in when there are not enough candidates to fill up the quota seats.

This year, 276 physically disadvantaged candidates and 200 scheduled tribe students will undergo the preparatory course.

“There are very few students undergoing the preparatory programme this year. While it goes on to show that applicants are more prepared, we also felt that makes sense to share the work-load and bunch students instead of running the programme for a handful of students on every campus,” said IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar.

Sources said the idea came up when the new IITs complained of faculty and space shortage for holding these extra classes. “Later, when the older IITs decided to shoulder the responsibility, some felt that candidates could be grouped and there is better utilization of resources,” he said.

For quota students who fall short of the mark, the IITs generously reduce cut-offs and conduct special coaching for them for a year.

The arrangement started in the mid-90s after the IITs wrote to the government for permission to run a programme to help quota students lagging behind in the JEE race. But the same was discontinued two years ago.

Each year, the IITs provide concessions to quota students. They lower entry levels for them, going as slow as 50% below the last general category student’s marks to do justice to the quota. But to reach the colleges’ full capacity, scores are relaxed once again and students are selected to be coached in maths, physics and chemistry for a year before they can join the IITs after clearing an internal test. “After successful completion of preparatory programme, you must join the institute where you have been allotted a seat originally,” reads a notice by the IITs to the candidates.

Education can Eliminate Violence: Says the Dalai Lama!

Education can eliminate “the very basis of violence and war” and this century will become a century of peace and non-violence, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said here on Wednesday.The Tibetan leader was speaking on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s historic march and speech.

According to the official website of Tibetan administration, the Lama said: “I always have a dream that within this century the world will truly become a real happy human family. In order to achieve that, we need to have a sense of oneness. I think, through education, more realistic and holistic thinking, we can develop a sense of oneness.”

“Then, the very basis of violence and war will no longer be there and this century will become a century of peace and non-violence.”

“I have a dream” is a public speech delivered by the American civil rights activist on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States.

JEE-Advanced All Set to Become a Computer-Based Exam Next Year!

Next year, the JEE-Advanced may change from being a paper-pencil entrance exam to a computer-based one. The decision on the switch will be taken when the Joint Admission Board meets in early September.

On Sunday, members of the board, the highest body that takes decisions on admissions to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), said the JEE-Advanced in 2014 could be offered as a computer-based exam since “it is the way forward”.

“We discussed a proposal to offer the test on computer or, at least, to keep it as an option in the first year,” said IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar. He said the rollout looked possible since candidate numbers had dropped to 1.5 lakh.

A total of 12.82 lakh high-school graduates applied to take the JEE (Main) exam in 2013 when India took its big step towards the ‘one nation, one exam system’. Among them, only 1.74 lakh candidates took the computer-based test. The next level, which is the JEE (Advanced) test for admissions to the IITs, received 1.5 lakh candidates.

IIT-Kharagpur, which is in charge of conducting the JEE (Advanced) for 2014, will parse through the 2013 database. “As a starting point, we’ll see how many of the students who qualified for the IIT (Advanced) took the main test on computer,” said an IIT official.

Some logistical deviations will have to be considered. “We’ll have to run the computer-based tests and the paper-pen tests at the same time at all the centres across India,” he said. “We’ll have to be extremely cautious.”

Higher Education’s Gross Enrolment Ratio to be Raised to 30% by 2020: Says Education Minister

The government has begun efforts to enhance gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education to 30 per cent by 2020 from the current level of around 19 per cent, Union minister for human resource development (HRD) MM Pallam Raju said here today.

“We have a gross enrolment ratio of close to 19 per cent, which is much below the 26 per cent average GER in global scenario. But we are certain that with the sustained efforts that began in 11th five-year Plan we will be able to take our GER to 30 per cent by 2020,” he said.

Speaking at the fifth convocation of the city-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Raju stressed on the need to raise the level of education right from schools to higher institutes with focus on quality.

“That is exactly what the government is trying to do right now. There is a very clear plan and that plan must progress from school education through college education and through the universities. It is important to integrate education with higher disciplines and bring an international focus on the campuses,” the minister said.

The Centre and the HRD ministry have been putting in efforts to encourage GER and no university must be left behind in these efforts, he said, adding that the focus should be on quality.

“For that to happen, it is important for the universities to be the centre of revolution by focusing on quality of education,” Raju said.

Earlier, honorary doctorate degree was presented to Justice (retired) Rajinder Sachar.

In the absence of Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, his mother Zeenat Tahir Hussain and his elder sister Nikhat received the honorary doctorate degree.

As many as 24,578 students from distance and the regular modes of education were awarded degrees and diplomas for various programmes and courses for 2011 and 2012.

Chancellor Syeda Saiyidain Hameed and vice-chancellor Mohammad Miyan also spoke on the occasion.

MOOC to Take Education to Every Doorstep: Syas HRD Minister Raju

Aiming to take education to every doorstep, Union HRD minister M M Pallam Raju on Thursday said they intend to leverage the broadband network by embracing the ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOC) programme in a big way.

“…to make education more accessible, we have in the horizon MOOC, leveraging on the broadband education platform,” Raju said at a function here while harping on sustainable development through such efforts.

“We want to embrace MOOC in a big way to increase the number of literates in the country. Institutions must become creators of knowledge,” he said.

Stating that the key to sustainable development lies in innovation, Raju said the goal of his ministry is to see that that universities and institutions lead the innovation agenda and be the catalyst for the process in the economy.

The HRD ministry, he said, has asked all Centrally funded institutes such as the IITs and NITs to be role models for green campuses.

The minister was speaking at the Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture here organised by TERI.

The efficacy of the MOOC platform to reach the countless millions across the country was underlined by S Ramadorai, who is the advisor to the Prime Minister in the National Skill Development Council.

“The technology has given an opportunity to students to unshackling access to quality content and education bypassing the difficulty to get admission into the expensive institutions,” Ramadorai said.

Last month, he said, seven IITs have announced India’a own MOOC platform.

Ramadorai said India needs to change its traditional mindset and go for innovation across the sectors if it wishes to maintain its competitive edge in the global economy.

He especially suggested massive innovations in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and the small and medium scale industries who contribute 45 per cent of the manufacturing output and 60 million employees.

The government, he said, is offering as much as USD 2.5 billion as incentives to chipmakers to entice them to build India’s first semi-conductor manufacturing plant, which would be an important step in building a domestic hardware industry.

GBSHSE: Continuous comprehensive Evaluation in Class IX from 2014-15

The Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education at its meeting on Wednesday has decided to implement the continuous comprehensive evaluation (CCE) method of assessment in Class IX from 2014-15. The CCE will be put in force for Class X students in the subsequent year.

“The board has formed a committee under former headmaster Mario Cordo to fine tune the CCE to suit the needs of Class IX. It will be implemented in a phased manner,” Goa board chairperson Jose Remedios Rebello said.

The CCE is in force only from Class I to VIII at present.

CCE system of assessment enables schools to mark students through the year and do away with the pressure of being evaluated only at the time of examination based on the student’s ability to memorize the syllabus. Students are assessed on co-scholastic areas such as art and craft, their social skills etc under CCE and the evaluation method focuses on all-round development of the child rather than categorizing them as performers and non-performers.

The new evaluation method is likely to see introduction of plenty of assignments, activities and presentations.

A manual on CCE will be prepared for teachers and they will be trained by the state prior to the system’s implementation.

MTech in Aviation: Pune varsity to Hold Entrance Test on September 15

The maiden international-level entrance exam for University of Pune’s (UoP) newly introduced MTech (Aviation) course will be held on September 15 at six centers across the country and at Frankfurt in Germany. “The process for submission of application forms for the same is set to go online from August 13,” AdityaAbhyankar, dean of UoP’s faculty of technology, told TOI on Monday.

The university had announced on July 17 the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s top pilot training and flight school, Fachshule Fur Luftfahrzeugfuhrer (FFL), to launch the first-of-its-kind two-year MTech (Aviation) course. The first of the four semesters will be conducted at UoP’s department of technology while the remaining three semesters would involve onsite training at FFL facilities in Frankfurt, Germany; eventually leading to a European flying licence by German aviation regulator LBA.

The UoP, which will award the degree, is also in talks with India’s civil aviation regulator, the director general of civil aviation (DGCA), for facilitating the issuance of their licence which will make the course pass outs eligible to fly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Abhyankar said, “The aspirants can visit the UoP’s website: www.unipune.ac.in for submitting their forms online. The application fees is Rs 3,000 each for open category candidates and Rs 1,000 each for reserved category candidates from Maharashtra state only.”

“After online submission, the candidates need to take a printout of the form and furnish it to the university’s department of technology by September 12. Candidates from outside Pune can send a printout of their forms by post or email a scanned copy to the department. They will have to present the hard copy at the time of appearing for the entrance exam,” he said.

Regarding eligibility, Abhyankar said, “Students who have completed their bachelor of engineering or technology (BE/BTech) or BS with engineering specialization from any recognized university are eligible to appear for the entrance test. The final admission will be based on overall performance in the written test and interview.”

Students who have completed their BSc (aviation) course will also be eligible to apply for the course although they will be required to undertake a one-year pre-requisite course at the UoP department of technology before starting with the MTech (Aviation) studies. “This because the BSc (aviation) course, offered only by the universities of Mumbai and Kolkata, is of three-year duration as against the four-year BE/BTech or BS (Engg) courses,” he added.

About the entrance, Abhyankar said, “The written test will be of total 50 marks; featuring 50 multiple choice questions that will examine the analytical abilities; logical reasoning; knowledge of relevant engineering branch; physics; mathematics and fundamental knowhow about the field of aviation.”

Candidates, who will clear the written test will appear for interviews that will also focus on aspects like hand-eye coordination; aptitude test; technical and medical tests, said Abhyankar.

The sSchedule

August 13 to September 10: Online submission of application forms. Website URL: www.unipune.ac.in.

September 12: Last date for physical submission of printout of online application form at the university.

September 15: MTech (Aviation) entrance exam.

September 16: Result of entrance exam.

September 17 and 18: Interviews of candidates declared successful in the entrance.

September 25: Commencement of classes.

(Note: Candidates from outside Pune can send a printout of their online application form by post or can email a scanned copy of the same to the university department of technology. They have to present a hard copy of the printout on the day of the entrance exam.